Over the years I have been asked by quite a few people, why i dont wear the abaya, and my response has always been that I would Inshallah wear it 'some day'. Many of these people have made numerous attempts to try and convince me to wear it, but I have had a very hard time trying to make up my mind. I believe that the decision should come from within you and you should not just do it because someone tells u to do it.
Yes I am aware that the way I dress , although seen to be modest by many , ( long-sleeved, knee-length tops and loose trousers, and the hijab) is not exactly how islam requires a woman to dress, as the Quran clearly states that an 'outer garment' must be worn :
" O Prophet! Tell thy wives & daughters & the believeing women that they should cast their outer garment over their persons ( when abroad) that is most convenient that they should be known ( as such) and not molested & God is Oft-Forgiving , Most Merciful " (33:59)
" And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss" (24:31)
There are times when i get this overwhelming urge to just go out there n do it, but i also do know that once you decide, there is no going back.One of my primary fears is that I would regret my decision once I start wearing it. I have seen plenty of women stop wearing it after marriage or just stop for some reason or another. It is not fair to judge these women, because we all go through phases where our iman tends to decrease , but I think it's just wrong to regret, even for a moment, that you could show off what you are wearing under the abaya.
I guess its much easier a decision to make if you live in a Muslim country or it quite a few people in your circle also wear it. Having lived in Saudi Arabia for more than half my life, wearing an abaya felt so normal, but that was probably because everyone wore it. In a country where only a handful wear the abaya, and 'female only' gatherings are VERY rare, the thought of never being able to 'dress up' can keep getting in the way of your decision.
Trivial matters I'm sure these are, that can easily be overcome with the help of prayers and strong iman.
I was listening to a lecture by a South African sheikh, Sulaiman Mulla, a weeks back . He was talking about the modesty of Fatima (RA), the youngest daughter of the Prophet (SAW), and an incident he related had quite an impact on me .When Fatima (RA)knew that death was approaching, she went to Asma bint Umais and expressed her concerns that at certain funerals of women, the body was not concealed adequately and that she did not want this to be the case with her body (i.e she wanted her body to be concealed totally) Subhanallah! She was so worried and particular about her modesty even at death, when no man would see her after she was buried!
Regarding the niqab however, I do know that there are differing views about this issue and am among those who think its not wajib to fear the face veil (as of now at least) .
Kudos to all the sisters out there who wear the abaya, and to the ones who wear the niqab , I have no words!!
May Allah guide us all and increase our iman