The traditional abaya is a plain black robe worn by Muslim women to cover their regular clothing, It could be described as a long-sleeve robe-like dress and it is the traditional form of dress for many countries of the Arabian peninsula including Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. In Iran the abaya is referred to as a chador and in South Asia a burqa.
The abaya covers the whole body except the face, feet, and hands. It can be worn with the niqab, a face veil covering all but the eyes.
The origins of the abaya are vague. Some think that it existed as long as 4 000 years ago in the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and when Islam arose in the seventh century C.E., the religion absorbed local veiling practices into its culture, probably due to the dressing traditions of the women of Arab Jahiliya.
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