Is she a disgrace?
October 20, 2008
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This writer has made some very valid points in his article, “Is she a disgrace?” in ArabNews, a very popular English-language paper in the Middle East. Having gorwn up in Saudi Arabia, I could relate to what he’s saying about the Saudi family when seen in public.
Saudi society, I know well, cannot be considered as one single unit when it comes to social problems. I wouldn’t generalize anything but from what I’ve seen, there are very strange contradictions in their social fabric. You’ll see really good practices and customs and then you’ll see things which will make you wonder if they have any basis in Islam. Indeed, many of the strange customs you might see in Saudi Arabia have very little to do with Islam. The writer of the article too has raised the same point.
A misplaced display of chivalry and misdirected obsessions characterize many Saudi men when it comes to dealing with their wives, sisters and daughters. I’m not seeing these from an ultra-liberal “I-hate-the-abaya” point of view. Rather, it’s about using the name of Islam for all sorts of silly activities that I really dislike in Saudi society. And the reason I dislike is that I really love the Saudi people, who’ve been my family for twenty years… it hurts to see them waging such silent wars within their own community.
As with many societies, there are double-standards when applying rules to men and women. Everyone will agree the woman should be covered from head to toe, hobbling around trying to make herself invisible, but few will point out to the men that they have roles to play too. Rules of morality and chastity were not made for women purely. And thus, when it comes to women, it has been drilled into the minds of the men that the women should be “handled with care”. They’d rather stay a few feet away from her to escape any potential “evil” that she may bring upon herself or him. For him, a wife, a sister or daughter isn’t a loved and cherished member of the family but someone to guard and be perpetually worried about. If that had been the case in Islam, we’d never read about the exceptional and beautiful relationships that the Prophet(pbuh) of Allah had with his esteemed wives.
The Qur’an emphasizes the essential unity of men and women in a most beautiful simile:
“They (your wives) are your garment and you are a garment for them.” (Surah Baqarah 2: Verse 187)
What are the attributes/uses of a garment? A garment…
- protects you
- covers you (your faults)
- beautifies you
- defines you
Now, isn’t that something to think about?