November 11, 2009

Why Not?

أدت ثقافة "التكفير" إلى ثقافة الامتناع عن التفكير- أدونيس

I feel cheated. I have been brought up as a Saudi, this means that I have been given the Saudi system education in schools and amongst societies. We were taught to believe that ‘we’ are the righteous people, and ‘they’ are the infidels that must be killed in this life and burn in hellfire in the hereafter. We were given this ‘false’ confidence that our mission in life is to spread Islam and make other people convert. The Islamic education instilled fear in our hearts to do what they teach us is right and never attempt to do what is wrong. It seemed that every command is weighted in a scale of what is prohibited and permissible and what is not. The word ‘forbidden’ would come across very often and would further instil fear of being one of those who will be ‘killed now and burnt in hellfire later’ - this fear that blinds us and overlook what we feel. We are unable to question, think or analyse because we are being injected with this fear at such a young age, at a time when the society knew not how to question, and families taught us how to ‘accept’ and never rebel. Everyone needs security, and to have that, you had to be part of a group and obey that groupthink. In this case, it was the whole of Saudi Arabia and the governance system that those in power have chosen to prevail. Therefore, ‘questioning’ had no space, not in the society and not even in our minds. Things were given an ‘absolute’ answer which no one dared to challenge. Things very insignificant that relates to women, such as driving, wearing the headscarf, and just being free, take the priority in every agenda. Women are forced to be second-, if not third-, class citizens. What do you expect women to feel or be when they dictate to you what you wear and claim it is what “your creator – God wants you to wear and if you don’t you will be killed” and when you can’t ‘move’ unless a male-driver drives you around and in many cases unable to ‘decide’ for yourself. I am 25 years old, and this is what I remember and what I experienced. My parents are the best parents one could ever had and I don’t remember at any instance that they forced me to take a big decision in my life. But this culture of ‘obeying’ and ‘not question’ was there in the air, it was the mainstream that everyone has followed. I feel cheated in particular for the hijab issue. Hijab is often associated with the word ‘hellfire’ in Saudi, they make you put it in fear from punishment more than in love for chastity. Of course as we grew older and actually ‘thought’ about it, we also had redlines that we thought we shouldn’t cross. The scope of questioning that we have is safe since the upper limit that they claim is the line, we later understand is actually the lower limit. They don’t just ask women to wear Abaya and cover their head, but they also insist that they must cover their faces and hands! So, their lower limit would be allowing a Western women only wear the Abaya and could leave her head uncovered – today, and elsewhere, this could be seen as in fact the higher limit. i.e. to wear decent clothes and it is insignificant whether you will cover your head or not. There are many variant interpretations, and as these keep us on the straight path or move us astray, it is only for God to judge. The societal pressure and judgement is the prior cause of people not being themselves, and deprives their brains to think for themselves. That is the most dangerous one could ever do to oneself – not use the one thing that differentiate us humans from animals. It is important to question and get answers for your questioned heart and not merrily continue things as they are because we always did!

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