The history and origin of telekung that you need to know – ZAAHARA
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The history and origin of telekung that you need to know

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It's solat time! Make haste, sister! Go perform your wudhu! Grab that telekung! Throw on the sejadah and start your solat! Day in and day out we pray. For five times a day, we pray but do we ever stop to think; exactly why is it that we use the telekung for prayers?

Why exactly is it necessary for us to wear the telekung during solat? This article will explore this topic in further details. 

We probably aren't really aware at times that our Muslim sisters from the Middle East do not bother to wear a telekung at all for their solat. Ever wonder why that is? If we feel obligated to wear the telekung, how come they don't?

The root to such a question lies in the reason why the telekung exists in the first place - to cover our aurat completely to the point where nothing is seen except for our face.

This is because our solat can only be accepted by Allah SWT if we completely cover all of our aurat amongst other things. We have to ensure that no other body part touches the air such as our feet, hair, hands, arms and torso. We must ensure that every inch of our skin is hidden from the eyes of mortals when we want to perform our prayers. 

So how come it's a must for us to wear such a garment yet our Muslimah sisters from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan and more don't feel the need to? Is it merely a want for us to put it on? Women from these countries do not need to wear any type of prayer garment because their everyday clothing already covers their entire body.

Sometimes they will even wear the burqa and this piece of cloth will hide their face save for their eyes from everyone. With clothing that covers every part of the body, there is clearly no need to wear an additional garment whose purpose is to cover body parts. 

Photo credit : NyTimes

If one were to cover themselves in a big black abaya, hijab and burqa that is practically a telekung already and you can perform your solat anywhere and anytime.

The telekung is renowned as a type of dress that is worn over our ordinary daily clothes. Why do we still do this even though most of us Malay Muslims choose to wear the hijab? Well, the reason is because we are not all very particular about how we cover our aurat.

White pastel cotton telekung

Photo credit : The Zaahara Telekung

Yes, most of us wear the hijab but plenty of us still aren't too strict about what body parts we choose to cover. For example, a girl may choose to put on the hijab but the hijab isn't long enough to completely cover her chest area.

At times, a girl may choose to wear pants, trousers or jeans and they don't really care whether or not these clothing items cover their bottoms well. Sometimes the fact that they are pants itself, it can't be helped that the shape of their limbs is emphasised and this already throws their aurat off tangent.

Aside from that, some women may wear long sleeved clothes but the sleeves tend to slip during takbir and this may reveal a certain amount of flesh. Hence, there are many reasons why simply praying with the clothes you have on your back is not sufficient and in comes the need for the ever-reliable telekung.

It can't be determined exactly when and how the telekung arrived to our shores and spread its use to us Muslim women but it can be said that our elders have been using it since the old days of 1920s.

Telekung cotton white is sunnah

Photo credit : The Zaahara Telekung

We know this from simply talking to our grandmothers and they can confirm that the telekung had been around since that era. People may have stitched them differently and they may not have been as exquisite looking as the telekung you see nowadays but they were still there and they did the job well enough.

One thing they will tell you is that most telekung back then weren't made of such high quality materials and that they were mostly white in colour. Why only white you may ask?

Well, the reason why everyone made white telekungs was because white is a colour that our Prophet Muhammad SAW was very fond of.

It is sunnah to do what the Prophet has done, thus, the need to wear white became ever popular. Even nowadays the white telekung still are considered the quintessential look of a telekung. Take the cat's meow brand of telekungs, Siti Khadijah for example. Their signature look is the plain white telekung.

No doubt, one is immediately inspired by the purity and cleanliness of the colour.

Furthermore, we Malaysian Muslims follow the Mazhab of Syafie and according to this school of Islamic law, a woman must be covered completely in order for her solat to be accepted.

The clothes that you wear is valid for prayer as long as it is long enough to cover your chest area and your feet.

Hence, it doesn’t matter if you wear a specific prayer outfit like a telekung. You can still pray as long as you are fully covered and the clothes do not stick to you like a second skin.


Article is written by: 

Nur Jalilah Binti Abdul Aziz, freelance writer of this blog at Zaahara. Interests include blog writing, academic writing and creative writing.

-Photos are taken from google images

© 2016 Zaahara Ventures Sdn. Bhd.

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