Saudi Arabia: How Far Can a Fatwa Go?

In less than two months a new door which had opened for Saudi women has now been slammed closed.  I’m referring specifically for the opportunity of Saudi women working as cashiers.  It’s odd…Saudi women (at least for now) are still working in mixed environments such as hospitals, but a position as a cashier has been deemed as inappropriate.

According to the Committee on Scholarly Work and Ifta, the official issuer of fatwas, or Islamic religious rulings, under the Council of Senior Scholars, the top authority for Islamic issues in the Kingdom, “it is not permissible for a woman to work in a place where they mix with men.”

“It is necessary to keep away from places where men congregate. Women should look for decent work that does not make it possible for them to attract men or be attracted by men.”

The ruling was signed by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, the head of the Council of Senior Scholars, and six other members of the fatwa committee.

(Saudi Woman has posted the fatwa in its entirety on her blog in both Arabic and English)

I wonder how Benazir Bhutto would have responded to such a fatwa?  She was a Muslim woman and served twice as the Prime Minister of Pakistan (1988 – 1990; 1993 – 1996).    Sadly, she was assassinated on 27 December 2007, after departing a PPP rally in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, two weeks before the scheduled Pakistani general election of 2008 in which she was a leading opposition candidate.

Benazir Bhutto is not the only Muslim woman who stands out as a trailblazer for Muslim women around the world.  In 2007, 10 female Muslim executives are cited by Forbes as among the world’s most powerful women.  Going further back, Muslims worldwide are very familiar that the Prophet’s (PBUH) first wife, Khadijah, was an astute businesswoman.

The recent ruling in Saudi Arabia has made me wonder what exactly is a fatwa?  According to Wikipedia, a fatwa is a religious opinion concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar.

It seems to me that if a fatwa is a religious opinion and in Sunni Islam (which Saudi Arabia follows) is non-binding, then perhaps there can be a glimmer of hope and optimism.  I see the fatwa more as a recommendation rather than a law.

My analysis of the fatwa is that the conservatives of Saudi society are not ready to see women as cashiers.  The majority of grocery store cashiers in Saudi Arabia are foreign nationals from Pakistan and India.  A minority are from other Arab states or even young Saudi men.  As such, a position as a cashier for a Saudi woman is likely viewed as demeaning and beneath her by mainstream society and not so much as a position which will attract men.

In my own view I think that stating the need for segregation and sheltering women from men has become more of a standard litany than a reality.

 

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48 Responses

  1. It is just another way for them to keep woman in check

  2. The Mufti is the King’s most trusted Murshed and supporter. He would never have signed the Fatwa without a nod from the higher ups.

    As I have said before, the religious establishment is only the forefront tools for the real power wielders.

    Having six million Saudi women driving and working will tip the balance in favor of a formidable work force, undermine religious extremism, reduce the loot to ruling men’s Swiss bank accounts and unite the country socially, politically, economically, regionally and ethnically. That’s not what the system was designed to accommodate, tolerate or accept voluntarily.

    The king has the power to change the women’s plight with a decree and here is how:

    Round up his senior brothers, all governors, chiefs of military, police and national guard, senior Ulama, major tribal chiefs, all media outlets and line them up in front of enlarged and well lit mural of the grand mosque, say a prior and decree:

    We King Abdullah decree that no man in this country, regardless of status, position and wealth has the right or can force a woman to work, drive, go to school, marry anyone or travel against her well.

    More important:

    We King Abdullah decree that no man in this country has the right or can stop a woman from driving, working, going to school, marrying a man of her choice or traveling anywhere if she chooses to do so.

    Any violators of our wish or harass women on the roads, workplace or schools will face the Saudi swift justice.

    To ensure that things run smoothly, the king can mobilize his national guard and have them monitor the process for four months. People will get accustomed to a change that is overdue and can only benefit everyone.

    May be someone can get this into King Abdullah’s daughters Setah and/or Adellah. They could be the first to get behind the wheels.

  3. A clear example of why religion and religious leaders should have NO place in public life.

  4. Sorry, I don’t think King Abdullah can do that and have it come out well. Much of the population here is more conservative than the royal family. You’d likely get civil war. Education and is a more effective less violent means of effecting change. That’s not to say more couldn’t be done by decree than is- but that description wouldn’t work.

    The clerics ARE in a sort of power struggle with the King. They don’t approve of KAUST for example, though the first to say something was fired by the King.

    Interestingly, apparently this fatwah was not yet officially “released”. Someone leaked it.

  5. ali,
    “To ensure that things run smoothly, the king can mobilize his national guard and have them monitor the process for four months.”

    How many crimes against HUMANITY will be committed during these four months? and if the situation goes worse, how many crimes against Humanity are going to be committed more? And how are you going to transit peacefully the power to someone else after all these crimes? You know dude, you are preaching the same things that dictators are doing, which is fighting the will of people in the Middle East. The irony is that you set up a centre for democracy in saudi lol.

    Actually saudis’ beloved father, King Abdullah is more democratic than many people in here who think that they are democratic. King Abdullah set up the national Saudi dialogue. And Saudi intellectuals, educators etc are debating for 7 years now about these issues. The problem with Saudis is that when they debate, they personalise the issues and they attack each other personally on air. So they are stuck there and they got upset of each other and the main objective of dialogue is left out. So we need more educated people who can debate well and work for the will of people. We need social studies that consult Saudi people in these issues instead of throwing personal wishes. We need more education. The key is the education, and there is no other solution. And Saudi is doing that now. 100 thousands students are studying abroad, 30 thousands are in the US. Do not you think that this is not a change?

    Ali, I recommend that you go back to Saudi and join the Saudi dialogue there instead of working in this centre that will do nothing to Saudi people but chaos. This is my advice to you if your main “noble” goals are serving saudis but based on what you said in the other article, I think you would prefer to stay on the spanish beaches instead of facing the sandstorms and you are looking for a pass now to take the loot?!

    sandy,
    I agree 100% with you in your post. And this fatwa is leaked too and it is not official. The conservative clerics are trying hard to take the official religious establishment to their side.

  6. “work that does not make it possible for them to attract men or be attracted by men.””

    How could there be such a thing when it is in our basic nature, given by the Creator, that man and woman are made for each other?

  7. “Actually saudis’ beloved father, King Abdullah” when young generation of Saudi Arabia have such things in their mind , women in Saudi Arabia should see their progress only in their dreams .LOL
    mariam-Iran

  8. @mariam lol. do not worry,

    I just want to highlight an important point here. I will quote from Saudi woman’s blog, the question sent to the Ifta committee. The one who asked for fatwa phrased his question in away to address emotionally the tribal honour, and the traditions. Please look at how he misleads the ifta committee. Here is the question and in Arabic version it is more misleading to the committee.

    “Several companies and shops are employing women as cashiers who serve both men and women as families. “Each day” these women cashiers meet “DOZENS” of men, and “SPEAK” to them while “handling back and forth money and receipts”. In addition these women cashiers are required to undergo training, attend “meetings” and “interact” with their colleagues and “supervisor” at work. What is the ruling on women working as such? What is the ruling regarding companies and shops that recruit women?”

    Did you understand now where the main problem is?!!!!!!!!!!!! if you want to understand the main problem of religious conservative men in Saudi, look at how he phrased his question.

    If you ask such question in such tone to any Saudi even if he is liberal, he will refuse that women work as cashiers. The question demonised working as cashiers. The question implies that working as cashiers facilitates sexual harassment, adultery, and moral corruption and he is asking the Ifta committee indirectly, where is your honour, guys? That is the message that he wanted to pass to Ifta committee though this question.

  9. The entire sexual segregation regime is full of contradictions. How can one accept women being alone with a driver but now allow them to work?

  10. I don’t understand why women completely covered can not do the work as a cashier where there are people all around and equipement seperating them. Yet if you go to the lingere shops it is less exposed to a large group of people and now we are talking about more intimate items, i.e. bra’s and panties. Then how about the makeup stores that have just men working in them. Do men wear make up? Why are they employed there and not women. Then cooking stores or house ware stores. Are the men in Saudi so progressive where they cook and keep house.

    Tell me I just don’t understand.

  11. I think what we are all tending to forget regarding this issue is the following. These ultra conservative men do not actually believe it is ok for women to be out shopping without a Mahrem. They do not let their women folk have drivers. They actually think that women should all stay home unless escorted by a mahrem. And their women DO stay home. They don’t have drivers. You see them all at night or on Thurs. mornings doing all their shopping together. They already feel morality is compromised enough by the fact that some (a minority lets remember) women have drivers. And that these women go out and do their shopping without their husbands etc. So women working as cashiers in a mixed setting, for them, is really crossing the line.

    A generation ago Saudi was on it’s way to normal modernization, and then in the 70’s the far right religious clerics gained more power- most critically control of education. The current generation of adults was educated by these extreme ideas. It will take education to undo it. However, certainly more could be done by decree. But even if women, for example COULD drive most would not be allowed to by their families. Of course thats no reason to stop those that WOULD be allowed.

  12. @jerry,

    There is racism involved with the driver and women issue. See, the drivers will almost universally be Pakistani, African, ect. Society there just doesnt really think a Saudi woman would mess around with such an inferior person.

    The difference with the cashier issue is that the Saudi women workers would be interacting with Saudi men, therefor a threat.

    it is kind of funny, because foreign drivers are seen as inferior and not even really men, at the same time it isnt that uncommon for Saudi women to actually have affairs with them.

    The extreme segregation leads to some pretty extreme behavior to get around it or cope with it. Lesbianism is rather common for Saudi women, especially amoungst the younger girls. Homosexuality is common amoungst the men, so is sexual abuse of domestic workers and the well known sex vacation trips to Thailand, Vietnam, Lebanon, Morocco, ect.

    if the unnatural segregation was done away with a good chunck of this behavior would end.

  13. Why should there be civil war? If a woman is conservative and doesn’t want to drive or work then she is not going to be forced to. These things could be private family matters and if the woman want to file a complaint against her father, husband or brother then the law is there to protect her. If she is happy with her life the way it is then that is wonderful because that could be her choice too. But why should HER choice be forced upon someone who DOES want to work or go to school or drive?

    I think that that civil war/social upheaval talk is a just a bunch of bullshit used to control the fearful masses.

  14. @Lynn,

    I dont know, I think it is possible, but often that is how countries gain their freedoms. The American Revolution here in the US was as much of a civil war as it was a rebellion against the Brits. The majority of Americans at that time backed the Brits and some of the worst attrocities during the Revolutionary War were Americans against Americans.

    I think many of the extremists are very aware of the fact that if given a chance most of their women would embrace most of the freedoms. Knowing that they cannot even allow such an oppotunity to come around.

    It is cliche, but freedom isnt free. Our ancestors here in the US had to pay for it, the Saudis wil lhave to pay for it as well. It is unfortunate, but at the same time if one pays dearly for something they are more likely to respect it once they get it.

  15. Sad, Sad, Sad!!!!

    The comment about the inferior drivers reminds me of a very funny incident in Khobar. My African husband was in the driver’s seat. I was sitting in the back with the door open because I was trying to get some shade and cool air. We were parked waiting for some relatives. I wanted to look at something I had purchased that was in the trunk so I asked my husband for the keys, jumped out of the car and proceeded to open the trunk and rummage through the bags. I thought a couple of the men on the street were going to faint when they saw the driver sitting in the car and watching me grapple with the bags!!! It was so funny! Of course it could be funny for me because I was just visiting but it made us both think very seriously about the class system in Saudi and how women must behave.

  16. @Sandy,

    “A generation ago Saudi was on it’s way to normal modernization, and then in the 70′s the far right religious clerics gained more power- most critically control of education. The current generation of adults was educated by these extreme ideas.”

    I agree. On the debate page, I stated that the clerics have been doing social engineering for decades. What you are seeing in Saudi is not natural as the culture was not allowed to progress and in the case of women’s rights it was taken backwards.

    Regarding the issue of honor. It is sad to see Saudi’s who call themselves educated explain every unjust decision as the clerics defending the honor. Why is that accepted as an explanation? Why are these clerics who are supposed to be wise and are given positions of guiding society are given the excuse of being mislead by wording? Why are these so called educated men only view honor as the protection of men? It seems that being free is never part of their formula of what honor is.

    This constant excuse machine is what stops Saudi from progressing. If educated people do not get upset at such rulings, nothing will ever change.

    I think this is a test for the King, does he sit idle and watch these backwards people continue to subvert progress or does he act and wield his authority and send some of those clerics into retirement.

  17. I know this is out of topic, but since the issue of the country going through some kind of military control was brought it up.

    I think the idea National guard or army will take over the streets is a reality that will happen one day. There is a boiling issue of determining the next in line to the throne. With the first generation of Saudi rulers getting in their late 70’s and 80’s, this issue will become unavoidable. One of these days a branch of the royal family will assert its leadership. That can only happen through military power. What Medina fears is inevitable and it won’t be for betterment of the country, but rather to consolidate the power of a ruler.

  18. Some of you don’t seem to get that many,many women actually like the status quo. They have been indoctrinated. They think allowing women a choice is going down the path of “secularism” which to them is about as ungodly as it can get. I’m not talking logic here- I”m just talking what is.

    These are the two protests I wish Saudi women would take up. It has already been established thanks to a courageous woman in Riyadh that women may not drive cars or ride bikes. However they may ride donkeys. I would love to see every woman with means aquire a donkey and start shopping with it on the main shopping roads. I think loads of lady bearing donkeys on Tahlia St. would be a wonderful site to see.

    Second, there are periodically articles on how much wealth women are sitting on in Saudi Arabia. I would love to see women of means, visibly DIVEST their money from this country until they gain these basic human rights.

  19. @MoQ,

    It is possible one group has already tried. I suggest you google “Prince Bandar” and try to figure out where he has been the last few years. His daughter was recently interviewed here and I am sure she knows the truth but would hardly let us know on this forum.

    The rumour is that Prince Bandar was planning a coup to try and assure the accession of his branch of the royal family to the throne when Abd’Allah dies. It has been reported that he is locked up in a prison and not being allowed to communicate.

    It is clear that something VERY serious has happened because the prince is a man who likes the lime light. Others have suggested he is being held prisoner because of corruption, ie al Yamamah scandal, but that doesnt hold water. Prince Bandar has been known for being one of the worst when it comes to corruption, as the al Yamamah fiasco showed, yet he has never been held to account for anything. More to the point, when has a ranking member of the Saudi royal family ever been held accountable for corruption, especially to the point of imprisonment? Never.

    The more likely scenario is that he was backdealing with foreign governments and working at home to subvert any process there was to decide who the next king was going to be.

    He was corrupt, but he certainly wasnt a religious extremism. He had well known vices such as his Johnny Walker Blue Label, but whether his own liberalism would have trickled down to the people is debatable.

    Anyways, I think it is entirely likely that one attempted coup by Prince Bandar and some of those around him has already been put down. One of many to come I am sure.

    As there are two branches that control seperate arms and forces in Saudi, both controlled by members of the two different factions within the royal family, it is likely that it could come to fighting in the streets. After all, it is BIG business and whomever becomes King assures billions and billions more for him and his line.

  20. Abu Sinan…

    “There is racism involved with the driver and women issue. See, the drivers will almost universally be Pakistani, African, ect. Society there just doesnt really think a Saudi woman would mess around with such an inferior person.
    The difference with the cashier issue is that the Saudi women workers would be interacting with Saudi men, therefor a threat.”

    Well that’s a sobering thought!

  21. @Oby,

    Trust me, many Saudi women would LOVE to be able to marry someone from outside of their own country to escape the cultural BS piled upon them. It just isnt Saudis, it is Arabs as a whole, but especially Saudis.

    The problem is the state makes it VERY hard for Saudi women to marry non Saudi men and the families, well you can just imagine the response to a daughter of a family in Qassim who comes home and tells her parents she has met an American guy and wants to marry him.

    When my blog was up and running I used to regularly get e-mails from Saudi women and/or their non Saudi significant others asking for advise on how to deal with the government and their families.

    Problem is, even here in the West when the man might have even been born and raised here, the cultural crap is engrained in them since birth. So getting an Arab/Saudi guy born in the West is certainly not a guarantee that the guy is going to have decent, positive values towards women.

    Religion is the other thing, Muslim women must marry Muslim men. If they are looking to escape cultural stuff they could look for spouses in other cultures where it isnt so bad, but even in these cultures there are serious issues with women’s rights, not to mention the racial issues the lady’s family would have with an African, Pakistani ect.

    That is why many of the Saudi women I have known who have married men from outside of the Muslim world have married white Westerners. Whites are held in general good regard in the Arab world, they just have to be Muslim. Problem is, not too many of us white Muslims. Black or Latino Muslims? It would be much harder to get the family to accept such a match.

    Amazing the mine fields these women must walk just to be treated decently.

  22. Abu Sinan

    You paint a bleak picture of Saudi possible future…our little discussions seem like small potatoes compared!
    even though the prince is “liberaL” isn’t it entirely possible he could become a lackey in the hands of the religious establishment in a “i’ll wash your back if you wash mine” scenario further sending saudi backwards?

  23. Oby it’s interesting what you say about women wanting to marry Westerners. I’ve been visiting with some a new immigrant family from Iraq and they chose Canada for their new home because it has a secular government and they didn’t want their children to be raised in a country where religion could over-ride common sense and the good of all people!

  24. Wendy that is so interesting…When even the people of the country realize that the application of law through a religious filter is a not so good thing then maybe it ought to be reconsidered.

    The other day I was thinking about how so many muslims are coming to the West in droves which says to me despite everything they are unhappy with the religious system in place and yearn for a chance to express themselves in a freer manner…not give up their faith, but not be crushed under the weight of the clerics either. this is why I really wish that the whole thing could be cleaned up over there. It seems nuts to me that in order for people to have real religious freedom they have to come to a country that isn’t even islamic…it hurts me to think that they have to leave everything behind when it SHOULD be the most truly islamic place in the world for them…I feel frustrated by that for them…

  25. Saudi’s fatwa is amazing. Present Prime Minister in Bangladesh is Muslim women and opposition leader (who was former Prime Minsiter) is also Muslim women. Since history of Bangladeshi democracy, Muslim women have been leading. Indonesia’s former President was Muslim women.

    Australia got first women PM 6 months back. Brazil got first women president just few days back. But India, Pakistan, Bangladesh got women leader 30 years back.

    Problem is that people see such culture of Arab countries as Islamic rule not their typical culture. Culture should be segregated from relgious rule. And we also know that women are not allowed to drive in Saudi when women were in battle field during Prophet’s time.

  26. @Oby,

    Indeed. Just because the royal family pushes the extremists on the people doesnt mean that they are religious themselves. The royal family is known for it’s drinking, partying, spending and women. Many of them can be found in Europe every year during Ramadan avoiding the fasting, I have seen it with my own eyes.

    They say “Bismillah” as they get on the place to leave Saudi and head to casinos, prostitution houses, you name it. The religious extremists are a means to an end.

  27. Down with extremism and fanatism

  28. Because of such useless and meaningless fatwas, today majority of Muslims dont care abt all these self oriented fatwas.
    Shame on such Mullahs and sheikhs.

  29. This fatwas has of course nothing to do with women ”mingling” with men. As long as women need foreign men as drivers, need to buy their underwear from men, and talk to strange men about their underwear and what lingerie would be the sexiest, the idea that women can’t work in a shop themselves is ludicrous.

    There is only on reason for this fatwa:
    If women work, they make money,
    if women make money that will make them feel good,
    having their own money will give them independence from men,
    feeling good about yourself combined with financial independence leads to independent thinking,
    and independent thinking will lead to the idea long rooted in the Wicked West: that women don’t really need men at all anyway.

    A woman who has her own means of existence, a woman who can think for herself, cannot be a slave anymore.

    This fatwa has only one purpose: to keep women into bondage by denying them the means to be independent from men.

  30. Actually, isn’t that what most of the artificial social engineering which goes under the misnomer of ”culture” in KSA is really all about?
    Making sure 50% of society will be born into slavery, and live and serve as slaves, and die as slaves?

  31. I had a typo above, one of the sentences should read “Why are these so called educated men only view honor as the protection of WOMEN? I

    @Md. Azad Ali Shah, Good comment. I do appreciate Muslims that reject the unrestricted rule of Immams. It is the first step to improving conditions for Muslims.

    @Abu Sinan, I agree. The internal struggle between family members will eventually spill outside of the palaces with a huge impact on Saudi. Monarchies figured out thousands of years ago that passing power along siblings does not work and will eventually lead to internal fights. The Saudi founder not only made a mistake in not defining a clear process for transition of power between generations, he also made it even harder by having 37 sons, increasing the number of royals to thousands and exasperating the problem exponentially.

    Only military might will resolve this issue in the future. King Abdullah was able to hang on to his power, because of the National Guard allegiance. I see this trend continuing in the future. The major issues will arise if the branches of the family controlling the military (National Guard vs Army), cannot agree on succession. This has a high probability of occurring once the line passes to the grandsons of the founder.

  32. Moq…

    Considering that the USA is selling KSA Arms, does that mean we will get pulled into yet another war? They being allies and all…*sigh*

  33. I can kinda see why they did it, at the same time I think it’s too much. It’s true, the men are a bit overly..err…passionate…still…I don’t understand why they don’t put more of the blame on men for their actions instead of accussing women that they are being provoked by them.

    I think they need to allow more mixing…it’ll be make them get use to socializing with the other sex…

    And for being such a wealthy country, the Kingdom, if they are going to close doors for working women, should do more to help them survive…since I’m assuming most of these women are widowed, old maids, or divorced and need a decent income.

    As for fatwas, I know Iran issued one against owning poodles…and that if you are gay, they will pay for a sex change so you can no longer live in sin. So religious leaders get pretty brain dead in general anyway. I can never take my eyes off the 700 Club. It’s like a train wreak about to happen. That’s how I feel about overly zealous Islamic countries as well. It’s like an apple. It’s so good for you to eat an apple, but once you start dipping it in chocolate and throwing gummy bears on it, it’s still an apple…just not a healthy one.

    That’s kinda what happens in religion at times. They need to just go back to the plain apple.

  34. @Oby,

    See my response on the debate page, since we are getting way out of topic on this one.

  35. @ MoQ and AS
    Interesting what you are saying about the royal families internal power battles..
    Few months ago there was a huge fight that broke out in a palace here, the Princes ended up shooting eachother, some died on the spot and the many wounded were brought to the trauma OR where my friend works. The drama had continued over there.
    This of course was kept out of the media.

    The problem is how will they decide which of the grandsons is entitled to the throne..there must be hundreds of them!

  36. Abu,
    Just to remind you that rumors, gossips, blab, tattle about others are haram in Islam.

  37. If you want to comment on the Fatwa then comment on it scholarly with proofs from the Qur’an & Hadeeth & the life of the companions. This doesnt; refer to the Non Muslims who don’t believe in the Supreme Creator except by ascribing partners & associate to Him.
    Any type of mixing between men & women which is not a compusory requirementi s not allowed due to what it leads to. The West is an example of this, if you live on earth & have intellects.
    And men obviously will want women to work for obvious reasons.
    This fatwa is especially applicable in KSA, since in Islam it is tha man’s duty (father, son or husband) to provide complete maintenance for a woman & if he is unable to, the Muslim Government does that & here in KSA it’s very well done by the social securities & government run charities especially now since charities overseas is restricted due to terrorism problems.
    It’s not a small issue, alternate arrangements for women like ,all women supermarkets just as all women schoools & colleges can be done. In the indian Subcontinent, the Christian Missionary schools & colleges still run separate schools for boys & girls.
    None are against women working especially due to a need but it’s for the protection of women & their exploitation that the divine authority has made such laws.
    None provides women their rights as does Islaam if implemented correctly on a large scale in a proper islaamic set up.
    One cane argue that we can have good policing to see that women are not exploited by men generally & men by women rarely. Well, give me a successful example.
    One cannot make the other agree since eachone has his blog these days & every Bakr & writes from his apologetic mind & he has followers.

  38. “According to the Committee on Scholarly Work and Ifta, the official issuer of fatwas, or Islamic religious rulings, under the Council of Senior Scholars, the top authority for Islamic issues in the Kingdom, “it is not permissible for a woman to work in a place where they mix with men.”
    “It is necessary to keep away from places where men congregate. Women should look for decent work that does not make it possible for them to attract men or be attracted by men.”

    Yet the very men who wrote this fatwa have how many foreign maids in their houses? And think it is acceptable to allow female foreigner nurses to work in hospitals?

    Are these foreign women not also mixing with men? So, it’s ok for them but not ok for Saudi women?

    Whaaa? 😡

  39. At any rate…if it’s not legally binding then what’s to stop the women from working if they really need to? So the doors could still be open for divorcees or widowers, over 25 which I believe are the conditions for this employment to begin with. It was never an option for single, unmarried women.

    So I say, as much as humanly possible, the Saudi women who need this type of work should just ignore the fatwa and the people who follow it and get on with their lives.

    Yes, we ask Allah to support us but we must also help ourselves. If this opportunity is there, the Saudi women should go for it.

    It’s not a glamorous job but honestly if it puts food on the table for some people then why the fatwa and guilt trip? It’s not in and of itself haram unless the woman sullies herself intentionally which let’s face it, she could find other more discreet ways of doing that and not on the job at a till!

  40. @Dr Wasim,

    Utter nonsense. My wife’s family is Saudi and I can firmly let you know that what you are talking about is a fantasy. There are Saudis who are starving. There is a reason why these Saudi women want to work and a lot of it is because they HAVE to.

    There is no real safety net for those without in Saudi and certainly no system set up to address grievances. My wife’s ex husband hasnt paid child support for 18 years. When she enquired to the authorities about remedies she was told multiple times to “forget it”.

    You are living in “LaLa Land”.

  41. @Medina,

    Is putting your head in the sand haram in Islam? Sorry, but as my FiL worked for the Saudi government and knew atr least one of the princes I talked about first hand, he knows exactly what he saw.

    Ignore it all you want. If you want proof what the royal family is up to head to the Four Seasons here in DC. Almost every night you’ll see the latest prince or highly placed business hanging out there looking to pick up American women. I have seen it with my own eyes.

    It was almost comical if it wasnt so bloody pathetic.

  42. It doesn’t matter if the tale is true or not in order for it to be haram. Isn’t that right Medina? You don’t tattle on fellow Muslims but rather you help them conceal their sins, right? That includes ratting on them for suspected terror or extremist activities and connections too, correct?

  43. @Lynn,

    Some people think this way, some dont, thank God. The recent guy they caught here in Northern Virginia was informed upon by people in his community.

    If I ever heard anyone talking like that, I’d inform on them too, no doubt. They dont care who they kill, they dont care, Muslim or not. That is where it starts, in our communities.

    If Muslims do not take responsibility to keep their own house clean someone else is going to come in and do it for them.

  44. @abu,
    Putting your head in the sand is harm and lying is also harm. You accuse Saudi women of lesbianism without giving any proofs?!!! Support your argument and your pathetic accusations next time with proofs otherwise stop spreading lies and your vague rumours. You are also generalising bad stuff to people which is a bad habit.

    @lynn,
    You seem to be fond of drama and making actions. Understand what we are speaking about first. I did not say gossiping about Muslims. I criticise the bad action regardless of gender, race and religious affiliation of the object but you like to fly in drama. Good luck.

  45. Medina: http://archive.arabnews.com/?page=1&section=0&article=92480&d=21&m=2&y=2007
    Reports of homo and lesbian relationships are rife, Saudi people have told me often enough about what goes on there, I don’t see why you want to denie it? It is a natural effect of extreme gender segregation.
    It is well known that segregation of the sexes will lead to same gender relationships, it’s nature. People have to love somebody, and if they are not homosexual but have no access to people of the opposite gender, they will attach themselves to somebody of the same gender.
    Nature at work.
    You cannot do these extreme social experiments without effects on peoples behavior.

  46. Medina…I have to agree with Aafke. Robert Lacey wrote a book called “inside the Kingdom” WITH the support of the government. He pointed out that there is indeed a lot of homosexuality and lesbianism that goes on. the case of the women was particularly touching. Because it is such a patriarchal society often men, rather then spend time with their wives and families spend time with their male friends out at the souk or doing whatever it is that Saudi men do when they get together. They leave their women alone for very long stretches of time. Often they aren’t treated respectfully and the women feel lonely. Obviously they spend a lot of time with other females and as a natural result of needing love and affection that they don’t get from their husbands, they turn to lesbianism…the irony is that it is made very easy to engage in because everyone expects women to be together all the time so no one suspects. Women can go to movies, eat together, do everything together so they grow very intimate relations right under everyones’ gaze.

    Having said that, I don’t think that he does injustice to KSA. I thought he gave it a very human balanced face. I found it fascinating…yu might enjoy it too.

  47. Aafke; the reports about Saudi homosexual acts and life are accurate. Medina never fails to deny every issue in the country. The problem with his approach is that denying issues is what leads to the complete ignorance, which in turn make issues get bigger.

    I do not think homosexuality by itself is an issue. However, it is a problem if it arises as a result of segregation. It becomes unnatural, because men who are denied access to women look for younger males that have not developed and still have a softer look. i.e you will have a pedophilia problem rather than homosexuality.

    That is one of the issues Saudi has, but our apologist here will argue forever about it. He thinks he is doing this out of a sense of National pride, but national pride is not about denying issues. It is about recognizing problems and working to solve them to strengthen a nation.

  48. Sadly all true about the homosexuality for both men and women. It’s what happens when there is such unnatural segregation.

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