During the 20th century, many countries in the world experienced rapid progression and industrialisation. It can be argued that certain geographical areas, particularly those with Bedouin lifestyles within the Middle East, largely remained illiterate and developed at a slower pace.
The challenging environment of the Arabian Peninsula, characterized by scorching sun, sandstorms, vast deserts, and scarce water sources, necessitated ingenious adaptation for survival. Simple clothing, often accompanied by head covers or turbans, became the norm and has evolved into a cultural tradition that endures to this day.
As time marched forward, global changes had a profound impact on the Middle East, none more so than the discovery of oil, ushering in unprecedented wealth. This newfound prosperity brought about significant shifts in traditional lifestyles, fostering consumerism and materialism.
Thobes in the Present Day
Age and location make a great difference when it comes to clothing in the Middle East. On one hand, the younger generation often opts for Western attire in their daily lives. This is in contrast to their traditional outfits known as "Thobes" which are now only reserved for special occasions such as weddings, religious celebrations or a pilgrimage. In contrast, older generations continue to embrace traditional clothing as part of their daily routine.
This shift reflects changing social values, with a decline in religious influence and an increasing focus on materialism, amplified by the influence of global celebrities.
The "Thobe" or "Jubbah" is known by a number of names and coloquiallisms throughout the region, but generally refer to the same style of clothing: a traditional long robe-like garment worn by men. It is typically a loose-fitting, ankle-length garment that often has long sleeves and a simple, straight-cut design. Thobes are typically made from lightweight and breathable materials, making them suitable for the hot and arid climates of the Middle East. They are commonly worn as everyday clothing and can vary in color and design based on cultural and regional preferences.
Thobes are not only a traditional garment but also serve practical purposes by providing comfort and protection from the sun and heat.
One may come across any of the following names referring to the same type of garment:
- Thobe, 'Thuab' or 'Thawb' - mainly used in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States;
- Jubbah, 'Jebba' or 'Jubba - common in Tunisia;
- Dishdasha - used in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon;
- Jalabiyya, 'Jebba' or "Djellaba' - used in the Gulf and North Africa;
- Kandura - used in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon;
- Thoab Kaftan;
- Futa - found in Yemen.
These names can vary slightly in pronunciation and spelling within and across regions, but they all refer to similar traditional men's robes worn in these countries.
Why wear a Thobe, Jubbah, Jubba, Dishdasha
People from other parts of the world may wonder why men from certain regions choose to wear thobes. There are several meaningful reasons, some of which are identified below:
- To cover the body:
The main purpose of dressing is to cover parts of the body which by divine law, as defined by Islamic Legislation, must be covered. Different parts of the body must be covered at different times and in different surroundings. Thobes are an ideal piece of attire that meets the primary criteria of dressing.
- To protect from harm:
Thobes serve as protective clothing, shielding the body from the scorching sun and UV exposure. Having adapted to the weather, it is also a form of protective clothing to fulfil the health needs of the wearer. The turban or any other piece of clothing covering the head, and the long Thobe covering the body, enables one to travel around without succumbing to heat stroke and sunburn.
- To beautify oneself:
Allah Almighty, the creator of everything, is the most beautiful and He loves beauty. He has created us with natural instincts and we all desire to look our best. Dressing in a manner to beautify ourself, without showing off, is a form of gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon us. Dressing in a Jubbah or "Jubba" also accomplishes this benchmark.
- To dress traditionally:
Thobes and similar attire are rooted in the cultural history of the Middle East, shared by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Even today, the resemblance between thobes and the attire of Christian priests during religious ceremonies is evident.
Historically, namely in Biblical and Ancient Jewish times, clothing comprised of robes, sashes and turbans.
- As a sign of piety and morality:
Thobes symbolize religious devotion, piety, and moral values, reinforcing the pride and identity of their wearers. With the passage of time, people were influenced by European culture thus their clothing adapted. However, Islamic culture has proven resilient and traditional dress has thus largely remained unaffected by external influence.
Muslims in the UK and Western World
Men around the globe, particularly in the Western World who are religiously inclined, are inspired and admire the thobe for its history. The Western media tends to portray a negative image of Islam and demonises its followers as being terrorists, fundamentalists and religious zealots who do not fit the narrative of freedom that is enjoyed in the West. The rationality of “every action has an equal and opposite reaction” has compelled and turned Muslims more towards their religion to discover the purpose of life in this world and learn to survive with their culture intact.
As a result, the Thobe, Jubbah or Jubba, and other Islamic clothing have gained popularity in Western countries.
My Hijab: Your Source for Thobes and Jubbahs
My Hijab offers a range of Thobes and Jubbahs designed to cater to the unique weather conditions, cultural preferences, and needs of people in the UK and Western countries. Explore our collection and embrace the elegance and tradition of Thobes and Jubbahs.