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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 29 Nov 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Why Are There So Many Unmarried Saudi Women?


By Othman Hamad Aba Al-Khail

November 27, 2014

In our society, there are several contradictions and these contradictions are the by-products of our customs and traditions. These customs have gained ground in society and only a few can bypass them. Marriage is part of this system.

It is in the institute of marriage that we see contradictions. A young man can very clearly say he wants to marry a particular woman. However, there are very few young women who can say they want to marry a particular man. There are hundreds of thousands of young women who stay at home and are not in a position to tell their parents they want to get married. Young men enjoy a privilege that young women are denied.

We can see contradictions in the physical, mental and social needs of young men and women. We feel happy and delighted when a young man expresses his willingness to get married and then become angry when a young woman voices the same. Some Saudi women remove their veils when travelling abroad but wear the veil when returning to the Kingdom. Our young men strictly adhere to traffic rules when abroad but then drive their cars recklessly and even along pedestrian paths when at home.

There are over two million women who are unmarried in the Kingdom. Unlike young men, most young women are not consulted when husbands are chosen for them. I want to quote the words of a prominent figure Dr. Abdul Aziz Ahmed regarding this: “Parents show keenness in finding suitable young men for their daughters.  But, in most cases, when they fail to find someone, they entrust a matchmaker to do the same. I am afraid that Allah will punish such parents, especially fathers who do not fulfil the responsibility of searching for and finding suitable partners for their daughters. There are parents who are apparently waiting for someone to come and knock on their door to fulfil this responsibility on their behalf.”

Normally, young women enjoy frank, transparent and open relations with their mothers. Hence, mothers have to play a much bigger role in getting their daughters married. The inattentiveness of mothers is one of the main factors behind the alarming increase in the number of unmarried women in the Kingdom. Some social scientists warn that this will become a social tragedy if there are no grassroots solutions found for this problem.

It is the right of a young woman to express her wish for marriage, but that should be strictly in line with Islamic values of modesty and decency. It is also the right of a young woman to turn down a proposal if she finds that it is unsuitable. The family has no right to force her to marry anyone she dislikes.

I look forward to the day when this problem is solved in Saudi Arabia. Parents should have much closer relations with their daughters and try to understand their likes and dislikes, especially when it comes to choosing partners for them.