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Thread: Help me understand......

  1. #1

    Red face Help me understand......

    OK, we *may* have the opportunity to move to Saudi Arabia in a few months. I understand from my very rapid internet research over the past few days that it is extremely devoutly Islamic, to the point of the death penalty for infractions. Yes, I am showing my true ingnorance of the world around me here to say that I truly didn't know most of the goings-ons in the Kingdom.

    I am suffering a bit of a feedback loop in my head now though . I am fine with accepting other's cultures, I am fine following local laws, but then my brain just flips out when I think about being made to wear an abaya and possibly a face covering (although from my understandings in the area we might be moving it isn't compulsory for western woman to cover their faces?).

    For some reason my brain just digresses into a teenage tantrum at the control over women and that I won't be 'allowed' to drive a car, ride a bike, be in public unattended by my husband, be seen talking to another man who is not my husband, eat in many restaurants, and those I can I have to sit on the 'woman's side' of the room etc etc etc. And then there is the thought that I no longer will matter as an individual - there are individual men, but there is only one woman and no need to get to know women individually.

    See, this just cannot be right. There must be a more logical and rational reasoning for it than that. Then I need to confront my total ignorance to religeon also (not just Islam, I know practically nothing about Christianity too ).

    Please explain the woman's stuff to me, and anything else I might be needing to know.


  2. #2

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    You're a braver woman than me. I would never move to KSA although obviously I hope to visit one day to perform my Haj.
    TBH I totally recoil from the treatment of women in KSA too and all I can say on the matter is that much of it is rooted in tribal custom so it has more to do with culture than religion.
    I don't think that it's a teenage temper tantrum to be upset by that level of control/mysogyny. IMO the treatment of women in KSA is an offensive disregard of human rights. I have no idea why they are allowed to compete in the Olympics when they flout the Olympic charter regarding allowing all its athletes to compete. Nor do I understand why the US rants on about the Taliban whilst turning a blind eye to the horrific treatment of Saudi Arabian women (and other minorities) - ok I guess I do know why, oil and money might have something to do with it *sigh*.

    Sorry, I've been useless TBH I'm all for respecting cultural differance but the stuff that goes down in KSA is a bridge too far for me.

  3. #3

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    Phew. I thought I was being a bit of a nancy.

    Apparently the western housing compounds are okay, as a blind eye is turned somewhat in that women don't have to cover and we can walk around unattended there. There's still no alcohol etc, but that's fine as I don't drink anyway LOL. Great tax free money is a big carrot to dangle in one's face iykwim, that's why so many people do it.

    Can you explain to me the very basic reasoning for covering oneself? I know there must be something pure and good in the reason, or western woman such as yourself wouldn't convert and adhere to it iykwim. I just have never read the reasonings why and have only the knee jerk reaction to the thought of it.

    Just cheekily, the thought of not having to worry about my body shape and flabby hips and thighs appeals to me .

  4. #4

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    Hi River,

    Its a lot to absorb isn't it? I have had a similar experience and I wasn't totally prepared for it. One thing that help me is to remind myself that a lot of it is done for safety and respect FOR women. Not knowing the culture myself I found some things really frustrating - the biggest was not being spoken to or looked at but having my questions responded to by talking to my DH, i'd be completely ignored - drove me nuts until I learnt more. As for the covering I think I'd prefer it if I did it again as the looks (blatant stares) sometimes with other gestures included were a real shock for me (even with DH next to me), and if you're there there you want to be able to freely explore the place and not be limited to western hotels. Again its only a minority of men that react like this but it was very off putting. Also this was only a tiny part of a great experience so don't be put off easily.

  5. #5

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    i agree with Ladybird, the covering up seems to be for the womens own protection

    There is a forum called 'muslim village' and I remember asking why women have to cover up and a muslim guy said that if a woman doesnt cover up its because she is shamless and a harlot and if she shows any of her body, its because she wants that sort of attention

    the conversation got to the point where i said something along the lines of "a womans arm is not an extension of her vagina" afterwich i was promptly banned.

    my conclusion is that when in the company of muslim men, covering up is what you must do to keep yourself safe. In muslim countries, if a woman is raped it is her fault and she is punished for tempting the man

    the man is the most important person in such societies and women are temptresses. Thats how they think so if you are going there, just do as the other women do and dont give the men a reason to behave indecently toward you.
    Last edited by Peg; February 19th, 2010 at 07:26 PM.

  6. #6

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    Peg, please forgive me if I've misunderstood your thread, but surely you're not putting all Muslim men in the same category are you?

    As far as I know all women are treated with respect and equality, Muslim or not, covered up or not. Men are equally as accountable for their actions as women are. I'm sorry you had such a terrible and disgusting response to a very valid question on that forum, but I hope you can understand that any type of man who blames a rape victim, merely for being a woman, has a severe lack of moral education which totally contradicts the respect and honour women are granted in Islam.

    River, I think your feelings are completely valid. Yes, being covered head to toe, in this case would be better for your protection. Saudi Arabia is, unfortunately, has a culture in which women are second class citizens, and to not cover up would be to expose yourself to more harm than good.

    For Muslim women covering up in general - A lovely Muslim lady once gave a talk at my uni and said women are like flowers - they can either be seen as a reproductive tool, or they can make the world a beautiful place. Rather than allow herself to be seen as a sex object, a woman can redirect her beauty through her kindness, her wonderful personality and great sense of humour etc... I don't wear a head covering myself, and hopefully someone who does can explain why they choose to wear it, but I do like to dress modestly. I also make sure I'm well groomed, take care of my skin etc... I just don't flaunt my body to anyone (apart from Hubby). It actually makes me feel more beautiful knowing I'm not worrying about how much my stomach is popping out post baby

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by eiliyah View Post
    Peg, please forgive me if I've misunderstood your thread, but surely you're not putting all Muslim men in the same category are you?

    ... I hope you can understand that any type of man who blames a rape victim, merely for being a woman, has a severe lack of moral education which totally contradicts the respect and honour women are granted in Islam.
    Hi eiliyah,
    my post was directed at 'those societies', where muslim men view uncovered woman as temptresses, not to all muslim men in general.

    I also wasnt saying that 'islam' was to blame for that sort of attitude towards women.

    hope that clears it up.

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