Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

“Thank God our women are at home”

Excerpted from the NY Times piece on Saudi youth, the men specifically.

'Suddenly, the young men stopped focusing on their food. A woman had entered the restaurant, alone. She was completely draped in a black abaya, her face covered by a black veil, her hair and ears covered by a black cloth pulled tight.

“Look at the batman,” Nader said derisively, snickering.

Enad pretended to toss his burning cigarette at the woman, who by now had been seated at a table. The glaring young men unnerved her, as though her parents had caught her doing something wrong.

“She is alone, without a man,” Enad said, explaining why they were disgusted, not just with her, but with her male relatives, too, wherever they were.

When a man joined her at the table —
someone they assumed was her husband — she removed her face veil, which fueled
Enad and Nader’s hostility. They continued to make mocking hand gestures and
comments until the couple changed tables. Even then, the woman was so flustered
she held the cloth self-consciously over her face throughout her meal.

“Thank God our women are at home,” Enad said.'

Excuse me if I thought the purpose of HIJAB (not niqab) is to set Muslimahs apart and protect them from harassment. So how is it ok for a "Muslim" man to harass a hijabed Muslimah?

I also want to call particular attention to the fact that Enad is smoking a cigarette, and that at the beginning of the story Nader is planning to ask a front desk girl for her phone number.

While the Saudi culture may be the base of their problems, the youth are the perpetrators, particularly the MALE youth.

I'm not an expert on the KSA or Saudi culture, but I can tell you from my point of view and from my interaction with Saudis I have yet to meet a bigger bunch of hypocrites.

Of course not all Saudis are bad, but the extent to which I have seen this or similar interactions play out in real life and before my own eyes leads me to believe that it is indicative of the population as a whole with the exception being just a few.

But who is more damned? The perpetrators of the evil, or those who allow the evil to go unchecked?

The people of Salah (a'lehi wa salaam) were damned as a whole for not stopping the actions of a handful of men.

This type of shit is what makes me sick of a lot of "Muslims." This is why I stand in the crowd and scream about the difference between Islam-as-culture and Islam-as-religion.

There is a difference, and the culture of the KSA is the biggest, ugliest, slimiest example of it.

Here is the article about the Saudi female side, although you may need to register to read it.

And here is the article about youth in Egypt.


أبو سنان said...

My wife is Saudi and she'd agree with you, but it isnt just Saudis, it is a bad part of Arab culture.

Molly said...


Its my biggest problem with "Muslims", not just Saudis.

My husband and I have issues sometimes over things that are cultural and not religious, its the gender inequality bs that gets me the most.

janene said...

Men always have the advantage, any culture, any place, anytime.

I wonder about this sometimes. I have an unhappy theory regarding my role, as a woman, in this life. It's depressing.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Middle East and hypocrisy on a level you never knew existed among Muslims. You must be new here. ;-)))

Salaam Alaikum,

janene said...

I know some men are culpable, but woman are complicit in fostering the ingrained chauvism so typically found in arab and asian cultures.

I suspect women (mothers, aunts, older sisters) in the household who backbite, putdown, or outright treat with contempt women who do not meet their religious or cultural expectations. Also lets not forget mothers who spoil their sons and bring them up with a sense of entitlement (did you notice the young man in the article, along with his cousins, throwing their trash casually out the kitchen window so that the indian servant, like a dog, could pick it up).

Perhaps I can take the example of Enad and his cousins throwing out their trash out the window and make a similiar analogy to his cousin, Nader, who also 'throws out' his personal phone number to the lady at the front desk' -- like the household boy, she is just a piece of equipment to be used for a specific purpose. Enad also pretends to toss his cigarette at the unaccompanied, fully covered woman sitting at a nearby table in the restaurant -- again the message is clear -- people are judged, categorized, and treated accordingly -- these human beings are not even deemed worthy of a iota of dignity or respect.

"Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves..."

L_Oman said...

PM said it all. Molly - you're in for a nice suprise...

Molly said...

I agree with you guys about the hypocrisy, its not a new surprise for me its something I've dealt with it extensively. Not just among arabs though, like Janene said its in the Asian culture as well.

I'm not learning anything new.

Janene- you're very right about women fostering this attitude.

Thats why I brought up about the Prophet Salah (as).

Ppl need to be accountable for letting them get away with this.

Umm Yehiya said...

Sometimes I worry that articles like this are written and published just to provoke and create fitnah, to slowly tear our ummah apart.

Every article has a bias, a slant, a goal. I wonder what theirs was.

Jana's Journeys said...

I lived in Syria for a while and although some men were acting like dogs, it was never this bad....ever. My mom came down during the last 2 months of my stay and we went out (just the 2 of us) constantly without harassment (me in hijab, my mom not, not like it mattered from this post). Although I do agree that Saudi has got to be the most hypocritical country out there. In Syria there were tons of Saudis, taking a vacation to sleep with the Iraqi refugee prostitutes ( sadly this is something a lot of women are forced into as the gov't does not allow them to work legally)

Amanda said...

Arab culture is both beautiful and ugly all at once, isn't it? Culture is the reason I don't and never will get along with my in-laws, and it's the reason my husband (who doesn't get much into his Arab-ness) can't even relate to his own family members. I would hardly blame Islam for any of the problems in the world..just culture, pride, and ignorance.

I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like living in Saudi Arabia. Of course I would love to visit (hajj, duh lol) but I could never ever in a million years live there. I would be WAY too much of a rebel, I would want to drive *gasp!* and walk to the market by myself or with girlfriends, and I would want to hunt down and scream at any freaky dude who tried to chase me in their car and send me their cell # via bluetooth. Sickos.

I don't know that I could live in any Arab country to be honest. Even Egypt, couldn't do it *unless of course it was the only way to see my hubby*.

Asmaa said...

Man, I was reading this whole article a few days ago and it made me typically angry. It's just incredibly pathetic, really.

And Islam is supposed to liberate women from being seen solely as sexual objects, lifting them to a higher platform where they're seen as individuals who are valued for their intellect, spirituality, and talent.

Instead, we see men oppressing women with whatever tools they have. If these men didn't have their warped version of "Islam", rest assured that they would use some other avenue to disgrace and put down their women.

I find it horrendous what these women have to go through. And worse, that they have learned to accept it as a part of their "Islam."

May Allah (swt) forgive them for misrepresenting Him and His deen.

Amie said...

Culture vs. Islam will forever be a battle. Just as American "culture" has warped the ideology of Christianity, so have the traditions and tribal/cultural ideals of "followers" of Islam. My husband (an Arab) is constantly appalled at the actions of "his" people in the name of Islam, or by those claiming to be Muslim. It's a struggle for anyone, born Muslim or convert (like moi) to really pick through and find real Islamic law.
Just like when I was growing up I was taught "God doesn't help those who don't help themselves - it's in the Bible, you know." I think I was about 14 and in theology school when I realized..."Umm, no it's not." It's up to the individual to research and find out for themselves - not base their belief system on hundreds of years of misconception.
However, from what I've seen, with all due respect, the vast majority of Muslims follow culturalism, not Islam.

Here is a short list of what I was told when I converted:
- I should wear only shalwar kameez
- I should wear only abayas
- I can wear anything not tight or revealing
- I need to get married right away to a Muslim so that I make sure God knows I was serious about converting
- When I do get married, I should have babies immediately so I can go to heaven
- I need to not speak to my Christian family members because it's a sin to do so
- I need to throw my old pictures of myself away and not take anymore
- I should try my best to move to Saudi Arabia
- I should try hard to cry during my prayers so Allah can hear me
- Wearing niqab is the only true form of hijab
- I have to allow my husband to marry another wife if he wants
- I have to speak Arabic to be able to be a Muslim


the crazy jogger said...

welcome to the bloody hypocrisy of the muslim and esp the arab world. there is sorta clear cut discrimination. On top is the Saudi male followed by a Male w/ a Western passport. then ... the last one is some worker trying to make a decent living working his A$$ off in the street but getting spat on by young boys from busses :@

janene said...

re: amie

i am speechless...what is wrong with people!!! seriously, I admire converts who are able to see past the culturalism, also rising above the "I am right and everybody else is wrong" way mentality

brnaeem said...

AA- Molly,

That NY Times article was profiling a pair of uneducated bedouin Saudis. The stuff they did is not typical of the normal Saudi (such as struggle with utensils, never see the face of a future bride, denigrate a lone woman, etc.).

They're not representative of contemporary Saudi culture, but of the older, more traditional version.

That's not to say that the contemporary, educated Saudi is a shining example of civility and respect, but still there is a big difference between that group and the clowns in the NY Times article.