Mariam Aboukar’s closet contains the typical staples of an 18-year-old.

She has a short, red halter-top dress with flowers on the skirt. A pair of black skinny jeans. A bikini.

But Aboukar wouldn’t wear any of them in public.

She is well-accustomed to the balancing act of being an American teenager as well as a devout Muslim who follows the faith’s modesty requirements.

Islam requires modesty from both women and men in dress and behavior, said Julia Shearson, executive director of the Cleveland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The idea is to encourage respect and discourage sexual relations between men and women who are not married.

Women should cover everything but their face, hands and feet, unless the only people around are women, or men in their immediate family. Men must cover up from the navel to the knee.

Most Muslims believe that a woman’s head scarf, or hijab, is a religious obligation, though some Muslim women don’t wear one, Shearson said.


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