A Saudi woman flees her family, country and religion

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy.

All praise is for Allah, who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, to make it superior over all religions even though the disbelievers hate it. They wish to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths but Allah will not allow except that His light should be perfected even though the disbelievers hate it.

To proceed:

A recent campaign by various Western media outlets against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has intensified in light of the news of a young Saudi girl who betrayed her family’s trust, caused them much pain and anguish and fled their protection. [1] The very reporting of this news raises questions about their journalistic integrity; the discrepancies in her story and the stories of other women like her confirms the biased manner of their reporting. Such reports often result in discord and enmity in the hearts of some Muslim women towards their families and the Muslim way of life.

If her life was truly in danger and she feared for her safety she could have raised the issue with any Saudi judge and her matter would have been dealt with, without the need to dehumanise her country and family. Saudi Arabia is a country that – contrary to popular belief – has laws in place to protect women in such situations. What is known regarding her was that she was from a very affluent family, her father is a Saudi governor who afforded her the opportunity to progress through the education system and she fled from her family whilst she was on holiday with them in Kuwait. Does this description fit the profile of a woman mistreated by her family or someone who’s freedom was hindered?!

Would her family risk exposing their misdeeds by leaving Saudi Arabia with her on holiday? Why, upon receiving asylum in Canada, was she seen on social media travelling in first class, flaunting champagne and caviar in the manner of royalty rather than travelling in the manner of a person who has been persecuted and oppressed? Are these the actions of a traumatised refugee or an asylum seeker fearing for their life?! Would someone who was mistreated for many years be given access to funds that afford this kind of lifestyle? Why was her case expedited by Canadian authorities while those who are in proven situations of great peril are forced to wait months or even years to receive the same assistance she received in a week? And why was the media so instrumental in expediting her case? Why is this case of particular interest to them as opposed to any other asylum case? Finally, why have the media outlets not sought the statement of her family in order to present an unbiased report of the situation? These are all unanswered questions in her case and other similar cases.

Anyone who has lived in Saudi Arabia can attest to the fact that the law requires that women be treated with dignity and respect. If a woman is oppressed by her family she has the option of seeking aid from the authorities who will deal with the matter justly. In fact, the Saudi Ministry of Labour and Social Development has set up a social protection system that protects victims of domestic violence, under the scheme, victims and their children are placed in temporary accommodation, a dedicated hotline was set up as a form of communication. [2] Saudi citisens are encouraged to report domestic violence cases and promised anonymity.

There are many instances where a woman’s family have been brought to justice by Saudi authorities, but these incidents are not covered by the media because they do not fit their anti-Saudi and Islamophobic agenda. One such incident occurred in October 2016 when a Saudi man was found guilty of biting his wife on her left shoulder and causing her considerable pain and discomfort. The case was treated as a domestic violence incident and he was sentenced to three days in prison and thirty lashes. His wife was given the option of witnessing the lashing in public or behind closed doors. [3] The presiding judge was actually seen to be lenient, and he later clarified that the reason for his leniency was because the perpetrator had no prior convictions. This legal ruling was based on the general Islamic principle of the obligation of protecting the innocent from harm. Also, the punishment of 30 lashes is carried out in public as a deterrent to others.

If this is the punishment for the one who causes discomfort to his wife, then logic dictates that a case involving a woman fearing for her life would be taken far more seriously by family judges in Saudi Arabia. Living in the west, we have never seen a harsher penalty for a case of domestic violence for biting.

With the breakdown of the family structure in the west, many people here are unable to fathom the concept of a man being expected – rather obligated – to protect, maintain and provide for any woman who is under his guardianship as is the Islamic obligation. Allah says:

{Men are the protectors and maintainers of women} [04:34]

It is this protection that enables her to live in safety and become a functioning member of her society. Contrary to the interpretation of many people who lack proper understanding, protection and provision for women does not imply any hindrance to their freedom. It is not a method of control and should not be used as such.

This protection is not a form of oppression but a virtue and a way of ensuring that a woman is able to carry out her day to day tasks safe in the knowledge that she has a family that will look out for her best interests. What is a form of oppression against the women of the world is to manipulate them into believing that freedom and liberation is attained through complete independence from their families and the sexualisation of their bodies. Society judges women based on their physical appearance and they are often used as commodities when advertising products. This is the essence of manipulation and oppression, this is what makes them an easy target for those with diseased hearts.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Centre in the United States, one in five women will be raped at some point in their lives, while one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18. [4] In Canada, there are 460,000 sexual assaults every year [5] and one in three women will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. In addition, 39% of Canadian adult women reported having at least one experience of sexual assault since the age of 16. [6] The statistics for women are just as damning in the UK, if not worse.

The oppression of women in the West reached such epic proportions that even politicians and men of influence were accused of systematic sexual abuse towards women. This prompted the launch of the #MeToo campaign which encouraged women to come forward with their stories. Do you think that these women would be subject to such abuse if they were under the protection of their male guardians? Or at the very least lived in a society that did not ostracise women who were sexually assaulted? Would it not be wiser for Western media to direct their efforts in finding an appropriate system which protected the rights of Western women to not be sexually abused and exploited?

Instead, they choose to orchestrate a witch hunt against Saudi Arabia, a country that punishes perpetrators of non-penetrative sexual harassment with penalties of up to five years in prison and fines ranging from $26,600 (£19,641) to $80,000, while penetrative sexual harassment is punishable by death. Saudi law also preserves the anonymity of alleged victims and even inciting to sexual harassment is considered a crime. [7]

Based on the above, a clear conclusion can be drawn – that a woman is safer and better protected in Saudi Arabia than she would be if she lived in countries like Canada or the US. Is the right to live without the fear of rape or sexual harassment not a fundamental right for women? Can Western society give women these basic rights?

In ending, I sincerely advise my Muslim sisters not to be deceived by the negative propaganda of the media against Saudi Arabia and the protective measures that Islam has placed to safeguard the rights of women everywhere, and to adhere to the teachings of our noble Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), the one who commanded men to treat women kindly and with honour, the one who said;

The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives. [Al-Tirmidhi – Sahih]

Remember that your greatest asset is your faith, honour, modesty, family and way of life. Many are envious of your purity, chastity and the harmony and peace in which you choose to live.

{Many of the People of the Scripture wish they could turn you back to disbelief after you have believed, out of envy from themselves [even] after the truth has become clear to them. So pardon and overlook until Allah delivers His command. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent} [2:109]

Written by,

Abu Salma Muhammad Aydeed
Graduate from the Islamic University of Madinah, Saudi Arabia
14/01/2019

 

Footnotes

 
[1] In January 2019, media reported the story of an 18 year old Saudi girl by the name of Rahaf Al-Qunun who deceived her family whilst being on holiday with them, and flew to Australia via Thailand on a tourist visa. In Thailand she was apprehended by the authorities due to not having the relevant travel documents, however she pleaded with UNHCR to be given refugee asylum because she was allegedly oppressed, tortured and had also left her religion. Within a week, Canada granted her refugee stated and she was granted citizenship.
[2] https://sabq.org/fZw62K
[3] https://www.hiamag.com/منوعات/قصص-واقعية/421641-زوج-سعودي-يعض-زوجته-فماذا-حكمت-عليه-المحكمة
[4] https://www.nsvrc.org/statistics
[5] That’s 1260 cases of sexual assault daily!
[6] http://sacha.ca/resources/statistics
[7] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-44290312

- from Manchester, UK. He is a graduate of the Islaamic University of Madeenah, having graduated from the Institute of Arabic Language, the Faculty of Sharee'ah, and Masters in 'Aqeedah; He is currently pursuing his PhD in 'Aqeedah.

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