The Surprising Lives of Women Inside Saudi Arabia
The Saudi women living in Riyadh face a daily conundrum, a restrictive and confining modern world where they cannot do what most women of the world are able to. Simple things, like drive a car, hang out with unrelated male friends, study subjects they want to, pray to Allah with her husband. Their life is segregated. Some younger women call for change, others return from going to school abroad and no longer can tolerate it, so they move to a free society. Others, practice their freedom in secret. But, then there are those women who love their way of life, love the restrictions on what they do or where they go.
Everyone in Saudi Arabia stops what they do several times a day for 30 minutes to face Mecca and pray to Allah at the sound of the muezzin. Since women cannot pray in mosques like the men, Saudi women pray at home or in their office. No matter where you are, like droids, Saudis stop what they are doing and pray, even alongside of the road. I cannot even imagine this, talk about disruptions!
Many women wear a dark, covering-all, black abaya, hiding all features of being a female. Essentially, transforming them into a dark blob except for a small opening for eyes. Other women, wear a more modest abaya wear the entire face is seen. Many Saudi women share their lives or homes with a man with two wives, they see him a few times a week (the other times, he with the other wife). Sometimes, their broods are large with seven kids from ages 5 to 20. So, if both families are combined, the same husband would father 15 or so kids. One family frequently lives close by, maube even downstairs of a two story home, other other, upstairs.
There are many women in Saudi Arabia that very conservative and think all the freedoms women have (or people have) in the West are dangerous. Most of these are devout Wahhabi, a strict, repressive, communist-like, form of Islam. Their homes have no family photos. They have one TV with access to only a religious channel that bans women on it. They think seeing a women's face on TV (like, a news reporter) is sacrilege. They have one computer for homework or studying the Quran. It is closely monitored. As the woman of the house, all they want to do is to please and obey her husband, do housework and pray to Allah. In Islam, she has failed if her husband cheats on her or is unhappy with her performance. Serving Allah means serving her husband.
Music must have no rhythm nor contain a woman's voice that is heard by a man. There is no make-up on their faces, in fact, a young Saudi woman was led out of a shopping mall for wearing red nail polish. The Saudis, ironically, also had a problem with women working as salespersons in a lingerie store! This was the case until 2006, when women were allowed to do this. Abuse of women from their husbands use to be a man's right to do so, but King Abdullah's daughter, Princess Adelah, obtained a fatwa stating that is no longer the case.
In the Wahhabi faith, when the husband comes home, the wife should go to her room and devout male followers never converse with unrelated females even veiled. For devout women, they have no desire to drive a car because they feel it's a man's responsibility. Any decoration on the black abaya is frowned upon for it attracts a man's eyes, women are servants. Wearing pants or sweaters is forbidden.
The Wahhabi sect of Islam believes that it is very bad to believe that God had a son, in this case, Jesus. Accordingly, one must believe in Islam because Allah has said so. If you do not, you are an infidel and doomed.
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