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The Rosa Parks of Saudi Arabia: Women Challenging the Ban by Driving


I learned how to drive at the age of 13, in a golden Toyota Corolla, on the dusty roads of Khartoum.  It was empowering,  when my dad gave me the keys of the tiny, bright red Suzuki FX, a car I had to share with my sister; the deal was I had to drop my brothers and sisters off at school on the way to Kinniard. We had a driver for my mom ,who never drove, but my father wanted his daughters to be self-reliant. He showed me how to fix a flat and pointed out every trusted auto mechanic on the route back and forth from school. Have driven in the crazy streets of Lahore, Dubai, New York, Los Angeles, amongst other places. I am a ‘conservative’ Muslim woman; I drive my children to Quran class, to school, to the grocery store, to visit elders in the community, to the masjid school where I teach.  Always took it for granted until was struck with severe vertigo and was at the mercy of others to chauffeur me around for a few weeks. Take away the ability to move from a human being and you have put her or him in a virtual prison. Saudi Arabian women have been in this virtual prison for years. They are not allowed to drive. Every Muslim country in the world lets women drive, except Saudi Arabia. Why? No one except the Saudi Arabian government knows. There is no Islamic reasoning for it. Since there were no ‘cars’ 1400 years ago, Muslim scholars turn to permissibility of an action by looking at the closest general mode. Here it is transportation. Women used horses and camels to travel during the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). There is stories of the Prophet’s wives, daughters and sahabiyaat riding horses. Most Saudis, themselves, don’t claim the ban to be Islamic.

The debate to allow women to drive cars has been ebbing and flowing in the oil-rich conservative kingdom for many years. ( The religious authorities have always viewed this license, if granted, as something that will ruin women and the whole of society. There are some Saudi scholars for example, Abdel-Mohsin al-Obaikan – one of Saudi Arabia’s senior religious figures and another well-known cleric, Mohsin Awaji that say that Islamic law does not prevent women driving. Everything depends, they say, on the context. There are road safety issues, steps need to be taken to prevent harassment of women drivers etc.  Liberals, along with a lot of Saudi women, say it is a basic right that women should naturally have, especially those who cannot afford to employ a driver. Why it is a divide amongst liberals and religious authorities.? This is a women’s issue, one that affects women, let them decide. Driving is not a “right”, it is a privilege that should be earned by proving that you can drive safely and revoked if misused ie. drinking while driving, speeding, texting, regardless of whether you are a man or a woman.

But wait it is a male issue too, Saudi men spent countless hours chauffeuring their female relatives back and forth from doctor’s appointments,  to school, to college, to hairdressers to the mall.

Weddings are a nightmare.

“Usually, I’m too tired” to enjoy the festivities, Auda says, “because I’m preparing the whole day for the wedding. You have to take the dresses from the dry cleaners. You have to get the gifts, pick up the hairdresser for the girls. Drive the hairdresser back.  “Sometimes, for example, there is a hairdresser working at home on five women, and there is another five who want to go to salons. You can imagine the headache. You are tired because you are driving three to four hours before the wedding.”

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By limiting this privilege just to men what has Saudi Arabia gained? Women are still allowed to sit in a car often with a non-mahram driver, which if looked from a deen perspective is worse. This editorial in the Saudi newspaper suggests that the myth of Saudi taxi drivers molesting Saudi women is so encompassing that no self respecting Saudi woman will get into a taxi for the fear of losing her reputation. Comments under the editorial further fuel that myth. The editorial does inform the readers that many more Saudi women are working out of necessity but are not able to save any money because they spend it all on hiring private drivers or taxis.

Such views are dysfunctional and display a distrust of both Saudi women and men. Qatar is a conservative Muslim society, so is Kuwait but women drive in both places. Are Qatari or Kuwaiti women any less virtuous than Saudi women? Of course not

Najla Hariri is a mom who has been driving around Jeddah for the past few days taking her children to school. Her feat stormed the Internet, and on Twitter, the long debate continued between those who refused what Najla had done and those who praised her courage and struggle to prove that society is wrong in banning women from driving cars. (


Hariri reacted kindly to the praise she got in comments through her Twitter account saying [ar]:

أعزائي، جعلتم مني رائدة ورمز، أنا لست أي من ذلك، انا أم وجدت نفسها في احتياج لأخذ زمام المبادرة، ففعلت من غير بطولات ولا انجازات

You have made me a leader and an icon, when I am not any of that. I am just a mother who found herself in need to do something, so I did what I’ve done without looking for heroic acts or achievements.

In an interview with Arab News, she ridiculed “the social belief that Saudi women are treated “like queens” as they are driven around by their male relatives or drivers, saying “this is a big lie. We are always under their mercy to give us a lift,” she said.

Saudi blogger Fouad Al-Farhan wrote a comment [ar] on what Mrs Hariri had done, saying:

ما قامت به الأستاذة نجلاء حريري من قيادة سيارتها يوم أمس في جدة وتوصيل أطفالها هو حق حلال ومشروع ومصادرة الحق ظلم

What Mrs Najla Hariri has done driving her car in Jeddah to give a ride to her children is a legitimate [Halal] right and taking this right away is unfair.

Another Saudi tweep, Abdulrahman Kattoa, praised what Najla did, describing [ar] her as another Rosa Park, the African-American civil rights movement activist:

ما يكسر حاجز الخوف إلا الشجعان زي ما كسرت الأمريكية في الباص الاضطهاد العنصري في أمريكا

No one breaks the fear wall except the brave, just the way an American woman broke racist oppression in a bus

Kuwaiti columnist Abdullah Zaman wrote a tweet in English to Mrs Hariri praising her courage:

Najla, I envy you for what you did today. You got the guts to be a symbol of the will in the women’s world.

Saudi political activist Waleed Abu Alkhair pointed out [ar] the importance of what Mrs Hariri had done:

باختصار سياقة نجلاء حريري لسيارتها في وسط جدة ووقت الذروة ولمسافة طويلة دون أي مضايقات يبدد ما يشاع عن مجتمعنا أنه سوف يؤذي المرأة إن ساقت

In short, Najla Hariri driving her car in the middle of Jeddah City during the rush hour for a long distance without getting harassed, should end what has been rumored in the society about women getting hurt if they would drive.

A campaign “Teach me to drive to protect me” is scheduled to start on June 17th- here is their facebook page.  The duplicitous  part about this farce is that there is nothing in the Saudi traffic laws that prohibits Saudi women from driving-they are just not issued drivers licenses and there is a driving ban.   They can own cars just not drive them. The drama is so ridiculous that the same religious figures who support women’ s rights to drive have to navigate the religious minefield by issuing nonsensical fatwas ie. give breast milk to adult male drivers to make them mahram, which is clearly against Islamic law as breast milk is haram after the age of 2. But a right to transport oneself on/in a mode of transport that is not haram, is clear and straightforward, no fatwa can be issued.

The ban on driving was unofficial at first but was introduced as official legislation after 47 Saudi women drove cars through the streets of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in the 1990s in an attempt to challenge authorities.  To get around this issue, the women of June 17 are asking all drivers with international drivers licenses to drive. They are also offering driving lessons to women in rural areas.  Manal Al Sharif- one of the organizers of the event was stuck without a ride, unable to get in touch with her mahram, her brother, she is a single mother of a five year old and could not find a taxi at 9 o’ clock at night. She says she was harassed by every car that passed by. She was desperate to get home to her son.

“We want to live as complete citizens, without the humiliation that we are subjected to everyday because we are tied to a driver,” her Facebook message reads. “We are not here to break the law or demonstrate or challenge the authorities, we are here to claim one of our simplest rights.”
As I write this: Manal has been arrested by the religious police and is in jail in Khobar. She posted a video on Youtube. [youtube][/youtube]
MSNBC describes the video made by al-Sharif and her friend:

Dressed in a headscarf and the all-encompassing black abaya all women must wear in public, al-Sharif said not all Saudi women are “queens” who can afford to hire a driver. She extolled the virtues of driving for women, saying it can save lives, and time, as well as a woman’s dignity. Al-Sharif said she learned how to drive at the age of 30 in New Hampshire.  “We are humiliated sometimes because we can’t find a taxi to take us to work,” she said.

@monakareem Mona Kareem
RT @Safarzo: Manal was arrested not 4 violatin the law but 4 “violating culture.” Ppl, is there ANYTHIN in Saudi thats not against culture.
omar9944 omar johani An unsung hero in Manal’s saga, her bro! Accompanied her when she drove, had his wife babysit Manal’s son. Saudi guys #TakeNote! #FreeManal

The following announcement from the campaign was originally released in Arabic, and can be found here. Translation by Ziad Abu-Rish and Khuloud of

Us women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are the ones who will lead this society towards change. While we failed to deliver through our voices, we will not fail to deliver through our actions. We have been silent and under the mercy of our guardian (muhram) or foreign driver for too long. Some of us barely make ends meet and cannot even afford cab fare. Some of us are the heads of households yet have no source of income except for a few hard-earned [Saudi] Riyals that are used to pay drivers. Then there are those of us who do not have a muhram to look after our affairs and are forced to ask strangers for help. We are even deprived of public transportation, our only salvation from being under the mercy of others. We are your daughters, wives, sisters, and mothers. We are half of society and give birth to [the other] half, yet we have been made invisible and our demands have been marginalized. We have been deliberately excluded from your plans! Therefore, the time has come to take the initiative. We will deliver a letter of complaint to our father, the King of Humanity and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques calling on him to support the Women of June 17.

Not all women in Saudi think this initiative is the solution, one commenter called Fatima at the Jadaliyya website says:

I support an initiative to help Saudi women improve our situations but I think the real problem is not a driving license, it’s the men we agree to marry. A driving license just gives men more excuse to neglect us because we can now do all the shopping and take the children everywhere with us and so on. The men abdicate responsibility. The better fight would be in the process of selecting a husband; select one who supports our independence and will pay for our driver. I don’t see how a license helps women who can’t pay for a taxi. They still won’t be able to buy a car? A chauffeur is something most people of the world covet. So called supporters are working to deprive us of this luxury. Be careful.

From MM author Mariam E., whose opinion I greatly respect,  some sage advice for our Saudi sisters:

In every country, women face challenges. Perhaps a look into the lives of women in less fortunate countries would let us women realize that not being able to drive is of little significance. By being unable to drive, we are not being forced to do something haram, such as remove the hijab. It is something we can be patient with, like our Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) commanded us. We can respectfully disagree with the scholars who passed the fatwa, but we should still keep in mind that they have more wisdom and knowledge of the situation in their own societies. The argument that women are ‘forced’ to ride alone with non-Mahrams is quite weak, as it goes back to a deeper issue, one of taqwa.  A woman who fears Allah will avoid riding with a non-Mahram alone regardless of the situation.  Generally in life, things do not always come as we please, hence, the command of taqwa that is sides with a promise from Allah to give us a way out and make things easy for us.


To choose to drive or not. This is a privilege that every man or woman should have who can do it safely and responsibly. Praying for my Saudi sisters may Allah give them this freedom and grant them the hikmah to use it for the betterment of their deen and dunya.

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Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of She leads the DC office of the human rights organization, Justice For All, focusing on stopping the genocide of the Rohingya under Burma Task Force, advocacy for the Uighur people with the Save Uighur Campaign and Free Kashmir Action. She was a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. Active in her SoCal community, Hena served as the Youth Director for the Unity Center. Using her experience with Youth, she conducts Growing Up With God workshops. Follow her on Twitter @henazuberi.



  1. AnonyMouse

    May 22, 2011 at 5:20 AM

    A major argument touted by the anti-women-drivers folks is that “allowing women to drive will cause fitnah!” Which of course is rubbish, because if anyone has any clue about Khaleeji culture, they’ll know that the women go to “fitnah-fied” places like the mall and what have you, regardless of whether they can drive or not.

    Forbidding women to drive doesn’t restrict the chances of fitnah increasing; it simply puts Muslimahs in unnecessarily difficult and occasionally dangerous situations.

    As a woman who doesn’t know how to drive, I know how frustrating it is to want to go to the English-language Islamic centre, but am unable to because my husband is at work and I don’t know anyone else who can give me a ride (buses and taxis being out of the question).

    • Marvin

      May 22, 2011 at 3:21 PM

      I don’t think there’s any points to ‘not driving’ that many women will agree to. However, I heard one say she did not want to drive because she knew once she was able to drive–she would be expected to handle more choirs (go grocery shopping with the kids, pick up the kids from school, take kids to appointments, shop alone, etc).

      Yes, I will be the first to admit this may seem trivial in the larger context. However, I caution you–to be careful what you ask for. You just might get it!

    • Ibn Masood

      May 23, 2011 at 3:24 AM

      I want to point out a strange sense of hypocrisy (intellectual, not Eman) building up in us Western Muslims.

      If we prefer people from Muslim countries to not comment on Western issues (because they simply do not understand our situation), we should not comment on their issues either.

      We simply do not understand the cultural, social, political, religious and other factors associated with complex cultural issues.

      Too many of us Western Muslims think that we can hold an opinion on any issue that we prefer. We can if we want to, but sometimes its good to hold back and say: I’ll let someone who knows more about this issue than me handle the problem.

      Originally from Canada, and I’m living in KSA right now… and I’ll just say… let them handle their own problems. We don’t have the background or intellectual authority to comment on their issues.

      • Ibn Masood

        May 23, 2011 at 3:32 AM

        Just to highlight the sensitivity of this topic amongst Saudis in KSA to the sisters here:

        Are you comfortable with scholars in Saudi Arabia giving you religious guidance on what clothes to wear here in US/Canada/UK?

        The answer is obviously going to be no (with a small minority yes lol). So please leave it to them just as you wish them to leave it to our scholars.

        Each people and their ulema are more knowledgeable of their own circumstances than the other. That’s why even many KSA scholars have mentioned about issues such as the Egypt protests: their Ulema are best able to judge it.

        wAllahu A’lam.

        • Ejaz

          May 23, 2011 at 1:41 PM

          I do see the hypocrisy as well; never do these same individuals challenge so many un-Islamic laws that are prevalent in the West. Instead, they will say, “obey the law of the land.” Yet these Muslims have the audacity to say that the people who are breaking a law of the country are doing something good. Remember, Shaykh bin Baaz (rahimahullah) gave the fatwa that they can’t drive and he gave reasons for that. I personally don’t agree with the opinion but he had his reasons. The law foribidding women from driving is not a religious law but a civil law. We should do some research and see what the rationale of these savants was.

          At any rate, instead of breaking the law, women should petition the government to allow them to exercise the “privilege” of driving. They can write a paper which mentions the benefits and the harms and submit it to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. If the benefits are indeed greater, than nothing stops them from doing this. I am not sure how you can compare this law to the law of segregation in buses that Rosa Parks challenged.

        • Hena Zuberi

          May 23, 2011 at 4:33 PM

          Brother most of the article has views from Saudi Arabia- even the scholars who I quote supporting the women’s right to drive are Saudi-

          Many Muslims do look to Saudi scholars for guidance for the whole world and use their religious opinions to shape Muslim society else where in the world.
          I don’t know if we say don’t comment, we can have a personal opinion

          Your point that people/scholars of each country know their people best is well taken and I am still coming to terms with this idea of each scholars to each country, perhaps it is my naivete but isn’t the deen is the deen is the deen especially in this world of migration and influx of ideas via internet and TV, culture itself is constantly changing from one generation to the next, so shouldn’t some issues remain constant and universal?

          JazakAllah Khair for your input

          • Abu Sumaiyah

            May 24, 2011 at 2:47 AM

            As-salamu alaikum

            First, as an English instructor, I noticed you really need to brush up on your use of the English grammar, subject verb agreement, third person singular verb use, etc. You as a writter should be more cautious about your editing process.

            Second, I agree that your comments are really not needed. This issue does not have anything to do with Muslims living in the west. You can twist how it does relate to you in any fashion that pleases you, escept that ti doesn’t. Period.

            Also, as a Canadian living in Saudi, for several years now, while there are many women and even men who want the women to drive, it is by no means a majority. I understand why women are not allowed to drive and on some level I agree with it. on aother level, I disagree. However, this is not my place to say. Just the other while etaching TOEFL to a group of young Saudi’s, the issue of women driving came up. They asked me my point of view, and I simply said so long as it si widely accepted and enforced it should be respected.

            Also, I would like to come to the point by brother Ibn Masood. I hav read fatawa by Saudi scholars that state that the only acceptable clothing for the Muslim women is the saudi abayah. Now as women living in Canada, are you goin to take this opinion as authentic? The saudi abayah, as my wife tells me is uncomfortable and not very practical as women are always trying to keep it up as it falls off the head onto the sholders easily.

            Also, in Saudi if you wear any other hashion of thobe or different colors other than white you are considered to be wearing your pajamas. So should Muslims in the west who find this funky kinds of thobes cool to wear to the masjid stop wearing them because Saudis claim it si your pajamas? No.

            In summary, stay to what affects your life. What hapens in saudi does not affect you. If women get to drive it does not change your life. I have taught English to many Saudi women, and they enjoy having a male driver. They enjoy living like queens. Granted not all women can afford the 2,000-3,000 riyal salary of a driver, an overwhelming number CAN. That is why the practice continues. If people couldnt afford it, then the men would be doing something about it.

            So if you feel the need to continue to talk about issues that have nothing to do with you then I suggest the following:

            women: wear only the saudi abayah ( I can provide them at good rates), oh that reminds, dont wear a shirt with pants, a sauid lady told that to my wife last week

            men: dont wear that moroccan, lebanese, syrian thobe to the masjid. you shouldn’t wear pajamas to the masjid.

            Follow these rules and we’ll all be fine

          • Ibn Masood

            May 24, 2011 at 3:19 AM

            Ukhti Kareemah,

            Yes Islam is global, but the problems of a people can often be difficult to understand for another person. This is why usually the best faqih to ask for advice is a local faqih/a faqih who understands your culture/mentality best (unless its for fiqh issues that do not change from time and place such as basic salah fiqh, hajj/umrah fiqh etc etc). There are many stipulations in usul ul fiqh that address differences arising from cultural variations.

            It’s like many of the opinions that came from Saudi Arabia commenting on our life here with strong language i.e. it being haraam to study in mixed universities, hijrah, issues of clothing and food etc. They fueled a very ultra-conservative and a very ultra liberal divide/movements in the West that damaged the da’wah of Ahlus-Sunnah here for over two decades.

            The dynamics of Saudi culture are drastically different from our own. By writing such peices and putting them in the public sphere, we may be causing problems over there that we do not understand. We can have opinions (even I have one on this issue), but here we’re talking about publishing these opinions and labeling them as authoritative. I teach English here to Saudi Youth, and after having become quite close to them I am sure that some of them may benefit in their deen from this article, but many would read an article like this and instead of extracting the deen benefits from it, they may actually become secular in their world view and further distanced from the deen. Middle Eastern society is a chaotic scene at the moment, and we would do best to leave our brothers and sisters to figure out these problems themselves.

            And yes the Saudi scholars comment on this issue via both sides. But the Saudis are capable of figuring it out on their own, they know their culture best and how to deal with this issue. There are religious and knowledgeable sisters there too who comment on this and even they have mixed opinions. Even if it ends up that women do eventually drive in KSA, it is best they carry it out at their own pace.

            It is a human problem that we are very quick to judge other cultures, but sometimes fail to understand or even acknowledge the ramifications that our own cultures have on our understandings. When you put Shariah into the mix, you’re playing with people’s Eman now… so its best to let each people and their Ulemaa’ deal with their own problems and keep your aakhirah safe. For us, our time is more wisely and constructively spent dealing with the many issues we have in our own lands.

          • M.D.

            June 14, 2011 at 4:03 AM

            Salam Brother Abu Sumaiyah,

            I could not help but notice the following:

            First, as an English instructor, I noticed you really need to brush up on your use of the English grammar, subject verb agreement, third person singular verb use, etc. You as a writter should be more cautious about your editing process….

            Sounds like big words coming from a small man. During the course of your monologue, you managed to misspell a number of words, failed to capitalize proper nouns, and used fragment sentences. Examples are below:

            – writter (Are you kidding me!)
            – escept (Perhaps you were trying to escape?)
            – ti (You may have dyslexia. Get it checked out.)
            – si (Might be useful when you teach Spanish.)
            – etaching (Teaching TOEFL has been known to illicit rampant itching.)
            – hav (Don’t forget the “e” next time.)
            – hashion (So, that’s what the call it in Canada.)
            – hapens (Remember the “pp”.)
            – You didn’t capitalize the names of countries.
            – “Period.” (This is a fragment sentence.)

            Before you start criticizing someone, its best to take a look in the mirror first.

      • Danyah Taha

        May 24, 2011 at 8:53 AM

        Dear Brother,
        The problem here in saudi arabia is that the scholars do not listen to us women and our demands. they don’t get the whole picture they follow this rule not to listen to women because its like listening to shaytan. we want international pressure to be put on them. we have tried and failed many times to get them to listen to us. they will sometimes listen to our men but not often, as they live in their own bubble and feel superior to the rest of us with their so called wisdom.

        • Ibn Masood

          May 25, 2011 at 12:50 AM

          Abu Sumaiyah: The ability to communicate with knowledge, gentleness and wisdom is more important than the quality of one’s English. Harshness more often than not leads to greater problems than it solves. Please be careful about how you write.

          Sr. Danyah: Agreed ukhti, but you have to be careful. Change, especially for societies that are rigid on a certain system, must come slowly. Otherwise you risk upsetting the social order and causing chaos. I agree completely with what you have said, Saudi men have this strange problem where they see women as nuisances, but the change has to come at a pace that is productive for Saudi Society.

          And international pressure won’t help… why? Because it’ll either be rejected as ‘advice of the kuffar’ or non-Muslims will actually try to influence the situation to their own preference (they always have an agenda of their own). The change must come from the people of knowledge amongst the Muslims themselves, and I feel it is coming slowly inshaAllah.

          Even Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (rahimahuAllah), the fifth righteous khalifah, who reversed the condition of the ummah in a matter of years, lamented that real change requires patience, perseverance, wisdom and time.

          • Danyah Taha

            June 20, 2011 at 7:35 PM

            you may have a point brother ibn masood but i do not want this matter to be forgotten about. its a real problem living day to day waiting and waiting and being at another persons mercy. incredibly humiliating when some foreign driver is giving me attitude because he knows that i am at his mercy. and the dangerous conditions us women are put in daily is not fair. i’ve been patient now its time to put pressure on our leaders.

  2. FabMirza

    May 22, 2011 at 5:28 AM

    I wish my wife could drive one day and share my resposnibility shoulder to shoulder. Life starts at 6 in the morning and ends at 10 night. She is so dependend on me even she has to wait for me to bring water and milk for the babies. If she could allow to drive half of lifes burden will be shrouged off easily and we could spend quality time.I pray for the day when women take steering and reshap the soceity. Good luck sisters Allah is with you.

  3. varisha

    May 22, 2011 at 5:52 AM

    I wear hijab & drive in India, and there are ppl who luk at me gawking! “Muslim veiled women drive??” they think!

    But I have seen that a very prevalent concept here is that ‘women can’t drive’…women are bad drivers….even if the problem was with the man who was too busy ogling at the female driver to watch out!
    Even if Saudi women get the license to drive, im sure they will be faced with the next hurdle and that is that letting women on streets has increased accidents etc….which just might be the result of saudi men who will be looking amazingly at women drivers rather than looking on the road.

  4. varisha

    May 22, 2011 at 6:20 AM

    But yes, with that I don’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to drive….they should be & men must learn to live with it & learn to lower their gaze better, rather than putting the onus on women all the time for attracting! They are following hijab! what other kind of covering do you want to remind you to lower your gaze !

    Go sisters go! Take your right inshaAllah. :)

  5. Gbolahan

    May 22, 2011 at 7:10 AM

    Assalam ALeaykum

    Is this Muslimmatters or the Washington Post?

    With statements like these “by issuing nonsensical fatwas” and “the all-encompassing black abaya all women must wear in public” (emphasis mine) I have a feeling that this article was culled from the Washington Post or maybe even and not written by a Muslimah who knows she will accountable for everything she says or do.


    I don’t have an issue with women driving and it is certainly not a cardinal of faith.

    • Sana'a

      May 22, 2011 at 11:22 AM

      If you read the article clearly, she is a) talking about a fatwa that was suggested over a year ago that women should breastfeed their adult male drivers in order to make them mahram, and if you do not think that such a fatwa is nonsensical, then may God help us… and b) “the all encompassing….” excerpt is quoted from MSNBC about the video, not the author’s own words…

      Please relax and re-read before you start making judgmental comments like that.


  6. umm Ibraheem

    May 22, 2011 at 7:33 AM

    Would like to share my experience of living in what is the only country in the world where women can’t drive.

    By not being able to drive women are facing a bigger fitna, being alone with a male driver. I have been in Jeddah for a year now and have a full time driver as my husband travels a lot. This has made my life very easy and have the same independence as I had in the UK,if not more. I travel mainly with my kids in the car, however the are regular instances when I am alone in the car with the driver and I am very uncomfortable with it.

    If we forgo the driver then it means moving back to the Uk and I don’t wish to do that as Myself and the kids are benefitting immensely from the Islamic environment here.

    I don’t know what the immediate solution is.

  7. Rachel

    May 22, 2011 at 8:03 AM

    Gbolahan – The description of the abaya was a smart decision as this article has been read by many around the globe who do not have to conform to such strict Muslim rules. As for Fox News, they want all women barefoot and pregnant (an American expression for forced submission) so they wouldn’t write an article like this. As for the description of the fatwa – it is not stating that ALL fatwas are nonsensical, merely that the specific fatwa described is illogical, which it is. As for allowing women to drive – it will enable them to better fulfill their role as productive human beings.

    • Gbolahan

      May 22, 2011 at 10:35 AM

      Rachel–Are you a scholar? Have you read the Fatawa? Do you know that some scholars of the past also held similar opinions plus the some of wives of the prophet?

      About the Abaya, please what is strict about it? Millions of muslims all over the world wear it because you Americans find it strange so it becomes right to define it wrongly

      • sebkha

        May 22, 2011 at 12:38 PM

        Good grief.

        all-encompassing: adjective
        1. including everything; universal

        all the word means is fully covering, comprehensive. Which it is. It’s a fully covering, comprehensive garment. That’s the whole point of wearing it. There is nothing controversial about the word, unless you don’t have a clue what it means, and willfully refuse to consult a dictionary when you encounter words or terms you don’t understand. And I don’t believe she was implying there was anything strict about an abaya, in and of itself, but rather that there are strict rules in place enforcing its wearing in certain areas, that are not paralleled anywhere else on the planet. That’s all.

        And please do share your evidences of the practice of supplying grown men with breast milk being supported by past scholars and wives of the prophet. (saws).

        • Gbolahan

          May 22, 2011 at 2:00 PM


          I will ignore you attitude and answer you questions.

          I do not also agree with the opinion of breast feeding grown men but I won t call it nonsensical.

          The issue of breast feeding grown up men is not new in Islam and this was the opinion of Aisha (May the peace and blessing of Allah be on her) and some earlier scholars

          Find below links to some Fatwas of Shaykh Ibn Baz on this issue.

          • Hena Zuberi

            May 23, 2011 at 4:39 PM

            Brother everyone one of the fatwas you posted, the shaykh says breastfeeding applies only to first two years and does not apply to grown men.

            How would you describe those fatwas?

            FYI- I love wearing my all encompassing abaya

          • Gbolahan

            May 23, 2011 at 10:16 PM


            Somehow I couldnt reply on your thread, I guess someone locked it down mistakenly.

            Hena, like I said earlier I dont agree with the opinion of breast feeding grown men, I believe that Aisha’s Itijihad that the ruling is general and is applicable to all is the weakest of the three opinions but I would never call it nonsensical.

            The fact that you called the opinion nonsensical, even though it has a base wthin our religion is my problem and to make matters worst no one on this forum (that I have seen) seems to want to call you to order.

  8. Rasha El-Shibini

    May 22, 2011 at 8:18 AM

    I am totally against the driving ban for women,
    I mean I wonder where does the logic come from?

    I am sure that in our holy prophet’s day (SA3WS) women rode horses,surely this is the same principle, women travelled, women had their own business.

    I disagree if anyone ever brings religion into the reasons behind this,as this is purely a cultural block in the wall that we Islamic women face on the road to equality.

    Its a double standard, men need to trust their women as they trust their men.

    Some people misbehave already, the variable in this is not whether they drive or not. If people want to do bad, they will no matter their transportation method.

    And the worst thing is, people are making money off this artificial handicap. I don’t know what the solution is, but mothers, make sure your sons understand that one day they need to accept this for the good of a better future for women. Education is the best tool you have.

    • Nahla

      May 22, 2011 at 12:34 PM

      well said Rasha :)

  9. muslim woman

    May 22, 2011 at 8:21 AM

    Assalaam alaikum,
    I am pretty amazed at articles like this.

    Is it part of the sunnah to support civil disobedience?

    I am in favor of letting women drive in Saudi Arabia, I live there but driving here is no picnic, and I certainly won’t be driving on the highways if I can drive. Allowing women to drive should be done slowly within the proper channels of the government with some limitations on age and need until the mentality of many change .

    • Rachel

      May 24, 2011 at 7:36 AM

      Slowly could take many more generations before it even reaches the trial stage. Women have waited many years for progress but there has been only feet dragging. Also, they are only encouraged to drive in this instance if they already know how (holding an international driving license). This is peaceful and goal-oriented. I live in the United States and I drive; however, when I have ridden in a manual car as a passenger (I do not know how to drive a manual) I worried what I might do if something happened to the driver and I needed to go for help. What would you do if stranded and needing to go for help? What would you do if you had no one to take your children to classes and you could not afford the added expense of cab fare but already owned a car? Women continue to suffer and be placed in dangerous and uncomfortable situations when every other single Muslim country allows women to drive. This needs to stop.

  10. muslim woman

    May 22, 2011 at 8:23 AM

    Assalaam alaikum,

    Is it part of the sunnah to support civil disobedience?

    I am in favor of letting women drive in Saudi Arabia, I live there but driving here is no picnic, and I certainly won’t be driving on the highways if I can drive. Allowing women to drive should be done slowly within the proper channels of the government with some limitations on age and need until the mentality of many change .

    • Nahla

      May 22, 2011 at 12:37 PM

      Salam Aluykum ,

      I totally agree !

      rules must be set and women should drive within certain limilts … don’t forget that punishments should be taken into consideration too!

    • someone

      May 22, 2011 at 7:57 PM

      why, are woman intellectually deficient or mature at a slower rate then man. the fact is if you find highways challenging, then that is just you, only you. If anything woman are much safer drivers then man. Is fast and furious based on a gang of lawless woman? no
      This is not a debate about who are better drivers and who are not, at the end of the day this is a priveledge that is only extended to portion of the population. I’m not the biggest fan of that country expecially the horrendous treatment that foreigners have to suffer. If they treat their foreign workers that way then I am not suprised woman are treated like second class citizens. Allah knows best, i hope i did not offend anyone but i do say this with the outmost respect. After the 100th news article at one point you stop making excuses.

      Wa Alaikum Wa Salam


    May 22, 2011 at 9:35 AM

    I am Indian and living in Saudi Arabia from last 3 years and looking the Saudi government rules.If Saudi citizens are thinking that they can stop all sins and corruptions not to give the driving permission,they are wrong because already they(ladies) are doing whatever they want except driving.They are bearing all the sins by Saudi men.there is no system and rules in Saudi Arabia specially in Riyadh and what is the problem if the Saudi women are asking about their right.They dont have heart and feeling only men have?Nobody cant respect of that rules which made only for men not women.i shame too much up to Saudi law.

  12. 'Uthmaan

    May 22, 2011 at 10:11 AM

    My understanding about the reason women have been disallowed from driving in Saudi Arabia is that, although it was initially allowed, the scholars there concluded that there was too much fitnah as a result and therefore closed the door to it by applying the principle of Sadd’l Dhara’i (“blocking the means”). This was explained by Ustadh AE in his series of classes on al-Adab al-Mufrad. He pointed out the importance of taking into account the context when issuing fatawa, in the sense that fatawa are not necessarily static, but can vary depending on time, place and circumstances.

    Just as we don’t appreciate scholars from foreign lands, who do not understand our contextual reality here in the West, telling us what to do, perhaps we should likewise offer them the same courtesy and realise that they understand their context better than we do and are capable of issuing appropriate rulings accordingly, taking into account their own reality and circumstances.

    • Amad

      May 22, 2011 at 12:50 PM

      I think that the argument about consistency (their scholars for them and ours for us) is a good one. Hard to argue with that.

      I do think that this legacy of the ban is probably one that most Saudi residents dislike but turning back the clock on any long-standing issue should be done carefully and thoughtfully. One has to consider the unintended conseqiences.

      Btw this is one of the reasons in addition to a ton of other idiosyncrosies that made me strongly not consider Saudi as a place to move in middle east (preferring Qatar). For me the Saudi society has become one that is holy on the outside and intensely hollow on the inside.


      • Umar

        May 22, 2011 at 7:30 PM

        Assalamu alaykum Amad,

        I found your view about Saudi society being holy on the outside and hollow in the inside quite interesting. May I ask, what made you feel this way?

        • Amad

          May 22, 2011 at 10:17 PM

          Having relatives and friends who have lived, are living in Saudi, that’s my 2 cents– may be wrong, may be right.

          A lot of Saudi youth are hooked to satellite TV and internet and there is a lot of filth that comes through these channels. Outside, there are strict covering and segregation rules, some of the latter quite ridiculous.

          There is a lot more on top of this, but the chasm created by what people are doing inside their homes and what they see outside, seems to be creating a very dual society.

          again, my 2 cents.

          • F

            May 22, 2011 at 11:13 PM

            Interesting Amad. I would guess that of all the khaleej countries, Saudi is the only ‘real’ society because it contains genuine institutions, large local population, powerful and indigenous clergy, and a growing sense of realization that reform is necessary.

            Compare this to bribed populations of other Gulf countries with toothless religious authorities who are not even local, lack of judiciary and no desire by anyone to change the status quo.

            Just my observations.

          • umm Ibraheem

            May 24, 2011 at 10:04 AM

            Please can you tell me which of the segregation rules in Saudi you’ve found to be ridiculous?

    • Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

      May 23, 2011 at 12:04 AM

      Just as we don’t appreciate scholars from foreign lands, who do not understand our contextual reality here in the West, telling us what to do, perhaps we should likewise offer them the same courtesy and realise that they understand their context better than we do and are capable of issuing appropriate rulings accordingly, taking into account their own reality and circumstances.

      This is exactly what was going through my head when skimming this piece. It’s double standards to reject fatâwa from foreign scholars on the basis that they “don’t understand our reality” but then to condemn them for fatâwa that actually pertain to their particular countries. If anyone is interested, here are the fatâwa passed by Sh. Bin Bâz and Sh. Ibn `Uthaymîn on this issue.

  13. AustralianWoman

    May 22, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    In all honesty, until now the concept of denying an entire gender the “right to drive” had never entered my head. What on Earth is the point? How inconvenient and insulting!

    I am completley over the fact that there are STILL men in this day and age abusing the rights of women in other parts of the world. Apparently they don’t even have some stupid religious context to blame it on either.

    My moral support is with you Women of Saudi! Drive your cars. In terms of equality, I’d say not acting like these men have, as childish children denying things simply because they’ve the power to do so, gives Saudi women the lion’s share of sensibility and intelligence. If anything, it seems to me the men in power need to be proving their right to equality when they carry on with such hateful nonsense.

  14. Sana'a

    May 22, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    Great article, mashallah

  15. Tariq Ahmed

    May 22, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    I am not in favor of dictating to the Saudis what is proper for their country. They have scholars, no doubt of it. Let their scholars advise them. They have people of clean hearts, let them advise each other. They have the intellect, the wisdom, and the authority to help themselves.

    From us they can use our prayers. Allah guide them and ease their affairs.

  16. Mohammed

    May 22, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    There shouldn’t be that much fitnah while driving…..just tell the men and women to lower their gazes :)

  17. salah

    May 22, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    I was born and brought up in jeddah and I very much am aware of the implications of women driving, If anybody has driven a car in saudi they can understand what I am trying to say, A person who is driving safely is more in danger then a crazy driver because no one follows any rules in saudi, for you to avoid accidents you will have to drive like others. A person can cut through you and next thing you will discover is BANG you hit someone, I have driven in saudi and i myself feel unsecured and unsafe whilst driving.
    I can guarantee that if suppose women were to allowed to drive for a month they themselves will it up, its just the adventure and fun of driving that’s enticing them towards all this silly row.
    If the rules and regulations where as that of Western countries and everybody is discipline in the way they drive then it can be understood. Also, young shabaab are hungry over there, they flirt on the roads when women are seated at the back seats I have seen myself wa Allaah young guys throwing in paper slips with mobile no on them whilst the vehicle is in motion, so can you imagine the consequences and the repercussions of women and young girls driving, one should understand that Saudi arabia is a very different country in many respects, it is incomparable with any other gulf or middle east country leave alone western countries. The Scholars are much aware of the situations over there and are blessed with insight.

    If you take the polls in saudi after having left them to test drive for a day in saudi, majority of them will come to a conclusion that everyone is in danger.

    wa Allaahul Must’aan

    • Rachel

      May 24, 2011 at 7:44 AM

      So what you are saying is that Saudi men have no self control. From how they drive, this is obvious. Should they not then be banned from driving? Instead let only the controlled, thoughtful women drive and force the men to take a back seat – literally – to reduce their inappropriate behavior. Overnight the streets of Saudi Arabia would become a much safer place to drive and women would be allowed to better fulfill their role as productive wives…mothers…women in society.

  18. Omar

    May 22, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    What people don’t seem to understand is this is actually a hole the Saudi government has dug for themselves. Their total segregation on any sort of interaction between men and women has driven both of the sexes to various non-halal extremes.

    Furthermore, admitting that woman should be allowed to drive puts them in the position of actually admitting that their system was flawed and incorrect, and it will only be a matter of time till it spreads to various other aspects of life.

    Whats ironic is they hide behind a veil of Islamic law and Shariah, when in reality a woman being alone with a non-mahram driver who sees her comings and goings is much worse then some guy on the road trying to get her phone number or harass her (which still happens anyways).

    Basically, women driving is only the cover for what is a very flawed cultural way of thinking and might not change since it would mean some drastic changes need to occur in all of Saudi Arabia.

    • someone

      May 22, 2011 at 8:09 PM

      “Furthermore, admitting that woman should be allowed to drive puts them in the position of actually admitting that their system was flawed and incorrect, and it will only be a matter of time till it spreads to various other aspects of life.”

      who knows it might unravel into something much better for the society itself.

  19. Siraaj

    May 22, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    I believe the reason many Muslims in Saudi Arabia and scholars outside of it reject the fatwa is because the reasoning behind it has not been properly demonstrated in any verifiable fashion. There have been no studies that correlate women driving vehicles with an increase in social decay.

    I don’t disagree with the idea that the scholars of an area are better able to appreciate their social context and pass fatwas accordingly – the problem here is that no one, including Saudis themselves, are able to understand what it is these scholars are seeing, or understand what it is about Saudi women and culture is so unique vs the rest of the world.

    My own concern is that the continuation of this fatwa in the face of mounting criticism and counterarguments takes on the emotional quality of hyper-madhabism, where a group of scholars and followers will grasp at any reason to justify what their forefathers / predecessors came with, even if no longer seems to make sense.

    As I mentioned earlier, more would be added to the discussion if a correlation (or causation) could be demonstrated between women driving and social immorality.


    • Omar Q.

      May 22, 2011 at 3:58 PM

      Well its pretty hard to actually demonstrate a correlation when Saudi Arabia (and maybe Taliban Afghanistan?) is the only country where men and women are so segregated.

      Their reasoning, in my understanding, is that the “social decay” they anticipate is more related to men not being used to seeing women everywhere rather than issues from women actually driving.

      Sadly, the only way to actually prove this would be through allowing women to drive and I doubt they plan on instituting a trial period to see how things go.

      • Siraaj

        May 22, 2011 at 6:51 PM

        Exactly my point – if you don’t have proof that something is harmful, how can it be ruled against? I mean, blocking the means to evil is understood, but what is the evidence that this is blocking the means to evil? Or that it can be a great help? It seems like it’s complicated matters and made them worse.


        • Inqiyaad

          May 24, 2011 at 2:37 AM

          As Salaamu ‘alaikum,

          Brother Siraaj, I believe the evil that could result from something does not have to be demonstrated tangibly. It might be the case to declare something haraam. But, not when something is just being avoided in a particular setting. I say this based on the statement of Rasulullah sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, regarding his desire to rebuild the K’abaah on the foundations laid by Ibraheem ‘alaihi al-salaam. He decided otherwise, based on fear of something that could result. I believe there are many other similar rulings by Rasulullah sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam and the khulafaa rashideen.

          Besides, isn’t the argument for allowing women to drive (at least in this article) based on anecdotal evidence? Also, I think it is a bit too much to ask from anyone to seek a well-controlled study before making any decision.
          Allahu ‘alam

        • Muhammad

          June 14, 2011 at 10:25 AM

          Umar (ra) chopped down the “famous tree” based on his understanding of a problem that might arise in the future. Scholars dont need to give you a report and show you the correlation in order to be correct in their ijtihaad.

          Your lack of foresight does not imply a lack of understanding on their part

      • suhail

        May 23, 2011 at 11:33 AM

        So you are saying the segregating men and woman is not correct in Islam? Mixing with the sexes is halal within islamic law? Am i reading this correctly? Please tell me so if i am not looking at your comment correctly.

        • ANMB

          May 23, 2011 at 5:33 PM

          Q & A by Sheikh Muhammad Moktar al-Shinqiti

          Name: Linda-la –


          Question: As-Salamu `alaykum! What is the difference between a fatwa and advice, as fatwas do not have any legal obligations?

          Answer: Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

          In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

          All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

          Fatwa is a non-binding, legal opinion, while advice is more moral and educational opinion rather than legal counseling. There is a third category called “hukm”, which is a binding verdict issued by a judge.

          You can also read:

          Fatwa: Significance and Concept

          Allah Almighty knows best.

          from cached islamonline [dot] com

  20. Yasir Qadhi

    May 22, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    Salaam Alaikum

    This is a multi-faceted issue – it straddles not only religious and social but also political dimensions. It is impossible to discuss the reality of the situation without fully comprehending the changes taking place in Saudi society in the last decade, and the political significance that this one issue holds in light of that change.

    The issue of women driving has become a pawn in the struggle between the mainstream religious clergy and the (mainly Western educated) Saudi liberal class (many of whom occupy powerful positions in the government). It is no longer *just* about the legality of women driving, or the issue of ‘prevention of greater evil’. Those issues might have been the main trump card invoked in the 70s and 80s, but that time is long gone. These days, the social and political repercussions of such a move (in particular, the effects on the intra-Saudi struggles for the future of Saudi society) far outweigh any outdated reasons to ban women driving. The issue, in the eyes of both camps, is far greater than that: who gets to control the future of Saudi society, and how much role will scholars have in that identity? In the eyes of many people (and I am not agreeing or disagreeing, I’m just narrating what I know from having lived there), if women are allowed to drive, it will signal once and for all that Saudi scholars do not have the authority to dictate such mores on the people.

    In any case, after having lived in Saudi Arabia for more than a decade (with my wife), I do have a personal opinion and I do believe that it is not helpful to prohibit women from driving. I also feel sad that this issue has become a politically charged one, with ramifications far beyond allowing a woman to drive. It is a mistake that this issue was made that sacrificial pawn, and I do not know what they can do to change that perception.

    Nonetheless, I am not a Saudi, and I leave it to the people of that land to decide their own affairs. I am entitled to my opinion, but I can’t force it on them!


    • Siraaj

      May 22, 2011 at 6:55 PM

      But that sounds like the scholars of the area aren’t maintaining the ruling for reasons related to believing this is the correct ruling, but for political reasons (which I’m sure many would say scholars in the US do the same when they make public statements related to the religion and Muslim community stances on a variety of issues).

      Would it be fair to say that if I were to ask the scholars of those region privately what they really thought, they would say, “We don’t believe in this ban,” or would they maintain their position as though they truly believe it’s the right ruling?


      • ivoryTower

        May 23, 2011 at 4:08 PM

        Scholars too are politicians except that their political power comes from the power to interpret Divine Will on all matters, great or small. Therefore it is naive to expect rulings dealing with socio-political matters to be apolitical.

    • Hena Zuberi

      May 23, 2011 at 3:02 PM

      JazakAllah Shaykh Yasir for answering my question that why and how this social issue has become a struggle for power in Saudi society.

      Ofcourse it is their country and they have the right and the knowledge to address this issue, the scholars as well as the people. It is hard to separate Saudi Arabia from Islam and gets frustrating when all things Saudi become all things Islam for Muslims and non-Muslims.

      This was my personal opinion as well and did not reflect all MM authors’ POV.

  21. eithne halliday

    May 22, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    I want to wish the women who take part in The Rosa Parks day all the best, the most important thing is that they drive in a safe manner and show the other drivers how to behave on the road. When you sit behind the wheel of a car it is like sitting in a killing machine if you are not competent.
    The Saudi government would do well by making sure that everyone had to pass a driving test before being allowed on the road be it male or female to ensure the safety of all.
    I have been to Saudi Arabia and Riyadh many times and the horror of being driven by the son of my friends who was only 14yrs makes me tremble. When in the car there were competent drivers with valid driving licence but just because they were female they could not drive.
    There is no justification for this ban on women driving, the only thing that stands out is the power and control that men hold over females would be taken from them. Every human being should have equal treatment regardless of what sex they happen to be, one can not survive without the other and they can complement each other in so many ways throughout life.
    My experience in Riyadh was an eye opener and made me so glad to fly back to the 21st century.
    Good luck to you all taking part, just wish I could be there to support you. LOL XXXXXX

  22. Coorled38

    May 22, 2011 at 9:17 PM

    Someone made the comment that all the women that can drive should drive on that particular day…after all…the govt cant arrest all of of them…can they?

    My answer is…look just over the causeway to Bahrain…that little island with a native population of barely 550,000 and the govt is doing it’s level best to arrest any and ALL who they even suspect had a hand in the protests or anything related to it. So…yes…they can arrest ALL of them…if they feel there is a point to be made. Absolute power corrupts…to the very heart of man.

  23. ahlam

    May 22, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    If I was living in Saudi I would be annoyed but I would still think twice as the rates of accidents are ridiculously high!

    However,it is true as Shaykh Yasir said, that this issue is complex and is a struggle between the self-styled Saudi Liberals and their ‘arch-enemies’ :the ”Religious-Police” and/or Scholars. Newspapers like The Nation/Al-Watan (often derided by average saudis/conseratives as ”Al-Wathan or ”The Idol”) is owned by the liberal class and in it they often publish sensationalized stories about the latest horrors of the religious police. Last I read,one story was on the confiscation of apparently unislamic books during a book fair held in Riyadh and they had mentioned that these mutawaa’ came in storming and were shouting at a Minister who was in charge of the book fair (of course,it was dramatized as I had seen the video of the chief mutawaa speaking calmly with the Minister)

    Also, if anyone heard of Al Waleed ibn Talal, a wealthy prince who is well-known for wanting to liberalise Saudi society and unfortunately religion is last on the list for him and those like him. He is famous for the entertainment company Rotana, which produces nothing but trashy pop-music and videos on TV aimed at the Arab world.

    So,you have the Liberal class trying to out-influence and the Mutawaa’ ,at the moment I think the Mutawaa have the support of the ordinary Saudis and the King even though the King himself is trying to make slow cultural reforms ever since he got in power.

    I sincerely hope that the Scholars take up this driving issue so that they do not lose credibility and trust to the Liberals who are picking up the Women’s Rights issue, among others, as a way to gain more support from the public for their worldview. And Allah knows best.

    • ahlam

      May 22, 2011 at 9:34 PM

      Sorry if I may have gone off-topic, but the dynamics in Saudi society interest me.

      • Hena Zuberi

        May 23, 2011 at 3:03 PM

        No problem alham- jazkAllah for your insight

  24. Safia Farole

    May 22, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    Hena, this is a fantastic article! Thank you for publicly raising the concerns that many of us Muslim women have had over Saudi women not being allowed to drive.

  25. Abu layth

    May 23, 2011 at 12:05 AM

    I feel that Saudi’s and every country that has a stable country should be content and fear Allah. They dont know how good they have it. Where I am from Somalia that has not had peace in the past 3 decades is in ruins between the Transitional government and Those crazy wacko’s who claim to be representing Islam. My family has been through alot and these arab countries need to sit down and count their blessings the horror stories of the civil wars and the extremist still haunt my families.

    • Hena Zuberi

      May 23, 2011 at 1:12 PM

      Brother Abu Layth,

      Jazaillakh for your thoughts-
      Alhamdulillah for the blessings of stability in a country- it is when we look at blessings that we have and look at others who are deprived of those blessings that we can make sincere dua for them.

  26. umm Ibraheem

    May 23, 2011 at 12:14 AM

    It is not so easy to ‘un ban’ driving. My husband works with some of the local ministries in Saudi and said the legislation to let women drive has been in the process for some years now. However, they need to train women police force, mechanics, driving examiners/ instructors to keep in line with the gender segregation. in other words a whole female workforce to support the structure of women driving has to be developed before women are actually allowed on the road.

    The idea is to start letting females in smaller cities drive first before moving to the main cities. Women over 35 years old and expat women with licences from other countries will be he first ones to drive.

    In my experience, Saudi Arabia is a modern country, where the women are far less conservative than women in the sub continent culture. I don’t think mainstream society is against women driving it’s just a matter of getting the legislation sorted.

  27. ANMB

    May 23, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    I believe that while women should be allowed to drive, yet understand that the men would be concerned with facts such as these:

    Saudi Arabia Has the Highest Road Accident Death Toll in the World
    Benjamin Joffe-Walt – The Media Line | March 15th, 2010
    www [dot] greenprophet [dot] com [backslash] 2010 [backslash] 03 [backslash] saudi-arabia-death-toll-driving [backslash]

    KSA should educate the public about proper driving skills, the government should ENFORCE the driving laws, and youth should earn the privilege of driving from their parents, and the parents should reward acceptable behaviors and allow them to suffer the consequences of violating the laws.

  28. Pingback: Women Challenge Saudi Arabia’s Driving Ban

  29. Pingback: Manal al-Sharif: an inspiration. | elementaryvwatson

  30. ANMB

    May 23, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    Asked if there were laws against women driving, he said that there were fatwas issued against women driving, but not applied to the legislative authority.

    “This is similar to the fatwa that considers smoking prohibited; yet cigarettes are sold in the market and smoked by people.

    arabnews [dot] com [backslash] saudiarabia [backslash] article422616 [dot] ece

  31. ummu shakir

    May 23, 2011 at 6:36 PM

    Why a muslim women driving a car goes around where is the custodian? why they do not do what Allah prescribed to them? Believe me these women are negleted by them. I would not make such choice.

    A mother

  32. Mohammed Khan

    May 23, 2011 at 11:21 PM

    A detailed answer on why Saudis prevent women from driving:

    Point #7 is interesting.

    • Coorled38

      May 24, 2011 at 2:26 AM

      Basically all his “reasons” were because women driving would affect men some how. As for #7…a clear reason to keep women from driving…cause young men are surely more deserving of that privelidge then a mere woman.

      It is impossible to ever believe Saudi will join the rest of the world in viewing women as equal and deserving of their rights when the mere thought of a key in their hand sends the sheiks into spasms self righteousness. Just say what you really mean…we dont trust women to drive because we dont trust OURSELVES (us muslim men) to handle that with anything resembling muslim behavior.

      Now that was easy…wasnt it?

  33. Inqiyaad

    May 24, 2011 at 2:18 AM

    As Salaamu ‘alaikum,
    Sister Hena, I find the article problematic in several ways.

    1. You state that, “There is no Islamic reasoning for it (driving ban).” Then you present your argument about the rule of legality of things in general and drawing parallels when considering declaring something as haraam.

    However, it is perfectly within Islam to desist from doing something that is halal or even recommended in situations where there is a potential for evil. In the words of the scholar whom you quoted, “Islamic law does not prevent women driving. Everything depends, they say, on the context.”

    For example, Aishah radiAllahu ‘anha said (as reported in Sahih Bukhari), “Had Rasulullah known what the women were doing, he would have forbidden them from going to the mosque.” Accordingly, this driving ban thing could fall under at least two concepts in ‘Islamic’ fiqh, (a) Preventing the means to evil or (b) preventing the greater of two evils’. I don’t know overlooking these concepts was intentional or naivity (as you yourself suggested in a comment here). If it was naivity, you are safer leaving the discussion on these topics to people with more knowledge.

    2. The emotions you have invested in this are pretty clear from the twitter quotes to your statements like,

    “This is a woman’s issue, one that affects woman, let them decide.”

    And, “Praying for my Saudi sisters may Allah give them this freedom.” Well it could have been said another way if emotion was sidelined while writing this article. I would suggest, ‘Praying for my Saudi sisters may Allah make things easier for them’, considering that a ban on driving might become a big inconvenience ‘at times’.

    In the meanwhile, as sister Mariam said, sabr is also a viable option.

    Also, if emotions are kept aside we could see the point that Umm Ibraheem is making, “a whole female workforce to support the structure of women driving has to be developed before women are actually allowed on the road.” Perhaps this also answers Siraaj’s question about how Saudi society is different from other societies. Some scholars might see the development of these structures as a greater problem and investment than the inconvenience faced by some women.

    3. Whom are we supposed to believe? Najla Hariri and Manal Al-Sharif (the latter clearly does not understand the purpose of a headscarf) or those who told Karen Hughes, “just because they were not allowed to vote or drive that did not mean they were treated unfairly or imprisoned in their own homes”, as reported by NYtimes.

    4. I estimate that you picked each one of those twitter quotes for a reason. Is someone going against the rules (that are established and supported by scholars) such a positive and heroic thing?

    5. I understand that you are naïve about the role of local scholars, but please don’t display your naivety by writing a blog! More importantly, it is better to follow what Rasulullah sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, “Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, then let him speak good or remain silent.” In fact, doing otherwise NOT ISLAMIC.

    6. You write that, “the same religious figures who support women’ s rights to drive have to navigate the religious minefield by issuing nonsensical fatwa’s……But a right to transport oneself on/in a mode of transport that is not haram, is clear and straightforward, no fatwa can be issued.”

    Then it is not the problem of scholars who are supporting the ban. It really is a problem of those scholars who are against the ban. Let them issue a ‘sensical’ fatwa, who is stopping them? And, who is forcing them to issue non-sensical fatwas in the first place?

    The only valid argument that I would agree with is that the goal of this specific law has not been achieved because women are still being exposed to non-Mahram men in the form of taxi drivers and chauffeurs. Even then, as sister Mariam said, muttaqi men and women can avoid this scenario as well by being considerate of the others needs and their limits.

    P.S: Want to point another thing, unrelated to the topic of this post but, that was mentioned. I am not convinced with the idea of an adult becoming a Mahram by breastfeeding at an age of more than 2 years. But your statement, “as breast milk is haram after the age of 2”, is clearly wrong. I will give you a couple of hints to figure why it is wrong. What about children who cannot be weaned by 2yr or the husband?

  34. Abez

    May 24, 2011 at 7:14 AM

    I’m sure some women must like being driven around (those whose husbands can afford to hire them drivers), and to be honest I would love to have a driver too- if she was female. As it is, I’m not comfortable riding in a car with a non-mahram man, and I’m not sure what justification people put in place in order to necessitate that happening to the women who have drivers. Allah Aalim

  35. umm Ibraheem

    May 24, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    I don’t understand why the issue of women not driving concerns so many that live out side of Saudi. As For expatriates we have chosen to live here, knowing fully the implications on our lives of such a ban. Allah’s land is vast enough to move to a country where driving is permitted.

    The real problem is for the local Saudi women and most of them seem happy enough being driven around, this is the way they have grown up. I don’t think many people are so pro Saudi on this forum that they wish to make the comfortable lives of these women even easier. Yet the ban hits a raw nerve with everyone.

    There are much bigger social issues to be resolved for Muslim women all over the world, yet everyone is infatuated with this issue.

    Before the ban is lifted we have to solve a far greater problem, that of maniac driving in Saudi. If driving continues the way it is and suddenly a large amount of inexperienced female drivers are let loose, we will have horrendous road accidents. I personally think safer driving needs to be introduced and implemented before lifting the driving ban.

    Before we moved to Saudi, I had well meaning people trying to convince me not to go because it is such a backward country as women can’t drive.

  36. anon

    May 24, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    I don’t have the foresight of the ulema and mashaAllah I have a great love for the Sh. Bin Baaz (rahimullah) and Sh. Ibn Uthaymeen (rahimullah) (, and I am in absolutely no position to argue against the textual evidence they present, but I can definitely say that sisters in these United States (and the rest of the world where they own a car) should be grateful to Allah for the legal ability to drive themselves around without fear of arrest or molestation at the hands of the authorities

    I do understand where they are coming from but yes not having lived anywhere else I don’t see why sisters shouldn’t be allowed to drive. However as was stated by our teacher Yasir Qadhi (who gets mad love too, hafidullah) I wanted to add allowing women to drive in Saudi would have major repercussions that would include a change of dress (because driving with the full “sunnah” face veil requires a higher level of skill than driving without it, initially it would be a road hazard, don’t even begin to kid yourself)

    This may be potential for them to earn money (they are going to have to be driving somewhere, right?), it will also cause them to speak amongst men (road rage, just like the rest of us, although to me that would be highly entertaining to watch on Youtube and I absolutely support them driving inshaAllah, just to see this) and it would lead to less dependence on men (eventually breaking it completely for some sisters) to meet their needs as well which will either cause (some/most) men to step up their (weak) game and treat women better or live the single life, Allahu alim. It is a small step in a major direction that would shift society. However I don’t know if it will lead to a further decay in piety (please spare me the nonsense that Saudi Arabia is not any more or less holier than where you sit RIGHT NOW because it isn’t except for the land of the Kaabah and where the Prophet(sallalahu alayhi wa sallam) established masjid an Nabawee…because piety is a personal quality and people are on different levels of piety no matter where they live. Allahu alim, I don’t mean to be offensive or disrespectful to any brothers or sisters but just wanted to say if this changes it will cause alot of other changes (don’t know if it would be positive or negative).

  37. Abu Kamel

    May 25, 2011 at 3:57 AM


    As salam alaikum

    This issue has become a global topic again (it gained attention in the early 1990s as women wanted to drive when American troops were ‘occupying’ Arabian land at Saudi miltiary bases).

    This time, its as a result of the “Arab Spring” which the Western media have spinned to be ‘pro democracy’ and ‘pro civil society’.

    Thus, Western media highlights womens issues in the Muslim world to promote Western ideological predominance and guidance whether it hurts and divides families, oppresses various individuals, or promotes corruption and social degradation.

    It is utterly naive and irresponsible to simply parrot Western media reports and ideological solutions to Muslims among Muslim about Muslims. And by Western, I mean secular humanist, liberalist, capitalist, advocating secular civil society.

    Generally speaking, the advocacy of women’s issues in the Muslim world also entails disenfranchising and disempowering Muslim men and the Muslim family. By empowering ‘women’ contrary to Islam, the authority of the Muslim family is neutralized, as promoted by the ideological guidance of the West which recognizes the individual as the pillar of society.

    Islam recognizes the family as the pillar of the society and the individual, whether man or woman, are components of the family. Thus, we all have parents to whom we must obey and care for and we have responsibilities to family which we must uphold, including spouses.

    According to Western ideology, whether you call it capitalism, secular humanism, liberalism, civil democracy, the individual is center of society and parents, family, spouses, are succumb to the individual’s rights and power.

    Western political forces are pressuring countries of the GCC to implement Western – ie. secular civil society- as they accomodate Western expats within their workforces and force out Arab expats. And this women’s driving issue is just one such issue.

    As is sometimes said : one can often defend against one mighty blow from an enemy, but few defend against 1000 tiny cuts. Thus, death of resistance by 1000 cuts.
    Or, as its called in America, women’s driving is a “wedge issue” by which proponents of Western ideological leadership gain power.

    That is the bigger picture in Arabia. Its not just about women driving. I personally support women driving according to Islam, but I support Arabia being a complete Islamic state, not a monarchy.

    Were there to be changes, it should be solely for Islam and justice and the worship of Allah, not to serve Western interests. It should be systemic and for the greater implementation of Islam and in defense against those seeking to destroy Islam.

    I welcome all responses and I seek Allah’s forgiveness for any misguidance.
    And Allah knows best.

  38. Mansoor Ansari

    May 25, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    Having grown up in Saudi & having a mother who is one, hopefully my two cents count. In Saudi, those against the ban in this particular movement are ultra-liberals who want to remove all facet of religion from daily life. The Saudi women in my family don’t really care if they can’t drive as they all have drivers and can get from one place to another.

    I would been for lifting the the ban if they were individuals who couldn’t afford drivers but that’s not the case. These r the ones who drive around in S-class & 7-Series.

    What would help? A good public transport system, that would really help those in need.

    My wife is a Bahraini & she drives in Bahrain & US. But I would not let her drive in Saudi even if they allow women to drive tomorrow. The society is not ready for this from my experience and my mom,sisters, aunts don’t want this rite now and would say they are not too conservatives at the same time.

    The biggest question is travelling without mahram… those who r asking abt religious justification here you have it. A road trip from Dammam to Riyadh is abt 31/2 hrs and from Riyadh to Jeddah is abt 9 hrs… (driving at 100 mph), should women would be travelling alone for such long distances?

    FYI: Women do drive in remote areas and it’s safe for them and the tribal men in these areas do not harasses them & the driving habits in these places r not insane like in the cities.

    • Coorled38

      May 25, 2011 at 2:43 PM

      Mansoor…you use your own female family members having no desire to drive as representative of all women in Saudi? Your statement that these are just ultra liberals cannot possibly be substantiated..that is a gross generalization. Allowing women to drive has absolutely NOTHING to do with religion…or lack there of. It’s all about controlling half the population because, apparently (as you and others state) the other half CANT be controlled…or at least nobody bothers to raise them with the belief they do have control of themselves if only they choose to behave themselves. Since there are very few consequences for men in Saudi who misbehave towards women…I dont see that bit of self awareness happening any time soon.

      Your whole posts smacks of Saudi being some sort of untamed jungle environment where women just arent safe to drive, travel, do much of anything simply because there are unleashed Saudi men on the loose. Such a sad description of Saudi men if that is true…and from what so many say about it (myself included since I have been there and I can attest to much of what is said about how they act towards women) we know it is accurate…to a point.

      Instead of preventing Saudi women from living a complete and fullfilling life in which SHE is the captain of her own destiny and desires…why not focus on raising Saudi men with the understanding that Saudi women have this right? Seems the easier route to take…raise good Saudi men while they are still boys…then most of the problems that country has would dry up in a generation or two.

      • umm Ibraheem

        May 27, 2011 at 2:51 PM

        Saudi men are not untamed, they are just not used to interacting ‘freely’ with women. When my husband was away for 2 months and I was living by myself here in Saudi, there were incidents when I had to speak to men and they were very uncomfortable about it and would only do so if my son was present. I really respect this. The only women they freely interact with are female family members. Saudi men are far more respectable towards woman than men living in the West.

        • Coorled38

          May 27, 2011 at 5:52 PM

          .” Saudi men are far more respectable towards woman than men living in the West.”

          I find this comment interesting in so many ways. It is Saudi men themselve who are withholding basic rights from the women there that you claim they are behaving more respectable towards. Treating them like children that require an adult with them at all times. Preventing them from leading a life of self autonomy and restricting what they can do, where they can do it, and with whom they can do it with…so to speak. How is that in any way respectable?

          • Inqiyaad

            May 28, 2011 at 9:18 AM

            I find your posts even more interesting than that statement. After lecturing Mansoor on ‘gross generalizations’ and how one’s personal opinion can’t be representative of others, you turn around to do just that.

            If you feel that you are imprisoned or somehow incomplete without driving, or that the protective care of your family is disrespecting then that is your perception. Other women might not share your opinion or miserable outlook toward relationships. Above, I have shared a link to an article in NYTimes about what more women told the US ambassador on her famous middle-east trip.

            Besides, Mansoor never claimed that his family was representative, just that there are women who disagree with this whole ‘imprisoned and exploited’ paradigm.

    • sebkha

      May 25, 2011 at 3:03 PM

      who wouldn’t want to stand outside in 43 degree heat waiting for public transport! yippee.

      what kind of distances does your wife drive in bahrain and the u.s.? who’s to say that any large number of women are going to be traveling these big, long distances all the time, by themselves? the utter majority are going to be doing what women everywhere do-pick up their kids from school, drive over to a friend’s house a few km away for a cup of tea, etc. what on earth makes you think that huge numbers of saudi women driving by themselves are going to be putting km on their cars that rival those of long haul truckers? anyways, whenever i drive anywhere of any substantial distance, i’m either with my husband or my parents, and it’s nice to be able to alternate drivers. it’s no fun arriving at your destination completely exhausted because you’ve had to do all the driving, and everyone else is rested and ready to go. divvying up the driving can make things a little more fair, and more comfortable for everyone anyways.

  39. Abu Kamel

    May 26, 2011 at 12:20 AM

    If the issue is about transportation, then a public mass transit system is essential in every Muslim metro area in the world. And there can be innovative engineering to address issues such as desert conditions. Taking the Emirati Masdar City model, mass transit systems underground and light rail or high speed connecting urban areas above ground. Women’s only cars and locations can be allocated.

    But let us NOT pretend there is NO global campaign supported overtly and covertly by liberal ideologues and their powerful backers to alter Arabia to their political models. And women are used as pawns in their campaign. And then once accomplished, women become mere instruments to other designs of this cabal, not all altruistic and idealistic. Take a good look at France: legalizes all sex outside of marriage including homosexual sex, adultery, fornication, porn, prostitution, has high rates of sexual violence against women, has mainstreamed sexual exploitation of women in every facet of commerce, has a multi billion dollar women’s fashion industry dominated by men ( eg. bikini was invented by French designer), but they attack niqabi and hijabi women to uphold liberalist ideals.

    And let us also not pretend that Western governments are using the interests of nonMuslim Western expats to push forth secular, civil liberalized reforms throughout the GCC. The news is that GCC countries are being pushed to apply American security standards to their Arab expat populations. Those that don’t meet the American approval are being forced to return to their home countries, such as an Egyptian who has resided in Qatar for 20 years but may not meet American standards will have his visa revoked, or not renewed.

    Any real changes in the Saudi kingdom should be based on a systemic plan towards greater Islamization and development of Arabia and the entire Arabian Pennisula towards a singular Islamic state.

    As for driving and women according to Islam, I agree with Mansoor: long distance travel, which fiqh defines as over 50-70 kms from one’s home, some argue less, requires a mahrem or his equivalent. And in the Saudi kingdom, there are still many places which are unwelcoming to travellers. According to my Emirati and Saudi friends, much of the south of the Saudi kingdom was unsafe for lone men to travel, even locals. It was common for local Arabs to travel in ‘caravans’ of cars/SUVs/ etc for safety as recent as 20 years ago.

    And as the economies of the region falter, oppressive regimes harden, economic disparity, and corruption permeates and calcifies, this can be expected again.

  40. UmmKhalid

    May 27, 2011 at 6:05 AM

    assalamu alaykum

    I am Canadian living in Saudi, and I can understand why women would not be allowed to drive here. First of all, it is not a necessity. Men here are encouraged to take care of their wives and families, so the women do not have any real need to go out driving. The roads are dangerous and can hardly accomodate the amount of traffic as it is, so what if we doubled that number? The men are in need of driving because of their obligation of working to provide for the family and attending the prayers in the masjid. So let them drive and be grateful that you don’t need to go out everyday risking your life on the roads.

    • umm Ibraheem

      May 27, 2011 at 10:43 AM

      I fully agree with you sister. I am also a westerner living in Jeddah for the past year, and there is no dire need for driving to be introduced. The conditions on the road are horrendous and putting an inexperienced part of the population will make things worse. Even if driving for women was to be introduced I cannot see myself driving here in my lifetime. I personally think this is an issue only for the residents of KSA to be discussing, I cannot see it being of any concern to people outside the kingdom as they cannot relate to the lifestyle or priorities here. Just another excuse for Saudi bashing as many of the forum readers love to do.

      • F

        May 27, 2011 at 11:24 AM

        Going by that argument, no one outside of France should speak about the niqab ban either because after all who understands the society and the French culture more than those living in France. Correct?

        • umm Ibraheem

          May 27, 2011 at 2:29 PM

          Niqab is an issue of fard or sunnah depending on which viewpoint one takes. It is ignorant to put women driving, which is neither fard or sunnah act in the same category as one of Allahs commands.

          In the UK, for example, the law states the age of consent for a girl is 16 years, so if a girl marries before that the law is being broken. However in Islam it is allowed for a girl to be me married once she has reached puberty, usually this is before 16 years. I don’t see any one trying to oppose this rule as they respect the laws of the country.

          • Hobbit

            May 27, 2011 at 3:30 PM

            Can you read? Its about discussing the Niqab “ban” (an act carried out by the French govt) not the niqab itself or whether its status is comparable to the legality of women’s driving or not.

            Anyways, the point is a red herring. Its one thing for someone to have an ill-informed opinion due to not having lived in some place and another for someone to have the right to express an opinion.

          • Inqiyaad

            May 28, 2011 at 9:21 AM

            I am glad you can read. But, Umm Ibraheem’s arguments are being framed in a certain context. The context is Islamic (why would that be irrelevant on Muslimmatters?). What she is saying is that the scholars might comment on these issues (ex. niqab) as they might see it as a non-negotiable (fard) aspect (as pointed out in the link posted by Mohammed khan and Anon). As for things that are not set in stone, they have already extended the courtesy long before you asked for it.

            Also, not expressing an ill-informed opinion might be the right thing to do! At least I would not take issue with that advice.

        • Inqiyaad

          May 28, 2011 at 9:15 AM

          @‘F’, I think the position of Saudis (Scholars, Government, and people) has been more consistent than that of French or the West in general. The west always loves to lecture others about freedom, equality, and rights of individuals. If these so called non-negotiable ‘ideals’ do not suit them, they can be discarded by invoking ‘national security’, ‘to maintain public order’, ‘preserve culture’, or even ‘it’s not about what you can, it’s about sensitivity toward others’.

          Returning the favor of an unwanted lecture on ‘freedom’ and exposing the hypocrisy might not be such a bad thing.

          Above, Mohammed khan and Anon have posted a link to the explanation by some scholars about their reasoning for the decision. And if you read closely, you will find what you are looking for, “With regard to other countries, the matter should be referred to trustworthy scholars for they know their countries’ situation best.”

          • Burqa Barbie

            May 31, 2012 at 8:10 AM

            ” they can be discarded by invoking ‘national security’, ‘to maintain public order’, ‘preserve culture’”
            Muslim countries do this as well. Try exposing hypocrisy in your own post.

    • Coorled38

      May 27, 2011 at 12:22 PM

      If it wasnt a necessity…you wouldnt have so many Saudi women (and men) trying to get the cultural attitude about women driving changed. Obviously it is a necessity to someone…

      And let us not pretend for a moment that men are out driving their cars merely due to work and prayer obligations…have you watched any youtube videos of just what Saudi men do while driving their cars…the roads there are dangerous because they act like their cars are toys…and nobody enforces traffic rules. The country needs to enforce rules on men more so than on women, in my opinion, then maybe being a woman in Saudi wouldnt be so dangerous.

      • UmmKhalid

        May 27, 2011 at 1:58 PM

        Yes. The men would love for the women to drive, so that they can sit at home and relax instead of fulfilling their obligations.

        • Hobbit

          May 27, 2011 at 2:15 PM

          Please stop dodging the questions raised by Coorled38 and pretending as though the only reason women aren’t allowed to drive is because there’s some great underground conspiracy by men to unleash their laziness on the rest of the world.

          People drive for the same reason they walk, run or cycle. Its a means of access to the outside world , albeit a faster one than the ones mentioned above. whether its for work, play or otherwise is beside the point. The state doesn’t have any right to tell people (men or women) how to divide their time.

          • Inqiyaad

            May 28, 2011 at 9:24 AM

            I think you missed the sarcasm. She was just trying to contrast the picture painted by Coorled36 of Saudi men. Also, that she can see why men would want to overturn this ban as it places a lot of responsibility on them that otherwise might be shared by women. From her own experience, she cannot see why women would want to overturn this.

      • umm Ibraheem

        May 27, 2011 at 2:31 PM

        So you tube videos are representative of a whole nation of drivers? Come and live here for a few years then talk.

        • umm Ibraheem

          May 27, 2011 at 2:41 PM

          Muslim men in the Uk generally have an easier life than compared to when they move to KSA. In the Uk they will not be obliged to do school run, weekly grocery, doctors and hospital appointments, dropping and picking from kids after school clubs etc……the list goes on, the wife is usually taking responsibility for all his. However, once they move to KSA all responsibility is on them, and these duties are fulfilled after work or during weekends, btw, everything here in KSA open till 12am so its very easy to have a life after work.

          Women here generally tend to be only responsible for running of household and kids and MashaAllah any spare time she has is devoted to the ample opportunities available here for learning Quran and deen.

          Why would anyone want to change this?

          • Apricot

            May 27, 2011 at 3:32 PM

            As-salamu Alaykum,
            I am a woman who does not drive and am blessed to have a husband who takes care of all outside errands, even when he is very busy. He became ill a couple of years ago, though, and could no longer do those errands for almost a year. Sometimes he would have to go to the hospital in the middle of the night, and I had to call various people to help us. It was a very difficult situation. People are usually more than happy to help the first, second and third times, but it gets hard when you are constantly asking for help from outside sources. This experience made me reflect more on all the women out there who really don’t have someone to help them take care of basic everyday tasks. Not every woman is married or has a father or brother to help her out. My own mother was divorced and had to depend on herself for everything. We didn’t have a car when I was little, and it was pretty hard to get around. That was in the United States, in a city with a poor public transport system. I don’t know what the proper solution is in Saudi Arabia, but people need to at least understand that some women really need to drive. You cannot just keep talking about drivers and husbands as though every woman has these at her disposal.

  41. UmmKhalid

    May 28, 2011 at 12:23 AM

    Saudi is not like other countries. The women here are given more rights than any country I know of. Because of this, I think it is fair to give up the right to drive. If you don’t like it, it’s simple, don’t move here. Women here will have their husbands provide and do errands for them. If anything happens to her husband- for example, if she gets divorced or her husband dies, then the responsibility will go back to her father and brothers. No one says ‘oh poor so and so, his daughter is grown up and still being a burden on him.’ This is just the way it is. Men are expected to care for their daughters, mothers, and sisters, whether they are young or old.

    • Apricot

      May 28, 2011 at 7:23 AM

      As-salamu Alaykum,
      Well, again, Umm Khalid, not everyone has a husband, brother or father to take care of her. I live in a Muslim country and the men here are generally keen to take care of the women in their families. But we can’t really ignore the many women who do not have that support, even within a Muslim country. Yes, your father can take care of you to a point, but not if he is deceased or very ill. Not all women have brothers, and some women are the sole breadwinners for their families, taking care of their elderly parents and younger siblings. Again, I am a woman who does not drive, and I depend on my husband for almost everything…but it is wrong for me to assume that everyone is like me. They are not.

      • Inqiyaad

        May 28, 2011 at 9:29 AM

        I agree with you that not everyone would have a husband, father, brother or son to take care of. ‘Undue difficulty’ is a valid argument. But that might be overturned by arguments for, ‘greater of two evils’ or ‘for greater good’.

        More important to me is that women are still being exposed to non-mahram taxi-drivers and chauffeurs. I personally feel that putting forward these Islamically compelling arguments and working within the country’s framework might be more beneficial than spouting out hollow arguments about ‘freedom’. Umm Ibraheem has shared how this process has been initiated already. It might take longer, but InshaAllah we can be patient.

        • Coorled38

          May 28, 2011 at 12:10 PM

          Inqiyaad….Mansoor kept prefacing his comments with “my mother and sisters” etc…meaning he was using his female family members as representative in backing up his comments. The way he phrased his comments was as if his family members not wanting to drive was the norn..rather than the exception.

          As for generalizing…Im sorry but the laws and culture in Saudi that keeps one half of the population in perpetual childhood is not a gross generalization. When you treat women as if they need constant handholding…when you feel you must speak for them, sign for them, act on their behalf for everything…when you limit where they can go, when they can go there and then readily brand them with less than lovely names when they happen to misstep…and when you send texts to their keepers when they attempt to leave the country (just to make sure he is aware of it and she isnt doing something without his permission) and when something as simple yet dire as a medical procedure requires his signature and permission…then YES…how is that “caring and protecting” your female family members? That is removing all responsibility for themselves from them…the same we do for children.

          I do not have a miserable outlook on life simply because I point this out…I dont live there (though I have been there) but I have lived among Muslims for over half my life…and when I hear the pisspoor excuses as to why Saudi feels it needs t o extend all this “care and protection” towards it’s own women…they are just that…excuses. Let the women take care of themselves in areas in which they are perfectly capable of doing so. What are the men so afraid of if they give their women a little freedom (mind you I said “a little”).

          • Inqiyaad

            May 30, 2011 at 12:35 AM

            I still don’t see that Mansoor was arguing, “Because my family members don’t want to drive, other women should not want to drive either.”

            But I do see that you are laboring the point that the protective care of your family is disrespectful to you then how can it not be (disrespectful) to the other women? Your statements like, “what are men so afraid of if they give their women a little freedom?” do indicate your conviction that your thoughts are representative of all women and that you represent them all.

            No, you have the right to hold your opinions and speak them out. However, if you are suggesting that fathers, brothers, and husbands are always trying to subjugate their daughters, sisters, and wives then that definitely is a miserable outlook toward relationships. If you are suggesting that any and all protective emotions they display are a facade to further an agenda then that also is a miserable outlook. Also, it might be a little bit delusional if people think that someone outside the family, and not their own family, has more concern for their welfare.

            I find your assertions, for example, “something as simple yet dire as a medical procedure requires his signature and permission”, “you feel you must speak for them, sign for them, act on their behalf for everything”, to be a misrepresentation.

            As for requiring a ‘mahram’s’ company for travel beyond a certain distance, I am not ashamed to tell you that our religion provides for this. Considering the number of girls and women (even above the age of 18) that are trafficked for prostitution, it does serve as an effective second layer of protection.

            Your monotonous attempts at dismissing any other possibility as an excuse and framing this within the ‘imprisoned and exploited’ paradigm are not only piss-poor but also emetic.

          • Burqa Barbie

            May 31, 2012 at 8:05 AM

            ” If you are suggesting that any and all protective emotions”
            You mean possessive…

          • Coorled38

            May 30, 2011 at 1:41 AM

            Inqiyaad…”I find your assertions, for example, “something as simple yet dire as a medical procedure requires his signature and permission”, “you feel you must speak for them, sign for them, act on their behalf for everything”, to be a misrepresentation”

            You declare this a misrepresentation but do not explain why you feel it is. How is it a misrepresentation if it is the truth? Ask any Saudi women if this is a true fact or not then tell me Im misrepresenting this.

            My thoughts were my thoughts…in no way did I indicate they were the collective thoughts of all women….however…having lived there for 23 years I believe I can speak with some experience in such matters…also….because I am female and was subject to the laws and culture..I do believe i can speak with more authority than any male who has an opinion about what muslim women do or do not think, feel, or believe.

            And I did not say that I believe fathers, brothers and sons are ALWAYS trying to subjugate their females…I am saying that the culture, customs and laws in Saudi do do that to ALL females who live in that country…and because the men of that country…the fathers, brothers, and sons (generally speaking) do NOT rebel against that culture, customs, or laws…then they are abetting in the oppression of their own women. Silence means acceptance…but considering 255,000 men have Liked the facebook page that states any Saudi woman that tries to drive on June whatever should be beaten with an egal…then I guess they arent exactly being silent about it.

            Your attempt at describing my comment as pisspoor or emetic only reflects on yourself and your narrowmindedness concerning other people’s comments. I am not commenting based on things I have read, seen on Foxnews, or been told by haters of all things Islam or Arab…I lived there for 23 years and I know what I am talking about. Whether you choose to accept my right to say so with any authority is completely within your rights…but that does not mean what I have to say has no basis or merit.

          • Inqiyaad

            May 30, 2011 at 1:47 PM

            The onus is on you to provide evidence with specific cases and their incidence. And not, ‘go ask any Saudi women’. If you still want me to do that, you must be ready to accept my experiences as the norm. In my experience, I haven’t seen anything like that happening. In fact, I have seen otherwise.

            I only want you to return the favor of ‘recognition of authority of a female who has lived/continues to live’, to other females who have commented here and continue to do so in other forums.

            You say that, “My thoughts were my thoughts” and then you return to the regular business, “…subjugate their females…I am saying that the culture, customs and laws in Saudi do do that to ALL females who live in that country.”
            If you find a certain culture, custom, or law as subjugating, it is not necessary that any and ALL females will find it to be so.

          • Burqa Barbie

            May 31, 2012 at 8:03 AM

            “If you find a certain culture, custom, or law as subjugating, it is not necessary that any and ALL females will find it to be so.”
            The subjective doesnt replace the objective.

          • Coorled38

            May 30, 2011 at 3:37 PM

            Yes…go ask any Saudi female. If she answers in the positive it merely means she has “owners” that have allowed her to have a certain amount of freedom where others do not. It doesnt mean the laws and culture is not there…it means her “owner” has chosen to ignore them…but at anytime he chooses to enforce them then the laws and culture are on his side. That is not a generalization…male ownership of females in saudi is a fact…turn on any tv or read any newspaper. Heck they even act like they own their housemaids and can do whatever they want with them without fear of punishment. In that regard, some saudi women seem to have this belief as well…but that extends to ownership of slaves and off topic.

            Saudi women who say…oh we dont need the right to drive because our men provide us with drivers…we get driven wherever we want whenever we want etc etc” are choosing to ingore the fact that not all women in Saudi have this luxery and not only struggle to afford drivers…but ignores the base issue…SOME saudi women WANT to drive…so why shouldnt they be allowed too? The excuses are many and varied but at the end of the day they are just excuses.

            Having said all that…if you or any other female that lives in saudi happens to love the way things are done there then that is wonderful and good for you…but definitely most absolutely not ALL females that live in saudi love the way things are done there…hence…these acts of “rebellion” that are now making headlines (not as if they havent always been happening).

  42. Abu Ayesha

    May 28, 2011 at 1:27 AM

    Maybe it is weakness of faith (even though I still disagreed with the prohibition of women driving when I was practicing the Sunnah) but I cannot find any of the reasons put forth by the Saudi ulema, acceptable.

    I’ve just finished reading the fataawa of the Allamah of this century Sheikh Bin Baz Allah Yarhamuhu and I do not find the reasons for the fataawa very convincing.

    Like I said, it might just be my weak Eemaan and lack of understanding.

    May Allah guide us all. Aameen

  43. H

    May 30, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    I find Coorled38’s arguments here to actually be pretty convincing. I was born and raised in the U.S. and I am trying to reverse some of the extremely liberal teaching that has been forced down my throat. So I now see the wisdom in some of teachings of the Hadiths and Ulema’s on the rights of women. With that being said, anyone who says that the Saudi government’s laws on driving and other laws that restrict what women can do are helpful and are correct is delusional. It makes no sense for women to have drivers. The whole thing is just silly and if you think otherwise, than I don’t know what to say. Also, when you guys are saying that the men need to take care of the women and have obligations and such, you are assuming that this system of placing responsibility on the men works itself out. You are assuming that the men will not take advantage of this situation and leave the women powerless. You do not have to be Muslim to see that what the government is saying does not make sense. There is no reason for a ban on driving.

  44. Coorled38

    May 30, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    A report done by the haia…who claim that women between the ages of 20-25 are still “girls” and that they are classified as runaways if they choose to leave the family home and live somewhere else….and that they deserve to be incarcerated in womens detention centers for fitna etc. Only in Saudi are full grown women considered runaways who have no right to chose for themselves where they will live…and punished for that.

    How can we imagine for a minute the culture will let them drive, consider them mature and adult enough to drive, when they cant even choose where they live at the oh so young age of 25?

  45. Pingback: Being a Female in the Kingdom: Women Drivers in Saudi Arabia | The Institute of Middle East Studies

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