Please help me understand, if you can.
To make a long, complicated and boring story short, when my husband and I were already in the midst of an argument about something totally other than what I'm about to mention here, I mentioned that the reason I would prefer not to spend X amount of money on X is because there are other things I would rather spend money on.
"Like what?" he asked.
"Like clothes," I answered, thinking of the new Spring clothes at my favorite Islamic store. There's a couple pieces I'm drooling over.
"You have a closet full of clothes," was his reply. "You have so many that you gave away X bags full to that rummage sale at the mosque."
Which was true, I did.
Now, let me give you bit of background, and then you can help me sort this out.
I became muslim 4 1/2 years ago. Like so many new muslims, I had no idea what to wear, so I accepted whatever was offered to me.
Since that time, I have branched out, GRADUALLY, learning about different cuts, different styles, different fabrics, which are halal and better suit my personal taste.
Until last summer, it was always ranges of abayas (mostly black, incidentally) that I was exploring.
I am very particular about....well, let's face it, many things in life. :) Clothing is one of them. I want it to fit well. I prefer certain fabrics and cuts over others. When things aren't *just right* I am bothered.
Now, I continued to wear abayas for 4 years, and frankly WORE OUT my favorite ones precisely because they were perferable, due to many details, over other ones. The ones with constructional flaws were worn very infrequently, much to the DEEP-SEATED chagrin of my husband ("why did I buy these if you're never going to wear them"). I am so drawn to practicality and comfort that the abayas which best fit my personal paradigm of goodness got too worn out, and my husband refused to let me wear them anymore, saying I looked "like a bum," meaning, not respectable, because the material had gotten all fuzzy and they had shrunk a little due to so many washings. Also, the material had been less expensive in the first place. I found that the fancy ones just didn't suit my lifestyle. Being a muslim growing in her identity, I hadn't anticipated this when I had been pressured to buy fancy abayas, so that I would look "respectable."
One additional note - the first year I was muslim, I also wore niqab. It was due to many reasons that are hard to articulate, but I think what stands out is that I was very, very eager - alhamdulileh - to jump into this religion, to do everything, to be great. I didn't think about the long-term anything of wearing niqab; it just didn't matter or occur to be at the time. Much like how I converted/reverted to Islam in the first place: I just jumped in, because I knew it was right and good - mashaAllah.
But with niqab, since I believe it is not quite possible to prove 100% either way that it is fard or not, I had some leeway. I discovered that there were difficulties with it, and since I viewed it as an option, I gradually opted out.
My husband saw this as a weakening of imaan, which I felt very bad about. But over time, I've come to define this change differently. I think that I am just evolving, finding my place inside and outside myself as a muslim in this society. I tried something out. I found it difficult to maintain at the time. Perhaps one day I will work it back in - Allahu alim. It was more a matter of practicality, I think.
Now. Last summer, my friend from out of town came to visit. I admired her muslim attire, mashaAllah, of long skirts and long shirts bought from a particular muslim Islamic clothing store.
I checked it out, and I LOVED what I found. Different styles, different colors (but still modest). Cuts that fit better, and even covered better (I don't like how with abayas, if you have anything but the shirt-style sleeves, they are wide. They slide up your arm if you slightly raise your arm, which exposes your skin UNLESS you wear the stretchy arm gauntlets, which for me are extremely uncomfortable, because they are either too tight, or they bunch up under your clothes, and in all cases, they make me HOT, HOT HOT). This Islamic store has clothes made out of COTTON - SUBHANALLAH! What I'd missed in my abayas for years! I always wondered why abayas, which are usually dark colors, have to be made of polyester? Thick or thin polyester, it doesn't breathe and it is hot and for me, less comfortable. I tolerated it for years because I believed I didn't have any other options.
Can I tell you how I marveled when I discovered COTTON clothes? COTTON ISLAMIC clothes? I was soooo happy.
So I bought a few pieces.
Since then, I've added a few more pieces, often saving up my own money so that I don't have to ask my husband for anything expensive and feel guilty about it.
So my abayas have gotten cycled out of what I wear. My husband asks, irritated, every once in awhile, why don't I wear my abayas? And I go into this long-winded explanation - which, includes something I didn't mention before - I am still nursing. All of my abayas except 1 or 2 are not suited for nursing.
Which brings us to tonight.
I mentioned that there were a few clothes I was thinking about, and he mentioned how I have a closet full of abayas.
I explained that I prefer to wear my long skirts and shirts, because of the fabric, the cuts, the practicality and functionality - I just feel it all is easier and suits me better.
This is where my question comes in. He proceeded to make me feel EXTREMELY GUILTY.
He assumed I was saying I was "never going to wear abaya again, and that I hate abaya" (which I NEVER said...why would I say that??? but he assumed that's what I meant), which he said is HARAAM. (Question: I didn't say that, but IS it haraam to say that?)
He was basically admonishing me, saying that we can NEVER say anything other than abaya, jilbab, galabaya is the best, because that's what the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) loved to wear, did wear, and it's what his wives wore.
He said fine, wear long shirts and skirts, it is halal, but you must admit that it is not as good as abaya (or galabaya, for men). Abaya and galabaya is sunnah. You should at least want or hope to do the sunnah, if your imaan is higher - but never say that something else is better.
I felt terrible. I like wearing the skirts, shirts, because of practical, functional reasons. Sure, I stand out less too than I would in black abaya - but I don't really care about that - I wore black abayas for 4 years, after all!
Question: is what my husband saying correct? Is it haraam to say that something else is as good or better to wear - for ANY reason - than abaya???
Please help. Jazakallahkhairan.