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Muslim fashion takes hold in Bay Area

21 March 2012 General 34 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

By Matt O’Brien, Bay Area News Group

Ruhollah Habibi dresses sharply in a suit and tie each morning for his job at JP Morgan. But the banker also carries a thobe to work on Fridays, slipping on the Arabian-style tunic for afternoon prayers.

“I just take off my suitcoat and throw that on over my button-up,” said the 28-year-old San Ramon resident. “It’s our etiquette to wear Islamic clothing when you’re going to learn the sacred knowledge.”

From kufi caps to veils and ankle-length abayas, multicultural Muslim clothing is in demand among the Bay Area’s young and devout. American-born Muslims who once shunned their immigrant parents’ Old World attire now mix and match between global Muslim styles from the Middle East, Asia and Africa, choosing clothing that is modest but rarely ascetic.

“It’s a matter of balancing our Muslim identity, our cultural identity, and at the same time being American,” said Sadaf Siddiq, 24, who wears a pricey, beaded abaya for formal religious occasions but usually gets her clothes from H&M.

The Internet replaced traveling abroad as the best way to acquire well-made Muslim clothing — what Habibi calls the Guccis of Muslim wear — but now some merchants are capitalizing on the trend by allowing Bay Area Muslims to browse clothes and feel the fabrics locally.

“Thobes, abayas, hijabs, topis, khuffs and more!” says a sign outside Maqbool Islamic Clothing, a new store next to the post office in the historic Alvarado district in Union City.

Entrepreneur Jabir Tarin, 20, dressed recently in blue Vans sneakers, a bright plaid shirt and a taqiyah cap, opened the shop March 1 with his older brother and a friend. They couldn’t find the clothes they wanted to wear, so the Cal State East Bay students began importing them.

“It’s totally normal for us to wear this in public,” said the bearded college student, walking through a store that sells everything from Arab yashmagh scarves to the tropical lungis and sarongs favored from Bangladesh to Indonesia.

Tarin said what Muslim youths wear is inspired by Islamic scriptures, longstanding cultural traditions and a desire to emulate others whose clothes they admire. It doesn’t hurt that the Bay Area is an accepting place, he added.

“One of the blessings of living in the Bay Area is there’s so much diversity,” Tarin said. “You could all but go naked and nobody will say anything.”

Like many of his peers, Habibi never wanted to wear Islamic clothing as a child growing up in an Afghan-American family in Fremont. He avoided the perahan tunban, the long shirt-and-trousers combo his father wore at home and to cultural events.

“My mom wanted me to wear the clothes, and we would rebel and say, ‘No way, we’re not going to wear that stuff.’ It wasn’t cool. We were kids. We wanted to fit in,” said the San Ramon banker.

Now he wears Arab garb his father would never think of wearing. Habibi said he had a change of heart three years ago as he began to take his faith more seriously and found a new pride in his Muslim culture and community.

“Every single day, I’ve got to look sharp, especially with clients,” he said. “I kind of look at Islamic clothing the same way.”

He’s on the lookout now for a new thobe of the Yemeni style he spotted on a passer-by some weeks ago. He called the Union City store to see if they have it.

“I’m not really a big fan of wearing a collar. I told him, ‘Hey man, are you going to get any of those Yemeni thobes there? I can’t find one.’”

Not yet, Habibi said, but someone’s bound to start selling them soon.

Original post: Muslim fashion takes hold in Bay Area

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34 Comments »

  1. Masha ALLAH

  2. How can the Abaya be hated when the Virgin Mary always appears in a veil covering her head in the pictures!

  3. it looks cozy! nice, but don’t ever try to to run when you are wearing one of those! LOL, nice clothes.

  4. Myself, I don’t wear “Islamic” clothing, but kufis’ off to the brothers who do. I just don’t see how one culture can be more Muslim than the other when Islam is for everybody.

  5. Well said, Robert!

  6. Website for the shop??

  7. ive got no problem with muslims ,just crazy extremist christains

  8. I agree, Robert. A little tired of seeing headlines that implicate there is one standard dress for Muslims labled “Muslim Clothing”. Call it what it is; Arab clothing, or Indian/Pakistani dress. Islam is not a dress code.

  9. Robert and Jackie, that is precisely what I was thinking. What is “Islamic” clothing???? Christians and Jews in Arab countries wear precisely the same things. I can wear “American” clothing in a discrete way, or “African” clothing.

  10. Yes but that is because in SF men wear them too.

  11. We’re making Islam more like a culture than a religion. It’s funny because the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) never wore a kufi or shalwar kameez in his life (at least to my knowledge), but rather Muslims want to wear so people know they are Muslim. But this confuses people and discourages conversion. There are probably some people out there who would like to become Muslim, but they’re like “I don’t know if I could wear a thobe all day.” It’s like we’re giving the impression that Islam is a religion for Arabs.

  12. Greg islam has far more extremism than Christianity

  13. Really Rachel? The KKK, people who move pedophile priests to different areas, Anders Brevik, the guy who killed 70+ people in Norway, The Spanish Inquisition, abortion clinic bombers, ad nauseam. Then you have atheists who are extremist like Mao Tsetung, Pol Pot, ad nauseam. Instead of saying one is more extreme than the other, I’d say the problem is not with the text but with the reader.

  14. The article never stated that wearing a certain kind of outfit would make you more of a Muslim.

    I think it’s refreshing to see people be more accepting to being different and more readapting to their own culture. I wiuld hope that in the long run it should also make it easier for people to follow the sunnah of the beard and fard of wearing hijaab too.

    Why focus on the negative, Robert?
    Instead of acting like someone wouldn’t be willing to accept Islam because they feel like they can’t wear a thoub, why not think of it like Islam is a different religion but it transcends cultures too.

    Instead of having everyone assimilate and dress in pants etc, I think it’s great that ppl aren’t feeling ashamed to dress in outfits of their own culture.

    Also, a person who would not want to accept Islam due to an outfit is not accepting Islam for the right reasons anyways.

  15. Robert and? Islam still holds the title. Over 20,000 acts of terror since 911

  16. No other religion or idealogy has as much bloodshed.

  17. So your blaming the religion, but not the .5% people who act on it violently? Cute.

  18. Rachel you must not have read about the Crusades. The Catholic Church gave pardons to rapists and murderers to get them to go fight in the Holy Land. The “Christian Knights” slaughtered Christians in churches in Jerusalem while they begged for their lives. They killed and raped anything that moved. That was before they even began killing Muslims. Humans can be very bad. Men just use religion as an excuse to do what they would do anyway. God does not tell people to do horrible stuff. God tells us to be good to each other. Islam and Christianity are almost the same. The trinity and beliefs about the divinity of Jesus – Peace & Blessings Upon Him – are the only big differences. The Old Testament has just as many examples of war as the Quran. Context is important to understand. The 10 commandments are the same for both Muslims and Christians and much more is the same. The same prophets – Peace Upon all of them. Muslims even accept Jesus – Peace Upon him – as the Messiah.

  19. rachel is a racist maniac. u can see bunch of her comments here, in almost every post. seems like she has nothing else to do but sitting in front of the screen n type her anti-muslim stuff every single day

  20. Rachel – if you count every attack on doctors and nurses and clinics who perform abortions as terror (which it is) then Pro-lifers have done more terrorism than Muslims in the USA post 9-11. There have not been 20,000 attacks since 9-11. That is a lie. You should be careful what you copy from the web. Even if you count all terror attacks globally there have not been a fraction of that many. This anti Islamaphobia page featured a good article the other day which showed how only a tiny % of terrorism is actually done by people who say they are Muslim, and Muslims are 1.4 Billion. Humans have problems. Amongst that many people there are bound to be a few bad apples. You are more likely to be eaten by a shark than to be attacked by a Muslim.

  21. Lol look how she doesn’t answer. Haram, she knows she has nothing to say…that or she just doesnt realize the facts have her beat everytime.

  22. Shylon
    Only .5% are radicals

  23. ///Only .5% are radicals/// Maybe so, but the other 99.5% aren’t ardently opposed to it either. Where is the outrage and outcry among moderate muslims to purge these radicals and puritans out of the community? There isn’t any. Which probably explains why on 9/11, world over, muslims were taking to the streets in celebration rather than mourning the loss of life. Maybe it’s our of fear or maybe it’s out of silent consent ,but there is NO effort among ordinary Muslims to flush out the extremists. Don’t deny it.

    Anyone who points out the realities of the Muslim community gets labelled a bigot and a racist. Geert Wilders speaks the way he does, because he’s given fodder and endless examples to do so. Instead of mocking him, see if there is something you could do to prove him wrong. By that, I don’t mean violence, because we know NOTHING bad ever happens to anyone who insults Islam. Is Theo Van Gogh still available for an interview?

  24. Simple evidence of what I’ve mentioned above is that, so much babble about Islamophobia has been posted on this page for the last few days, but NOT A SINGLE mention of the killing of the four Jews in Toulouse by a MUSLIM TERRORIST.

    Where is the outrage and outcry against that? We’re still just rambling about Islamophobia…Geez…Typical.

  25. Because this is a page dedicated to fighting Islamophobia, Genius.

  26. Well, if you want the world to stop being Islamophobic, then let us see your willingness to purge the extreme elements from your community, and be willing to criticize your own when they do something wrong.

    Were my words genius enough for you?

  27. Check out my post below!

  28. Pinto…if you are talking about examples why you should fear islam you may have hundreds of them..just like that, me too have hundreds of examples why we should fear christians/jews…but its about how to get rid of this fear…(sry for my bad english)

  29. Aaizah, what post are you talking of dear?

  30. Sorry sorry sorry…..I meant ‘COmmeNT’ not post……

  31. P.S I most certainly won’t die if YOU don’t stop being Islamophobic . You seem to be happy enough wallowing in your phobia and ignorance……Stay that way….I don’t care….

  32. @cliff, just because fox news doesn’t cover it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. take for example pakistan, there military is fighting the radicals for last 10 yrs. and since 9/11 the madresas there r watched closely and many have been shut down. and u can google muslims against terrorism, and see what the western muslims r condemning. and its not only muslims responsibility to purge radicals out. the west needs to take some blame for the radicals as well, we need to pull the troops out of muslims countries and sort out the isreal/palestine conflict in order to eliminate the radicals.

  33. @Aazia I’d be very tempted to take your offer. Thanks

    BTW, No one is hating you or any Muslim. Yes I am critical of somethings but that doesn’t mean I’m a racist. So please don’t label me as one.

    Inara,
    I’m from the subcontinent Inara. Don’t give me Jazz about Pakistan. In the last 10 years, do you know how many Pakistani Intelligence aka ISI backed Islamic terror attacks have occurred in India? Looks like the Pakistani military wasn’t clamping down hard enough.lol.

    I’m sorry, I don’t get fox in my country. Sorry to disappoint. Lets be frank, the effort to purge extremism is simply not strong enough. And when an outsider like me simply points that out I’m labelled a Nazi.

    Anyway, Good Luck to both u girls.

    P.S. I agree with u about the other things, like pulling the US military out of the mid-east and sorting the Israel/PA situation etc.

  34. i never said pakistani gov’t was perfect, they have their flaws. but its funny how u come back with yet more assumptions…….

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