Learn about the role hammams played in the lives of Arab women. Discover how this role has changed over time.
Women and the Hammam
Women and the Hammam

When hammams were first proclaimed by Muhammed the places for religious and recreational purposes, women were not allowed to enter them. However, in some time the hygienic advantages of the hammams became apparent, and the ruling was altered to allow women go to the hammam after she had been ill or had given a birth.  Eventually, the hammams became open to Arab women, who now had the chance to, at least, in some way socialize with anyone outside their houses. Soon what had been the privilege became the right.

With the time passing, the hammam began to play a very important role in the lives of Arab women. It was a so-called compensation for the Arab women, who didn’t enjoy the advantages of visiting theatres, cinemas, restaurants as most European women did. The time spent in the hammam may have taken as long as half a day, or even the whole day.

The hammam became the place were mothers looked for prospective brides for their sons, since no physical or other defect or weakness could be unnoticed. Moreover, it was even acceptable for mother to kiss her future daughter-in-law in order to figure out whether or not she had bad breath.

The importance of visiting hammam has become so high, that now, if the man denies or forbids his wife to go to the hammam, she may have ground for asking a divorce.