No one should be forced to wear the long robes, stated Sheikh Abdullah al-Mutlaq.
And now, the nation’s dress code has come under the microscope by a top cleric.
Sheikh Abdullah Al Mutlaq, who is a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, revealed this week his belief that dressing modestly did not need to mean wearing an abaya by law.
“More than 90 per cent of pious Muslim women in the Muslim world do not wear abayas. So we should not force people to wear abayas,” he stated on his radio programme on Friday.
Currently, the loose-fitting full-length robe must be worn by women in the kingdom when in public.
Through Sheikh Al Mutlaq’s comments do not mean the law will necessarily be changed, it’s the first statement of its kind to be made by a senior cleric, according to Reuters.
However, only government-appointed clerics associated with the Council of Senior Scholars can issue fatwas, which form the basis of Saudi’s laws, so a reform is neither completely out of the question.
Recently, the kingdom has seen many changes under Vision 2030, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious post-oil economic plan which aims to make Saudi a more modern, tourist-friendly destination.
Last September, a royal decree revealed women will be able to secure driving licences from June 2018, with the news widely celebrated around the globe.
As part of the initiative, the government also aims to increase the percentage of women in the nation’s workforce from 23 per cent to 28 per cent by 2020.
Additionally, more Saudi females have been appointed to top jobs, a royal directive allowed women to use certain government services without a male guardian’s consent, and recent approval was issued for the go-ahead of women’s gyms.
It has also been reported this week that the kingdom’s Public Prosecution will begin hiring Saudi women as investigative officers.