Saudi Women’s Oppression Vs Muslim Women’s Mission- Part I

Posted: November 28, 2009 in My Articles

Saudi Women’s Oppression Vs Muslim Women’s Mission- Part I

A question that haunts almost every American I’ve known is whether or not Saudi women are really oppressed. Now I don’t know why we’re so important that everybody is so concerned about our well-being and our soft skin covered under the Abaya in such  hot weather, but I can clearly say to all the concerned and caring American friends that we are not oppressed in the sense that they hear about. Of course, many Saudi studies have shown that Saudi women are beaten and treated unfairly, but isn’t this what so many women around the world are suffering from too? Why focus on Saudi Arabia as if it were the only country having problems?

And…on a different note, public places, particularly in Jeddah, show something completely different.

A glance at some public places in Jeddah is a delight for the eye indeed. At malls, crowds of women hurl and rush searching for a find; a Fendi bag on sale or a make-up set with an offer. We are just so pretty and trendy that you can find us any time of the week or day at any up-town mall trying to fetch that small diamond that will make the difference!

At restaurants and cafes, the picture becomes more serious, however. Flocks of the most stylish and sexiest women sit around the tables smoking (sheesha) wildly with an empty mysterious look in their eyes saying: you can’t get me, bastard; you just get to see me and that’s enough for the likes of you! Not a single woman of those has that content and satisfied smile on her face. Why is that? Don’t be very pessimistic and realistic and start blaming men for that; it’s just that her royal highness, who happens to be the daughter of an ordinary employee, has not gotten the expensive house she wanted for her birthday.

In beauty salons, the fight for beauty seems to be fatal. Women there spend at least three hours to get the Nancy Ajram hairstyle, the Haifa Wahbi eye make-up, or the Elissa lips. Unluckily, the result is not always as expected. Yet the fight continues at the cashier in order not to allow the salon to take the money it deserves. When the result of the three-hour session is satisfactory another type of fight is inflamed; it’s show time! In fact, the show-off starts, and the jealousy among rivals is heated.

At the end of the day, the poor oppressed Saudi woman returns home to shout at her kids and complain about her husband who doesn’t really care about her. “Can you imagine that idiot! He bought me a Gucci bag for the second time!”

Those types of women are not always rich or married to wealthy men, yet they share a few alarming features. They are all spoiled, irresponsible, and spiritually, emotionally, and mentally empty. All of them haven’t been properly educated even though some of them have university degrees. Their lives revolve around stuff, not principles and values. Being superficial and materialistic is our greatest enemy; our greatest oppression. When a woman is well-educated and is well-aware of her mission in life, no man, judge, or religious police can humiliate her or deprive her of rights. It surprises me how some Saudi women have taken the wrong direction in their fight for their rights. We fight our fathers, brothers, and husbands, but few of us fight our triviality and ignorance. If Saudi women don’t start fighting for having a personality; for gaining the joy of fulfilling a goal, they will always be oppressed and obsessed with their things and toys. There is nothing Human Rights can do for women who choose to be forever consumers of goods, gifts, and pity.
It’s true we have a lot a problems …true that there are many oppressed women …but there’s always another side to every story…women are not always angels & men are not always devils. The Saudi society is like any other society in the world; it has the good & the bad, and if we fail to see the good, we need to look again …look around us…and believe in what we see, not in what the media is always trying to impose on us in order to “sell”!.

Yet a question that very few people ask is whether or not this kind of oppression is from Islam. Is Islam for spoiling women and making them stuff-centered?

Stay tuned for part II.

Part II

  1. Mai says:

    As salaamu alaykum!
    I enjoy and appreciate your writing, masha’Allah. Being a revert of 21 years and living in England, America, Bahrain, and now Saudi (Madinah) I can truly say that the oppression of most women (and men) in these times has nothing to do with a piece of black cloth or the permission to lawfully drive. Very much as you indicate, oppression is that of being blindsided and addicted to consumerism and materialism.

    It is ironic that there is a movement in the West focusing on ridding itself of excess “things” and yet the mission here is to accumulate. I wrote a piece called The Non-Muslim Sunnah (, where I mused about how the West has taken our “Sunnah” and run with it. I think you will be able to relate.

    Jazaaki Allahu khayran sister. I look forward to reading more from you.


  2. Outcast says:

    Great post, mashallah! very well said. there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being spoiled and pampered, however mankind continues to be in a destructive state of confusion…as long as they refuse to submit to the Creator and to accept the fact that He knows what is best for His creation.

    “They know only the outer (things) of life of this world; but of the Hearafter, they are heedless” [30:7]

  3. Abu Abdullah says:

    As Salaam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah,
    First of eid mubarak to you and your family…

    Wow, Masha’Allah indeed a very nice post aptly put…

    With my experience living outside Saudi Arabia especially India and other places, I really feel that women in Saudi Arabia are much protected than back from my home. Like in just the past one week reading Times of India i have seen more than 3 rape cases reported in India’s Captial New Delhi, and we don’t hear that here often…

    Well I am not sure about the perceptions of a Saudi Woman as i am not one, but my perception of raising a family in Saudi Arabia and that of a recently married couple i can say this is the best place for me to raise my family…

    And this is the first place where i really enjoy going out with my wife, little things which some times go unnoticed by Saudi make a big positive difference to the perception of Saudi Arabia by expats.

    For Example:
    1. When i cross the road with my wife, i really don’t have to wait, the drivers looking at my wife simply stop and ask me to cross, you don’t find this USA or India.
    2. When i am in the bank or any other queue, women are allowed to bypass a long line of men, now for sure women can’t do that in USA or India unless they wanna hear some abuses.
    3. The best thing is eating out with my wife, i get a complete cubicle for my privacy, i can eat my chicken the way i like it, well decently put in short its always a nice romantic moment we get to have at any restaurant.
    4. Also every mall and every outdoor activity here in Saudi Arabia is very much fine tuned for catering to the families.
    5. And with family only parks and gardens, when i have my kids i don’t think i have to be much worried about keeping an eye on the kids because of pedophiles and other nasty elements, now if i lived in US i simply can’t allow my kids to go out alone.

    Alhumdulillah i must say as an expat in terms of raising a family i find this place much better than others. I say this after having traveled and seen many other places both in and outside GCC.

    Frankly i am sick and tired of heard this bologna by these people, they are the least tolerant in accepting others view point when it differs from their short sighted perception.

  4. مها نور إلهي says:

    Dear Mai,
    thanks a lot for your comment and sweet words.
    I read the link that you posted and I really like it, but when i tried to comment on it, I couldn’t.

    Glad to have you at my blog.

  5. مها نور إلهي says:

    Dear outcast,
    I beleive that Allah didn’t create us to be spoiled but to work hard in order to produce and build this Earth.

    Thanks a lot for your comment.

  6. مها نور إلهي says:

    Dear Mr. Abdullah
    Eid Mubarak to you and your family.

    Thank you so much for your comment. I agree with you about Saudi Arabia being the most secure place, but I am discussing the dependence of some Saudi women.

    Of course, if one wants to maintain their Islmaic values and practice them easily, Saudi Arabia is the best choice.


  7. نجلاء says:

    Very Well Said, Amazing…
    I totally agree with you…

  8. Manal says:

    Subhan’Allah, you nailed it!! I knew a few Saudi women here where I live in Virginia and I am sad to say they are EXACTLY as you described. Also, the women back home as well.

    I remember once one of the Saudi women here, she was married, a mother of two small children. Her husband was on a scholarship and she was a stay at home mom. She LOVED shopping and that’s all she ever wanted to do.

    But what’s funny is when her husband bought a 700series BMW, she called me saying she had something to show me as a surprise and telling me to get ready in a half an hour. She took me for a ride, windows down, music loud, showing off to the world that she has a very expensive car and kept on asking me “what do I think?” As if, I never ever saw a BMW before or a car period!!??LOL

    What’s even MORE funny is she did not take me as a Saudi woman her equal. I was WAY at the lower end of her status because I was working here in the USA. In fact, I met her while I was working as a Driver’s ED Instructor.

    With me, she would shop at Walmart, Target and the like. When it came to her “other” Saudi friends, she would only shop at the Tyson’s Galleria/Corner, which is the upper class, high end, shopping center known here in the DC-Metro area. Also , the place where most khaleejis hang out!! Honestly, when I do go there, which is a rarity, I sometimes feel like I am at home!!! LOL

    In my experience with such women, I find them shallow, empty and superficial and what’s sad is the children who will probably follow in the same footsteps!

    Eid Mubarak to you and yours! 🙂

    • مها نور إلهي says:

      Thank you so much, Manal, for your comment and for sharing your experience with me.
      Glad that we are on the same page here. 🙂

      Eid Mubarak to you and your beloved.

  9. Carrie says:

    Hm, sounds like women in southern California. Materialism among women there is also rampant and ridiculous.

    By the way, I hope I am not intruding. I am an American, and I would like to learn more about people in the world without the filter of the American media. The media presents everything in terms of American exceptionalism, so much that many Americans believe that “our” way is best and everyone else is “backwards.” It is ridiculous, and fortunately, not everyone believes this…but many do.

    Anyways, I hope you don’t mind me reading your blog. I am very much enjoying learning from your experiences and your perspective.

    • مها نور إلهي says:

      Welcome to my blog, Carrie!
      Trivial women are every where, but I only focus on Saudi women because I am one of them and it hurts to see them heading this way.

      Of course, you are more than welcome to read my blog, share your experiences, and disagree/agree about what I write. The blog is for everyone.

      thanks for sharing your objective perspective.
      Hope to see you again in my blog.

  10. Great post, and I’m relieved to read your perspective. My general impression of Saudi women after living here for two short years is indeed that they don’t have much of a purpose in life other than to pro-create and shop. I have a few closer friends who play active roles in their own lives and an express desire to be more than just baby makers and shopaholics. However, many Saudi women that I know even leave the bulk of child-rearing to their domestic help. That many of them seem so apathetic to wanting more for themselves and their daughters is disappointing. Thanks for giving us a glimmer of hope that there is more to the Saudi woman than meets the eye.

    • مها نور إلهي says:

      Thank you, Susie for your encouraging comment. People here usually think I’m against Saudi Arabia when I write such a thing 🙂
      Glad to see you at my blog.

  11. Jenna says:

    I find these blogs so intresting I work as an international student advisor at a university and we are seeing a big increase of Saudi students and Saudi women, too. I have been invited to one party and would like to get to know Saudi women more but I find that it is difficult to break into the group. I do find my Saudi women students MUCH better students, more diligent, hard working and get higher grades than the males.

    I think in Saudi Arabia I am led to believe there is not much to do outside the home besides shop. Where are the concert halls? movie theaters? amusement parks? climate which would make it comfortable to stay outside for long periods of time? I may be wrong? But it would seem that this is a case of “idle hands” more than anything else and I bet that as education and opportunity increases in KSA these kinds of attitudes will decrease.

    • مها نور إلهي says:

      thanks for your interest and comments. and yes you are right about the Saudi female students; they are more hard working and committed than men.

      you are both wrong and right about the activities one can do in Saudi Arabia. In Jeddah, we have many indoor amusement halls (usually billiard, bowling, and electronic games) for children and families. We also have a few outdoor theme parks for both men and women, and they are not segregated. We also have a horsebackriding club and many orther activites.
      Howeve, they are not enough at all to absorb the youth energies.
      As for movie theatres, we don’t have, but there is a huge movement towards establishing a theatre for stage performance, and I am one of the people who are working on this.
      The main problem remains in shifting the interest of the Saudi people (men and women) from possessing stuff to being interested in intellectual and physical activities.
      Having no public parks in Jeddah, for instance, is a huge problem for me, but many don’t seem to bother as long as they have their shopping thirst obeyed.


  12. ADNISA says:

    A very interesting and eye opening post. Every Saudi woman should read it. I would like to post it on my website if you don’t mind.

    Unfortunately, this materialism, show off attitude, lazyness, lack of goals, all are so true but there is no way to put an end to it.

    Especially it’s very annoying when you see a Saudi woman trying to act like a queen just because she happens to have a rich father or husband. The way they walk, they way they look at others and the way they look at life and things around them is part of the reason why they have not acheived anything and are blamed to be backward.

    You did a good job by creating awareness on this issue.

    • مها نور إلهي says:

      thank you so mcuh for your comment, but I beleive there is a way to put an end to this; through proper education from an early age.
      Like you, I feel so annoyed to see that queen attitude among some Saudi women; it really shows how shallow they are.

      Of course, you are more than welcome to post it on your website.

  13. Tiffany says:

    Man, I thought this was pretty unfair.

    It’s cause what else is there the **** to do but shop?????????

    I’d love to go off roading and drifting, I’d love to travel to Bahrain or Dubai and go to the clubs ALONE with my friends. Don’t get me started about what men shop for in Morrocco and Syria.

    At least my things last longer than the hour these women are paid for.

    Want me to start on Saudi men???

  14. مها نور إلهي says:

    First, welcome to my blog…
    Second, I am not against shopping, but there are other things a woman can do…
    If she takes good care fo herself, her house, and her kids, there would be less time for triviality…and there are several health clubs in Jeddah for instance…
    There are numerous entertaining hobbies that Saudi women can do, but are not using their time properly because some just like the easy way…
    At least these women could read and broaden their vision instead of wasting their days either sleeping or shopping. I am talking here about some of our women who are not being productive at all (exept for producing children) which is a disaster when mothers are careless and rely on maids…

    As a working woman, I have no time for anything but my job, husband, kids, and households…shoping and other luxorious activities need to be scheduled….even when i wasn’t a working woman, my life was planned and organized….
    whether a working woman or a housewife, a woman can be very productive if she chooses….no husband in Saudi Arabia has ever prevented his wife from reading or doing volunteer work or exercising for instance…

    Regarding Saudi men, don’t worry…I am preparing a treat for them 🙂 and then you can join and add your flavours 🙂


  15. Julina says:

    Thanks for unmasking what many of us consider to be concealed and mysterious. It’s sad that as the spiritual capital of muslims , such worldly pursuit has zapped any meaning out of life? Comparing jeddah to southern california? i’ve been to neither but if so all i can say is woah. “sincere hearts are made to love one another.. And sugar daddies are made for gold diggers”

  16. Amelia says:

    I love your post.I think Saudi women are very much like the way too many women across the world are becoming.Women see materialism as freedom but in reality it’s hard work and a good attitude toward work which brings true freedom.Shopping is a a way to find power.As if someone is trying to acquire self worth by purchasing large amounts of store items.The world is swimming in mass consumption and it’s addictive.

    Far too often women base our worth on who has the most expensive dress or make up.We have to realise as women how our worth is what we can do for society on a more spiritual and intellectual level.All societies on earth have created spoiled women.America has many of them.I remember a father telling his son,he had to get a job and work for all his clothing or use clothing from a charity.The daughter was given a credit card to use as much as she wanted.I think fathers sometimes believe a daughter doesn’t have to work simply because she’s a female.This causes the female child to be an over spender.The son learns responsibility and the daughter learns to spend.

    Women and everyone all over the world actually have to learn self controll.

  17. […] Saudi Women’s… on Saudi Women’s Oppression… […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s