Saudi Arabia: Culture Trumps Islam

Saudi Arabia is viewed as home to the holiest sites in Islam and all Saudis are naturally born Muslims.  One might expect that Islam would be foremost in the lives of Saudis and practices of Islam would take precedence.  However expectations do not always lead to realities. For example, in Islam a woman does have the right to choose her future husband.  She also has the right to turn down a suiter.  She is not to be forced into a marriage against her will.  Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, the top religious authority in the Kingdom, stated “Forcing a woman to marry someone she does not want and preventing her from wedding [the man] whom she chooses … is not permissible,”

Samia, a surgeon, has come forward with her story.  She is from Medina but now lives at a government run women’s shelter.  Simply said, Samia wants to choose her own husband.  Instead she has received increasing pressure and abuse by her father to marry a younger cousin.  This is a professional woman who saves lives every day but in the confines of her father’s home she was expected to have no backbone or voice.  He knew best on all matters which included taking a majority share of Samia’s monthly salary.

When Samia defied her father’s choice of a husband, he reacted by locking her in her bedroom for weeks at a time.  To further control her and break her spirit, he and Samia’s brothers beat her with a water hose. Finally, Samia could not take any more of the pressure and abuse from her father and she fled to the shelter. She filed a complaint against her father in a Medina court. The judge, Ali Abdulaziz Al-Sudais, instead of being sympathetic to Samia’s plight and her father’s blatant disregard of the practices of Islam, ruled in favor of the father.  Al-Sudais dismissed Samia’s case calling her a disobedient daughter and one who needed psychiatric care! Al-Sudais ruled in favor of the father in spite of Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti statement that a woman should not be forced to marry against her will!

Samia comes from a tribal family where tribal customs are expected to be followed, even if the tribal custom is contradictory to Islam.  Jeddah attorney, Ahmed Al-Sudairy, has taken on Samia’s case for her to receive the natural rights given to a Muslim woman.

If there is a ruling in Samia’s favor, her case will be monumental towards enforcing changes in the Saudi mahrem (guardianship) program which is often used as a mechanism to control women.


99 Responses

  1. Good luck to Samia. It’s sad when a father doesn’t want the best for his daughter.

  2. I knew several Saudi women– doctors and clinical laboratory scientists (like me) — who suffered similar abuse at home. One of them simply accepted her plight and remiained without a husband.

    The other arranged an escape of sorts to the USA, where she still lives and practices medicine. However, she cannot return to Saudi Arabia.

    I hope Samia maintains her courage and gets her rights eventually. I hope she meets a wonderful man who will honor her and protect her against future abuse from anybody.

  3. I remember emailing one of the very known saudi clerics thinking that he would respect my views on the deep-rooted hypocritical mind-set. His rude answer shocked me, and after that I just decided to hold on my views and forget about those who are only willing to BRAG about being born and raised in the holliest land, yet their actions represent almost ZERO of their ‘beliefs’!

  4. From my experience, a lot of newcomers to the Islamic faith are attracted by the revolutionary social model and change introduced by Mohammed in 7th Century Arabia.

    If people came to Islam through their own research and analysis of the faith, they should be most appreciative, as Muslim cultural practices are often the worst misrepresentation of the faith.

    If Prophet Mohammed were the judge hearing this case, I’m sure the father would be penalised.

  5. nice story, its good to hear that this is not against Islam as a religion but against culture and tradition. Islam is a very beautiful religion, i just wish people would follow it correctly.

  6. I hope she received the natural rights she is due as a human being.

    This is patriarchial society at it’s worst, not that a partriarchy has anything good in my opinion to offer women, but this aspect is by far the worse, and is not isolated to saudi, it’s upto the woman to fight and upto saudi to change the laws or educate the judges.

    I hope she wins and marries whomever she likes, and hopefully in future she empowers herself to lead life her way, not her fathers or potential husbands way.

  7. So much of what is thought to be islam nowadays is due to cultural interpretation. Even women in abayas in countries where they are not normal…fully against the injunction to be modest and not draw attention to oneself.

    People say “islam is simple” or is supposed to be. But from a nonmuslim perspective it is THE most complicated, rule bound, culturally infused, infighting, judgemental religion on the face of the planet bar none. No one seems to agree exactly what it is..either you are too lax or too strict (and everyone has something to say about your brand of islam). Different schools of thought, different factions all fighting…

    I understand the reason it is supposed to be simple is to adapt it for all people and all times. It is supposed to be able to flow through the ages. Yet look at it…it is a religion that in many ways still looks like it is in the 7th century or at least some would like very much to practice it that way. I think one of the reasons islam is having the issues it is is because it is supposed to be so adaptable…everyone does their own thing. And while that might ordinarily be a good thing so that each person comes to allah on his or her terms it has become a worldwide community that feels the need to police each others’ practice of the faith. So now it is the opposite of what it is supposed to be…simple.

    I have said this before, but I once read a book called “the Muslim Next Door”. I have to tell you…the Islam she described in that book looks NOTHING like it does today as a whole. She described a religion of no compulsion, of no judgement, of aid to the poor and sick, of equal rights (more or less) for women, the ability to follow the laws of the West with no internal conflicts following their secular laws. What she described sounded truly like a religion for all places and times. Yet, I am sure there are many muslims who would disagree with her. They would find her a heretic not advocating Sharia for all the countries Muslims live in…then I would have to ask myself the question…IS Isalm really for all times and all places? Or is it a religion founded in 7th century Arabia that is infused with arab culture trying to fit itself into a modern secular world (the West) and finding the fit is not that great? Which of course would negate the “all times, all places” idea.

    So for me, the question remains, What IS islam? An arab religion trying to spread all over the world to non arab cultures (and finding conflict due to the natural differences) OR a religion that SHOULD be for all but can’t seem to escape the arab culture that infuses it’s every pore?

  8. It is impossible to separate a religion from the society in which in it exists.In the case of Islam, it originated and grew in Arabia, in a society organized on tribal lines. If the Koran wanted to condemn tribal practices, don’t you think it would have been more clear? It is clear about alcohol, usury and not so clear on the relation between daddy and daughter.

  9. Wow, Oby, that comment deserved a triple read. Very heartfelt and thought-provoking. Great questions and observations.

  10. The professor in one of the links uses the pseudonym “Amal Saleh”. Does this have a particular meaning?

    I would like to know more about women’s shelters in Saudi as well as any groups that work to assist these women (specially Muslim groups that disagree such situations on religious grounds)

    I would think many countries would offer them some kind of protective refugee status. As a surgeon I would think many countries would be overjoyed to have her although I’m sure it would be difficult for her to leave her homeland.

  11. “Culture Trumps Islam” is a two-edged sword or the proverbial chicken – egg question. Cultural traditions/practices have permeated and seeped into religious beliefs, but none more so than in Islam. Of course, one needs a rationale or a justification, based on koran or prophetic sayings, to make cultural practices islamically lawful and acceptable. Sadly, this “service” is provided, of course, by a few simpleton muslim clerics to their followers; based upon a very narrow and bigoted interepretation of koran and hadith.

    Let’s take, for example, the heinous cultural practice of “honor killings” which have seeped into pristine islam. Intimate violence against women is a worldwide crisis, especially in many muslim countries. From “crimes of passion” to “dowry deaths,” not to mention domestic violence, illicit sex, etc. etc., many types of aggression against women occur at the hands of family members.

    The so-called “honor killing” of women and girls in some Muslim nations is one horrifying manifestation of this global phenomenon: Muslims commit 91 percent of honor killings worldwide; according to Middle East Quarterly, “Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings”.

    These killings, which occur with shocking regularity in certain parts of the Middle East and South Asia, target women whose actions – actual or suspected – violate the honor of their family, an honor which is thought to depend on the sexual purity of its female members. Anything from speaking with an unrelated man, to rumored pre-marital loss of virginity, to an extra-marital affair can be cause for an attack, often carried out by a father or brother. In some especially tragic instances, even women and girls who have been raped are slain to remove the stain from the family honor. As with other forms of intimate violence against women, perpetrators are seldom punished.

    Perpetrators are seldom punished, because a few useful idiots i.e. simpleton muslim clerics provide the necessary cover for these perpetrators from getting punished. They rationalize this by using a manual of Islamic law certified as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy by Al-Azhar University, the most respected authority in Sunni Islam, which says that “retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right.” However, “not subject to retaliation” is “a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring.” (Umdat al-Salik 01.1-2).

    In other words, someone who kills his child incurs no legal penalty under the twisted logic and interpretation of Islamic law; by these uneducated simpleton clerics. That’s why these honor killings keep happening — because they are broadly tolerated, even encouraged, by such teachings and attitudes of a few idiot clerics. Yet no authorities are calling these clerics to account for this.

    All these “honor killings” are done based on cultural/tribal practices. But are, unfortunately, done in the name of Islam based upon fatwas by a few useful idiots i.e. muslim clerics. They provide the necessary religious rhyme and reason for the followers to commit the heinous acts based upon their narrow/bigoted interpretation of koranic verses and prophetic sayings:

    Koran: 4:15; 24:2; 17:32; 33:33; 18:74; 18:80-81

    Hadith: Sahih Muslim Book 019, Number 4457; Sahih Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 63, Number 196; Sahi Bukhari: 8:6814; Sahi Muslim No. 4206; Sahih Bukhari Vol 2. pg 1009; and Sahih Muslim Vol 2. pg 65

    It is sad to note that none of the muslim countries have enacted laws to curb honor killings. One sees innumerable cases of laws being passed to prohibit alcohol drinking, pork eating or listening to western music; but never ever heard any such law against honor killing.

    Indeed, A Few Uneducated Simpleton Muslim Clerics Trump True Islam … Day In & Day Out!

    I have taken out the strange html code as it was affecting all comments on this page.
    Again I want to warn you of excessive paste/copying. Keep your comments terse and refrain from excessive paste/copying.

  12. @Oby,

    I second that you wrote a very thought provoking comment with excellent questions.

    “What IS islam? An arab religion trying to spread all over the world to non arab cultures (and finding conflict due to the natural differences) OR a religion that SHOULD be for all but can’t seem to escape the arab culture that infuses it’s every pore?”

    Observing how Islam is practiced in Saudi Arabia it is easy to say that it is a religion that should be for all, but in Saudi Arabia one cannot escape the culture that has permeated into the religion.

  13. Are the rules of guardianship the same for non saudis in saudi arabia as they are for saudis?

    I mean could say a Syrian Arab keep his daughter locked up for refusal of marriage?

    What about the Muslim American converts? Are they free adults when they turn 18?

  14. Jessica, from what I understand, every woman must have a guardian.

    A single woman who goes to Saudi Arabia to work has a company/boss as her guardian. I don’t believe they could force her to marry. If she wanted to marry inside the Kingdom, I’m not sure what her rights would be.

    The doctor who wrote In the Land of Invisible Women talks some about this. She was a single woman and had to have some type of Guardian. Her employer filled this role.

    I know Susi of Susi’s Big Adventure (another great blog) wrote that she would not have gone to Saudi if her child was female instead of male as a daughter could possibly be forced to stay in the country against her will. A son has full rights as soon as he is of age.

  15. Everyone has a “sponser” or a guardian unless they are a Saudi male. My husband is my “sponser”. I don’t know what control a foreign Man has over his children. Interesting question. As a woman I have no control- except what my husband gives me. And he acts like I’m in control of them- so I am.

  16. Well, then, Sandy, it sounds like you are good to go! Take those keys and go for a drive. There’s no law against it. Just don’t make a FaceBook page encouraging others to do it too.

  17. I second the motion. Oby’s comment above is about as good as it gets on this issue.

    yes, the question is: What IS Islam? or maybe WHAT is Islam.

    The only correct answer is: It depends.

    It depends on who, what, when and where. It varies from person to person, country to country, from the hadith to the Quran and even from book (Surah) to book in the Quran.

    It is obvious that the Islam that some of our Muslim friends here see is not that which others see. It can also be noted that just as the culture that has permeated into the religion, the religion has influenced and embedded itself into the culture, almost to the point that they are indistinguishable, or at least to the point where the non-Islamic elements are becoming less important and less noticed. For better or worse (my vote) Islam becomes the defining element in a Muslim’s life, not nationality, language, or culture.

    Thus the concept of Ummah is realized as never before and it pits Muslims vs non-Muslims. Even so, this means that Muslims no longer have the option of a personal understanding of islam – they must then accept the actions of others as their own.

  18. Lynn, I am not a citizen here. I am not good to go. American women driving will not help them. I also do not at this time hold an international driving license, so I would be breaking the law.

  19. American women driving will not hurt them either. Go and get yourself an international driver’s license and take a spin. The more women out there driving the better it will be for them all.

  20. Yes, it will hurt them. It will look like foreign influence and they have specifically asked that only Saudi’s participate. And they would not throw me in jail- they would just throw me out of the country. You’re not thinking straight here.

  21. Also, the law is not codified. She was charged with driving (among other things). If the judge interprets driving as against Sharia- and they can, and they have ,it is illegal. Ten years ago, it was even more legal than it is now. They took their passports, made them quit their jobs and labeled them whores. Now I don’t think anyone involved in this thinks being called a whore by these numbnuts is a big deal- but clearly there are long term punishments and it is apparently mostly illegal.

  22. I know of an American family of Turkish descent that were driving from Jordan to the UAE and therefore through Saudi. The couple were taking turns driving, as it is a long drive. Well guess who was behind the wheel when they pulled up at the border? Thats right her, her hubby sleeping in the passenger seat. Those crazy guards opened his door and started beating him while asleep, screaming why is this woman driving???????
    She, totally confused and petrified showed her international drivers license, which they threw at her…. after hours of interrigation and an emergency call to the usa embassy they were let go. They really had no idea of that law, I have no idea why!

  23. Honor killings are not the exclusive domain of muslim countries. They happen in non-muslim countries also with regular frequency.

    Here’s an example from Florida where “culture” triumphed over “islam”. Last week, Florida Family Association filed a lawsuit accusing the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office of mislabeling the death of an arab muslim woman two years ago as an “accidental suicide”.

    The organization thinks Fatima Abdallah, an arab muslim, was beaten to death, possibly in an honor killing by her parents. The group’s executive director said Abdallah was divorced and couldn’t have children. Women are typically victims of honor killings when they bring dishonor and shame to a family. No one was charged in the death of 48-year-old Fatima Abdallah in Florida.

    Did Fatima Abdallah really cause her own death by repeatedly striking her face against a coffee table as reported by her parents to the Tampa Police or was her demise an honor killing by her parents?

    Honor killing is seriously off-topic. The post is about women driving. Next time I will edit the comment.

  24. @Sandy – ‘You’re not thinking straight here’

    I don’t know Sandy, I could say that YOU are the one not thinking straight. I mean come on, you willingly choose to live somewhere where you are treated like a child and/or a second class citizen with no rights and you sit and buy into the fear that they try to spread to keep women in their place.

  25. The media is reporting that there is something called “The Iqal Campaign” page on Facebook, in which Saudi men are encouraged to beat women who drive. It has +6000 ‘likes”.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the “We are all Manal al-Sharif” page on Facebook, pro-driving of course, has tens of thousands of “likes”.

    Only if it were as simple as clicking an icon.

  26. I do that? Really Lynn? Piss off.

  27. Sandy? What do you mean? You aren’t living there willingly or you aren’t giving excuses for why people shouldn’t stand up and support these women AND men who want women to have the freedom to drive their own cars?

    It isn’t nice to tell people to piss off just because you don’t agree with them. History has shown us what can be accomplished when people stand together for a just cause. I believe in the women of Saudi Arabia, I think that they DO have the power to do whatever they put their minds to.

  28. Your insulting and that’s why I said ‘piss off’. Your welcome to you characterisations of me I owe you no justification of my life choices, I suspect pretty much everyone else reading will understand what I said. You’re an angry, bitter woman and so you’re firing off at me because I’ve not agreed with your ignorant assesments of what is happening or could happen on Saudi.

  29. You told me that I wasn’t thinking straight? Was that not rude? Now you are calling me and angry, bitter and ignorant woman because I don’t agree with you! HA! Good example of a decent person Sandy.

    If you could give me some kind of proof that if the people of Saudi Arabia all stood together and defied this ridiculous NON law against women driving and it STILL didn’t work then I will accept your defeatist attitude. Until then, I stand by my belief that change can happen, even in a totally fucked up place like Saudi Arabia.

  30. You’re not thinking straight at all. And I called you angry and bitter because that’s what you are. I totally support this driving movement and in no way have a defeatist attitude and have been doing what I can and what I’ve been asked to do. As for my life choices-they’ve worked for me. So sorry they don’t meet with your approval but I’ll live wherever I damn well please. And yes, about this situation you seem very ignorant.

  31. Let’s say I AM angry and bitter. What would that have to do with anything we are discussing here?

    I don’t give a shit where you choose to live Sandy, I would assume that it is working out for you since you are still there. It IS my opinion that it is nutty to make a choice like that but, to each their own. My opinion and I’m entitled to it! Right? Also, I DO believe you have a defeatist attitude about this. All I ever hear out of you is can’t, can’t, can’t. I thought Muslims were supposed to be all about martyrdom. How about a few martyrs for the rights of women?

  32. Yes, you’re entitled to your opinions, and I’m entitled to find them insulting. You tried to get me to do what you thought I should do in this situation, and got pissy when I didn’t agree. It’s really as simple as that.

    Anyway, since you care soooo much about this and Saudi women, why don’t you go on a hunger strike to draw attention to the issue? You could set up a web page and journal about it and keep people informed on the issue. If you really feel strongly about it that is.

    And don’t worry. I”m sure there will be some woman martyr’s along the way- and then you can feel better.

  33. You are the one that started being pissy by accusing me of ‘not thinking straight’, that was your opinion. MY opinion was that YOU were not. Prove which of us isn’t 😉

    Now, do you want to explain what my anger and bitterness might have to do with anything here or do you just want to admit that you were just being bitchy because I didn’t agree with you?

  34. I”m assuming your anger and bitterness is what lead to you lash out and try to control what choices I make, and judge them. There is nothing for you to disagree with. The organizers and leaders of this movement have asked foreign women not to drive. And your trying to tell me I should anyway- in a pretty snarky tone. That’s why I said your not thinking straight, Because you weren’t and you still aren’t and it’s out there for everyone to see. But if you want to think you are right and everyone else is wrong- go ahead. I don’t need to “prove” your not thinking straight. It’s abundantly clear your not.

  35. Why would my anger and bitterness give a shit about what you do with your life Sandy? I did not ‘lash out’ but clearly that is the way you took it and that is why YOU lashed out with your unfounded accusations of ‘anger and bitterness’. Seems so catty for a mature woman like yourself.

    I don’t care if you choose to help the Saudi women but you don’t need to perpetuate myths to justify your inactions and thereby potentially discouraging others who may be reading your words, from doing something themselves.

  36. I am noy perpetuating any myths and you have very little credibility in this. You also have no idea what I may or may not be doing. Again ignorance.
    Apparently you care enough about my life to be telling me what to do and judging me when I don’t. Whatever.

  37. Do you have some kind of ‘proof’ that you would be kicked out of the country if you were found in violation of a driving offense? Is there some precedent that has been set? I don’t see where I ‘judged’ you. I guess perhaps you are just feeling a little guilty or something.

    So, I take it you don’t want to talk about my anger and bitterness and it’s relevance anymore?

    I know that I have no idea what you may or may not be doing besides what you post here and here is where you are posting all these dire consequences if a woman would be found driving when THERE IS NO LAW AGAINST IT. The woman that is in jail is not in jail for driving but for ENCOURAGING others to do it. Other women have driven and they are NOT in jail. I stand by my belief that if enough people stood together on this issue that it will no longer BE an issue. Whoda thunk that Mubarak would be out simply because people finally found some bravery and stood together? Whoda thunk back in the 1950’s that we’d have an African American President in these United States. Don’t do anything if you don’t want to, I wouldn’t judge you, not that that should matter to you anyway, but just don’t go around seemingly discouraging others is all I am saying.

  38. @ Lynn,
    Do you or have you ever lived in Saudi? For those of us who do choose to be here, we understand it is NOT OUR JOB to change teh system here. Yes, we have “guardians” but it IS different for us. For us it mostly a “paper” thing. Our husbands would not think of treating us as children, nor would the companies they work for.
    But, should we decide we are going to take keys in hand and give the middle finger salute to the Saudi Establishment, we would be jeopardizing our husbands jobs and would most certainly be on the next plane out and not allowed to come back.

  39. Lynn I have been asked not to participate because they don’t want American women caught by police. It’s amazing to me that you can’t see how that would be a bad idea. I guess your anger and bitterness blinds you.

    I encourage Saudi women to take part but don’t expect not to be charged with something or held while they investigate- despite Lynns apparent and ignorant belief you wont be arrested. Make sure people know where you are and where you are going.

  40. Sandy, no where have I said that they wouldn’t be arrested. But I think the police would get tired of it real fast if that was all they were busy doing because there were so many of them. And their owners would get tired of having to go and pick them up so much that THEY get on the bandwagon if they aren’t already on it. THAT is MY point. But yes, they should have international driver’s licenses before they take the wheel since the only law that would be broken was driving without a license if they didn’t.

    LOL – Sandy, I wish you would please help me understand what my anger and bitterness might have to do with anything? I’m beginning to think that perhaps it is YOU that may be harboring some anger and bitterness. That tends to make people overly sensitive and quick to attack people. Perhaps it has something to do with living amongst all that repression? I’m just sayin’…

    Linda, if I remember correctly you are in a different position than Sandy who is married to a Saudi and is raising Saudis.

  41. I’ve explained and I think everyone reading can see how I might think your anger and bitterness affected your behaviour here. Not my problem if you don’t get it. I think they can also judge for themselves who did what to who, or who started what. I would say I apparently hit a nerve based on your continued reaction.

  42. @lynn/sandy – Lynn i agree there’s a lot of harsship that women will hve to undergo, but unlike the west with codefied laws, it’s all dependant on the judges there. so there is no way they would treat everyone arrested the same. Also there is a difference in being arrested here andthere , there is no transparency int he saudi system – not even on paper..

    As for them getting tired. trust me that will take a long long time. the religious police are known for their stupid endurance and think skull if nothing else .
    For the protest to work, the
    1. men need to support their wives/daughters etc.,
    2. Not worry if they lose their jobs and be ready to go get the women from jail
    3. Be prepared that your spouse/daughter etc., can be picked up at any time day/night to be carted off ot jail.
    4. Be ready that their passports could be taken 🙂
    5. be ready that some may simply dissapear.

    oh tthere’s associated long term issues but lets not go there 🙂

    now men in saudi are like men anywhere Gandhi’s … i’m sure theyre a few 100 who can accept all this , but not enough . there’s probably a whole host of women who are ready to sacrifice their life , but they all know their families will get dragged into this …

    Again i hope they suceed, i hope they can drive. and i hope they get freedom soon, but that is all i can do from afar – HOPE !!!!

    Take the case of our family, — my 2 widowed SILS will lose what little support they have fromt heir brothers if they try this ( especially since their brothers wife will not be too happy if their husbands lose their jobs) + they have 10 kids between them who already fatherless will be motherless…who will take care of them?

    the other 2 sils’s are married and have between them 9 kids all under the age of 14 quite a few below 7 … and will not last a day without their husband’s pay – said husbands work for the govt so are guaranteed to lose their jobs…also they al lknow to drive but no international lic… then there’s the college going nieces.. again ni licences since they have never left saudi but they know to drive . but are not going to risk said dad’s jobs 🙂 even if the men support the women, who’s going to feed the many many kids ???
    so they will think, think hard and maybe try something small but will definelty not take to the street day and night … just my 2 cents.

  43. Hey All,

    I’ve also wondered if it would it help if foreign women started driving but Sandy’s answer made sense. I can see how it would hurt the cause and just result in the American family being shipped out of the country. As far as the religious police getting tired of dealing with American women driving, the opposite appears true. The police seem to LOVE harassing women and would find GREAT joy in kicking foreigners out of the country.

    As much as I can read about another country and culture, I have found living there a profoundly different experience. In spite of so many negative things about Middle Eastern culture, I would like to visit there. We Americans have a lot of opinions about other countries but relatively few travel so understanding is limited (George Bush was at a great disadvantage as he had not traveled – sorry Bedu, I’m getting off topic here.).

    Anyhow, any Americans here go get yourself a passport and travel. It is better than any university education.

  44. @Radha,
    You get it exactly.
    Catching American women would be the “proof” they need that it is a foreign plot. And there is already that sort of chatter going on.

  45. Just for everyone’s information. They clarified today that it IS indeed illegal for women to drive. This is based on a fatwah that was made after the woman’s driving protest 10 years ago. I actually remember that and I was surprised when people said there was no law against it. Unfortunately there is- this is one time I would have liked to be wrong.

  46. It seems they have everybody in a deathgrip in Saudi.
    I can fully understand they don;t want American women to drive. The clerics already complain that this ”fad of women driving” is an American conspiracy to make prostitutes of all women in Saudi Arabia. Like the women in the west already are.
    Besides, consequences for the whole family would be devastating, as described. I think the only women who could safely protest are women from influential royal family branches who have the full support of their owners.

  47. “@Sandy – ‘I’ve explained and I think everyone reading can see how I might think your anger and bitterness affected your behaviour here’

    LOL Just can’t admit that you are just one of those that like to throw out unjust accusations in order to try to discredit those who disagree with you. Come on Sandy, grow up!

    I am NOT suggesting that it there would be no hardship involved if these women stood up for themselves but I AM saying that anything worth having is worth fighting and sacrificing for. If they are not willing to fight and/or sacrifice for their rights then they don’t deserve them and if the men are not willing to stand up and fight and face hardship for their women then they don’t deserve them. People have DIED in the past to get their rights or to ensure the future happiness of their children and grandchildren so excuse me if I don’t get all sympathetic for the people afraid of losing their jobs or spending some time in jail to try to do something for their futures. It’s called bravery, perhaps that is a trait that is in short supply there?

  48. It’s one thing dying for a cause yourself, it’s another thing to leave your 7 children to die in the street.
    It is one of the tactics to bind women and stop them from demanding their rights: burden them with lots of children and use those children for blackmail.

  49. But my point is that I do not believe that ‘death’ would be a result for such a simple thing such as driving, especially when the whole world is watching. I think that now, with the ‘Arab Spring’ that is apparently scaring the rulers, is the time to act on what they want for their future. I think words of encouragement and support should be encouraged more than cautionary tales. But that’s just my opinion but I’m not one to sit back and take ANYthing! When my sisters got married my father always gave their future husbands little warnings about having to deal with HIM if they were not good to his daughters, before I got married my father warned my husband about having to deal with ME if he wasn’t good to me. 😉

  50. @Lynn,
    I saw your post and don’t think there is anything productive left I can say to you at this time. Just wanted you to know it was seen.

  51. 😉

  52. Today I came across an article that talks about this culture vs Islam paradox:

    “A vast majority of Pakistani Muslims do not have an Arab, Turkish or Persian descent; they are natives of this land. Yet, after converting to Islam, they disowned their cultural heritage. They, instead, took pride in becoming the colonies of Arabs and Turks in the name of Islam and considered them as their saviours. On the other hand, even though the foreign rulers shared the same religion with us, they did not treat the converted Indian Muslims with the same honour and dignity as they treated their fellow countrymen.”


    “The condescending attitude of Arabs towards Muslims of non-Arab origin should not surprise us. Pakistanis living in the Middle Eastern countries have endured this derogatory and discriminatory behaviour for decades now. The immigration policy, which prohibits the extension of any property or citizenship rights to the foreigners working in these states, is also a reflection of their racial bias against the Muslims of the subcontinent. On the contrary, their attitude is very respectful, courteous and generous when it comes to the Caucasians of the US or any of the Western European countries.”

    Here is the link:

    It seems to say unkind things about Arab Muslims….

  53. Radha’s list of probable consequences for women who drive sounds realistic to me. If you are a woman in Saudi Arabia, you have already heard of both women and men who have suffered similar consequences for offenses less dramatic than women driving.

    Not being able to drive is indeed a major nuisance, but that’s all it is– a nuisance. It does not rank up there with starvation and physical torture and ethnic cleansing and epidemics and other manor of life-threatening afflicitions for which a good dose of courage would be useful.

    The right to drive is not worth the risk of even one of those five consequences Radha cited.

  54. Marahm,
    I disagree. For some women it is critical. It is also a chip at the mahrem system. That said, it will be hard to change, because for many women it IS merely a nuisance.

    I just don’t understand people sometimes. I don’t understand why they want to change their cultural identity to one that treats them poorly- I don’t understand why people like to treat others poorly. I don’t understand a lot of what humanity does. I’m thinking maybe I”m an alien changling or something!

  55. Jay…

    When you click on the link it bring up the home page with many articles…which one is it exactly?

    I agree with you…I have never understood, for example, some Westerner who converts to Islam and starts wearing abaya or using lots of arabic phrases or being able to accept child brides (because of Aisha) where before all of these things we NOT part of their culture or life…it goes right back to what I was saying earlier…IS islam really for all time and all people? If one has to adopt all these arab cultural affectations to be Muslim and can’t ease it into their lives while still being themselves and maintaining their cultural identity then I would have to say NO it isn’t for anyone other than Arabs. BUT maybe that is the point. Maybe the idea is to spread arabism all over the world via islam…I don’t know, but I think it is worth a thought.

    For example, I have heard Muslim women many times on other blogs say one of the important reasons for wearing hijab is so that she can be instantly recognized as a muslim wherever she is. ALLAH knows she is a Muslim…why the importance of advertising it to everyone else? If it is all about coming to allah on your own terms in your own way and if it is all about individuality (for all people) then why is it so necessary to stick out among the people? That goes against the “don’t draw attention to yourself” rule. I know it sounds horrible, but a for awhile I wondered if it was so that other Muslims could instantly know who they should talk to and deal with and who they shouldn’t, the hijab being a physical “OK” sign.

  56. @Oby- the WORST is when they start speaking English with an Arabic accent!! OMG. I once went to see a lecture from a US visiting Sheik at a private home. He is dressed just like some Saudi mufti type- and all the women had their hair covered, when I know many of them normally don’t. He’s from the US for goodness sakes. So I just stayed like I always do- and now one of my friends tells the story about how I went to hear a Sheik and sat in the front row in a mini-skirt! She’s teasing but why should I change, especially for an American man who lives in the US???? Also alot of what he said was bollocks, though I’ve taken pains to forget about it.

  57. Here is the link again:

    or else go to the ‘archives’ and choose
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 and look for ‘VIEW: Yearning for a Muslim ummah’ by Syed Kamran Hashmi

    Sandy and Oby … We all, you and me, could fill a tanker boat with sand, grain by grain, with the things we don’t understand.

  58. To be Muslim is to be Arab…not the other way around. Allah in his infinite wisdon sent the final message and most perfect of religions to an Arab man…thus being Arab has some sort of connected divinity to Islam.

    From my years of experience…Arabs are more proud of being Arab than anything…which is quite fine…we are all generally proud to be who we are…but this pride has has depths others can only dream of. Being Arab…to an Arab…is what everyone else on this planet should aspire to be. Being Muslim is a step towards being Arab…the prophet said there is none better than another…Arab is not better than a nonArab etc….1500 years later that is just one of many things the prophet said that Arabs have conveniently forgotten or overlooked in their zeal to mass market Islam as an Arab religion…not a universal religion for everyone.

  59. I do not believe Islam is against driving by anyone. This is another convoluted interpretation of Islam by the Saudis and their mullahs. We all drive including our women and girls in 9ja. Does this make us non Muslims? May be in the eyes of KSA rulers eh?
    Again Islam is not a racist religion but the recent law in the offing that reluctantly allows Saudi spinsters to marry only from GCC countries smacks of racism. Let them marry whom they love from wherever.

  60. I have to wonder if my daughter’s accent bugs her husband and in-laws as much as it bugs us?

  61. My muslim friends from india and pakistan shared a tidbit which illustrates the interaction of culture and religion. Until about a decade ago or so, they used to wish each other “khooda hafez” (may allah keep you safe); khooda being allah in urdu/persian.

    Now the religiously correct verbage is “allah hafez”. Any deviation from that lingo is seriously looked down upon and folks severely reprimanded.

    A small but significant change!

  62. wow all these comments are so interesting…Sandy, Coolred and Harry…so it isn’t my imagination that it really is being portrayed as an arab religion. Interesting…and as per Harry getting more so.

    Coolred…your comment reminded me of how people say Americans are arrogant and nationalistic. I guess we don’t hold a candle to Arabs. Just as an aside…why are they so proud? Like you said everyone is proud of their heritage and I think that is fine, but they haven’t really contributed much to the world in terms of advancements. Americans might be proud because of freedoms or scientific contributions or financial donations in times of crisis to other countries (citizens give a boat load generally) WHAT about being arab makes them so proud? (besides religion)

  63. The thing is- if you ask them they’ll say they’re being “Islamic”- they don’t realize they’re following cultural rather than religious guidelines.

  64. This whole Arab vs Muslim thing goes very deep. On one hand there are those that quote Quran 49:13 and say that Islam is equalitarian, and there is the real world, in which racism, sexism and even ideological supremacy are promoted in the name of Islam.

    Oh course the Quran does say the Quran was given “in your own language” so it doesn’t exclude non-Arabic speakers. A reading of the Quran clearly shows it was directly at Arab-speaking males. Period.

    I believe a common ‘arab” view is this:
    The linguistic superiority of Arabic, and the superiority of Arabs in achieving full knowledge of Arabic, is a reality which is derived from the necessity of knowing the Qur’an and the Sunna fully, and they are expressed in Arabic. In that superficial linguistic sense, as in the accidental historical sense, Arabs also have a natural superiority.

    I have seen this express even more sharply as “Muslims, best of peoples; Arabs, best of Muslims; and Saudis, best of Arabs”. I am surprised their halo doesn’t blind everybody within a mile, so pure and holy are they! (Wait, only Christian saints have halos!).

    In the real world, Arabs and Muslims are just like everybody else, subject to prejudices and bias for a number of reasons, many without logic, many just plain evil. It is certain that Muslims claim superiority over non-Muslims (Unless a Muslim wants to call Allah a liar when she says “You (Muslims) are the best of peoples” in the Quran. Although not essentially racist, there is a stigma placed on skin color, or color in the Quran, something Muslims rarely mention (verses 39.60 and 3:106).

    For the life of me, seeing what Muslims do today and having read islamic texts and history, I have no idea why Arabs or Muslims think they are better than the rest of us. Perhaps a Muslim here can explain this, but please remember Quran 3:110. I would want any Muslim here to get in trouble with Allah. She is very very mean at times.

  65. Not
    “so it doesn’t exclude non-Arabic speakers.”
    “So it excludes non-Arabic speakers” (bad news for most non-Arab Muslims!)

  66. Actually, Koran was revealed to the prophet in the Koraishi dialect of his tribe, to which he belonged. An islamic scholar did a translation of the koran directly from the koraishi dialect to english, about ten years ago or so.

    He claims he is the first one to do so. In the 70s, while a personal physician to king faisal, the king arranged for him to live and work amongst the koraishi bedouin tribe to learn the koraishi dialect.

    I find his translation quite different from some of the others that I have read. It is titled “THE QUR’AN AS IT EXPLAINS ITSELF”, and can be accessed at this link:

    My pakistani and indian friends tell me that anyone with the surname Koraishi or Quraishi is highly esteemed and respected in south asian muslim countries. They are considered direct descendants of the prophet, and marriages are almost always arranged within these surnames.

  67. FIrst of all Islam is not a religion for arabs. I am a convert to Islam and nothing that i do reflects arab culture. I am a muslim first and fore-most this over-rides any nationality for me.
    @ Oby:hijab is very personal for muslimahs, wether or not they choose to wear it or not thats for them to decide. I chose to wear it as i feel it is a direct commandement from Allah. And as a muslim (one who submits themself to Allah) that it what i chose to do. If you don’t understand that its totally ok.
    Arabs are proud maybe more then other nationalities sure, but what does that have to do with Islam??? there are Christian arabs and jewish arabs and i am sure they feel super proud as well.
    Islam teaches us to not think yourself better then any skin colour or nationality. And i think that is beautiful.
    Back to the last pointer if we look at Indonesia they are almost an all muslim country, and having travelled there i did not see them living an arab lifestyle or culture for that matter. They have their own beautiful culture and are also muslim. Why do we have to adopt an arab culture or lifestyle or set of traditions if we are Muslim???

  68. Bella Vita…

    I don’t understand about hijab and I don’t care. I don’t have to wear it. I was just repeating what I saw on other blogs…”that it is important to wear it to be recognized as a Muslim”. Those are not my words but from some Muslimahs…I was simply wondering out loud why it is so important to have the world know you are a Muslim when Islam is supposed to be a personal religion between you and Allah. And it Allah already KNOWS one is a Muslim why the need to advertise…I never mentioned modesty but wondered about this aspect of the hijab that I have seem MUSLIMS talk about.

    Secondly, I would disagree with you about Islam and it’s arab influence. In the USA the majority of the mosques were built with Saudi money who installed their own imams so I think there is a very strong push to “arabicize” islam and move it away from the different interpretations (meaning a cultures own influence). For example in INdia people nonmuslims and Muslims have gotten along for centuries, but there is a change going on there. In the USA I think most converts are exposed to Saudi Islam including their cultural affectations and instead of being AMERICAN muslims who have gently adapted that into their normal lifestyles they have to practically reject their country and belief system (ie: democracy or laws) and start wearing abaya and talking in arabic phrases and believing things that they NEVER believed before and are not actually islam but cultural…arab cultural influence.

    I mean imagine if someone wanted to become a Christian and in order to do so had to start wearing nuns clothing and speaking latin, yet they were neither nuns or from a country where latin was the language?

    How then, is the religion for everyone? Maybe Islam is for everyone but if it is why the need to arabicize oneself? For example, someone who would NEVER believe in child marriage prior to conversion now all of a sudden thinks it’s not such a bad idea. HOW in God’s name do people shift their thinking around like that? So I would say if that is required to be a muslim and be accepted then it isn’t for all people. It is for people who come from a culture like that.

    But Bella is the thing. I don’t think it has to be like that. I think it has been pushed and continues to be pushed in an arabicized fashion. Which is what robs it of it universal-ness.

  69. Bella-Vita: “…. I am a muslim first and fore-most this over-rides any nationality for me.”

    That’s an intriguing statement. So in other words, for a muslim in america or for that matter in any other country, loyalty to islam trumps loyalty to their own country?? No wonder, then, that muslim loyalty to their country is rightfully under great clouds of doubt and suspicion.

  70. Bella, you say “For example in INdia people nonmuslims and Muslims have gotten along for centuries,”

    Ha ha ha. You obviously have not read much of Indian history. But, then again, for that matter can you give me one example where Muslims have treated non-Muslims as equals in every way in the last 1400 years? Sure there were a few times when some Muslims used the talents of individual non-Muslims to their benefit, but that is about the extent of it.

    As to child marriage and why a muslim suddenly thinks “it’s not such a bad idea” it may have to do with a verse in the quran that says your prophet is a noble example to follow, and so if your noble example did it, and Allah allowed it in the hadith, then why the surprise? Why is that so hard to follow? Of course, considering the pain and suffering this example has caused, and particularly the one about the “four witnesses (after Aisha’s necklace affair), it is pretty obvious that either Allah doesn’t understand the consequences of his own words, or she hates little girls. Do you follow my logic?

    Lady, when you accept islam, you have to take it all, good and bad, warts and smiles. You should pretend that things in the Quran and traditions have nothing to do with the ‘real’ Islam.

    IN case you don’t know, there is nothing personal about being Muslims. That is against the very code of that ideology. You must show it by rituals, taboos and uniform. A good Muslim is not known by his works, attitudes, charity, kindness or compassion, but by rituals, taboos and appearance. As i have said before, Islam is not about morality, but faith. If a Muslim believes in Allah and Mohammad, he can do just about anything and that is fine – as long as he follows rituals, taboos and maintains a certain appearance. Mohammad himself is a good example of this.

    One thing i notice among Muslims is that they want to believe that Islam is only what they want it to be, not what others say, not what Muslims do and not even what the Quran and hadith say.

    Harry, when Bella says “I am a muslim first” she is simply saying her allegiance is to Islam and Muslims – the Ummah. There is nothing intriguing about it. She is saying that her values are those of Islam, Mohammad and the Quran. At that point it become obvious that her values are not those of the Western enlightenment, or if you will, those evolved from judeo-christian culture.

    That is why Muslims in Islamic societies rarely speak up for the rights of non-Muslims. That is why Muslim societies are major human rights abusers (Gosh, I hope Bella isn’t reading this – she would be shocked to learn this, that her religion systematically persecutes and discriminates. Horrors!). That is why we shouldn’t take any condemnations of terror or these abuses by Muslims in the West too seriously.

  71. Bella, How do you greet another Muslim that you meet? Do you speak in English or Arabic?

  72. I suppose you also didn’t know that the hijab is cultural wear as well. The only ‘command’ you were given was to be modest. The definition of what constitutes modesty is a cultural thing.

  73. @Jay: Hey Jay! Just to let you know i did not write the thing about India it was OBY . It was nice to see your personal view on the matter, it dosn’t mean that it is the way things are in reality but i respect your opinion thats cool.
    @Harry: You have a point, no doubt about it..but at the same time, i would rather move country then to ruffle peoples feather about my allegiance to any country if you know what i mean. I am not calling for sharia in non muslim not at all..if i want that i can move to those lands myself and even then..there is no REAL sharia being practised the way it should be.
    @Lynn: Thanks for letting me know about Hijab thats your opinion and i respect that. I as you probably know have a different one.And about speaking to another muslim, well i dont’ speak arabic unless i know the entire meaning of the word i am saying. But when it comes to greeting a muslim i actually greet in both arabic and english, i don’t see that as being a problem.

  74. @Oby: you made some really interesting points i thought, and i totally had to agree with the last sentence. Your right about it being pushed in a certain manner but that doesn’t mean that in reality it is the way in which its being pushed.I can see how it is misrepresented though. Were humans at the end of the one is perfect.

  75. Bella, It doesn’t matter if you only use words that you understand and I didn’t say there was anything wrong with it. It is just that it is a foreign language that you have adopted because of your religion so your claim that nothing you do reflects Arab culture is wrong. And even though you have been trained to believe that hijab is not cultural, there IS a chance that you have been taught wrong. 😉

  76. @Lynn: Hey lynn! Good point about the arabic thing, but it dosn’t mean i am adopting an entire arabic culture to fit into being muslim. I know some muslims who don’t know 1 word of arabic, thats fine and then i know some who have mastered the arabic language. It comes down to choice, do you want to learn the language that the Quran was revealed in so that more knowledge can be gained on meanings and interpretations of words? or you can choose not to. Why not i think. Knowledge is power i say.
    Some muslims will learn arabic to be able to clarifiy many things within the Quran inclucing hijab, so seeing as you are poiting out that i may be wrong concerning hijab, the only thing left to do i believe is to go to the source learn the language in which its written and then make an informed decision.

  77. Bella…when you pray do you recite ayats in arabic or english? If you know the meaning of the ayats that you are reciting (memorized) or just recite how you were taught them?

  78. bella vita…

    Harry put up a good post a few days ago about the Quran and it being revealed in the language of the Quraish (might be spelling that wrong) not exactly the arabic it has been accepted in nowadays. absolutely fascinating reading. Written by a SAudi guy who spent literally years researching this. It is long and I am not through it yet. but I found it absolutely gripping in the way it is explained that the quran has been misinterpreted and a few chapters added that weren’t there to begin with. I HIGHLY recommend reading it or at least part of it. BUT in order to get anything out of it you must read it with an open mind.(not saying that you wouldn’t just clarifying). since I have zero allegiance to the quran it was easy for me to look at it objectively the same as I would someone else’s interpretation. He is a bit radical…but if he is right…oh my goodness those early arabs have a lot to answer for!!!!

  79. @Coolred: hello! When i first started praying everything was in english as i had not learnt the arabic alphabet and how to pronounce words properly and of course did not know the meaning, as of 1 and a half years ago i made a concious effort to memorise the meaning and so i do recite in arabic. I do not try to memorise too many surah’s unless i know the meaning otherwise i do not see the point. Some sister i know continue to recite in english and i think its great because they don’t know the arabic so why recite something you cannot understand?
    @Oby: Hey oby ill look into that, thanks alot for that ill be eager to read it. sounds really interesting

  80. Bella, of course it is a wonderful thing for you to learn another language. Especially if it is the language that your religion was revealed in. But it is another thing entirely to speak in that language to greet a friend who speaks your native language. No? Trust me, you HAVE adopted Arabic culture whether you want to believe it or not. I’m just sayin’…

  81. I really hope women in Saudi Arabia gain more rights soon. In any case, I expect (or at least hope) that it will happen by the time my generation is in their 40s/50s. I am hoping that all the Saudi students abroad now will take back some of the good concepts about “Western” civilization back with them to Saudi Arabia and lead others into a path that allows women more freedom while still not taking out the good things of Saudi culture. I know it’s no consolation to those suffering now, though. 😦 I’m all for blending the best concepts of various cultures together.

    @Bella Vita, Lynn, et al: Just wanted to say that I see nothing religious about greeting someone in Arabic. To me, it’s right up there with greeting someone in any other language, such as Spanish. The main thing is that the two people talking to each other understand what is being said. Speaking in a foreign language can help reinforce learning the language. Since language (esp. once one gets into idioms, etc.) is tied to culture, then I’d say at some point, yes it is cultural.

    What someone personally believes is the right way to live as far as how they dress, etc. is between that person and God.

  82. @Lynn: I can see your point, but i didnt really look at it too in depth as if i was conforming to a particular cultural practise. On a recent trip to Malaysia the first thing the people would greet me with was Assalamu Alaykum. If you look at it on another hand its a beautiful way in which muslims all over the world can connect even if they do not speak the same language.
    If i have adopted anything from the arabic culture i hope it has only made me a better person but i can honestly see the difference between arabic culture and Islam.

  83. ‘but i didnt really look at it too in depth as if i was conforming to a particular cultural practise’

    I know, that’s why I wanted to point it out to you. 😉

  84. Bella, you don’t think using the language and the clothing of the Arabs as adopting part of their culture then perhaps you can give us an example of something that IS Arabic culture that often gets confused with being Islamic?

  85. 4:36 Obey God and associate no partner with Him. Treat kindly your parents,
    relatives, the orphans and those who have been left alone in the society. Take
    care of the needy, the disabled, those whose hard earned income is
    insufficient to meet their needs, those whose businesses have stalled, and
    those who have lost their jobs. You shall treat kindly your related neighbors,
    and unrelated neighbors, companions by your side in public gatherings, or
    public transportation. Be generous to the needy wayfarer, the homeless son of
    the street, and the one who reaches you in a destitute condition. Be nice to
    people who work under your supervision. God does not love those who are
    proud, the boastful.

    I find it ironic that this ayat does not mention that those you must treat well MUST be fellow Muslims…its very generic and mentions people in those conditions…but not Muslim people in those conditions…so this fabled Ummah that supposedly binds all Muslims together should not exist. According to god…Muslims should be helping everyone anywhere at anytime…when they see the need for help is there. Interesting…

  86. @Lynn:Hey Lynn, I don’t dress like an arab at all. I do not even look like an arab even while i wear hijab. Even arabs look at me funny because of my hijab choice lol.
    An example of what IS an arab custom that is not Islam, would be for example..very big luscious weddings, huge expense, music , mixing of the sexes, wasted food, absolutly ridiculously high mahr (dowry) this is not Islam. Another example is the use of amulets (evil eye symbol/horse shoe/certain remedies to avoid evil spirits) This is not Islam. Another example of arabic culture is forced marriage this is NOT islam. Another example is honor killings this is NOT islam. Another example is female circumsission in some tribes along north africa this is NOT islam. Another example is a virgin needing to prove her virginity by showing someone the evidence (blood) this is NOT islam. Another example widows or divorcee’s looked down upon as not marriage material this is NOT islam Women denied education this is NOT islam, women denied to drive this is NOT islam. Some of these practises are not unique to arabic culture and im not saying they are accepted by all but are indeed happening.

  87. Bella-Vita: “… This is NOT Islam ….”

    All the “cultural” examples that you gave i.e. “This is NOT Islam” are your personal interpretations of islam. There are many islamic “scholars” who believe otherwise, and cite koranic verses and hadith to issue their fatwas.

    Let’s take honor killings, for example. To many muslims, like yourself, “honor killings” are “this is not islam”, and are done based on cultural/tribal practices. But to many other muslims, honor killings are supported by certain koranic verses and hadith; and are unfortunately justifiable in the name of Islam based upon fatwas by a few simpleton “scholars” i.e. muslim clerics.

    Sadly, such fatwa manufacturing factories provide the necessary religious rhyme and reason for the followers to commit the heinous acts based upon their narrow/bigoted interpretation of koranic verses and prophetic sayings: Koran: 4:15; 24:2; 17:32; 33:33; 18:74; 18:80-81; Hadith: Sahih Muslim Book 019, Number 4457; Sahih Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 63, Number 196; Sahi Bukhari: 8:6814; Sahi Muslim No. 4206; Sahih Bukhari Vol 2. pg 1009; and Sahih Muslim Vol 2. pg 65

  88. Oh, Bella-Vita, Bella Vita most of those things are not ‘Arab’ culture either. I have never heard, even from the most Islamophobic people out there, Islam being accused of creating food wasters. But it seems that Mohammed DID encourage you to invite a lot of people to your wedding feast. No?

    Did you say that mixing of the sexes is an Arab cultural thing? or was that a typo? Islam came to put a stop to many of those practices yet they still exist and have spread along with Islam. So would that mean that Islam is a failure?

    I don’t know how you wear your ‘hijab’ but considering that you get odd looks when wearing it then doesn’t that kinda negate the whole ‘be modest’ command?

  89. @Harry: Hey! I definatly get the point, but there is usually a rule to the fatwas if something has been agreed upon by the majority of the top scholars then that fatwa is to be taken above other weaker ones.
    @Lynn: Hey Lynn yeah i probably should have proof read the first example before submitting lol.Sure most people will not connect wastage of food to muslims and yes the prophet mohammed (pbuh) did encourage many people including the poor to be able to attend weddings and share in the belssings, but i never said there was a limit to the people being able to be invited. I just made the point on excess waste in terms of money, food and all the rest. Most of the other points i think were ok apart from the point below.
    Mixing of the sexes of course is not an arabic cultural thing (what was i thinking lol) its a wordly practise and i was talking about it in context of the wedding sernario. Men and women mixing at weddings is not allowed in islam. Yes the practise is still common but it does not mean at all a failure of Islam yet a failure on us as muslims to practise that.
    Now to the refernce of my hijab causing “odd” looks, in no way does that negate the “modest” aspect at all.
    I was talking about the hijab that i wear not being related to the dress of the arabs. The hijab i wear that i believe fits the requiremntsof hijab to the best of my ability would be typically known as “somali” or “prayer” hijab. Thats was i referring to. Weather i do get the odd look or not it doesnt matter as people are always curious (non muslims and muslims) and are usually intrigues becos i look totally white yet clearly muslim.
    Hijab is so much more then a physcial garment, it relates to how you speak, your manners, your way of dealing with people.
    Sometimes when a girl is wearing a head covering yet all her body is exposed i would think is less modest then a girl in no hijab yet carries herself well and modestly, is practising hijab much better.
    One more thing..if a woman is walking in niqab and of course she will be getting “odd” looks, does that mean her hijab is not effective ,.. no not at all. I was referring to how you told me i am using the dress of the arabs. when i do not. And if someone wants to dress like an arab what does an arab dress like?? Not all arabs wear hijab or abaya well not the ones i have seen anyway..usually jeans and a top and not all arabs are muslim.

  90. I hope my post is still on-topic?

    I find it interesting that quite a few people that come from Arab/Middle Eastern countries to places like the US will take off the abaya, etc. and dress like everyday Americans.

    I personally think that dressing modestly and in a way that doesn’t draw attention is not going to be the same throughout the world.

    Therefore, my interpretation of dressing modestly in Islam is to dress in such a way that one is not going to attract unwanted male attention in order to prevent things like rape, sexual assault, etc. and also to avoid being mistaken for a prostitute. However, that’s my interpretation. While a woman can get away with wearing tank tops and short shorts in some areas of the US, this is not going to be the same in other places. And yes, how I dress differs depending on where I’m at. Just to clarify though, I’m not Muslim.

    However, I still don’t like unwanted male attention.
    Ironically, if you’re attractive enough (which most women are) how you dress really doesn’t have much to do with whether or not men will be attracted to you. If they like the way you look, then they like the way you look whether you’re fully covered or all your limbs are exposed. Of course, some men prefer women to wear abaya and some prefer women to wear tank tops and “daisy dukes” (i.e. short shorts).

    Based on what I know, I believe that being fully covered in abaya, niqab, etc. is based on cultural practices in the region related to protecting women from getting raped. I think from this, it has turned into a religious practice. So I would consider it both a cultural and religious practice. At least, this is my understanding.

  91. Sorry; I forgot to change back to my blogging name after commenting on a previous post. The above comment belongs to “StrangeOne” (mine). I would go by Lori but I don’t want to be confused with other bloggers.

  92. Clothes do NOT prevent rape and/or sexual assault.

  93. Gender segregation is NOT Islamic.

  94. There is nothing ”modest” about veiling; it screams sex and sexuality. It proclaims there is a sexually available body underneath. It sets women apart as sexual meat for men.

    And it is not islamic, it’s Jewish, it was a cultural custom for elite Jewish women.

    No piece of cloth will ever protect a woman from being raped.
    Actually, as enforced veiling of the female body typically occurs in cultures where women have hardly any rights women will get raped a lot more.

    I agree with Sandy, what about all those mixed gatherings in the hadith? Were the companions and the prophet less Islamic than people now? Ridiculous.

  95. Actually elite women throughout the east veiled. It was big in China. It’s always been a class issue. Muslim slave women were not allowed to veil. And actually all the hair concealment stuff is relatively new for many parts of the Arabian peninsula. Look at the old photo’s Carol posted on another thread. They had scarves on (in most hot climates people cover their heads) but their hair was showing. In old Egyption movies as well, hair was always showing.

    Really only upper class wealthy people can afford- in traditional societies to sequester women. Otherwise they need to be out working to survive. Certainly in ancient Arabia the women were out and about. Riding horses, fighting battles, herding livestock. There’s a LOT of innovation in the modern understanding of “Islamic Dress”. And as this society becomes less wealthy- it will have to give some.

  96. This “kind of relates” to the issue of hijab or veiling. I found it interesting that on the current “Bachlorette” series (American television) that one of the men has chosen to wear a mask. He says that he wants people to know him rather than form an impression from how he may look. It probably is a gimmick but it has been very interesting watching the reaction of others to his choice to wear a mask.

  97. Seriously Carol? I wonder how long before that weirdo gets sent home without a rose! LOL

  98. Bella, Sandy and Aafke pretty much covered it (pun not intended! lol) but considering that Somalia has been Arabicized (what’s the word?) with the spread of Islam there then, you see, you are still adopting Arab culture. See what I mean?

    Yes, if she is wearing niqab and still getting stares then no, it is NOT effective as far as being modest.
    Look up the definition of modesty.

  99. I am a western man and a Muslim. A few years ago while attempting to become ‘approved’ to marry my Saudi fiancee, her “guardian” (an educated mutawa) promised to enforce ‘honor killing’ on her if she ever spoke my name again.

    Tonight – she is going to ask again. She has already been reminded by their mother of what this brother promised. We have made many prayers for her protection, for his repentance and his return to Islam.

    The culture has overwhelmed the truth in Islam, the heart of Islam and the purpose of Islam. Every action like these honor killings in the name of Allah or Islam – only weakens Islam and reinforces the view to the non-Muslim world that Islam is a false religion.

    Why does the government, the authorities and the religious community allow this?? Perhaps becuase culture IS more important than Islam.

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