Khawla Bint Thalaba; The Disputer

Can you imagine Allah listening to an argument of a woman? The idea of a woman arguing is somehow considered “taboo” in many

societies in the Arab world. However, a woman who argued with the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) more than 1400 years ago was listened to and respected.

Khawla Bint Thalaba is a well-known name in the Islamic history. To understand Khawla’s story, first we have to go back to a tradition that used to be practiced by men before Islam. That tradition was called “Thihar”; Thihar means that when a man is upset with his wife or wants to punish her, he swears that she is not his wife anymore and that she is to him like his mother or sister. He tells her that you are like my mother, and our relation is no more that of a husband and wife. This is not divorce as you might think. The wife used to remain a wife but only by name. She remains a wife to a husband who completely ignores her right and needs as a woman and wife. Usually, the family would be destroyed after the husband swears saying those words, so it was oppression under the name of marriage. Some marriages used to end, and others used to survive without happiness and joy.

Khawla was a happy wife with her husband, Aws Ibn AlSamit, and they had been married for years when one day they had a quarrel just as any couple do. Aws got very upset that he swore that “Khawla is no more his wife and that she is to be like his mother.” Of course, it was a great shock for Khawla to see her beloved husband rejecting her this humiliating way when she was a good loving wife and a caring mother to his children. A short while later, Khawla’s husband wanted her again…he loved his wife and it was just his bad temper that made him utter such words. However, Khawla refused to let him get away with such a behavior. She was also concerned about the Islamic opinion; could she be his wife after that? Was it allowed for her to live under the same roof with a man who no longer considers her as his wife? Would she be committing adultery if things got back to normal after the words he said? All those questions raced in her mind, so she went to Prophet Mohammad asking him for advice and asking about the Islamic ruling regarding such a condition.

Prophet Mohammad told her that he thought their marriage had to end, and that it would be forbidden for her to stay with Aws. Khawla wasn’t really convinced nor pleased by what the Prophet had said, so she started arguing with the Prophet and repeating her question in different ways, trying to get a soothing answer from the Prophet. She wanted to get back to the man that she loved, and she wanted to teach him a lesson at the same time. She explained to the Prophet that she was willing to forgive her husband for what he said, but she wanted an Islamic rule that states that her relation with her husband is legal and not forbidden or looked upon as adultery. However, the Prophet seemed not to have the answer she wanted. He kept repeating the same thing to her; you can’t be that man’s wife any more.

Khawla left with great sorrow and went immediately to the Holy Mosque in Makkah, praying to Allah. Being very close in front of the Holy Ka’aba, Khawla was weeping and praying, “Oh, Allah, you know my agony and how tough it is for me to be away from my husband. Oh, Allah, please send your prophet anything that might release me from this grief.”

As Khawla was crying in the Holy Mosque, everyone who heard her sympathized with her and felt her deep sadness.

But something miraculous happened. As soon as she finished praying, Allah has sent Gabriel to Prophet Mohammad with a new “sourah”. A “sourah” that would be read to our day…a “sourah” that is in favor of a woman, who stood for her right.

In Surat Al-Mujadila (SHE THAT DISPUTETH, THE PLEADING WOMAN), Allah Almighty says, “Of a surety Allah hath heard the saying of her that disputed with thee concerning her husband and bewailed Unto Allah; and Allah hath heard your mutual discourse. Verily Allah Is Hearing, Beholding. As to those among you who put away their wives by pronouncing zihar their mothers they are not. Their mothers are but those who gave them birth; and verily they utter a saying disputable and false. And verily Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving.  Those who put away their wives by pronouncing zihar and thereafter would retract that which they have said, then upon them is the freeing of a slave before the twain touch each other. That is that wherewith ye are exhorted; and Allah is of whatsoever ye work Aware. And if any has not (the wherewithal), he should fast for two months consecutively before they touch each other. But if any is unable to do so, he should feed sixty indigent ones. This, that ye may show your faith in Allah and His Messenger. Those are limits (set by) Allah. For those who reject (Him) there is a grievous Penalty.”

In simple words, the verses were in favor of Khawla’s opinion. Allah has stated in these verses that there is no such thing as Zihar in Islam. It is not acceptable, for no woman can be a mother of any man except his real biological mother. The verses go on to solve Khawla’s situation saying that if her husband wants her to return to him as a wife, he should free a slave as expiation of his sin.

To this day, Quraan is read by millions of Muslims around the world, and the story of the brave out-spoken woman, Khawla, is recited, setting an example for women to defend their rights with perseverance, respect, and politeness.


This article is one in a series about Muslim women’s mission.

Here are the previous related articles.

Saudi Women’s Oppression VS Muslim Women’s Mission

Aisha Bint Abi Bakr Al-Siddiq – The Prophet’s wife

Hint Bint Otba; The Free Woman

Khadija Bint Khowailid – The Prophet’s first wife


What Is Love?

Posted: September 26, 2013 in My Poems

Love is a sweet exchange of weaknesses; 

Not an estranged demonstration of powers.

Love is the exquisite acceptance of flaws;

Not a rigorous set of decrees and laws.  

Love is a tender declaration of needs,

Where mutual giving is a creed.

Love is not a game of hide and seek,

Where the winner loses indeed.

Love is sharing anticipations and fears

To overcome a suffocating atmosphere.

Love is yielding to the attraction between two minds; 

Not an egoistic show off of virtues and pride, 

Not a win-lose relation between your world and mine.

Love is the clearest perception between two who are blind.


Alas, My Lover!

Posted: September 15, 2013 in My Poems

Alas…My Lover!

By Maha Noor Elahi

A brunette…a shrewd…

A vulnerable quivering female…

Smothered under a silky veil;

Looking with eyes full of hope, though…

To the blond blue-eyed lure

With his smoothly shaved beard

And gentleness of a man;

Holding her with one arm…

And giving her a hand

To help scratch

And rape the unwarranted shroud.

Her redeemer …her dream;

Italian…American…or from Venice…

The same…

As long as he’s not an A R A B I A N male.

She’s out of the One Thousand tales

And into an anime.

Her Arabian gentle knight

Is no longer that sensitive poet

Who blossoms with sincere romance,

Cuddling clouds, sensuous stars,

And velvet skies

Just by looking at her desert-wide eyes…

He’s no more that dignified chap

Who hurls and hurdles…

Crosses miles and miles…

Fights injustice and vice

Just to calm a woman’s cry

And regain the right of a child!

Her so-called man

Has manhood abandoned

And turned into a warden;

A double-faced libertine,

Who wraps his woman with a cloak

And dismantles his mistress in a poem!

Now… ironically

After wavy sands of disrespect_


Her refuge is found …in the West.

Of that pale outsider she’s in awe;

Seeking love in the cold


Writing a letter of farewell…a confession of defeat:

“Alas, my brother…my father…my lover…

I’ve given in…to a stranger…

My being is a gift to my savior!”

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

This monologue is one of three monologues i have written for the Drama Club event, Kaleidoscope. It had always been my dream to perform Cleopatra’s role in any given chance, and so I did! It was a joy to be Queen Cleopatra for about 5 minutes! 😀


So they say I’m strong as a tigress, wild as a carnivorous plant, vicious as a cold desert night. Beware, they say! She’s poison in flames! Her dignity is destructive!  Her charm is obnoxious! She’s a witch…she’s a serpent…she’s a siren…she’s no angel …she’s not noble..she’s so heartless & cruel …she only cares to rule!

OOOOOHHH!! (falls down crying)

For God’s sake give me a break!!

I’m a woman!

I’m a queen who refused to take orders from politicians to serve their own greedy needs and interests! (Her tone softens) Of course, I do take orders when they work in my favor and for my country’s interests. But they kept forgetting that I will not be told where I can go and where I cannot go! 

Starts singing: “And don’t tell me what to do and don’t tell me what to say! And when I go out with you, don’t put me on display! You don’t own me! Don’t try to change me in any way! Don’t tie me down cause I’d never stay”

A feminist at heart I was…long before all of you girls were born!  But …honestly, it took me a long time to be that dominant!

Imagine being born with no choices! At the age of 18, I found myself a queen & my 10 year old brother, Ptolemy XIII, a king! Oh imagine that! Two children ruling!! Quite an amusing game, eh? I Would have bought all the Channel bags and Christian Louboutin shoes if I were in your time!  Nah! Trust me, it wasn’t much fun, for I had to marry by brother just because it was “customary” in Egypt at that era! But it was only temporary; I yielded to conquer!

Sharing the monarchy with my younger brother…(rolling her eyes) oh…deep in my heart I resented the idea! No Ptolemaic traditions could prevent me from ruling Egypt alone! Being the subordinate ruler just because I’m a female wasn’t really my idea of being queen! But lucky me, that little lad couldn’t last long anyway….don’t look at me…I didn’t do it…I didn’t kill him…I just cooperated with his enemy, Caesar, and the poor boy just escaped and drowned into the Nile!

Thanks to Julius Caesar, the throne became mine! In fact, now I have two countries under my thumb; Egypt and Rome! Just in case you haven’t heard, the Roman dictator, Caesar was madly in love with me that he made a golden statue of me and positioned it in front of the Venus Genetrix in Rome in spite of his people who hated my guts! It was a thrill to see it when I visited Rome in summer 46 BC. Oh but misfortunes seem to love me! A while later Caesar was assassinated before he would agree to admit our child, Caesarion! Oh Caesar! That jerk!

(sarcastically)Yeah… there were jerks at my time, too!

He never wanted me to be more than a mistress!

They all saw me as a seductive mistress, but they seldom remember my brilliance…the nine languages that I could speak fluently…my mathematical and business skills…

All what I got from Caesar’s people was condemn! They suspected me killing him! Imagine that! Me killing a man? (pun not intended)

Never mind! I had always known I could do better than an old guy who’s about 30 years older than me!  

I wouldn’t allow such a “small” incident like Caesar’s death to ruin my plans and threaten my country! I had  to

show my loyalty to Antony; he was young and strong ..but never my match!

With my extraordinary charm and wits, he could never resist me! He instantly fell in love with me and I gave him two children; two boys who will inherit him. Together we ruled Egypt and led it to prosperity, but the Romans hated our partnership..and under the leadership of Octavian, they defeated our army. My poor Antony couldn’t stand defeat! He killed himself with his sword like any desperate soldier would do!

And what’s to become of me? What’s to become of my children? What’s to become of a wife and a queen without her husband and ally?

Octavian wanted me to be a slave, not a queen ..not an ally…not a neighboring country …not a partner..but a slave! He even ordered to imprison me and keep me guarded so I wouldn’t harm myself or take my life! He wanted to humiliate me for the rest of my life!

But never! The great Egyptian queen and the last Pharaoh wasn’t destined to be demeaned but to be remembered! 

The Feminist Monologues are three different monologues, which represent three notable women from history with a rather feminist touch. One monologue was written in Arabic representing the Andalucian princess, Wallada Bint al-Mostakfi, and the other two were in English representing Josephine de Beauharnais and Cleopatra.

They were performed on the stage of Dar Al-Hekma College, and they were part of a theatre program called Kaleidoscope.

Today I am posting the monologue of Josephine de Beauharnais, which was beautifully performed by DAH student Sawsan Al-Aidarous. 


The Feminist Monologue of Josephine de Beauharnais

(with an angry bitter tone) They never loved me! His family…his mother and sisters…they never loved me…they never approved of our marriage (softens tone…rather shamefully) I never expected them to accept me anyway; a widow and a mother of two children can never be suitable for a young general& a promising political leader…perhaps the greatest French leader in history!

(proudly and confidently) But he chose me! Despite their will…despite the rumors……despite my gaucheness …despite the fact that I was 6 years older than him …yes I never belonged to their sophisticated class …I was not born into a wealthy family…(very assertive tone) but he wanted me! He loved me! He was infatuated with me!

(Reads from a letter) “You to whom nature has given spirit, sweetness, and beauty, you who alone can move and rule my heart, you who know all too well the absolute empire you exercise over it!”

Oh, his sweet words and letters used to make me feel so precious. Alas how love fades away by time and…(sarcastically) other stuff…cheating and all…

I know I made many mistakes…The Parisian mistress of France’s leading figures I was! They were all fond of my charm!

Nevertheless, I was merely a mistress thrown from one man’s arms to another man’s arms. A mistress in the lives of great men….brave soldiers ….sharp leaders…oh…damn that aurora of their greatness and blablabla…they’re all players and womanizers at the end of the day! They’re no better than me and I’m no inferior to them!

I know I cheated on Bonaparte at the beginning of our marriage when he left me a few days after our wedding to go to one of his battles in Italy…But I didn’t love him then…I just married him to save myself and my kids from poverty! (casually) Paul Barras, my former lover, wanted to get rid of me because he got bored…you know! He wanted a new mistress and he couldn’t afford two! So he convinced Bonaparte that I was a catch! Sure I was…(winking and smiling sarcastically) And the young man was so mad about me that he was blinded! And I was undeniably pretty and exotic!

(Reads) “Ah! I entreat you to permit me to see some of your faults. Be less beautiful, less gracious, less affectionate, less good, especially be not over-anxious, and never weep. Believe me it is not in my power to have a single thought which is not of thee, or a wish I could not reveal to thee.”)

(regretful) Ah…it didn’t take him long until he discovered everything! I never wanted to hurt him. I was just so immersed in the Parisian lifestyle…parties and dancing and spending and flirting and showing off …but it all wounded him deeply that he changed forever…he could never love me the way he used to….of course I’m grateful he didn’t divorce me…(regains strength) thanks to the requirements of his political status. (loudly and sarcastically) Political leaders must have settled marriages …that’s the norm….(sarcastic and angry) haha and the biggest joke ever! Political leaders and soldiers who spend more than half of their lives travelling and fighting from one battle to the other…those must have settled marriages or their political positions will be at risk! How ironic! What’s love and marriage to such men? What’s a family to them? Wives who complete their picture perfect and children who will inherit their dry and bloody brutal lives! Hopeless!

But I have to admit it…Napoleon was noble enough not to throw me to the streets…..AND he was clever enough to treat me the same way I treated him!

I wounded him, but he stabbed me constantly…time after time…There was a long list of women… Pauline Foures, Marie Welweska, Desiree Clary, Mademoiselle George, GuiseppinaGrassini…and he ended it by divorcing me and marrying Marie Louse to give him the son that I could never give! Woman after woman…affair after affair…Stab after stab….and then…. I found myself a divorced woman with a bad reputation…AND lots of money…(smiling cunningly) fortunately ….

And with the money I could achieve my dream and live my passion; to renovate my house and garden….to create my Chateau de Malmaison which was “the most beautiful and curious garden in Europe, a model of good cultivation” Chateau de Malmaison is my gift to my beloved country France!

(Stands in pride listening to the French anthem)

Chateau de Malmaison is an impressive reminder of the conquests of my incomparable friend and ex-husband! And yes….

Napoleon and I became best friends after our divorce…When the pains of our wounds fade away and the flames of love are put off, friendship surfaces and remains. Napoleon’s last words were, “France, army, Joséphine.”)

Stay tuned for Queen Cleopatra’s monologue! 🙂

Last year was very busy and exciting for me! I have achieved one of my dreams; a dream that has nothing to do with my career as a teacher, rather it is about my passion! The stage..the theatre…acting….performing…singing…a stage program that presents drama arts! As the Drama Club Advisor at Dar Al-Hekma College, I’ve always kept the club’s activities short and simple due to the tight schedule that the students and I have during the college day. Established in 2007, the DAH Drama Club has presented a few memorable comedy skits, concerning social and college-life related issues such as Vote for the Man of Your Dreams, So You Think You’re a Student, Pretty Smelly, Smoking Beauty, and an unsuccessful attempt to perform Pygmalion. Time in college doesn’t allow much for long hours of training…everybody is running! I convinced myself to be happy with the short simple performances that the club has done, yet deep in my heart I wanted more; something to display the beauty, talent, and humor of Saudi girls! Something entertaining with a pinch of sarcasm; all in one!

And so it happened! I was privileged to meet an enthusiastic group of students at Dar Al-Hekma College. With the cooperation of this super team of girls, who undertook the full responsibility of managing the club from paper work to fashion design and stage setting, I could focus on writing scripts, coming up with new ideas and training the actresses during rehearsals. The idea started in July 2012 with an Arabic short play as the team, Obour, suggested, but later it developed into a whole stage program!

Kaleidoscope, which took place on December 1st in 2012, is a theatre program that I have prepared for, in cooperation with Obour stage management team and the Music Club under the supervision of my lovely Canadian colleague, Ms. Julie Prior, as part of the Drama Club activities last semester.

The program included 9 performances that represent the different colors of drama arts. It includes music, dancing, monologues, sketches, stand-up comedy, and flash drama in Arabic called


But Kaleidoscope represents a further meaning as well. It’s a celebration of girls and women of all colors, sizes and shapes! It’s a

tribute from the Drama & Music Club to the outstanding Dar Al-Hekma women who work very hard, non-stop!

Kaleidoscope Announcement

The program of Kaleidoscope started with a piano performance of Lean on Me by the sweet Ms. Julie Prior, accompanied by the Music Club members. After that, there was the Feminist Monologue; Josephine de Beauharnais, performed by the exquisite Sawsan Al-Aidarous, and followed by the amusing mimicking scene of Sherlock Holmes performed by the amazing Mariam Al-Dabbag and Nada Asr….oh yes…let me not forget to tell you how I loved Mariam and Nada’s British accent…superb!

Of course, a theatre event can’t be really entertaining without some dancing; hence, there was the dazzling Mambo performance, choreographed by the wonderful Majdoleen Yamani and myself. The performers were Sheikha Khayyat, Wejdan Bahadi, Rana Bajandooh, Reem Al-Jahdali, and our Italian guy in disguise, Mai Alem! The girls really rocked the stage!

And certainly, after a sassy dance, there should be some comedy. Leen Idrees exceeded all expectations by her performance of The Indonesian Maid; a message sent to women from their maid in a light satirical manner followed by another capturing piano performance of A Thousand Miles by Julie Prior and the Music Club. Two monologues followed; one of Cleopatra performed by myself and the other one (in Arabic) of Andalusian Princess Wallada Bent Al-Mustakfi performed by the gorgeous Kenza Chater.

Last, there was the major performance of the event, flash drama; Hashtazia, written by me in Arabic. Hashtazia is derived from the famous story of Snow-white, but with a magical Saudi twist! The major characters were performed by a few of very talented college students; Reham Majdali, Yasmeen Jamal, Nora Al-Amoudi, Noujoud BaAboud, Nour Yaslem, Tala Al-Turki, Jawaher Zahran, and a few other amazing girls!

DAH stage

Although the time of the show was not suitable for many people, due to the unavailability of the stage, the show was a success, and people got out having great positive energy. The most comment that I heard frequently was “Very impressive!” We do have talents waiting to emerge and shine! However, it is just the beginning! More to come…I hope!


Tomorrow I will post the two monologues in English, so stay tuned! 🙂

Glass Paradise

Posted: May 26, 2013 in My Poems

As she escaped from the hell of tides,

She espied a haven waving warm arms,

Leading her to safely get inside
A paradise of peace and charm.

Helplessly…thoughtlessly…she entered.
In spite of her fear and despair,
She felt the pleasure of finding a shelter
Believing that, at last, the world is fair.

There…love and tenderness she found.
Healing, caressing, and…surrounding.
Turning into a pile of wild bounds…
Caring, yet tightly squeezing.

What a loss to encounter such a discovery.
Her new world is a glass paradise
Where hearts are stuffed with slashes of ivory
And bodies are pinched by suffocated ties!

Standing on the ground of life…aimless,
She could only reach one conclusion;
Any definition of hell or heaven is pointless
For the truth on earth is a real illusion.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Palace of Ice by Jean Paul Avisse

Palace of Ice by Jean Paul Avisse