Right to drive
Mohammad Ali Sattar
If it were men struggling for a license to drive anywhere in the world, we would have been less bothered. The approaches would have been different and press would not pay the attention that it might have deserved.
The world press is agog with news and comments about women rights to drive in Saudi Arabia. Most of the interested individuals, with a confused mind and messy motif, are raising hell regarding the issue. They clamour that it is highly unwarranted that the Saudi authorities do not allow 'women driving.'
They also demand of the Kingdom to open up and be a rationale Muslim democracy. Critics world over coin various prefixes with Islam. Terms like, moderate, rationale, liberal and fanatic are freely used to describe a Muslim or Islam. They should have better known that there is only one Islam which has been prescribed in the Holy Quran and preached by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state and run by Shariah law. The Quranic law does not endorse everything that makes the western democracy and its philosophies. As such, the conformist society of the Kingdom is looked upon with suspicion by critics. This is largely due to ignorance of the people who take on Islam and also due to weakness of the Muslim leaders for failing to clear the mist of confusion that their acts create.
The recent events of women driving defying the ban are interesting. It offers a chance to the harsh critics of the Kingdom to weave luscious stories out of these. Their foremost pain is the tardiness of the Saudi nobility to open up and be western.
Women demanding the right to drive in the Kingdom are not new. They have been trying to win over the authority for many years now. Sporadic attempts and protests have been reported from various parts of the Kingdom.
With the time the squabbling intensified and the desperate ladies gathered courage to face the law enforcers in the streets. In fact, they are defying a law which bans them from driving in that country. It is the law of the land.
In their bid to defy law some desperate women took to frantic driving. . They have managed to create stunts in the global media, by now attracting the 'Muslim bashers' world over, especially in the west.
A part of the world would like to see this action of the Saudi government as ' women oppression or an issue of women's right and might try to steer the issue to a more serious matter. It is true that the Saudi women are making news, but they are certainly making it for the wrong reasons.
Many do not understand the suddenness of the actions of the defying ladies who took to driving right under the nose of the law enforces. Suddenly different cities of the Kingdom found itself in the grip of swerving cars driven by women. It could be one form of protest. And to protest is a legitimate right.
However, trying to paint a gloomy picture of the Saudi women is not right. They are well off and well placed in the society with high regards. They enjoy every right the religion and society offers.
But if a certain quarter wants to draw a similarity between the recent uprising in the Arab world against their long serving rulers and the Saudi women's actions against the ban on driving shall be grossly mistaken.
Instead of driving aimlessly and creating more confusion, the women might well put their cases forward to the authorities in a decent manner so as to make things easy for both, the government and the citizens.
If Islam permits women to the warfronts to assist the soldier and nurse the wounded, if they are allowed to work in the fields, if they are allowed to study in schools and universities and to pray in the mosques, why would not they be permissible to drive might be a serious legal matter, which the Saudi government will have to look into in the light of religious standpoint.