By: Saeb Sha’ath
Women of Arabia know that Islam is the religion of female empowerment. But the majority of men today in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia need to be re-educated, notes Saeb Shaath.
Today the conservative breeds of men in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ‘KSA’ are petrified of losing their dominant position in the backward communities of the Kingdom. They are using religion to impose their will on the women of Arabia.
Women of Arabia know that Islam is the religion of female empowerment. Under Islam, women became Islamic scholars, scientists, leaders, businesswomen, warriors, artists, poets and rulers.
The history of Islam is enriched with episodes of their contributions to their communities and their nation. This has been the focus of Arabian culture throughout the course of Islam and Christianity. What the men in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) are imposing on women is a form of slavery in the name of newly invented way of life.
It was installed by the alliance of the Al Saud, Al Shikh ( the tribe of Mohammed bin Abed El Wahhab the founder Wahhabi religious dogma and other tribes, which adopted a backward interpretation of Islam called ‘Wahhabi’ – the same one that the Taliban imposed in Afghanistan. The Al Saud / Al Shikh alliance was glued by Wahhabi religious dogma, and its followers.
They were supported in their victorious war against the Hashemite’s, in the early 20th Century by the English. Before the defeat and the expulsion of the Hashemite’s from Arabia, the Hashemite’s were led by Sharif Mecca EL Sharif Houssin ben Ali, the then ruler of El Hejaz (the urbanized part of Arabia), who was the grandfather of the ‘Royal Family of Jordan’.
The family also claims that they are ‘Ale el baite’; the family of the Prophet Mohamed SAW. Each was played off against one another by the English Empire, keen to secure its own interests. The way of life in Arabia at that time was equivalent to the way of life in Syria, Palestine and Iraq.
When Al Saud took over the country, they altered the ancient name of Arabia to -‘Saudi Arabia’– or, in Arabic, ‘Al Saudia’; called after ben Saud, the tribal war lord, who the English helped to transform into a king. In 1945 the Americans replaced the British and became the masters.
By changing the name of the country and calling it after their Sheikh – ‘now a King’ -, the Saudi Alliance sent the clear message that they now owned the country. They imposed one absolute religious dogma – the Wahhabi theology.
Any other religious views or sects were marginalised and prosecuted, and some were religiously cleansed. The Wahhabi’s style of reasoning is reactionary and harsh – and it treats women as vassals of the men at home, to whom they shall be obedient. The Wahhabis reconditioned society and rooted ideas, in the name of Islam, favouring men over women.
Now the idea that women participation in public affairs or private business outside the house brings trouble and shame to her entire family is deeply fixed in the national psyche, and is reinforced daily by religious publications and institutions which oversee education in schools, colleges, mosques and homes.
Since the dominant religious views are those of the Wahhabis, women were denied all real opportunities and were submitted to absolute male control. Women cannot do any meaningful thing like travelling without a ‘mehram’; a family male companion figure or a husband. That is what the Wahhabi Religious dogma says, so it’s a law.
They have found ways to deny women nearly every public activity, including prohibiting women from driving cars. Banning women from driving seems like a backward, conservative cultural dogma infused by a newly imposed religious belief. The real motive for the ban, however, is regime security.
Security personnel, on the other hand, can’t stop the anti-regime activists if they use women’s clothing to carry out an attack on the regime. Since no one has the authority to ask a lady to unveil her covered face, except another woman, a ‘mehram’ or a husband (According to Wahhabi Religious dogmatic law), an Illustration of that security rationale occurred in Kuwait in the 1980s: attacks were carried out by men disguised in veiled women’s clothing. One nearly succeeded in killing the Emir of Kuwait.
The majority of men in ‘Saudi’ relish that status quo and find their unquestioned authority over women in family and society an avenue from which they can profit handsomely. They may exercise their masculinity over women; they may refuse to surrender such advantage and privilege easily.
This cruel state of affairs cannot be resolved without a real change in the society. That change needs precise conditions to kick start it. The most important one is to conquer society through the removal of the regime, in parallel with an active local and international campaign of popular direct action in exposing the protector of the regime who hampers real change. That protector is the US of A.
The majority of men in the ‘KSA’ need to be re-educated to understand that women are not possessions. Women in KSA need our total and unwavering support in their struggle for universal human rights and freedom.
Saeb Sha’ath : an author and a Middle East political expert