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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 19 May 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Rule of Mahram (Blood Relative) and Helpless Women


By Nastik Durrani, New Age Islam

May 19, 2013

Who was the Mahram (blood relative) of Hadhrat Aayesha (r.a) during the battle of Camel? Do the so called Islamic police of Saudi Arabia have the answer?

The Saudi daily Al Yaum published news report that the Saudi Islamic police will allow women to ride a bicycle and motorcycle on the condition of the company of the Mahram (a blood relative). However some Saudis regarded it as an April Fool joke. Commenting on the report, a Saudi wrote, “Are you joking?” It went viral among those with a sense of humour. People started wondering where and how the Mahram will sit on the bicycle. Although the moral police later denied the reports, it did not refute the fact that the presence of Mahram is necessary with the women at every step in Saudi Arabia, whether she wants to ride a bicycle or board a plane, or she has to rent a house to live with her children. She will have to take a Mahram who will rent a house for her or she should have a son who is above 18 years even if she has to pay the rent.

The absurd law regarding the Mahram was always a problem for women in the Saudi society but now it has also become a problem for me.  As a Wali (guardian) a Saudi had to be present at three places with three women at the same time. He had to go to the hospital to put his signature on the operation documents of his wife. At the same time he had to be present in the court with his divorced daughter because the Qazi had refused to accept her case in the absence of a Mahram whereas at the same time he had to go to America in connection with the higher education of his second daughter.

He had a great difficulty in determining with whom his presence was more necessary, with the ailing wife, with the student or with the divorced daughter? He was the sole authority as their guardian and therefore it was at his will to solve their problem or keep it pending. The government patronises this system which has its roots in the religion that has made the woman a slave and deprives her of the lowest services despite her being a citizen even if it is a mundane activity like the riding of a bicycle. Although this rule is not followed strictly in the private sector, it does not mean that the rule does not exist. Courts do not accept the case of women until they are accompanied by a Mahram even if the case is against the Mahram himself. Women cannot go abroad in connection with their higher education without a Mahram.

The government thinks that the approval of Wali in the affairs of the women is his fundamental right. As for the rights of women, it should be better not discussed as Shariah has no room for it. After all, the testimony of woman is considered half and above it all, she is Naqis ul Aql (a retard). The difference between a sane and an insane person is that of brain and Shariah includes woman in the category of the insane by declaring her Naqis ul Aql.

In the best circumstances, the Wali takes care of the affairs of the woman properly. He facilitates matters for her and stands by her though in doing so he faces many hardships and problems. But in most of the cases the Wali is not that caring, rather he takes advantage of the rule and blackmails the woman. Many wives hand over all her salary to the husband so that he escorts her to the office. Many fathers stop the education of their daughters to take revenge on their divorced wives. Many sisters have to bribe their brothers for getting their help in petty matters. The worst case that a Saudi professor told me about the rule of Mahram was that the immigration did not allow her to travel with her 80 year old mother because according to the Shariah her elder brother was her mother’s Wali and so for her travel, his approval was necessary, not of the professor.

Dr Samiyah Al Amoudi wrote on Twitter: “I am a doctor and have crossed 50, thousands like you have been taught by me, and still they are demanding the approval of my Wali to allow me to participate in a conference. My Wali is my son who is financially dependent on me.”

Many questions arise in the mind after reading all this and one of them is: “Who was the Mahram of Hadhrat Ayesha during the Battle of Camel?” Do the so-called moral police of Saudi Arabia have the answer?”