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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 10 Feb 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Obstacles and Women’s Ambitions

By Tamadur Alyami

Feb 7, 2017

I WILL not be the first person to show discomfort on the society’s boasting of a Saudi woman scientist and an outstanding female doctor because the same society prevents members of the weaker sex with all force from enjoying their rights, reflecting big contradiction in its thoughts and attitude.

How can a society that has imposed male guardianship in all affairs of women including education, employment and foreign travel applaud women achievers? How can a society that prevents women from enjoying freedom and blocks them from realizing their ambitions consider these pioneering women as good example for others to follow?

I am unhappy because I believe that if male guardianship was not there, hundreds of Saudi women would have reached global excellence. As a result obstacles, many women do not get an opportunity to rise up to their ambitions except to discuss how to cook tasty dishes, how to enhance beauty and how to preserve married life in the face of troubles and tribulations.

Some men say: “We are aware of women’s suffering and we also suffer from this guardianship system, the social perception and extremism but what we can do if our society follows the same system? It’s true that we dress what we like but that does not mean anything. We can select our knowledge, work and we go wherever we want and whenever we want to go but this does not mean we have full freedom. Yes, we travel to places we like and whenever we like and we live there as we like. At the same time we suffer. So O women, be patient and we’ll do the same.”

I would like to tell this people: “Are you honest with yourself while making this statement and do you think this is a fair comparison?”

Others say: Be patient, patience is beautiful. But the catastrophe is that women have already crossed the patience exhibited by Prophet Ayub (peace be upon him). Nobody refers to the patience of women as an example as they are meant for submissiveness and nobody turns toward them except to advise them: Be patient, God may guide you.

Nobody fears a woman will lose her patience one day and they will ask: What are you doing? Whenever women oppose they will end up in a condition worse than before. So they would be asked to be patient, because they don’t have any other choice. What is required is that you have to submit to the reality as you are prisoners of opinion and body from cradle to grave.

There is an important principle in jurisprudence. It says that the basis in all worldly matters is that it is allowed unless a religious text that says otherwise. What is the reason for preventing women from driving in the Kingdom? Is there any Islamic teaching that prohibits her from driving?

We have heard Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir saying that Saudi rules and regulations do not prohibit women driving? If that is the case, on the basis of which law women who dare to drive in the country are jailed and on what basis a written undertaking is taken from them that they would not repeat the same offense and why do they seize their vehicles?

In the Holy Qur’an we read Allah criticizing the Prophet (pbuh), “Wilt thou then compel people until they become believers?” Then, on what basis of the Shariah rule they imprison women who remove their black gown (Abaya), which is just a cover? Is it reasonable to impose guardianship on all Saudi women without exemption, although globally it’s applied on minors?

We call for the equality of men and women and respect freedom in our economic cities and diplomatic quarters and why do we deny the same in other areas? What will be topic of the interfaith dialogue centre if we do not allow difference of opinion within our religious faith?

How can we prove that we are not a source of extremism if we treat extremists with courtesy fearing their anger? Is it not time for this cloud to disappear? How long they delay women’s issues thinking they would not make any big hue and cry? Is this justice and how long they remain patient and why?

What about those women who have died with patience and could not enjoy freedom, could not achieve their ambitions? What about our lives lost between obstacles, barriers, denials and delays? What compensation they will get and when they become happy?