Admit It, Saudi Arabia, Islam Never Banned Women From Driving, Only You Did

Admit It, Saudi Arabia, Islam Never Banned Women From Driving, Only You Did

It's not surprising to understand why so many Western nations feed their misguided view of Islam, considering that Saudi Arabia specifically went out of its way to net women in a driving ban.

For women in Saudi Arabia, Sept. 26 will always be a special, historical date, because, after decades of daring protest, the driving ban on Saudi women has finally been uplifted. As Muslims say, Allahu Akbar (praise the Lord). It's about time.

It's not surprising to understand why so many Western nations feed their misguided view of Islam as a repressive religion, considering that Saudi Arabia, home of the two holiest Islamic cities, specifically went out of its way to net women in a driving ban supported by clerics like this one who claims women have "a quarter the brainpower of men."

But now, with the help of Donald Trump's rise to president (despite nursing a victim complex and potty mouth), Americans are now in a better position to understand that not all leaders are wise or forthcoming.

It is not Islam that forbids women from driving, rather, it is the domineering portion of the Saudi king's clergy who base their fatwas off specific Quranic verses, including the one below.

“And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance…” (Surah al-Ahzab, 33)

This verse has been used to justify revoking the right to drive from women because it "exposes them to evil," according to one grand Saudi Mufti scholar. But in that case, so does the internet. And what about TV? Or phone calls? A book? Where do you draw the line of what "exposes" women to "evil?" Women are grown adults who have the sensibility to choose what to look up online, who to talk to on the phone and where to drive without transgressing Islamic boundaries.

I should know. I am one of these women.

And as one of these sensible women, I can spot a contradiction from a mile away. Saudi Arabia claims it enforced the driving ban to "protect" women and preserve their modesty, yet this driving ban essentially forced women to be driven around by strangers ghair mahrams, men who have zero blood relation to the women whatsoever. And this is haram (impermissible) in Islam. In fact, islamically, women are only required to have accompanying mahrams if the woman or women in question are traveling over 48 miles, a well-established fatwa supported by the Quran, Hadith and a majority of the entire Muslim ummah. This fact has conveniently slipped the mind of the Saudi king and clergy since 1990 when the ban was first issued, yet members of the Saudi clergy claim they don't want to "expose women to evil?" What irony.

I am no scholar. Though I can read the Quran, I cannot translate its verses, which is why I will let the fatwas of Mufti Ebrahim Desai, head of the Darul Iftaa Mahmudiyyah in South Africa, and leading global Islamic scholar Dr. Mufti Ismail Menk speak for themselves in clear contradiction to the haram basis on which the Saudi's driving ban functioned.

As a covered Muslim American woman who drives, I celebrate the lifting of the ban alongside my Muslim sisters in Saudi Arabia. They deserve to enjoy the full freedom of this right within Islamic bounds, and may this fatwa reversal be a lesson to the Saudi clergy that disregards certain verses of the Quran and Hadith in favor of progressing their own culturally imbued and politically motivated agenda.

Cover Image Credit: Marium Zafar

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I Don't Refrigerate My Ketchup And Neither Should You

No this isn't really an article about ketchup

DISCLAIMER: If you expect to read an entire article about a bottle of Heinz, you are about to be severely let down.

You read the title right, I, nor does my family, refrigerate their ketchup bottles. It always kind of had to do with the concept of not liking col Look it up people! Contrary to popular belief, a ketchup bottle is not required to be refrigerated. Just think about all those room temperature bottles sitting on the tables of restaurants legitimately EVERYWHERE. So you may think I'm a weirdo (I mean, in part, you're not wrong), but to each their own. Maybe I do things a little differently, but just because it isn't your way, doesn't mean it's wrong. That doesn't mean you shouldn't carve your own path.

We hear it time and time again; you can be anything you want to be, as long as we work hard to get there. We'll even hear that it may be difficult to get there, but sometimes we aren't clued into the concept that the destination we strive to reach may not have a path associated with it yet. Perhaps it is you who has to create it. A linear path is boring, so go explore, go design, go make the most of this world. In doing so, you are shaping yourself and your own character, your own identity. If we followed the same path as the person before us, we would be stripping ourselves of innovation. In short, we'd be really freaking boring.

Why are we so quick to follow the leader? Why do we take the shortcuts? Why don't we trust ourselves in discovering some really amazing things in this life? I invite you to take a step out of your comfort zone and see this world from a different vantage point. I encourage you to trust your gut and go after what you've had your eye on for all this time. I applaud you for knowing that any journey will take time and great effort and that what you put in is what you get out, but that has not seemed to stop you yet. Along the way, you may turn heads; people may question your motives, some may be envious of your courage, but whatever you do, do not second guess the fact that you are not a sheep in the herd. You are leading the way to so much more.

Attached to this is appreciating that other people are carving their own paths as well, that we cannot get everyone to be on board with our ideas. In attempting to do so, I'd absolutely be dispelling what I've written about sticking to your guns for the past three paragraphs. So yes, there are a million ways to get from Point A to Point B. Some may seem practical, some may seem longwinded, some may require creativity, and some may be difficult to envision, but each invites us to take on a new perspective, to see life through a different lens. This breeds the opportunity to learn from human beings, see what sets their heart aflame. This is where we take a step back from our routines and our sense of normalcy and see the world through the eyes of someone else. This is where we master the art of compromise, put away our stubbornness for awhile and see how two ideas can merge together to create another innovative opportunity.

In my short 22 years, I learned early that if my options are slim, I can create my own. If my values are not matched with the world I am surrounded by, make a change. If my path and your path cross over and we don't get along, tell me about it, so I can learn and gain more understanding for this big, vast, place we live in. So really, try this whole ketchup thing. Be your own person. Don't be afraid to slip away from these hypothetical standards that we hold ourselves to. Set yourself a part and go after whatever it is you've been eyeing. You'll only be mad at yourself if you don't. And on the real, try not refrigerating your ketchup, it really is quite liberating.

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Poetry On Odyssey: A Comment

How easy it is for a comment online to spark inspiration, as well as a corrupted society

You thrive behind a machine.

You spite words you don't understand.

And cast blame on those who are easily unseen.

I wish you could comprehend,

The hate you create from your keys,

The soft clicking you use to defend,

Defending a means,

A means that brings people to their knees.

And not with hope, not with admiration,

But with a fear,

A fear that thrills the entire nation.

You decide to remain on a side.

A side that is all about you.

So I suppose, there is no better place for your pride.

You call us children,

For believing in change.

You call us alien,

But to us, everyone is allowed to be their own kind of strange.

We don't expect you to change your views.

We don't expect you to understand our truths.

But everyday there is different news.

We will fight for our right to be our own,

And stand together.

Helping and understanding.

Because our mission is to make the world better.

Cover Image Credit: via Flickr

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