by Zafar Bangash (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 42, No. 6, Ramadan, 1434)
The House of Saud continues to cause immense damage to the Ummah. Their wrath is especially reserved for women and expatriate workers. They do not want women to be seen, only used by lecherous Saudi men.
The worldwide Muslim Ummah faces a serious dilemma vis-à-vis the Saudi rulers. They have been in occupation of the Arabian Peninsula since 1932 when they invaded the Hijaz with the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and declared their desert kingdom. While claiming to be governed by the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the noble Messenger (pbuh), the fact that they call themselves a kingdom ruled by a king goes against the basic tenets of Islam and the teachings of the Qur’an. The noble Messenger (pbuh) and his illustrious successors never called themselves kings or princes. Nor did they allow hereditary rule as is imposed in “Saudi” Arabia.
This is one, albeit major, problem. The other is the wholesale destruction of the historical sites of Islam under the guise of expansion of the Haramayn (Makkah and Madinah) as well as modernization to make room for the ever-growing number of pilgrims. Muslims worldwide look at this vandalism in stunned silence and appear helpless to prevent such destruction. Is it necessary to build five-star hotels or open McDonald’s restaurants and Starbucks coffee shops by demolishing the home of Khadijah (ra), the noble Messenger’s (pbuh) beloved wife and companion for 25 years, and the house of his friend Abu Bakr Siddiq (ra)? Entire mountains are being wiped out to make way for steel and concrete monstrosities called modern buildings. On what authority do the Saudis indulge in such vandalism?
There is also another aspect of the Saudi conduct inherited from their bedouin tradition that has nothing to do with Islam: the total control of women to the point of locking them out of life altogether. Women must be covered head to toe, must be accompanied by a male guardian if they wish to go outside the home and they cannot drive cars. Saudi court preachers argue that if they were allowed to drive, it would encourage promiscuity. Perhaps the Muslim women that drive cars elsewhere in the Muslim world are all promiscuous! Are Saudi men really all that pious?
In 2010, a Saudi preacher came up with a ludicrous solution to the dilemma of women not driving. Obviously they must be driven by a male relative. Often, such a relative is not available (Saudi men are bone lazy and do little or no work). Most Saudi families have chauffers; these are all expatriate men. Since they are not related to women they are required to drive, a Saudi preacher suggested that if the dirver were to drink the breast milk of the woman, he would become like her son (what if the woman is not married?). This raised questions about the method of consuming such milk: through the bottle or straight from the source! One female Saudi commentator wrote: instead of going into such convoluted arguments, why not allow the women to drive? Saudi women, more than half the population, constitute only 17% of the workforce. According to the 2009 Global Gender Gap Report, Saudi Arabia ranks below such other Muslim countries as Kyrgyzstan, Gambia and Indonesia. Activist Wajeha al-Huwaider compares the condition of Saudi women to slavery. If a widowed woman wishes to remarry, she must seek the permission of her son!
Saudi preachers have also made other idiotic suggestions like ziwaj al-misyar (marriage while traveling). What this means is that a man can take a temporary wife because he is away from home. The “temporary wife” has no rights afforded to a wife in a normal marriage contract. She stays at her parents’ house and is visited by the “temporary husband” at his convenience. This practice has become quite common in Saudi Arabia where men take additional wives without telling their “regular” wives (most Saudi men have more than one wife, often three or four; the founder of the Saudi kingdom, Abdulaziz ibn Saud had 23 wives from whom he sired 37 children!). Since “temporary wives” stay at their parents’ homes, this saves the man embarrassment in front of his “regular” wives.
The fatwas dished out by Saudi court preachers are meant to keep women under control and give men a license to indulge in every obnoxious behavior. Can the Muslim Ummah remain silent or indifferent in the face of such crimes committed in the name of Islam?