Saturday, April 28, 2007

Out of Control Tribalism - The World is Watching

MEMRI (The Middle East Media Research Institute) has published this article entitled "Public Debate in Saudi Arabia Over Forcing Divorce When Status Of Wife's Family Is Superior to That of Husband's Family" in their site (Thanks go to Crossroads Arabia for pointing it out).

Do read the entire article as it does a wonderful job of summarizing the different points of views on this highly controversial case. It quotes several scholars, journalists and writers and is a very interesting and eye opening read, especially for people like me who have been too busy to scour the papers for all these tidbits.

I'm afraid that my sense of doom and gloom (which I constantly try to repress) couldn't help flaring as I read some of these points of views by some well respected people in the Saudi society.

"Any marriage that causes any problem in terms of [tribal or] social status incompatibility must be examined, and there is room for the judicial system to deal with the matter." - Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mani', member of the Senior Council of Jurisprudents in Saudi Arabia

Once again our high profile scholars hide behind that cowardly age old excuse. "The ulema consider status compatibility to be part of the conditions of marriage - that is, the wife's status must not be superior to that of the husband" he also states. Where the hell did these people come up with that one? It might be a social condition, but never before have I heard of that particular (and quite detailed) condition as part of the Islamic tradition. Don't these people ever read history of the Prophet's life? Or is this just another case of selective blindness? Another attempt to pass a local tradition as an Islamic one?

"A logical reason can be found for such a decision... Although we accept the dynamic of our time, and its developments and progress, we remain imprisoned by tribal concepts, and cannot rid ourselves of them. The mistake in the breaking up of this marriage lies not in the ruling [itself] but in the initial consent to the marriage..." -Turki Al-'Asiri, Okaz columnist

Logical? Does this man have a different understanding of logic than the one I have? I can accept that we are imprisoned in our social taboos and have a very hard time bypassing them, but is that really an excuse for something as drastic as ending an already established (and by all reports - loving) family? Then he does the same sort of blame shifting we are all too familiar with in this case and relieves the judicial ruling from any wrong doing. So let's get this straight; what you are saying Mr. Asiri is that because we live in an imperfect world its alright for injustice to reign? That it's somehow the couple's fault because they dared challenge a social taboo that, by the Mr. Asiri's own admission, is wrong?

I love the way this man thinks.

"This [court] ruling has struck fear and anxiety in the hearts of us Saudi women, because it gives a relative [of the wife - her father, brother, or son] or anyone [else] in her family absolute authority to demand that her marriage be legally annulled... Thus, the life of every married Saudi woman is under threat from any relative - direct or otherwise - who can destroy her home and force her to separate from her husband and children due to status incompatibility..." -Petition to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, signed by 116 Saudi women.

As if we need any more misogyny in this society.

I'm hoping this case gets more international interest, national pride be damned. The only way some people in this country wake up is when they are prodded awake. And there's no prod sharper than an outsider's.


Lipstick W. said...

Far be it from me to suffocate zeal, but the wisest thing to do is try not to get worked up over this.
When handling the subject of racism in Saudi, one wonders where to start and where to end.

I'm not much of an activist by any account. I was at one time (as recent as but a few months ago) but in all honesty arguing for a nearly grim cause has tired me.
Growing up a Gaseemi chick with an unusual fetish for the Hijazi- or perhaps the less PC term "the 6arsh ba7ar"- and experimenting with this fetish, and repeatedly getting caught, and consequently attempting damage control by professing my "chaste love" for my respective prey..... you bring back all my feelings of indignation. And I don't miss them. I am happiest not knowing what my great uncle in Unaizah thinks. I am happiest doing it the "haram" way.

This is when I feel being Saudi and being female has me perpetually reduced to behaviors of adolescent rebellion. Not only do I need a guardian's consent for anything connected to being mobile, but my verbal diarrhea up there was the 21 y/o's equivalent of a "serves them right"

eh, well. serves them right.

saudi stepford wife said...

And the Ulema are supposed to be MORE educated in matters of Islam then us. Even our Prophet(PBUH) couldn't separate his own daughter from her disbelieving husband for several years, despite her suffering, until the Ayat were revealed forbidding Muslim women from being married to disbelievers. And yet these men exercise powers even our Prophet(PBUH) wouldn't allow himself?