Leaving Islam




A True Story on the Lives of Saudi Women  

By Khaled  


Many people had said that Islam respects women and values them. But, from my own experience, I have found this to be just a fat lie. As a native of Saudi Arabia , I have personally witnessed how despicably women are treated in our Islamic society. In this short article I shall narrate my experience of such oppressive and horrific treatment of our women, a-la Islamic style. Every word that I am going to write is absolutely true—nothing has been fabricated or exaggerated. No one coerced me to write this story, because, I am born a Saudi and I live, right here in Saudi Arabia . 

I have three sisters. They were highly motivated to be educated, and on their own effort, pursued modern education. But because of many absurd, outdated and unfair impediments imposed on women’s education in our society, they could not finish their chosen field of learning. Despite my sincere intention, I could simply do nothing to help them get proper education. My hands were tied; our society frowns upon women who are highly educated in modern way.  

One of my sisters finished Secondary School, and then she stopped studying, because she was keen on beauty training. But in a pure Islamic society like ours, it is not that easy for her to pursue her ambition to be a beauty therapist.  

My other two sisters wanted to be school teachers. So they continued with their studies and finished their Higher Secondary Level.  

I clearly remember when they were in the college, their ID cards were in their own names, but the photographs on the cards were that of my father! This meant my sisters had no physical existence—they existed in names only—on a piece of paper.  Readers please do not be shocked at such an appalling treatment of our women—they are just like domestic animals--always owned by some one. They could not subsist on their own as human beings. The law in Saudi Arabia , vis-à-vis women, stipulates that no girl/woman in a college could insert her own photograph in her identity card; instead, only the photograph of her father, brother, husband or her mahram (guardian) must be attached.  

Anyway, after finishing their Teachers Training, these two sisters of mine had to wait for jobs which must be in the vicinity of their dwelling. They cannot go away from my father’s control. If they dared to do so, they will never get jobs.  

As a conscientious brother, I firmly believe that my sisters are wise and responsible—more than many men in my area, even more than I. I am certain that given the chance to live and manage their lives by themselves, they will succeed without any problems. In fact, they are capable of accomplishing far more difficult tasks than many of us could.  

But alas! This three educated, wise, responsible and ambitious girls are held prisoners at home by their illiterate father. He does not know anything about the world outside of home. He sees no need at all for any progress or development of civilization. And he has forced my sisters to live his periphery of life.  

This illiterate father banned them (my sisters) from getting married. It was because of his strict demand for non-smoking, strictly Islamic bridegrooms from the same tribe which he belongs to. It looks like such dim-witted demands might keep my sisters remain spinsters for the foreseeable future.  

In our society of strict Islamic adherence, all men who are smokers and/or who do not pray regularly in mosques are considered unfit for marriage. As a binding rule, a man who is considering to get married must produce at least two witnesses who would vouch that the prospective bridegroom regularly prays in a mosque. This condition is so important in Saudi society that failure to produce such witnesses might result in the break up of the proposed marriage. More importantly, a Saudi woman from one tribe must not marry a man from another tribe or from another nationality, even though the man is a Muslim. Forget about a Saudi woman marrying a non-Muslim—this is haram.  

In our tribe the girls outnumber the boys two or three times. This means that many of our girls will never get married, as marrying outside our tribe is absolutely unthinkable. In our society men prefer to marry girls less than twenty years old. They have a special penchant for girls who are around sixteen years or less. The conclusion from this absurd desire for very young girls is that the marriage prospect of our girls more than twenty years old is almost zero. Or, they might get married but to older men.  

Thus, because of these ridiculous Islamic rules, the lives of these grown-up girls mean nothing in our puritanical society.  

Let us now return to my father’s mentality and find the real reason why he does not want his daughters to be married to strangers (I mean, men from another tribe or another nationality).

Saudi men strongly believe that women have no hopes, desires and aspiration of their own. Thus, when it comes to marriage, a Saudi woman’s opinion is irrelevant. She is totally dependent on her owner about her fate. Saudi men also consider it shameful to give someone’s daughter to be married to a stranger—outside one’s own tribal boundary. It is difficult for a Saudi man to accept that outsiders could look at the sacred ‘honour’ of their daughters. It is inconceivable for a Saudi father to envisage that a stranger could have sex with her daughter—even in marriage, and even when the bridegroom is a Muslim. So, this is the real reason why my father would not allow my sisters to marry ‘foreigners’. He is simply paranoid that ‘foreigners’ would have sexual intercourse with her daughters.  


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