Monday, June 9, 2008

Beauty in Arabia

For Saudi Arabian women, physical beauty is vitally important. The greatest asset that an Arabian woman has here in this society is a pretty face. I learned this early on when I first met my husband back in our mid-20s, when I was much thinner, cuter, and younger. During get togethers with his Middle Eastern friends, the topic of pretty women would often come up, and they all always agreed that a woman’s physical beauty is much more important than her intelligence or her personality. I remember thinking how shallow Middle Eastern men must be if the attribute of a nice looking physical appearance was really what they look for most in a woman.
“What if she’s pretty but a real bitch?” I asked several of Adnan’s friends. “It doesn’t matter as long as she is beautiful,” I recall them saying. I had a very difficult time understanding this perspective of theirs. Personality and intelligence were the qualities I had always found most attractive about a man. Of course there had to be some kind of physical attraction as well, but that certainly wasn’t what I ever considered the most important thing I looked for in a man.

Now that I have been living here in this country for eight months, it has shed some light on my understanding of why Saudi men place such a high value on a woman’s beauty. Since dating is not allowed and many couples barely know each other when they decide to wed, first impressions are of the utmost importance, and being fair of face weighs in heavily in this situation. It’s no secret here that a beautiful woman is much more desirable for marriage than one who is not so pleasing to look at. Physical beauty is really all Arab men have to go on to make their decision about who they want to spend the rest of their lives with. The number one goal in life for most women here is to marry, have children and take care of her family. The Koran commands marriage. In fact, it even instructs men to marry not based on the female's beauty or wealth but on her devotion to the religion. This is in direct contradiction to my knowledge of what Saudi men look for in a mate.
Most women here in Arabia have very long and lustrous hair. Everybody in the world knows that most men prefer long flowing hair over short hair. I had wondered why many women wore the hijab (head scarf) wrapped so tightly around their heads, which is not exactly the most flattering way they could wear it. And basically, this is the reason they wear it that way - so they WON'T look attractive. I have also since learned that Muslim women are not supposed to wear their hair on top of their heads to give them height, as this makes them appear more attractive when wearing the hijab (hair covering) and this is against Islam. I have seen some younger women in the malls who are probably more vain than religious and wish to appear more attractive, so they might give themselves an added little boost on top of their heads under their hijabs. These are the same women who wear makeup to the mall as well, which is not supposed to be worn if you are to be seen by men other than your husband. I know that I feel better about myself when I wear a little makeup, but here I am not supposed to except to a wedding where only other women will be there. I am not supposed to wear makeup to family functions either because my brother-in-laws or nephews might get turned on by my exquisite beauty.
I don’t know whether men here fancy straight or curly hair, but I seem to think that this might just be a personal preference. My husband definitely favors soft straight hair like mine. I don’t know if this is because his hair is very frizzy, er, I mean, curly. It goes back to that grass is always greener philosophy. We always seem to want the things we don’t have, don't we? I myself wouldn’t mind if my hair had at least a bit of a wave to it. My son has curly hair also and he too would prefer to have straight hair like mine. He would love to have blue eyes as well, instead of brown eyes.

Women with lighter eyes and fair skin are also more desirable here in Arabia too. Light eyes are rare within pure Saudi families, however people from other countries such as Turkey or Egypt who have settled here have brought some light eyes into the population.
As far as skin color goes, the preference here is definitely for lighter skin. Women with darker skin here though actually stay lighter because they are never exposed to the sun, therefore their skin never tans or freckles, stays softer and doesn‘t wrinkle as much or as early as their American counterparts who have spent lots of time outdoors.
 My skin feels like sandpaper compared to the native women who have been covered up here all their lives. Score a point for the abaya!

When women go to weddings here, many of the woman wear a ton of borderline clown makeup. We are talking dozens of Tammy Faye look alikes slithering around in low cut backless evening gowns.
Now remember, men and women do not ever mix socially here, so women dress like this for other women only. I just think that they would look so much prettier with less makeup, but apparently they like the Tammy Faye look.
Something interesting about a Muslim woman’s beauty regimen I have learned about since I’ve been here concerns her eyebrows. I first noticed one day that my unmarried niece’s black thick eyebrows had the hairs on the top and the bottom of her eyebrows bleached a whitish yellow, leaving the hairs in the middle the dark natural color. I had never seen anything like this before, so I asked her about it. She bleaches part of her eyebrows which are naturally so thick and dark and heavy to make them appear thinner and more shapely. The part that is left natural is indeed very dark and thick - I even thought she had applied black eyebrow pencil but she hadn’t. Two of my nieces have to do this procedure to their eyebrows about once a week, as the bleaching gradually darkens back up with washing and showering. The dye job is done with a lightening powder and a cream base that they mix together and carefully apply to the hairs they wish to disguise. She leaves it on for about an hour, until it is a pale yellow color. Her mother’s eyebrows are not so heavy and thick, so she only does hers about once a month and only leaves the mixture on for about half an hour. Unless you look really closely, the bleached parts are not really noticeable and tend to just blend in and appear like skin.
 According to Islam, women are not supposed to pluck their eyebrows because they are not supposed to change things about themselves because God made them that way. Actually, what I read says that the women who plucks her facial hair is "cursed." (And by the way, filing the teeth and getting tattoos are also forbidden.) However, as I understand it, it is okay to dye parts of the eyebrows so they appear to be thinner and a different shape. I personally don’t quite understand the difference of why bleaching is allowed and plucking is not. Plucked eyebrows grow back and aren‘t a permanent solution, just like the bleaching is only a temporary fix. So why do Islamic women feel the need to do this at all if Islam says not to change the way God made them? Aren’t they changing their appearance as well by bleaching their eyebrows? Does it have to do with vanity and feeling attractive? If so, is this Islamic?

Women here are not supposed to make themselves appear attractive to other men. This is why they wear abayas, veils, cover their hair and are not supposed to wear makeup except for their own husbands or for other women. This society totally hides women from being viewed by other men, yet there is such a high value placed on a woman’s physical beauty. I’m figuring women do things like dying their eyebrows because it makes them feel more attractive, like I feel when I wear makeup - but to whom? To themselves? To other women? I just find things like this very confusing. I would love to understand this, but unfortunately the explanations I got from my hubby and his family didn’t clarify things for me and just confused me even more. To me, this is a very murky area.


  1. Hi Susie,
    Another great and informative blog! I saw my grandson from Dubai this past weekend, and things are quite different in Dubai..very international!
    Have a great trip, and I will miss your blogs!

  2. Hey Susie

    Just about everything you just in Muslim women "cant" do that according to actually more culture and or hadith based than from the Quran. We shall leave the argument for the moment as to whether hadith and culture take precedent over the Quran(which many many times it obviously does)If you look at it from this point of view you might get a better dont want other men looking at their beautiful wives, sisters, daughters enforce the notion that womens beauty is the most powerful asset she has and should hide it away to be seen as a good Muslim girl....meanwhile, they themselves are free to display all their "beauty", such as it is, us women. Seemingly forgetting that we are sexual creatures too and can find men beautiful...attractive...and sexually desirable as well. However, men also prefer to believe that we are asexual and do not have these uncontrollable sexual men do(another image they love to foster) and so for them to parade around all exposed etc is no big deal....but because they are uncontrolable sexual machines...women must spend their entire lives making themselves invisible while out in public or pay the price by "asking" for whatever harrassment etc they are made to endure.

    Muslim woman have sooooo many more rules to follow then Muslim men it would seem...but much of those rules are derived from culture and or hadith...then passed off as true Islamc practice sanctioned by God. Its a shame that women must feel that the beauty God gave them is some how haram and should be hidden from the world...we are the basis of all fitna in the world you know...ask any "God fearing" Muslim man and he will nod his head in agreement.

    btw I agree with you about wedding makeup...I have never understood the desire to paint that many layers on their skin....natural beauty is so much better.

    And also....where as marriage is a recommended state for Muslims to be in...its not actually commanded in the Quran. God knows that some Muslims will just not find marriage suits them...or even find a partner...and we arent meant to settle just to fullfill a certain aspect of our religion. Our prophet was a single man for 25 years in a society where plural wives at a very young age was the marriage is good and recommended but not commanded.

    nice post

    1. Hadith and culture should absolutely never take precedence over the Quran, Are you suggesting that the word of God is not good enough

  3. Very interesting post! Another of those contradictions one finds in muslim communities/countries of which there are plenty!

  4. Hi Susie,Another interesting blog.Here I never wear makeup,or dress up unless,I'm going out!Maybe I should doll up more around the house so dh would appreciate me more?Don't know if I could do the June Cleaver,pearls and high heels in the kitchen thing,she did have really pretty aprons though!

  5. Hi Susie! Love your blog and especially appreciate your POSITIVITY!!! I know life in KSA is not easy for those of us not used to it (as we will all hear from me in a few weeks! LOL) but you have such a way of taking everything in stride and accepting them for how they are - and your optimistic attitude has really given me something to aim for!

    I look forward to reading your blog and viewing your photos every day!

    PS: Tag!

  6. Here's a disclaimer note I want to add so some poeple out there who aren't Muslim aren't confused by what different Muslims have to say: Some poeple follow only the Qur'an, some Qur'an and then Hadith, then other both these and opinions of other scholors. Obviously coolred38 doesn't seem to follow hadith and that's up to cool red38. I personally DO follow hadith and Qur'an and scholor's opinions (high scholors from ancient times not just any old scholar today). So when we give our opinions about things and they seem to be toatlly different it is not that Islam is very divided it is that peopel interpret things differently jsut liek there are many sects of Christianity. (so coolred plz don't feel the need to attack my views because i believe in following hadith)
    OK onto the topic of the post:
    We have to admit in EVERY culture beauty is an asset. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said to marry for four main reasons, beauty, wealth, social status, and religious piety. TO Marry for religious piety would be the winning choice. Though of course the others are allowed as well. And as Coolred said the Qur'an encourages Marriage so people wont fall into sin of adultery/fornication/masterbation etc... but if people choose to remain single their whole life that is fine too.
    Perhaps because beauty in women is not seen except for in their own home, by women they can't marry, saudi men fantasize more and desire more, a beautiful wife. Plus a large part of any relationship is based on looks no matter the humor or intelligence one displays. Looking at someone's face for the rest of your life is soething you want to enjoy. (though yes it may seem very shallow). We are advised to look our best for our spouses both men and women. men to wear purfume and not keep scraggily beards but to cut them nicely and to remove unsightly hairs by shaving every 40 days. Women to wear make-up that pleases both, dress attractively and take care of their bodies as best they can. All this is to cause the spouse not to stray from the marraige for want of soemthing more beautiful.
    The eyebrow issue: it's commanded not to pluck because you are REMOVING something Allah created on you. Bleaching just changes the color without removing it like dying your hair on the top of your head, redhead, blondy, black etc.. SOmetimes men aren't attracted to a woman who looks like their Uncle Aboudy with a unibrow... SO women do what they can to please their spouses. Every culture that I've heard about likes nicely shaped eyebrows so it's only natural to try and do what we can to please. Though I personally dont have to dye mine ebcasue mine are already thin and light...sometimes i wish i could ADD to them LOL.

    Maybe think of this beauty thing from a differnt point of view? If you were allowed to marry Brad Pitt, George CLooney, Johnny Depp etc.. wouldn't you still marry him even if he was an arrogent a-hole? Why because he is good looking and being with someone good looking raises your status in life. Just mayeb something to think on , not writen in stone this opinion LOL.
    As for the opposite of want in beauty I find the same holds true from what I've seen. Many arab women i knwo have curly hair and they admire mine and I admire theirs. Hehehe. But with today's tools at hte salon you can achieve any look curly or straight. Good point made though Suzie. Also it's rare from what I've seen for most women to cut their hair before being married for a while because most men want those long locks. Then usually with more and more kids some chop it off from keeping cool to not having the kids pull it. Depends on the woman and man however.
    As for women wearing make-up for whom, it's a mix depending on your culture and personal views. I know some women never wear it others wear it for husbands only, others wear it for frinds only, other wear it for themselves and Allah only. I personally waer it only for my female friends or to cheer myself up by having small vanity time (whcih is allowed) ALlah knows we females like to primp and that's ok because that's how He made us. My husband doesn't really like make-up and prefers natural so I rarily wear it for him. And I let him pick what he wants me to wear even if I don't like the color jsut to please him. I can always wear my colors when he's not around and for my friends! As for the thick make-up on some it is attractive but on others no way. I remeber growing up in AZ the mexican girls putting on loads and most looked trashy but it was their culture. In Arabia it took me a long time to get used to it again. On some it looks brilliant and attractive (No one wears Kohl eyes, like an arab woman!) others it looks tacky and cheap. SO I guess it's up to those who wear it to judge for themselves if they like it.
    I liked this post alot SUzie!!! Keep up the great writing!!!

  7. "I am not supposed to wear makeup to family functions either because my brother-in-laws or nephews might get turned on by my exquisite beauty."

    ...My favorite line from this entry. Let's face it Susie, there is no suppressing a beauty such as yours.

  8. Hi LindaLeck!
    Thanks! I hope we make it to Dubai one of these days - I'm dying to see it!

    Hi CoolRed!
    I thank you for taking the time to offer your interpretations and explanations. It is sometimes difficult for me to distinguish between what is cultural here and what is religious. I ask my hubby's family and don't always get accurate answers! I think your 2nd paragraph is the perfect reason why.
    Your comments brought up another issue I have wondered about regarding the fact that women are normally attracted to men, but then there are those women who are attracted to other women. So women displaying their beauty to other women might actually backfire on the men!
    Thanks so much for your input!

  9. Hi Solace!
    Thanks, my dear. And I'm still confused!

    Hi Always!
    You don't really strike me as the June Cleaver type! I had you pegged more like the Shirley Partridge or Marion Cunningham type.

    Hi Maryam!
    I'm sorry I shocked you so badly it left you speechless! I think that's a first for me!!!

  10. Hi Lisa!
    Gee, thanks for your kind words. I am a kind of glass half full type of gal. And when life gives me lemons, I make lemon meringue pie! And I truly believe that life is too short not to be happy. I look forward to reading about your experiences here and I truly wish you and your beautiful family all the best!

  11. Susie, do you pluck your eyebrows now? I barely have eyebrows so I have to color them in. Go figure!

  12. Hi AMW!
    Gee, thanks for your insightful clarifications about this topic. Though I must admit, I am still a little confused by it. Maybe it IS because there are so many different interpretations and opinions in Islam.
    I'm still a little fuzzy about the eyebrow plucking. Maybe you can explain further. You said plucking isn't allowed because it removes something that God created on you. But the hairs DO grow back, so it's not a permanent removal; to me it's more like a trim, like trimming your hair or your fingernails. And why then is it ok to remove the hair on your legs and arms? I really don't get this.
    Also, I would NOT marry a jerk just because he was gorgeous, and I think there are many other people who feel the same way I do. Although, those names you threw out there sound pretty tempting!!! But I would much rather be happy, be treated well in my marriage, without jealousy, or fear and doubt about my spouse's fidelity.
    Thanks for commenting, AMW!

  13. American Muslim Writer

    Im not stricly a Quran only person...I do appreciate the value of hadith....but Im a firm believer that if the hadith contradicts the Quran in any matter if its isnad is supposedly strong...then its of no use to Gods word is the first,last and final. I would never attack you or anyone for what they believe...I just like to point out the differences in beliefs so that others, as you said, would understand that there are different interpretations.

    Where as Ive never plucked a single eyebrow hair in my life...just not interested in them really...ive never understood the concept that we cant pluck them because we are changing Gods creation....meanwhile Muslim women around the world submit their sons to circumscision...which is basically changing Gods wheres the logic in that?


    I will never claim to be an expert or anything close to it...all I can claim is that Im a sincere and devoted reader...and I try to understand this religion of mine by reading as much as possible about it...I will also not make an absolute claim that what I say is fact unless I know for a fact it is...thats why I always back it up with..."in my opinion."...and then let others decide if what I said made sense to them or not. Islam is a sensible religion after all...the confusing bits are when culture and Islam collide...and what your left with doesnt sound very God opinion.

  14. I just read your blog and found it very interesting. I am with you on this concept. Bleaching your eyebrows does change your appearance and so does shaving your legs and cutting your fingernails.
    My question: Because Arab women have very dark hair what do they do if they are growing a bit of a mustache or have chin hairs? Surely, they are allowed to do something about this? Or do they go around looking like men?
    I don’t know about this looking pretty for other women or separating the men from the women so much. I guess within their home family life is all together, but never in public. Seems kind of lonely.
    Perhaps, you can let me know if it is true and that there are a lot of gay men over there? Or is the proportion the same as the U.S. What do they do if they are gay – guys or girls? Hide it—stay in the closet?
    Cultural things are always so interesting. I have to agree with some of the writers that sometimes culture gets involved into the religion and then they are hard to separate.
    Example: The Virgin of Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico. But in the U.S. she is just another Virgin which some people don’t really know about. So again, a cultural thing interwoven into the religion. Interesting as I’ve seen her in Notre Dame in Paris and also in a church in Canada and now in more and more churches in the U.S.

  15. Hi Susie :-D

    I just did a post about FACIAL DISCRIMINATION where us women are judged by some of the Muslim men here (who don't lower their gaze, as they are commanded to in the Quran) based on our physical beauty. My friends and I wear hijab and abayas, so all u can see if our face, right? Unfortunately me and my best friend Alix (from have been treated differently than other women just because we look the way we look. Some would say, "Aalia, quit complaining" but I get very angry when a man will help me but totally ignore another Muslim woman based on facial discrimination. Grrr....

    As for the parties with Arab women, well I was so shocked at the first Arab wedding I went to. During the dance sequence, there were boobs and butts and other body fat flying around and I couldn't even look at some of the ladies who were there---these same ladies that pray beside me at Friday prayer LoL! Clown makeup is an understatement at these shin-digs. I'm 20 yrs old and I prefer kohl and a lip moisturizer normally, and at parties I add some eye-shadow and mascara to the mix. Then you have the women over 30 yrs who use WAR PAINT and trust me, it doesn't look good.

    AstighforAllah (God forgive me) I don't mean to judge, but all this shallowness over being beautiful really drives me crazy sometimes. With what AMW wrote in the previous posts, I agree with her. I also follow Quran and Ahadith (provided the Hadith is authentic) but guess what? I wear kohl outside my home IN PUBLIC--dun dun dun! And yes, I get trouble for it from the other Sisters because supposedley I'm trying to "look attractive for other men"---OoOoooOo!!! **rolls eyes**

    On a totally different note, the most hypocrisy in religious affairs I have seen comes from Saudi Arabia (not ALL Saudis are the same though, there are good ones). Judging a person solely based on their appearance runs very high with the Arabs, particularly the Saudis and other Khaleeji Arabs.

    BTW sorry for the long comment LoL!

  16. Hi Ilene!
    I honestly don't know what the women here with facial hair do, but I would guess that since it's okay for them to bleach their eyebrows, they probably bleach other facial hair too. You know, men are not supposed to shave their beards here, but many do. But that's why you see so many Middle Eastern men with beards and mustaches - the Koran says for them to keep this hair.
    I wouldn't say that it's lonely - it's just a matter of getting used to not being able to socialize with other men, which I have done all my life and find difficult to adjust to. I have always been outgoing and I have a hard time not smiling at or speaking to men. I think it's totally ridiculous that by just saying hello or thank you or goodbye, it could be interpreted as a signal for some kind of sexual innuendo.
    As far as gays go, I personally don't have any knowledge. I do know that this is another thing that is strictly forbidden but exists. No one would ever appear to be outwardly gay here, although I saw a couple of guys the other day that definitely gave off that vibe in the way they carried themselves. I would think that the separation of men and women in this society would do more to promote homosexuality than anything else.
    Great questions, Ilene. Thanks for writing.

  17. salams, i love reading your posts :) as for plucking of the brows, here's something i've read (below)that i hope helps you. i think we all just have to follow what we deem logical with our best intentions:

    Al-Tabari reports a narrative concerning the wife of Abu Ishaq, who loved to beautify herself. Once she visited 'Aisha and asked, "What if a woman removes the hair from her forehead to please her husband?" 'Aisha replied, "Remove what is harmful from yourselves whenever possible."(Fath al-Bari, under the explanation of the hadith by Ibn Mas'ood in the chapter entitled "Pluckers of Eyebrows," in the book Clothing.)

    this is another opinion i've found:

    As regards your question, we'd like to state that Allah wants us to look neat and tidy, and by trying to appear neat and tidy we are not distorting Allah's creation, rather we are only enhancing it. Therefore, if your eyebrows are unusually thick or unwieldy then you can straighten them out.
    Elaborating on this, we'd like to cite for you the following Fatwa issued by Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who states:
    “The word used in the Hadith is nams in Arabic, which means plucking the eyebrows. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) considered plucking as distorting the creation of Allah. This was the practice resorted to by prostitutes in the time of pre-Islamic jahiliyya (ignorance) and it is still used by women of loose morals.
    However, scholars who have studied the issue in detail have concluded that if a person's eyebrows are unusually thick or unwieldy, then he or she can straighten them out. This is not considered nams or plucking. Allah wants us to look neat and tidy, and by trying to appear neat and tidy we are not distorting Allah's creation, rather we are only enhancing it.”
    Dr. Muhammad Bakr Isma'il, Professor of the Exegesis of the Qur'an at Al-Azhar University, adds:
    “It is known that plucking eyebrows is forbidden. However, some jurists permit light shaping of eyebrows if they are thick and hairy in a way that they harm the eye or appear so wide and thus displease the husband. If it pleases the husband that they are shaped lightly, there is nothing wrong in doing this just to please the husband. As for extreme shaping or plucking, it is not permitted.”

  18. I really enjoyed this post and also all the comments, very interesting the different views!
    I agree mostly with Coolred38.

    I know many muslim women who do pluck their eyebrows and sugar their legs. So do I: I'd look like a shire horse if I didn't.
    I have the impression you can get far when mentioning your husbands wants you to....

    I have read on one site about hair removing, anything that makes a woman look like a man is allowed to be removed. (and this was a site that thinks you can't pray when wearing nail-enamel)
    It's all a matter of interpretation, and for myself I really can't imagine God putting so much store with these details as the groundpersonell does.

    I love wearing make-up, but look gorgious without it too. :D
    I can imagine Adnan being careful with your alluring looks though! What if word gets around that you are not only very cute to look at, but also a lovely, positive, loving person? I'm getting a bit worried myself here.
    I think men look their best in a leather motorsuit and closed helmet!

  19. Hi Yoli!
    Honestly, I don't like my eyebrows. The inner half isn't bad, but the outer half is sparse and unruly and very uneven. When I get really frustrated at looking at them, I do pluck them a little bit. When I was younger, I used to fill them in with a pencil, but I don't bother any more! I love seeing thick dark brows, but I guess those who have them may not like them that way... back to that grass is always greener way of thinking.

  20. Hi Linda D!
    Gee whiz, I'm blushing - thanks!

    Hi Cool Red!
    You bring up a really good point about circumcision - I hadn't thought of that. We could also say that piercing the ears is also messing with God's creation as well. Thank you so much for your input - I value your opinion!

    Hi Aalia!
    I'm so glad you commented so I could locate your new blog. I think that if women feel better about themselves, then they should wear makeup. I never felt that I was wearing makeup so I would look good to other men. I really think if men would just learn to control themselves and act civilized toward women, then we women wouldn't have to do all these things to keep them in check. I also think that if other men around the globe can contain themselves around women, what's wrong with Saudi men that they can't or won't?

    Hi Anonymous!
    Thanks so much for all those citings - it really did help explain things much better. There still seems to be so many differing viewpoints on whether plucking is acceptable or not though. It would be nice if there weren't so many confusing interpretations!
    I'm so glad you are enjoying the blog - welcome!

  21. Hey Susie Have fun on your trip wish I was going but alas we are staying here for the first part of the summer Have fun!

  22. Hey Susie...just wanted to point out that the Quran does not mention the beard at all...its only in hadith that its mentioned. Just wanted to clear that up. Regards...coolred

  23. Susie you scared me very much with that photo of Tammy.
    Please put up a warning next time..

    I have a few hairs that stray from the straight path of my eyebrows, and consider that a design flaw, so don't see any problem in removing them.

    The lack of piercings in ones earlobes is the same; What use do earlobes have if not to dangle earrings from them? Then why don't they come ready-pierced? Just putting things right again by piercing them....

  24. Ilene: "I don’t know about this looking pretty for other women or separating the men from the women so much. I guess within their home family life is all together, but never in public. Seems kind of lonely."

    As a Westerner who was used to spending time alone, I can tell you that the women here are not usually lonely; nothing could be farther from the truth. They're always with sisters, cousins, aunts, mothers, friends, etc. And if they're not with them, they're checking in by phone. (Even if they travel overseas, they call each other often.) They go shopping together, visit family all the time, get together when someone has a baby or gets married or has a death in the family or is sick, or when someone is getting ready to travel or has returned from traveling... My mother-in-law has 12 children. Two of the sons, and their families, live in her house; the others stop by daily (at least) to sit with her. Now that school is finished, several of her daughters and their children are here every evening, too. I have to encourage my husband to take our kids out so I can have some time alone sometimes! (Right now, he's taken them to his sisters' house, where they'll see her and her family, including grandchildren.)

  25. Kids from pretty women generally turn out prettier than kids from homely women. That may be one reason why men prefer beauty to anything else. Maybe they think they will supply the rest of the package.

    Beauty from Mama, but brains, brawn and all other desirable qualities from Baba.

    One point not mentioned yet-- when you get to know people, they cease appearing as homely or as beautiful as you first perceived them. If you come to love someone, he/she becomes beautiful, even if you first thought the opposite.

  26. you'd be surprised as to how many saudi woman would not dare to leave the house with out
    A. Perfume
    B. eyes and eye brows done
    c. having their abayas wrinkle free
    it is pathetic. I mean, we should teach our kids "not to care about looks" but i saudi, dear i say, woman teach their daughters "to always look pretty!"

    Although they "say" all they care about is attitude and personality, what they truly care about is how you look.

    If you are a skinny, fair skinned, long haired, beautiful girl, then you do not have to worry about anything. You are guaranteed a husband even if you were rude as a bear.

    Sad! really is! makes me not want to get married ever in Saudi knowing that all my husband will care about is how i look

    what a tangled web we weave :(

  27. Hi Susie,

    Great to come across your blog on life in Saudi Arabia. Would like you to take a look at our new blog on Jeddah at and give us your feedback.

    Take care,
    (Jeddah Blog Team)

  28. i was very surprised too when i first moved to saudi arabia when i saw women colouring their eyebrows. i wonder if cosmetic surgery is also considered a sin?

  29. i was also surprised when i moved to saudi arabia and saw women colouring their eyebrows, i wonder if cosmetic surgery is considered haram?

  30. Hi! As a muslim convert (from finland) I´d be happy to know how you like it over there? We converts always dream to moove abroad you´re so lucky in my eyes ;o) How is it for a non muslim to live there do you find it difficult? I would much rather read about that than about eyebrowns..By the way just staying in the sun a while atleast makes my eye browns totaly white no need th bleach them ;o) but that does not work for dark women ofcourde (with dark hair) Best regards

  31. Congratulations on your recent honor of being named a Best Of Blog winner. The winner buttons have now arrived and all you have to do to receive yours is send an email to my address below with the subject line of “Winner’s Button”. I will start sending these out this week.
    Thank you,
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    Best Of Blog Awards

  32. Hi Susie

    What a wonderful and fluid style of writing, I am glad I came across your blog, very insightful, loved every post, thanks for letting the world get to know about a very secretive and closed society that is saudi, I have only visited Jeddah and Mecca Medina once for two weeks for an Umrah, was a wonderful experience, although did not get a chance to get to know any Saudi's, Inshallah my next trip I will try to take in the cultural tour of saudi Arabia, if that is permitted, I am not sure.
    Thanks agian, keep writing.


  33. Very interesting... I really enjoyed this post (although I usually do lol). But I love clothes & makeup, so it makes sense to me that it would. Sorry if I don't make much sense here - I'm exausted.

    You have a good point about the grass is always greener on the other side thing lol. I'll admit I fall into that.

    I've heard many different "rules" on the makeup issue. A Saudi friend of mine said that makeup is allowed with the niqab but not without it. Of course that's second hand knowledge from a guy so I take that with a grain of salt lol.

  34. Assalaamu alaykum Susie;

    I'm a new to your blog and loving it. One thing I've noticed is you don't have any pretensions. You don't know something, you say you don't and it's soo refreshing that you seek to clarify any confusion.

    Insha'Allah, this post will help clarify a few things:

    Regarding Qur'an, Hadith and the Prophet SAW:

    The Qur'an explicitly states:
    - To take whatever (general, meaning anything) the Prophet gives you and leave whatever he forbids.
    - In the Prophet SAW is an "uswatun hasanatun" or the example to follow
    - The Prophet SAW came to explain the Qur'an. If Allah willed He would have revealed the Qur'an upon a mountain but a Messenger is needed to clarify the meaning of the Qur'an and HOW to implement it

    I'll ask you Susie dear, it says to make Hajj, pay Zakat, wear Hijab, pray Salah, etc. in the Qur'an right? (Answer is yes!). But where in the Qur'an does it tell you start salah with Takbeer and end with Tasleem? Or you pay 2.5% of wealth accumulated over a period of a year for zakat? Answer: NOWHERE. Why? Because the messenger is an explanation of the Qur'an. Without hadith which contain the teachings of the Prophet, one is lost. They cannot fulfill the commandments of Allah or understand Islam properly. The Qur'an and hadith were conveyed to us after being revealed to the Prophet SAW throught the same source. Just as there are chains of companions and successors to the companions who narrate hadith to us, how do you think the Qur'an has reached us? Through them and their efforts. It says in QURAN that the prophet does not speak from his own self or opinion. If he said anything against Allah he would not have been left unchastised to the extent that when he frowned at a BLIND man, Allah reprimanded him. Because even thought the blind man could not see him, the prophet SAW must have the best of character and judgemnet. isn't that beautiful?!). Insha'Allah, this is clear Suzie :)

    Now as an Arab I can tell you the obsession with lighter skin tones is truly a reflection of post-colonialism and the imposition oF white standards for beauty upon the darker skinned. It affects the black American,Desi, "Asian", ,and African communities also. Have you heard of Toni Morrison's Bluest Eye? It deals alot with this same issue. And as for beauty, our Prophet SAW did advise us to marry for religion first and foremost by looking to the person inside and their character. But to marry for beauty is a personal preference and to look down upon a person for marrying for beauty alone, while imprudent would be to look down upon a perfectly for a mubah or optional life choice. I wouldn't do it but a person can do so.

    As for the question regarding moustaches. If a woman has a unibrow (hair connecting 2 eyebrows), moustache, beard or any other facial hair which makes her resemble a MAN thEn she is permitted to remove that hair :)

  35. As salaam alaykom Susie... I converted to Islam after returning from a trip to the Middle East (Oman) and I learnt alot from that trip, what was Islamic, and what was cultural, as portrayed by Islam (and as an ESL teacher I've had my share of knowing the tendancies of Saudi men, good and bad [or should I clarify, the hypocrites, and the honest ones, since few men are good the way I tend to idealize]). Your post makes me smile because these things are so true. A man never called me beautiful my whole life until I went to Oman, where my white skin that never tans caused all sorts of marriage offers to fly in, and my light eyes words of affection. Converting to Islam, tons of mothers offered their sons to be my husband (I had my heart held out for all time for one honest Saudi man who, though not THE best Muslim in the world is the most honest I have met,taught me more about Islam than any Shiek or sister.) There is more to be valued than a face, I laugh at these mothers who neglect women whose personalities we both know will bring their sons more pleasure. My stubborness would make me reject most of their sons before even a meeting. I have a rare type, and I would rather have no one, than some who fall either behind me, or whose heels I would be dragged behind. There is nothing unislamic in this, for Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) waited until she found someone worthy (the Prophet S.A.W.) to marry. {BTW I am not comparing myself in anyway to this AMAZING woman (subhanallah!) but am trying to follow the sunnah of her actions.

    I do want to say, to Coolred, anything said by the Prophet has as much bearing on our obedience as the Qu'ran, for we do not follow the Qu'ran in saying that "there is no God but God" and then reject that Mohammed is His messenger. Hadith may seem to contradict the Qu'ran in a few cases because: sometimes an issue being addressed in the Qu'ran was directed to a certain group of people at a certain time. For example. In the beginning, alcohal was allowed among the new Umah. Gradually its use was limited. Finally, it was cursed. Another example of an ayah referring only to a group of people, the part that says hate Jews. That ayah, in its context is referring to hating those who were persecuting the early Sahaba (not the Jewish tribes that later treaties were made with). This is where daleel comes in. I did a post on it here:
    Basically, daleel is evidence from the Holy Qu'ran and the authentic (taken from unbroken chains of narration and a source not including false or weak chains of narration) sayings and actions of the Prophet Mohammed S.A.W [which the scholars use to get their opinions along with the Qu'ran]. The reason we refrain from every action the Prophet S.A.W. cursed, and attempt to imitate him and the Sahaba in the actions they preformed and allowed, is because Allah S.W.T commands us to IN the Qu'ran: "And whatever the Messenger gives you, take it; and whatever he forbids you, abstain from it." (59:7). This is in addition to the guidance to the Qu'ran. SO plucking the eyebrows was not just condemned by the Prophet, but also cursed, though Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said one could remove any hairs that made her resemble a man or an animal (with the permission of her husband. I personally think it is best to refrain from bleaching AND plucking, but if one feels it necessary to change the brows and the hair isn't unnatral for a woman's face or form, than she had better bleach it, just to be safe, since the Prophet S.A.W clearly cursed her actions in this hadith: The Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wasallam said:

    Allah has cursed those women who modify their eyebrows or ask others to do it for them (Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim).

    Period. This is a MORE than respected and STRONG Sahih hadith. Scholars, and Aisha (peace be upon her) said you could if the hair were a deformity (uni-brow, mustache, beard on a woman, ect) 'Remove what is harmful from yourself whenever possible.' " In fact, encouraged us to do so, but any other form is cursed by our beloved Prophet (SAW).

    As for make-up, I do wear some: Al-Azhab ayah 59 tells the believing women not to show their Zeenah--- adornments--- except for what naturally may be shown. The scholars among the companions and others differed about what is meant in this exception. Ibn Mas'oud said that it is the outside clothes. Imams Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Ibn Seereen, and Ibrahim An-Nakha'i adopted the same opinion as Ibn Mas'oud. Sa'eed Ibn Jubair said that it is the outside clothes and the face. Ibn Abbas, Ibn Omar, Ae'shah, Ata', Al-Awza'i said, it is the face and the two hands. Ibn Abbas and Qatadah said it is the eye outline, the coloring of the hands and the ring. Ibn Atiah said it is what shows up in necessity.**eye outline meaning KOHL. To apply (surmah, antimony, collyrium) in the eyes is mustabab. Ithmid is a special type of kohl which is reddish black in colour. It is obtained in the Eastern countries. Some of the learned say it is the Isfahaani kuhl, and other say it is the Totiya. Some 'ulama say, it means those who have good eyesight and it should be used by those with whose eyesight it agrees, otherwise a sick person's eyes will pain more by its use. One should use kohl with the intention of ajr (thawaab, reward). It benefits the eye and one receives ajr for following the sunnah also. Imaam Tirmidhi mentions five ahaadith in this chapter. (48) Hadith Number 1 Ibn 'Abbaas Radiyallahu 'Anhu says: "Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam said: 'Use kohl made of ithmid on the eye; it brightens the eyesight, and strengthens and increases the growth of the eye lashes'. (Sayyidina Ibn'Abbaas Radiyallahu'Anhu also used to say) 'Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallarn had a small container for keeping kohl, from which he applied kohl in each eye three times every night"'. (49) Hadith Number 2 Ibn 'Abbaas Radiyallahu 'Anhu reports: "Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam applied kohl of ithmid three times in each eye before sleeping'. In a narration also from Ibn 'Abbaas Radiyallahu 'Anhu, it is reported: "Rasuluilah Sallallahu'Alayhi Wasallam had a small container for keeping kohl, from which he applied in each eye kohl three times before sleeping'. (50) Hadith Number 3 Jaabir bin 'Abdullah Radiyallahu 'Anhu says: "Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam said: 'Use the kohl made from ithmid for the eyes. It brightens the vision and strengthens the growth of the eye lashes'. (51) Hadith Number 4 Ibn 'Abbaas Radiyallahu 'Anhu says: "Rasulullah Sallallah 'Alayhi Wasallam has said: 'The best from among all the kohl used by you is the one made from ithmid. It brightens the eyesight and strengthens the growth of the eye lashes"'. Commentary One of the narrators in the chain of this hadith is Bishr bin Mufaddal RA. The 'ulama wrote that he performed four hundred rak'ahs nafl daily, and it was his permanent practice to fast every alternate day. (52) Hadith Number 5 'Abdullah bin 'Umar Radiyallahu 'Anhu related the same hadith from Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallarn that: "Verily use the kohl made from ithmid. It brightens the vision and strengthens the growth of the eye lashes". In all the above narrations the use of kohl made from ithmid has be stressed. Only those eyes are meant, that agree with the use of it, otherwise, because of certain eye conditions kohl does not agree with some people, as was mentioned previously. The 'ulama have written that due to these commands and practices it is sunnah to use kohl, and it is better to use the one made from ithmid. If one uses kohl made from any other substance it will be regarded as sunnah, but the virtue is obtained by using kohl made of ithmid. Aisha said: “I used to pack Allah’s messenger’s things for him. I would pack some oil lotion, a mirror, a pair of scissors, a kohl jar and a tooth stick.” (Related by Abu Al-Shaykh.) We note that the Prophet also took with him a kohl jar as part of his toiletry. When used, kohl makes a black line around the eyelids to enhance the shape of the eye. It is perfectly permissible to use by both men and women. Ibn Abbas quotes the Prophet as saying: “Use the antimony kohl, for it makes eyesight clearer and strengthens hair.” (Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawood, Al-Nassaie, Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah.) Ibn Abbas also reports: “The Prophet used to apply antimony kohl before going to sleep, applying it three times in each eye.” (Related by Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah.) These days kohl has been used to make the eyes look attractive, of course there is nothing wrong with that, but the Prophet (SAW) used to put kohl only in the rim of his eyes, nowadays the kohl is no longer only put on the rim, it is also drawn in an attempt to make eyes look sexy so basically if one is gonna claim they are following the sunnah by putting on kohl then they too should put it on in the same way the Prophet (SAW) used to put it - only on the eye rim. The position of majority of ulama is that wearing make-up in such a manner as to arouse of others, or to attract attention to herself from men besides her husband, is forbidden.

    If there are cosmetics in which one of its ingredients is from the placenta, Muslims are hence forbidden from using it as placenta is najis.

    That is all the authentic ahadith I have found on the issues of make-up and plucking: sorry for taking up so much room!!!!!

  36. Hi Susie!
    I am a big fan of you blog.
    I am a black woman, dark hair, dark skin, dark everything and I can tell are absolutely right. I love khaleeji culture and the way of life...but this fact is hard for me to swallow sometimes. I cannot lie and say it doesnt effect my self esteem because it does. Unlike many women who receive countless marriage proposals I was the girl that everyone would say, "you should stick to a black man"

    I do have to say, slowly but surely I am learning to face facts and deal with it in my own way..without being bitter. I'm still quite young so I cant say that I have it figured out..but I am hoping for the best.

  37. bravo aleich!!!
    i am surprised at ur work(mean ur posts)!!!its very good!sure u have some basic to make such respected job i hope to become like u one day:p really

  38. I have no problem with hadith per se'...i have a problem with Muslims who claim hadith takes precedence over the Quran...and when the hadith contradicts the Quran and Muslims prefer the contradictory hadith over the written word of God.

    Other than that...I have no problem with I said.

  39. Sahih hadith only contradict Qu'ran if you don't know the context of the Qu'ran. Anything said after by the Prophet, if it is authentic, has to be taken the same as the Qu'ran otherwise you are rejecting much of THE Qu'ran, and almost the entire idea of Islam.

  40. Like I said coolred: hadith can even "trump" Qu'ran if the hadith is authentic, because it may seem to conflict to you because you don't have enough knowledge of the context and all the ayah and events that go with it. I used to be one of those Muslims who said: "I'll only do it if the Qu'ran says it" but alhamdulilah, I am have the education now to study the history of my Ummah and the sunnah of our beloved Prophet S.A.W. Just a note, for Sahih ahadith check out Bukhari (and Muslim).

  41. Why do either of you assume I havent bothered to learn the history of Islam and our prophets life? Its because I have bothered to learn about it that I have formed the opinions that I do...

    I cant imagine any instance in which the hadith trumps the to elaborate on that particular statement. Id be interested in how you came to that conclusion....seriously.

  42. The reality is there is no situation in which there is real contradiction between Qur'an and Sunnah. They go hand in hand, and any "contradiction" would be due to our lack of knowledge and understanding of the religion (and no one can claim they have full knowledge). Even if you look to the Qur'an, there are rulings which have been abrogated but the verses for the ruling still remain in the Qur'an.

    Look in Surah Baqarah and tell me what the ruling for a widowed woman is? If you did not know the context of revelation *because* of the hadith of the Prophet, you would NOT know the reality and you would certainly not know the ruling for the widowed woman was 4 months and ten days because the abrogated verse follows the verse which does the abrogating! :)

    So even then, one might think the Qur'an had a contraction in itself (and we seek refuge in Allah from this)!

    In sum, the Qur'an and Sunnah are equal in their authority and there is not any situation in which they contradict. Any supposed contradiction is in our minds and due to our own lack of knowledge.

    But we've entertained this tangent long enough. Perhaps now we might return to the subject matter of Susie's post :)

  43. "In sum, the Qur'an and Sunnah are equal in their authority and there is not any situation in which they contradict."

    This is a pretty strong statement if you believe that one cannot claim full knowledge. Religion is not meant to be complicated but man has a way of introducing elements which make it so. Purists would argue that the only word of God would be the Quran itself-not the hadiths which were recorded by men who deemed the sources reputable. Critics of the Bible say it is a series of stories recorded. Hadiths are no different: recorded stories.

  44. "But we've entertained this tangent long enough. Perhaps now we might return to the subject matter of Susie's post :)..."....we can never "entertain" enough the idea that the Word of God is somehow brought down and thought equal to the word of man...even if that man is a prophet....entertaining such a thought should take precedent over beauty in arabia...or anything else we Muslims like to squabble about.

    Quran and Sunnah cannot ever be equal in authority merely by the fact that one is from God and the other is from make such a statement my humble opinion...require one to have absolute authority on such a matter...who among us has that authority...last time I new prophets were on the horizon.

  45. "In sum, the Qur'an and Sunnah are equal in their authority and there is not any situation in which they contradict."

    Really some would say this comment is tip toeing into shirk land.

    The Quran is protected and the final seal. Hadith isn't and never was protected, which is why we have to bother with making all these "levels" of hadith. It's also the reason why it was forbidden (bida) for over 150 years after Muhammad (pbuh) death because of the fear of confusing it could possibly cause. Now our brothers who later allowed it (going against Muhammed (pbuh) orders with the best of intentions I'm sure) could never foresee the amount of potential fitna and death they cause.

    The hadith come as a great benefit at the same time and give us a look into the possible history of the time and with it comes great responsibility that sadly has been lacking on many levels.

    Hadith can NEVER be better than what the Quran has protected. NEVER.

    Man and Allah SWT aren't equal, Muhammad and Allah SWT are never equal. The companions and Allah Swt are never equal. The companions and Muhammad are never equal. I think so many people when they think Quran they think Muhammad 1st as a physical man and Allah SWT second as a after thought. The angel Jabriel is not even given a thought. Which is why so many people know a ton of Hadith by heart and very little Quran.

    The Quran deals with the unseen the hadith in a way reinforce the unseen with physical examples but that isn't to mean that the physical will ever be equal to the unseen to the final seal of the Quran. With hadith you can pick and choose you can take from Ayesha (ra) on a matter like eyebrows as if she is on par with Muhammad (pbuh)or umar(ra) while Allah SWT makes no such demand on you. People run around making things absolute haram or halal not taking into consideration time and reason.

    Reason was fine when you converted you were to use it when you converted and after that you are to just blindly follow... and not READ and reflect on Allah SWT signs. Now,, for some reason you are to slow, weak, stupid, emotional, uneducated enough to form any views of your own even though you used your mind just fine before Islam and then choosing it for your life. wow

    Please…. I am seriously as confused now as Susie.

    Allah SWT mentions nothing on the matter of eyebrows. ... ok

    So we go to hadiths to see if Mohamed (pbuh) mentioned it. Ok.. sounds reasonable so far..

    Mohamed (pbuh) curses women who do it because at the time in his area prostitutes did it. ok.. fine... I start to think is any curse Mohamed gives equal to Allah SWT curse because some hadith clear says Allah SWT curses such and such for such and such. However, this hadith isn't like that. Also, just from a historic perspective eyebrow cutting or shaping wasn’t just the practice of prostitutes around the word. So if it was just that reason in his area does that mean now that we have to push aside all the nations history and culture and apply it now?

    The Ayesha (ra) said you can "clean" it up so you don’t look like a dude or unkempt" ,,, ok so now Ayesha (ra) just overrides Muhammad’s (pbuh) ultimate elbow curse.

    Now, regular men over history and even to today may make it absolutely “haram” but can be “halal” if you're trying to please the husbands. Seems like when the husband is concerned his needs can supersede plenty of hadith, heck even some Quran. This is not so for woman’s needs however… interesting.

    So now even husbands wants and needs are over Ayesha (ra), Muhammad (pbuh) and even The Quran. wow..


    Some say we are to leave the way Allah swt makes us alone and untouched but if you look like a dude (the way Allah SWT made you) then now you can shape those monster eyebrows and other unseemly sections up but only "a little bit" (which can be another debate all together.) lol

    Meanwhile contemplating hell over this has stopped everyone from making an extra raka (getting closer to your Lord SWT) going outside and being nice to people, working that extra hour so you can pay and clear your debts, feed poor people etc..

    It's ironic isn't it?

    I don’t see how some people can’t see stuff like this makes the deen so hard on people and that’s why so many people are leaving Islam.


    wa salaam

  46. The sad thing is that coolred brings up things where there is no controversy, and claims that there are valid disagreements - and those who don't know better will assume that there is actually a controversy and be confused.

    But, HijabIsOverrated, ahadith were written down, even during the lifetime of the Prophet (pbuh). This is a common misconception, but towards the end of his life, he gave several Sahaba permission to record ahadith, because he trusted them to know the difference between Quran and hadith. After he died, they were written and taught. And actually, they were preserved better by memorization; some people would only write them until they had memorized them; then they were erased. What you're talking about 150 years later was when they were collected into volumes, categorized, etc.

  47. "Abu Dhabi/UAE Daily Photo", ahadith are nothing like the stories that are in the current Bible. There's not enough room to explain it all here, but there is a complicated science of evaluating and classifying hadith; every hadith has chains of transmitters right back to the Prophet, and we have biographies of each of those transmitters. For details, see Sunnah and Hadith.

    It's very different from the Bible. Biblical scholars can only speculate as to who wrote various parts of the Bible, and there are clear contradictions in the facts found there. No one really knows who wrote the four gospels, but it is assumed that they were written at least 100 years after the time of Jesus (pbuh), in a different language from the language he spoke. One or two of them seem to have used another of the Gospels as their source; the other is very different. There are no chains of transmitters to help validate any of them. And there used to be many more versions of the Gospels, until the Church chose these four and discarded the rest.

  48. I got this from PM blog.

    You'll be glad to know that at least there is some talk of critical thinking and it's application to todays world in Saudi.

  49. ann

    The sad thing is that many Muslims would rather be sheep and believe there is no disagreement or controversy rather than open a book and study for themselves. There is plenty of disagreement and controversy over hadith...try googling it just for a laugh and see what comes up. If you dont like using the net because its full of "kafir misguidance" then go to any reputable library etc that houses manuscripts...old books etc on Islam and see what that brings you...either will discover that I do not and could not and would not make this stuff up. Why would I and for what purpose? Its easy enough to refute what I say by doing a little my guest...but do me one favour please....dont use hadith to make the claim that hadith are sound hadith contradict each other soooo much its not even claim the prophet gave permission to write what he said to his sahaba...true...but there are also hadith that claim he forbid anyone from writing anything he said other than the Quran should we take from that? Do we follow the hadith that says write what he says...or follow the hadith which forbids writing what he which case we cant take that hadith cause thats writing something he said...see what I mean? It all gets just a little too confusing for this mere human so I prefer to depend full stop on the Quran...and accept hadith that back up the Quran as "extra" can do as you please...but dont claim my situation is sad...cause I would have to turn around and say the same thing about you...and Im not the sort of Muslim that makes such claims about peoples beliefs. Have a good day.

  50. My sister, I'm not going to Google (and searching in English, I presume?) for Islamic knowledge. Surely you can't compare that to the centuries of scholarship by men and women who have solid backgrounds in the Arabic languages and the Islamic sciences, and who have been over all these questions before any of us ever thought of them.

    I'll leave this discussion at this; I normally wouldn't even get in a discussion like this, but I feel bad that there are people reading this blog who aren't Muslim and who are getting a wrong impression.

  51. Like I said, authentic ahadith (with a lineage that can be traced back the original audience) don't contradict the Qu'ran, else you wouldn't know anything about praying rakats, cases for zakat, ect.... And we'd be allowed to kill off Jewish neighbors, and have temporary marriages (even though the Prophet cursed them till the day of resurection). Ahadith, in context, were questions people asked the Prophet S.A.W to clarify the meaning of the Qu'ran, which, since it was revealed to him, he would obviously know. If you are doubting the word of the messenger, you are doubting the Qu'ran itself.

    BTW Susie, I didn't mean to start an argument but this is where the whole sunni and shi'a thing often comes in, some dismissing the ahadith and companions and actions of the Prophet S.A.W. and others not. Saudi Arabia is a predominately Sunni population and sunni follow the ahadith of the Prophet and never curse the companions (which my studies have shown me to be the most accurate as anything else eventually leads to bid'a and even worse-shirk). That certainly doens't protect the population of KSA from hypocrisy, but that is why they have many of hijab and beauty traditions that they do. They come from the things the Prophet S.A.W did or allowed or that he told people not to do.

  52. "In sum, the Qur'an and Sunnah are equal in their authority and there is not any situation in which they contradict."

    "Really some would say this comment is tip toeing into shirk land." ---LEGAL STATUS! The Qur'an and Sunnah is equal in their legal status and we're talking about God's messenger on Earth. If these 2 points are understood, then the claim for shirk (in very the least!) is completely unfounded.

    I'm not imploring you to take my opinion. And just because someone "says" something doesn't make it true. As an advice to myself foremost, Muslims cannot read the Qur'an and the history of the early Muslims enough. If we did, we'd realise the ahadeeth were preserved in the same fashion as the Qur'an, that there are such things as daeef hadith show you how well the hadith of the Prophet (SAW) were preserved. It's an argument for trust in hadith and not against!

    I'm only posting this for the benefit of non-Muslims reading the comments section. Here are verses of the Qur'an supporting the belief and understanding the Prophet (SAW) was divinely inspired and did not speak from his own opinion (or nafs) in religious matters. This is strikingly clear in the Biography of the Prophet (SAW) which is preserved in the Hadith!

    “If he (Messenger) were to invent any saying in Our Name, We should certainly have seized him by the right hand and We should then have surely cut off the artery of his heart" [Qur’an 60:44-46]

    “Say; It is not for me, of my own accord, to change it (the revelation). I follow naught but what is revealed unto me"
    [Qur'an 10:15 ]

    “He (the Prophet) does not speak out of his desire. It is naught but Wahy (revelation) communicated to him.” [Surah Najm]

    The reality is anyone who claims hadith and Qur'an are not equal in their LEGAL status in the Shari'ah or Islamic law is digging themselves into a hole and the only way out is to interpret the Qur'an to according their individual understaning which runs contrary to the purpose of sending a Messenger to teach the peeople HOW to worship God.

    Again, the Qur'an and Sunnah are equal in their LEGAL status. It's as simple as reading the Qur'an :)

    Anyhow, we really have detracted from Susie's blog post which I'm sure was never meant to be controversial in the least, but a light-hearted inquiry into a cultural phenomenon. Let's hope it continues and stop going back and forth when both sides have now clearly presented both sides of their argument.

    I think it would be fair to end the "Qur'an is equal in legal status to Hadith" discussion with this post as the can of worms was opened from the opponents to the motion (can't help remembering the Doha debates!). Insha'Allah, we can respect one another and end it here.

    On a lighter note, post something new Susie! I'm itching to read a new piece :)

  53. The Quran and hadith are not and were never preserved in the same fashion...the Quran is divinely inspired and protected and preserved by God which is mentioned in the Quran. Hadith were created by men and infallible man is the protector and preserver of them...needless to say mistakes can be made by imperfect beings.

    Those ayats you mentioned are referring to the Quran...our Prophet could not fabricate anything or add anything or take anything away from what he was inspired by concerning the Quran. Obviously if everything that came out of his mouth was divinely inspired...why was there a need for God to rebuke him in the Quran...why the need to warn him against doing such a thing...why the need to consult with his wives and sahabas etc if he already had all the divinely inspired answers in his head...its impossible to assume that everything he spoke was divinely inspired. He was a man that made mistakes...God mentions that in the Quran...if everything he said was inspired by God...then there would be no contradictions in hadeeth just like there isnt in the Quran.

    Prophet Mohammed had two Prophet and Messenger..and as a fellow Muslim that was capable of making mistakes...comitting sin(even shirk as he is warned against this just like we are)etc...while in his role as Prophet he was divinely inspired and receptive to receiving the new ayats from the Quran and delivering them to the ummah...he was a Messenger...delivering a message...while in the role of a Muslim...he was just like the rest of us in that he needed guidance and forgiveness from God.

    Nobody says that hadith are completely irrelevant...but they simply cannot be equal in status to the Quran...if you choose to believe that then that is your belief...but not all of us put the infallible words of man as equal to the divinely writ words of God.

  54. I agree with coolred38.

    And I keep being amazed at the utter importance given to small insignificant details, while there are still wars going on, people are being murdered, tortured, women are raped, children abused, abject poverty, diseases that could be cured, but aren't, illiteracy, etc.
    There is so much evil under the sun, there is so little justice and compassion, so much suffering!
    But wondering if some woman should or shouldn't pluck their eyebrows, should wear hijab, or another type of hijab, or full abaya and niqab, use make-up or not, use perfume or not, and then possibly gossip and backbite about it: That is what apparently keeps most people busy on the whole.

    I find such harping on minor trivialities, to the detriment of following the basic teachings of ones religion perheaps one of the greatest sins one can commit.

    I think it is lazy and a form of cowardice to elevate written words to an equal status of God. This way one doesn't have to think, is it not so? And one doesn't have to fear a mistake. And one can always blame it on; ''I followed the *rules*''
    But we are supposed to know. We are not supposed to blindly follow texts, we are supposed to know them, and then use our mind and our hearts and live them and feel them, and the love for God inside us.

  55. Mistake....I used the word "infallible" when referring to mans written word and abilities etc...I should use the word "fallible". My apologies.

  56. Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihe wasallam) said: 'On the Day of Judgement, before Allah, no other Intercessor will have a greater status than the Qur'an, neither a Prophet nor an angel.'

  57. The Qu'ran also tells us to follow his actions darlings. So we all follow the sunnah to the best of our ability and knowledge and we will be fine. That is no excuse to disregard a sunnah you do not understand until you know the context and the time frame it fits into so you can make an informed decision on the matter. Wr are to strive for knoweldge from the cradle to the grave.

  58. Another interesting and insightful post. It kinda sets my teeth on edge and yet makes sense.

  59. Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihe wasallam) said: 'On the Day of Judgement, before Allah, no other Intercessor will have a greater status than the Qur'an, neither a Prophet nor an angel.'

  60. Some simple advice: Please don't debate about religious matters on other peoples Blogs--especially NON-MUSLIM Blogs! There is a time and place for everything, know what I'm saying?

    Anyways, SUSIE WAIN INTI??? I miss your stories :-D

  61. Hi Susie,

    I haven't seen an update in awhile. I am getting concerned. I hope you and your family are enjoying their holiday.


  62. susie,
    if I were you I would be dizzy by know from these comments. You said you get so many different opinions and I think your blog comments may only increase you confusion. One of the comments said something about nit picking details and this made me think.
    I wanted to point out to you that even though you see alot of difference of opinion there are many things in which all sunni muslims(i mentioned those type of muslims because most saudis are sunni) do not differ. For example there is only one god and mohamed (may peace be upon him)is his messenger, the five daily prayers (think about nearly a billion people pray in roughly the same way, watch the prayer time on saudi1 in mecca, you don't see a big difference in the way people pray even though they are coming from all over the planet), abligatory alms giving (zakat), fasting in the ramadan (most muslims all overthe world observe this tradition even if they are not very religious at other times of the year), and the pilgrimage to mecca. All muslims believe in the Quran as the word of god, believe in his messangers from abraham to jesus, believe in angels, divine decree, and the day of judgement.

    To compair other religions, philosophies, or ways of life I do not think that you will find very many groups (especially considering how many muslims there are)that agree on the most basic aspects of there religion.

    I think it was gandhi who said something like if it weren't for the christian he would have chosen christianity.

    This seems to be a little true about what susie must be feeling with alot of mix up advice. If it weren't for the muslims she might be able to learn something about islam.

    For all the muslim readers Mohamed may peace be upon him started talking to people about tawheed (the oneness of god) not about eyebrow plucking. If you want to teach susie something about islam focus on laillahailallah wa anna mohamedanrasulallah.

    susie I sincerely pray that allah guides you to the true islam. You seem to be a seeker and I believe all true seekers will find the truth in islam.

  63. HI

  64. hiiiya..
    just like to say, that
    A)- plucking the eyebrows CAN cause irreversable affects.. my blood sister(she is not muslim btw, but i am) plucked her eyebrows and they never grew back, finaly she had them tattoed on, for 2 years now. But she is still ignorant and cannot agree with me on that!
    B), bleaching the eyebrows is a temporary thing and it can be reversed and is not permanent.
    good blog btw bt i dnt like the music lol :)

  65. brinkka2011 says: Took me time to read all the comments, but I genuinely enjoyed the post. It proved to be Pretty helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here It is always great when you can not only be informed, but also entertained Im certain you had fun writing this write-up.

  66. Okay, as for what Coolred said about hadith/culture. First of all, Hadith and culture are two seperate things. If a hadith is AUTHENTIC then it is to be use in ADDITION to Quran, and similarly the Sunnah. Culture is secular and should not be used as a synonym for hadith. Furthermore, and this is for most people, if you don't live a particular lifestyle, please don't knock it. If you dont understand it, then fine, but don't belittle it or make light of how some people live their lives. I'd prefer to look my best for my husband, immediate family and lady friends than any stranger on the street. Beauty is special and shouldn't be given away for free, like our bodies. You know who gives their body and beauty away to strangers? Whores... but they get paid for it.

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  69. Such a long thread of beauty comments . . wow! Thing is - i wonder about all this stuff . . (and many other things) - you are generous in sharing with us/me - often, as i keep reading, I see an answer to my many questions . . . and, often - understand things in a new way. Thanks again & again. -g-