Sunday, October 5, 2008

Preserving Virtue and Preventing Vice

usually try to avoid religious topics in my blog, mainly because I don't want to offend or appear insensitive. So I just want to start off by saying that the intent of this post is not to offend anyone or any religion. The opinions expressed here are solely my personal feelings and beliefs. I realize that some people may not agree with me. I am comfortable with how I feel about this whole religion thing. But I am no expert in Islam or any other religion, so I apologize if I may get something technically wrong.

The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) is a government agency here in Saudi Arabia that employs religious police, called Muttawa, to make sure that the citizens adhere strictly to the teachings of Islam, especially those pertaining to dress, socialization, morality, and prayer. Within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), this Commission is comprised of approximately 10,000 Muttawa and has nearly 500 centers within the country.
There are just so many things that keep getting in my way in my attempt to embrace and learn about this religion of Islam. And just the thought of the necessity and power of religious police here in Saudi Arabia is one of them. I have always believed in freedom of religion and also in the separation of church and state - blame it on my American upbringing. My respect for the religion is seriously undermined here in a country that requires actual enforcement of religious doctrine, such as monitoring people’s behavior, dress, and morals, and harsh penalties, like extended detentions, physical beatings, and even death, for those who don’t abide by these codes. Sheesh! Do I really WANT this in a religion?
 Of the many religious laws that the Muttawa are charged with enforcing, the ones regarding sex and the sexes are the most alarming to me. The Muttawa have the clout to apprehend anyone who engages in prostitution, homosexual acts, or individuals having sex outside of marriage. Taking it a step further, any unrelated man and woman who are caught simply socializing can also be detained. Absolutely no dating or social interaction between the sexes is allowed here. So I can’t help but wonder that since there is no contact at all with the opposite sex permitted, doesn’t this unintentionally breed and encourage homosexuality here in the Kingdom, in reality? Of course they won't admit to this, but from what I have heard, this is what happens.
The Muttawa randomly patrol the malls seeking out women and girls who are not dressed modestly enough. Only the face and the hands are allowed to be visible, although the vast majority of women here cover their faces when out in public and many also wear gloves! The Muttawa also enforce proper moral conduct and make sure that youth behave themselves. The Quran does not specifically, to my knowledge, say that women must wear black floor length abayas, and indeed in other countries, Muslim women manage to dress modestly without wearing long black cloaks. I would love to wear other colors than black here in this brutally hot climate, but ALL the women here wear black. Even though I could wear a different color, I don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb, so I wear black too.

In addition, the religious police make sure that prayer times are properly adhered to, can shut businesses down for not closing for prayers, and apparently can command people to attend prayers at mosques. I read an account recently of a man who claimed that he was beaten by the Muttawa as he was on his way to the mosque for prayers, but the religious police didn't give him a chance to explain where he was going. They just beat him because he was out and about during prayer time. To me, this is scary.
You might recall that I did a post back in February about how the religious police had banned all things red for Valentine’s Day, in an attempt to thwart Muslim couples from exchanging “haram” (forbidden) gifts or cards for this holiday, which is not recognized in the KSA. They even go so far as to conduct inspections in hotels, restaurants, florists, gift shops, malls, and coffee houses to make sure that these places are devoid of all immoral red contraband, such as red flowers, red boxes of candy, red clothing, red balloons, red stuffed animals, red cards, red hearts, and red bows and ribbons. Any prohibited red items are confiscated and the business owners and employees are subject to arrest.

Back in 2004, the Muttawa even tried to have the sale of cell phones with cameras banned in the Kingdom. See, camera phones make it too easy for men and women to take photos of each other. Unfortunately for the Muttawa, this ban was immediately quashed. I even read that there was talk that the Muttawa wanted to prohibit the sale of ice cream cones to women because a woman licking an ice cream cone was just too sexual! What's next? Bananas? Hot dogs? Give me a break!
Recently the Muttawa have issued a decree banning the sale of puppies and kittens - dogs and cats - in the KSA. Apparently these cute little creatures are now considered as lethal “babe magnets,” an enticement used by boys to lure girls to talk to them. So, this MUST be stopped! Not only has the sale of these animals been declared illegal, if you already have one, you are forbidden from taking it out for a walk. If you do, your pet will be confiscated and you will never see it again. I wonder what happens to the fuzzy creatures once the Muttawa get them into their clutches!

But I’ve got to hand it to them - the Muttawa have the vision to see beyond all the normal excuses/reasons that people purport to have pets in the first place, like companionship, pure joy, or teaching children responsibility, and are able to see pet ownership for what it really is: just another way to promote immoral behavior between the opposite sexes. The Muttawa keep flexing their muscles to control the animalistic behavior and urges of males and females within the Kingdom. Men and women here in this society obviously cannot be trusted to behave or control themselves or to conduct themselves properly and morally without having rules and enforcement like this to ensure that they do.

Another of the Muttawa’s duties is to make sure that no other religion is practiced or promoted here in the KSA. I understand that the Kingdom is an Islamic country, but it makes me wonder exactly how insecure can a religion be in itself that it so strictly prohibits those foreigners of other faiths from practicing their own religion within the country? The religious police also oversee the enforcement of the banned sale of other prohibited products, like pork, porno, and alcohol, and exercise strict censorship of all media including books, magazines, art, DVDs, TV programming, and music. The CVPVP fervently take black markers to objectionable images of women’s bare arms, necks, or any other exposed skin and have even been known to black out images of Piglet in the popular children’s books of Winnie the Pooh. It’s one thing to forbid pork products, but to deny the existence of pigs altogether is a bit much! Using modern technology to their advantage, the CVPVP has even launched their own website where people can report violations of others' un-Islamic behavior.

Not surprisingly, many actions taken by the at-times over zealous Muttawa have come under fire and intense criticism. For example, less than two months ago, a Muttawa murdered his own daughter by cutting out her tongue and then burning her to death. Why? Because she supposedly rejected Islam and became a Christian. Every Saudi citizen is automatically born a Muslim. There is absolutely no choice. For a long time now, religious scholars have taken jabs at the Internet and satellite TV stations where Muslims can read and learn about other religions. The murdered girl apparently used the Internet to learn about Christianity and was a known presence in online religious chat rooms and a commenter on various spiritual blogs.

In my own personal experience, almost every day I am blocked by the CVPVP from entering a particular website online. Generally when I am Googling for images on the web, many of the websites containing the images have been blocked. And NO, I am NOT looking for porn! The blocked websites can include, among others, some religious websites, of course anti-Islamic websites, violent gaming websites, those that feature gossip or women not Islamically dressed. Of course the CVPVP is not able to ban every single "unacceptable" website from access in the Kingdom, as hard as they may try.

Mohammed, the founder of Islam, actually said, “Whoever leaves his religion, kill him.” Which brings me to a question: There are so many converts to Islam from other religions. What about them? They have left their original religion, haven’t they? Maybe someone would care to explain. Mohammed’s quote does not specifically say “Whoever leaves Islam, kill him.” Then why is it okay for someone else to leave their religion and become a Muslim, but someone should be put to death if they leave Islam for another religion? Isn't this being hypocritical? I would love to understand this because this is one of those areas of Islam that really turns me off.

So, this quote from Mohammed essentially justifies in the eyes of Islam the right of this father to kill his own daughter for espousing another religion – so I ask, do all Muslims really agree with this and think this is right? Why does there seem to be this fear that Islam cannot endure on its own merits and intrinsic worth, and why support such drastic and barbaric measures to ensure that it does? Muslims promote Islam as the religion of peace, but actions like this seem to seriously contradict its message. And it’s very confusing to someone like me who is trying to understand. Do I really want to belong to a religion that would have me killed should I renounce it?
Another example of the religious police exercising their frightening power over people’s morals here happened in 2007 when they beat a man who was caught with alcohol to death. And earlier this year, a married American Muslim woman on business in Riyadh was detained, threatened, called immoral, and strip searched by the Muttawa for conducting a business meeting in the family section of a Starbucks with a male colleague, not her husband. Do I really want to be in a religion that threatens me with bodily harm, insults, or detention if I don't follow it to a "T?" Another troubling event I mentioned in a recent post was about the fifteen school girls who perished in a fire at their school because the Muttawa prevented them from escaping since the girls did not have their hair covered. If I were a parent of one of those girls, I would seriously question my faith.

What I would like to know is - who exactly is in charge of policing the Mutawwa here and how much are they getting away with beyond their authority? I know they are only human and they make mistakes, but many of their mistakes are HUGE and only serve to further tarnish the image that much of the rest of the world has that Islam is radical and dangerous to them. What happens to the Muttawa who make these mistakes? And if these Muttawa can and do make mistakes themselves, why are they allowed to kill someone else, like the man with alcohol, for making a mistake?
My husband told me that the Muttawa were wrong to act as they did in the girls’ school fire incident, and that the Quran even says there are exceptional times when the religious teachings should be set aside. Like for example, even though eating pork is haram, if there is only a pig available to eat, then Muslims should eat it if their lives depend on it. But in actuality, I wonder how many Muslims would be able to bring themselves to eat pork in this case, since all their lives they have been told how bad it is? I know my husband could, but could others? Would others? When my son was little, my husband told my son that if he ate pork, he would die. How deeply is this ingrained into Muslims?

When I discussed the incident regarding the girl who was killed by her father for leaving Islam for Christianity, my husband immediately said that the man's own tongue should be cut out and he should be executed. Whew! My spouse went on to say that the man was wrong to take matters into his own hands like he did – that the girl should have been brought before a court and tried. Huh? And then, if she was found guilty of forsaking Islam, he said, the government should have been the ones to put her to death. Yikes! Even this explanation still baffles me. Knowing that my husband actually agrees with killing someone who leaves Islam just because Mohammed said it, makes me wonder a little about the man I married and even more about the religion itself. As I said before, I believe in freedom of religion. I do not think it is right to kill someone for rejecting a religion, so therefore I disagree with Mohammed on this issue. I am of the notion that what a person believes and feels in her heart, including religion, cannot and should not be controlled or dictated by a government or anyone. To do so minimizes the innate goodness of the religion itself.

The Muttawa here seem to be against anything that might be fun to do. They seem to be against people having a good time or enjoying life. And they really seem to be obsessed with SEX ALL THE TIME! It seems that the only articles I have managed to find in my research about the Muttawa are all very negative. What good have they done? What exactly does it say about a society that cannot be trusted to believe in and practise its own religion so much so that it has to be forced upon them by religious police? If the religion and its principles are THAT good and perfect, then why the need for religious police at all? I would love to wholeheartedly embrace a religion because I truly WANT to, not because I am forced to. I just don't think I really want to belong to this club...

For more information on the Muttawa:
Wikipedia - Mutaween - Religious Police Terror
American Bedu - Muttawa Observations


  1. Hmm... another interesting post... Let me start by saying I that I have many Saudi friends and they don't refer to the religious police in Saudi as "Mutawwa" but actually as "Hedaya" or something similar in spelling. And surprisingly enough, they actually don't mind them roaming the streets. (They aren't supposed to be wondering around in areas, they are just to be in a mosque and if somoene needs help on a religius matter then they come out and help.) Anyways... to my Saudi girlfriends, it's actually comforting to know that there are still groups of people who want to make sure the Islamic term "Forbid evil and enjoin good" is still followed.

    Susie, you mentioned a number of topics that can be easily explained by anyone with a history of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). Don't be afraid to step on toes when you have genuine questions. I had the same ones as you did before I became Muslim, but they were all explained to me and I realized that nothing is black or white. The Angel Jibreel (Gabriel)'s first words to Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings be upon him) was "READ". SO I read the books from scholars dating back to the Prophet's time and all of my questions were answered.

    Let me briefly explain some of your worries insha'Allah (God willing).

    NUMBER ONE: Even though Saudi Arabia is the heartland of Islam, let's not forget that there is no such thing as a Muslim country ANYWHERE in the world today. Not even Saudi Arabia's government is recognizable Islamically as a caliphate -- there is no such thing as "Kings" or "Royalty".

    NUMBER TWO: With Number One in mind, we have to understand that Islam is perfect, MUSLIMS ARE NOT. Many people take the ideas of Islam and twist them to their own benefit or pass them off as genuine Islamic morals. Remember honour killings? Supposedly it comes from Islam but in fact Islam is strongly against this transgression. Numerous Quran verses and ahadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him) prove that honour killings gave no basis in Islam, but ignorant people (usually ones with minimal education or no knowledge of Shari`a) use Islam as a justification to commit crimes against humanity.

    NUMBER THREE: Why do women in Saudi wear black anyways? After asking many of my Saudi girlfriends (born & raised citizens of KSA) they all agree that black is the most liked color to wear in public. BUT WHY BLACK? Back in the olden days, the normal color to wear in Arabia was black because that was the easiest dye to make for fabrics. In Islamic history, the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) wore colors like green and the Ansari women (the Helpers) also wore black. The ABAYA (cloak) is worn overtop the clothes, because it gives the best coverage. My friends prefer to wear head abayas, as opposed to shoulder abayas. They also cover their faces our of religious reasons but they also do not want their fair skin to be darkened by the harsh sun. It should be important to note that foreign women, especially non-Muslim women, do not have to cover their hair OR face, it is left to their preference. They do however, need to wear an abaya since they are on the homeland of the birth of Islam, the land that contains the two holiest cities; Makkah and Madinah.

    NUMBER THREE: Why do Muslim shopkeepers shut down their stores during prayer time? Because there should be no business while God is being worshipped. He deserves our glorifying him and He only Asks us to do this 5x a day. The Hedeya (religious police) go around making sure store owners respect this. About the Brother who was beaten on his way to prayer... Hmm, sounds strange and I wish I knew the whole story before I make a judgement.

    NUMBER FOUR: All things to do with Valetines day are banned, and rightly so. Well, considering this holiday has pagan origins, I can see why *LOL* Muslims dont celebrate Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day, Halloween or any other holiday (except for the two `Eids, one being at the end of the fasting month and one to remember God's forgivness on Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and not allowing him to sacrifice his son Ismail (peace be upon him). As I stated before, Saudi Arabia is the heartland of Islam and nothing celebrating paganism or having ties/history with acts of paganism are allowed.

    NUMBER FIVE: Banning camera phones is not going to solve anything, though it may limit the fitnah (corruption) for a while. People have to change themselves, and those who are caught taking advantage of innocents by taking pictures of unsuspecting women and posting them for all to see should be punished. This is another reason why women cover their faces in KSA-- many Saudi women are exceptionally beautiful (masha'Allah) and men with no `ayb (shame) try to get their pictures with bad intentions. As for not letting women buy ice-cream cones, uhhhhmmmmm... *okay*

    NUMBER SIX: Banning on selling cats or dogs. I do know that in Islam we are not allowed to sell dogs. There isn't any negative reason for this, but dogs are unclean and their saliva has very bad bacteria. Strangely enough, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) declared that the only way to get rid of this bacteria if it gets on the skin or other item is to wash it 7 times with water and then once with earth. Scientists only now have proven this to be true. Why are Muslims not allowed to eat pork? In their fat there is another set of bacteria that is very harmful to humans -- again, scientists only now have come to this conclusion. Muslims dont hate dogs or pigs, and we are not taught to kill them or treat them badly. The only reason a Muslim can have a dog is for the purposes of sheparding, protection of property or if a person has a seeing-eye-dog (and other health related issues and the use of a dog is beneficial to them). My toddler son has a stuffed toy of Piglet, and we see no harm in this cute little toy.

    NUMBER SEVEN: Policing inter-mingling men and women. Inter-mingling for social purposes is forbidden in Islam. We do not go to parties where there are men, and we are never alone with a man who is not our husband, father, son or other close male relative. I have yet to meet a Muslim woman who is willing to "hang out" with a strange man, and they keep their conversation purely work/school related. My Saudi girlfriends were shocked when male students at University came close to them and started asking questions -- they described it as "rude" and "uncomfortable". On another note, people are responsible for their own actions but if they spread their corruption to society and are responsible for breaking up homes, then they will be held to their account.

    NUMBER EIGHT: A man murdering his daugher by cutting out her tongue and then burning her to death, because she became a Christian. La howla wa la quwwata illah billah (there is no higher power than God.) This phrase is commonly used when we hear something disturbing. A) Torture is strictly forbidden in Islam. B) There is no compulsion in religion, as stated in the Quran. C) This man had no right to carry a Hadd punishment on his daugther, he should've brought her to a Sharia court and been given the procedure handed down on an apostate. Maybe she was suffering from insanity or was deeply confused. Only God knows but unfortunately her father took away her life unjustly. As for the saying of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), "Whoever leaves his religion, kill him." The Prophet was referring to Islam, as this narration is found in Sahih Bukhari #2794. Do we just kill people who turn from Islam just like that? The answer to that is NO. One of the reasons apostates were killed was back in the Prophet's day, there were people who claimed to have become Muslim, found out the Muslims' secrets 9such as safe spots, since the first Muslims were being persecuted) and renounced Islam and betrayed hundreds of people under protection. These people were consequently torured by the enemies of Islam, murdered and any survivors were forced to leave their homes. Let's not forget that currently the penalty for treason in the U.S. is death. If you wanna convert to Islam, you better think about it very carefully. Muslims take their faith seriously, and honestly if I woke up one day and said, "I reject Islam, instead I will start worshipping a man besides God" then honestly I would want someone to question me for three days to see if I am alright. I would also like to add that I have yet to hear an ex-Muslim being executed by in a actual Shari`a court. No, I'm not talking about the Mickey Mouse wannabe Shari`a courts they have in the middle of nowhere, I am talking about courts ruled by men who have studied and aquired all the knowledge needed to make such sentences. The regular lay-man Muslim is not allowed to carry out the Hadd punishment on his own thought or interpretation.

    NUMBER NINE: Fear of being threatened with bodily harm or death for not following Islam to a "T". We are not given more than we can handle, and Allah t`ala mentioned numerous times that He is Most Merciful & Forgiving. As long as we establish the Five Pillars of Islam (Susie, I assume you are aware of what these are), and try our best to be good people while doing acts of worship to our God, this is all He asks of us! That picture you have of those people carrying signs to massacre people who insulted Islam clearly contradict what it says in the Quran : "And when they say things of insult to you, reply with a peaceful saying." The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) had animal feces thrown on his head during prayer -- and what were his actions? -- nothing. No shoutin or going after the person with a sword. When all the villagers from Ta`if threw stones at him and drove him out, did he return with an army and murder them? No, he raised his hands and asked for their future generations to be Muslims. Learned men and women will not storm the streets chanting "DEATH TO INFIDELS" or "KILL ANYONE WHO INSULTS ALLAH OR HIS MESSENGER", just because so-and-so did something to insult them. Allah t`ala cannot be harmed, He is Lord of the Worlds! His Messenger cannot be insulted, he is in Paradise with all of the other Messengers such as Jesus, Ibrahim, John, Jonah, Lot, Job and various others. People can say whatever that wanna say, it will only come back to them when they are questioned on the Day of Judgement. We are hurt by their words and actions, since we love our Lord and Prophets more than anything!

    Susie, if you have questions and wanna read for yourself on various issues such as women's right in Islam, non-Muslims, jihad, please go to because Shaikh Salman Al-Oadah is a terrific scholar. He is Saudi, too! Read more about him here to see his background

    Okay, I hope I did an okay job of briefly explaining things to you, Susie! If you have any more questions please stop by my Blog. Dont be shy, because I believe you are only asking sincere questions. However, I wont talk to someone who is knowingly attacking my religion, or by intentionally asking questions in a way that do insult OR just try to confuse the issue with other irrelevent questions.

    Have a nice day, my friend :-D

  2. The actual religion of Islam is different that the sect (Wahhabism/Salafism) that the muttawa enforce in KSA. And, you're right IT IS SCARY!

    No one in their right mind would want to belong to a religion that said you had to be killed if you left it. Thankfully, the Quran does not say any such thing.

    And Muhammad did not say that, either. The hadiths where Muhammad "said" anything contrary to what the Quran says are lies. Sadly, these hadiths are what the religion of KSA is based on, NOT the Quran.

    I'm so sorry that your exposure to Islam has to be through the horrific cult of Wahhabism.

    There are tolerant and peaceful sects and groups in Islam, that don't promote violence or take pleasure in controlling and harming others. I hope you can find out about them.

  3. To Aalia and Leena -
    Thank you so much for your comments and explanations. You are both representative of what Islam is all about. Thanks for addressing my concerns. I truly appreciate it.

  4. hello :)

    to add to aalia's comment, the sale of cats and dogs (or anything with a soul) in islam is forbidden, although keeping a pet is not. (like a cat) as for a dog, it is allowed if kept outside as a guard, or for work purposes. if you need the hadith, let me know, and i will search for it.

    as for susie's concerns, i found this:

    Quran (translation) 002.217
    YUSUFALI: They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: "Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members." Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And if any of you Turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein.

    and this hadith:

    Volume 9, Book 84, Number 57:
    Narrated 'Ikrima:

    Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to 'Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn 'Abbas who said, "If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah's Apostle forbade it, saying, 'Do not punish anybody with Allah's punishment (fire).' I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah's Apostle, 'Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'"

    As far as I know it is Islam that the Prophet mentioned, not just any religion. Where did you find that quote you mentioned in your post?

    THIS IS something in islam, and although we may not always understand it at first, it is best to do what Aalia said and research it from known people and compare many texts on the subject.

    as for the religious police, as a practicing muslim, it is something i personally would prefer as well, especially here in egypt! on the other hand, for you susie, please take note that this is something found only in Saudi, and actually as muslims, we should fear ALLAH not religious police, and surely such people, being creations of Allah are prone to make many, many errors, and who knows what is actually in THEIR hearts. Be sure that here, like most other islamic places, there is not any such thing (unfortunately) and people behave unethically, even the government and muslims, all the time.

    as for the comment on salifis, well, i feel sad about that, because the word "salaf" refers to the companion of the Prophet (saaws), and for me, I say I follow the WAY OF THE SALAF, meaning I try my best to be like those who were closest to the Prophet because they are most likely to know of his behaviours and actions and what all the companions did. The people today think that islam can be "modernized", but in the Quran, Allah mentions He perfected the religion for us, and it is one for ALL times, it does not change "according to times!" He also said in the Quran, that no other religion but islam will be accepted.

    Im sorry Susie if you are facing difficulties, but you have to look at the Quran and the Sunnah, and not the culture or the people - because if I had learned about Islam for example here in Egypt, I would never have converted either because it just isnt any different from what I knew in Canada! But Allah guided me to the right way, so keep reading, and keep looking, as Aalia said, ma shaa Allah... and if i can help any further, i would also love to do so, and dont be shy to get all your questions out, because I think all of us converts had the same feelings at one time.

    May Allah guide you, and all of us, to the right way, ameen.

  5. Hi Susie,My limited understanding is that Islam is a religion of peace.I guess like anything when people factor in it just gets twisted sometimes.
    I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you coming from the states to live in KSA.It's a heck of an oportunnity too.Dig deeper my friend.You're in the land of Mecca and Medina,the land of the Prophet!Are there classes you could take on qu'ranic studies?Arabic?Used bookstores?Embroidery,art,textiles?I wouldn't let an abaya slow me down.Get a cotton or silk one I've heard they're cooler.
    I found this: It has the Yusef Ali translation,but you can also hear it in arabic.It's wonderful!

  6. Hi Susie

    I have a question and it is not my intention to be offensive/rude/insensitive.

    I understand that Muslim men are only allowed to marry Muslim women (vice versa) ?
    From your post/blog it is difficult to ascertain if you are a Muslim, or if you are considering reverting to Islam.
    So my question is how did your husband marry you if you "are" non-muslim ?

    Thank you.

  7. Dear Susie, the religious police don't like being called ''the religious police'' so I vote we call them ''the religious police''

    Dear, dear Susie, I want you to know that when you hear the approach of shuffeling of sandals below short dirty thobes, you are always welcome to take refuge with me!

    Funny, I have heard from several saudies that they are not at all happy with being harassed and beaten up by the religious police.

    Do you know the latest ''important'' detail the muttawa is constricting is the shocking display of coloured embroidery and beads on abayas? Dream on if you think you'll be allowed to wear any other colout but black, but now you aren't allowed lace beads, sequins or embroidery either! (perhaps you'll be lucky in Jeddah)
    I can't help but noticing a lot of decoration on your sheila in your photo!!!

    About apostacy, The way I remember that quoet was meant for one particular period during which there was war, and the muslim community was very small, and sevral people were opportunist and sided with their enemies, not only renouncing Islam again, but sharing vital information. Not to mention the very reasonable stance that whatever you do or think or aspire is really between you and God and nobody can know better than God. I relly like Islam for this.

    Dogs are not haraam, only one version of the hadeeth instructing you to clean your stuff well after your dog has been fed from them (!!!) (so it's quite normal to have a dog, ànd feed it from your own bowls) says 6 times, and once with dirt, and that one is the AbuHarayra version, and he disliked women and dogs. And didn't mind adding a bit here and there to make his own preferences come across. Both Aïscha and Omar ibn Khattib complained to him for embroidering and making things up after the prophet died. He was even threatened with banishment.
    So I have a problem with him: I don't trust him.

  8. I disagree with aalia's version of the religion. The Mutawwa police have recently killed a man and disproportionately target immigrant men and women. There is nothing wrong with mixing with men ie working side by side, why do we have to sexualisie every interaction between the sexes? This only creates a false atmosphere of piety whilst the air is filled with sex and thoughts of men are occupied with sex. Let the natural interaction between the sexes who are children, teenagers and adults take place normally. This is why sodomy is practised in Saudi behind closed doors and the harassment of women.

    I disagree with your husband Suzie. No person should be killed because they choose to change their religion. In a patriarchal society like Saudi, men will get away with such crimes through having a light sentence. The person will argue that they have done the job of what the courts would have done, since its islamic their actions are also legitimate. Men who carry out honour crimes also plead this and the result is a few months or years in jail for killing a woman.

  9. Susie, you're very welcome my friend :-D Anytime!

    Anonymous, I am only relaying what I have been told by Saudi citizens. I have never been to Saudi Arabia and I am not a Saudi citizen -- so I speak from the experiences of actual Saudis who have grown up in KSA. I believe the actions of some overzealous men do not define the whole group, as this is generalizing and may pertain to individuals who actually do their job correctly & fear God.

    Please read my words carefully about inter-mingling before you state something that I did not say, as I said that it's not permissible for a woman to converse with a stranger man unless it is purely related to school or work:
    Inter-mingling for social purposes is forbidden in Islam. We do not go to parties where there are men, and we are never alone with a man who is not our husband, father, son or other close male relative. I have yet to meet a Muslim woman who is willing to "hang out" with a strange man, and they keep their conversation purely work/school related.

    And Aafke, please try to be careful of you who put into groups and try to make sound bad or give negative connontation to. Remember about some men who made fun of another group of men who returned from jihad, and the men made fun of their physical appearance? When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) disciplined them for their mocking words, and an ayah was revealed due to this. The men were so humbled by this that they dragged the weight of the camel the Messenger was riding on into the ground. Describing those men who try to do their job honestly as characters with "hear the approach of shuffeling of sandals below short dirty thobes" sounds a bit like mocking to me :-S

    ***In Islam, there is no such thing as Wahhabism, Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab was a reformer who did many great things for Islam in Saudi Arabia. And Umm Travis is right -- we try our best to follow the ways of the Salaf, because they were the closest to the Messenger of Allah t`ala.

  10. Saudi is an oppressive society still enforcing the laws of the Dark Ages. Enforced religion breeds all "vice" it is supposed to curb. The very basis of religion should logically be self-initiation. It is a matter between you and the divine. Not allowing women to drive, questioning them if they are seen with unrelated men and hitting them if not covered properly are just acts of terror and blatant discrimination. Just visit any embassy grade school linked to the educational boards of third world countries. You will see homosexual prostitution and solicitation being undertaken by boys as young as 13 or 14. Boys get raped, homosexuality is very prevalent and so are drugs. I am not playing holier than thou or commenting on homosexuality. Just saying that this is nothing but blatant terror and oppression. I am a bit surprised that you have come out with your comments in this manner specially with your picture and that of your family on the website. I would just say be careful: in this part of the world, you can easily get deported for such an act, after rigorous and life-altering interrogation.
    A 28-year old with relatives in Saudi. Studied the Quran for over ten years and still researching and studying.

  11. Hello Susie,

    I've been reading your blog for a while, good job, keep it up, and thanks for sharing bits and pieces of your life with us.

    The islam in saudi is not the form of islam that made the former islamic empire great.

    The whole segregation thing is absurd, just look at the Kabaa, and you will see men and women side by side... and if people think that women in the time of the prophet were all covered up... please, listen to this

    I suggest you read a book called the two faces of islam, which is not available in saudi by the way. There is also a movie I would recommend called Das Experiemnt, its german... I am sure you can find something about it on the net that would give you an idea of why people do what they do and take things to extremes... its a true story.

    Not all islamic scholars think that death is the punishment for apostasy... but most in saudi do.

    A lot of people think that these guys should go, yet many more think that they should stay because they are doing a good job of this and that... I just hope the mentality of my people changes to the better... but its gonna take a long long time

  12. Hey Susie...unfortunately Muslims have intergrated a hell of alot of culture into religion...which isnt always a good thing...having said that...alot of Islam that was meant for a particular place and time and for a certain group of people...has been taken to mean for all people for all time...and hadith...hadith ....hadith...the very bane and base of what ails Islam today...many are worthwhile and beneficial...many many others are useless and harmful...especially to women and foreigners...

    The way I prefer to believe is that if there is anything negative...anything at all that makes me say...hmmmmm and think even for a nanosecond that that doesnt sound fair...doesnt sound like Islam...or the prophet...or God...then I reject it ...fullstop...nobody but me gonna be judged on whether I believed it...followed it...or rejected it...

  13. Susie, all of that aside...
    Do you believe that there is only one true diety WORTHY of worship? You keep saying weshopuld question our fai8th about this that and the other. For one, did you verify that tose girls perished in a fire? The official report and since I know how disorderly the children can be especially in a fire, is that the girls that died were trampled to death and some fell down stairs all trying to flee. Nobody was left to burn to death or die of smoke inhalation.

    But for the sake of arguement and the girls did die because they were forced to remain in a burning building if not covered properly...why would you expect the parents to question their faith because of the mistake of man? Perfection is with Allah. I don't care how many people misrepresent, misinterpret, or misunderstand Islam...that is between them and Allah. Islam is the perfect way of life. Muslims or nobody else will ever come near perfection. These are the trials of this life and each trail will only make a believer closer to their Lord and stronger in their faith.

    If I were you Susie, Iwould stop focusing right now on what they do in Saudi and for now just try and grasp or comprehend the islamic conceopt of God and see if that is something you believe or not and then take it from there. Can you do that? Can you put everything else to the side...just for a moment and read as musch as you can about Tawheed (Islamic Monotheism), before anything else. I say tjis with all due respect, because really everything else is just a distraction right now. The Mutawwa, hijab, polygyny...all of those things have a time and place but the proper methodology for anybody who is seriously trying to learn about Islam and for anybody calling others to TAWHEED FIRST.

    I can put you in contact with American Muslim women in Jeddah if you are interested. Don't let Saudi, Culture, issues, etc. be your reason for not accepting Islam. If you don't believe in Allah, so be it, but don't bae your belief on the actions of man.

  14. The best thing about the REAL Islam is that it is a religion built on moderation, the Quran says, "O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth." 004.171 (chapter.verse) KSA is a nation that has turned Islam into a prison and will be asked about it on Judgment Day. Please don't take Wahhabi Islam and think of it as how the religion truly is, because it is not. In fact I consider Saudi Islam to be as perverted as the Shi'a who beat themselves on Ashura.

    "Thus We have appointed you a middle nation, that ye may be witnesses against mankind, and that the messenger may be a witness against you." 002.143

    "Say: Who hath forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah, which He hath produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, (which He hath provided) for sustenance? Say: They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) purely for them on the Day of Judgment. Thus do We explain the signs in detail for those who understand."007.032

    Consider this:
    In the Quran it says, "O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware." 049.013

    The Quran talks about how the Muslims should be with the non-Muslims in their areas: "Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly; surely Allah loves the doers of justice."060.008
    So, basically like the non-Muslims who come to work peacefully and contribute to the economy of the KSA.

    And the Quran also says "To you be your religion and to me mine."

    There is an entire Surah (chapter) that talks about that:
    "Say: O unbelievers!
    I worship not that which ye worship;
    Nor worship ye that which I worship.
    And I shall not worship that which ye worship.
    Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
    Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion." Surah 109

    There is a whole section that talks about people who leave Islam and/or practice a faith other than Islam from chapter 3 verse 82 to verse 91 and which says things like "If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good);" and "Lo! those who disbelieve, and die in disbelief, the (whole) earth full of gold would not be accepted from such an one if it were offered as a ransom (for his soul)."

    But notice that it never says that they should be killed. I don't know the Quran well enough to say that there are NOT any places that say to kill them, but I'm fairly certain in my heart there is not.

    Saudia Arabian Islam is extremist to the extreme and I believe no longer adheres to the bounds of the teachings of our Beloved God, and the teachings given to our beloved Prophet to give to us.

    I'm sorry that your only example of Islam has been Wahhabi.

    I would never live in KSA for this reason. I, for the most part, despise what they have done to the beauty of Islam.

    Please email me if you have any questions.


  15. These terms "wahhabism" and "salafi" are thrown around like dirty words... even though, since converting to islam only 2 years ago, ma shaa Allah, I have personally found that these terms refer to people who are trying to follow the steps of the Prophet Muhammad (saaws) as much as possible, and in fact, Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab was someone who helped to reform Saudi when they were worshipping others besides Allah. (TAWHEED as ummadam mentioned)

    I think some people just dont like to be forced to follow the rules, as they do in Saudi, or to be forced to look at the fact that the way they practice Islam is incorrect or slacking(ie. the MODERN islam) which is completely understandable, especially for those of us coming from the west.

    Simply following the Prophet saaws and the Quran however, is the correct way, and all those things people are arguing about, fortunately or unfortunately (the issue of killing apostates, segregation,or dogs or whatever) are in fact in the hadiths whether you like it or not. Check your resources... if you can provide proof otherwise, please let me know. In addition, regarding the "bad salafis" if you can explain this one to me, I would really like to understand it, because so far it just seems like a derogatory word that people use when they dont like what someone is doing.

    As for the person who commented about marriage in Islam, a man can marry someone who is montheist (Jewish, Christian, Muslim) but a muslim woman can only marry another muslim, the reason being that the children take the religion of their father.

    Dear Susie, talk to other converts in your area in shaa Allah they will have had the same questions as you, and try not to listen much to people who are fighting and arguing about the right or real islam. It is what it is, and I think the right way is clear and easy in shaa Allah. May Allah guide you and make it easy for you, ameen.

  16. Wow, the questions you've raised reminded me of my experience.

    I was raised a Muslim in a very religious society. I struggled with trying to be a good Muslim throughout my childhood. I actually went through a few months period of depression when I was 11. The images of hell and the torture described by the imam was too much for me. And my family's first thoughts were (well, he must've been hit by an evil eye. Let's take him to the qri'a -an Islamic faith healer-). I eventually got over it on my own and decided not to think about religion and simply perform the duties of Islam without giving it much thought.
    When I turned 18, I could not maintain that separation. because "Allah's will" was the justification for everything I thought was wrong and immoral committed in the name of Islam.

    Why should adulterers and apostates be executed?

    Why does the prophet call women inferior and must be controlled by men?

    I could not reconcile my love and appreciation for freedom, individualism, equality and my sense of morality with my religion.

    And after reading about Islam, other religions and the concept of organized religion it self. I realized that there is no need for religion and that they are the remnants of a primitive peoples. And although very similar in most aspects they are incredibly divisive. It is rationality, compassion and science that will bring peace, prosperity and harmony to this world not religion.

    PS: all the four major schools of Sunni Islam say that apostates should be killed. I hope that the people who justify it by bringing up ancient Islamic history are being ignorant and not deliberately deceptive. Islam is supposed to be for every age and every place, isn't it?

    And Islam does not "absolutely prohibit torture". The prophet forced a non-Muslim man into telling him where he was hiding his money through torture.

  17. Don't be fooled into thinking that that version of Islam is only practiced in KSA - They have sucessfully exported it, even to the US and the UK, as the ONLY true version of Islam.

  18. Sisie,

    Shame on you for writing a new post that is so engrossing. LOL! I have LOTS OF HOMEWORK!

    That said, I would like to comment properly but my female and American sister,I can understand how you feel like you do. BTW: thanks for telling me about that quote from the prophet (PBUH). Wow. I did not know that.

    We, as Americans have been enculturated into the Western culture. That said, we find many of these behaviors baffling. Not all Muslim countries are this extreme. You just happened to "choose" one of the most to live in. I was told by a Islamic scholar that Arabs take several GENERATIONS in a Western country to take on many Western values.

    Anyhow, I have homework. I will do some more writing soon.
    My heart is near you.....

  19. Susie,

    Only known you for a short time but I care about you. Follow the advice he wrote in your blog.


  20. Wow... what a post. So much information. So different than being just an ol' Methodist. I would be afraid of any religion that would justify hurting me or my family, in any way, as a form of 'enforcement'. Life is too short to live any group, persons or belief. Wonderful post, Susie. I hear ya.

  21. Are you saying torturing a man by hiding his money on him is the same as using physical/psychological pain methods!? In Islam, intentionally causing harm to another human being or animal is strictly prohibited. We can see this from reading the Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings be upon him) and his dealings with P.O.W.'s during the battles of Badr & Uhud. Is it logical to put hiding someone's money in the same category as water-boarding, 24-hour isolation in freezing temperatures or sleep deprivation? BTW these are tactics being used on Muslim prisoners right now. I am sure torture tactics back then were worse, and again we can see this on the persecution of the very first converts to Islam by the Quraishites.

    Please give credit to your source by providing an authentic hadith because I am not aware of this story.

    As for Crash, I am sorry you were turned away from Islam by your experiences but one cannot generalize and say ALL imams preach the same way. If we were allowed to do this, I could easily justify my right to claim that ALL Catholic priests have pedophelia and cover up eachothers' attraction to children. However, that is simply not the case!

    To anyone else out there who feels the need to put down Islam based on the actions of 0.00000002% of the Muslim population: ***DON'T GENERALIZE***DON'T ASSUME***

    Islam really does have all the answers:-D The critics of Islam claim that this is just a religion for the 7th century, that it cannot possibly work in this age. Every single question from the topics that are commonly brought up in this society such as as abortion, stem-cell research, etc. can be easily answered Islamically.

    As for the other opinion that Islam and science cannot go together, again we can easily point out the many scientific miracles in the Quran that scientists only now have discovered. The Quran explains the sea waters (fresh & salt), how mountains are formed beneath the earth's surface, what a human embreyo looks like, that the light reflects from the sun onto the moon and the moon does not emit it's own light, and many many more. How can an illiterate man who grew up in the middle of a desert come to knowledge of these things??? And in the 7th century? Then can anyone tell me how this same man was informed that the Romans would be defeated by the Persians in an exact time frame, before it actually happend?

    BTW -- If anyone wants to debate, leave out any stereotypes UNLESS they're brought up to address what's correct. However, if you're gonna say ALL Muslims are this or that, that Islam is nothing but a crazy religion, don't expect a two-way conversation because the Quran and Ahadith orders us not to argue with people who just argue for the sake of causing tensions.

    P.S. This is for Coolred's Rant: Coolred, if we didn't go by the Ahadith then how would we know how to pray? The Quran states we are to pray daily but it doesn't mention exactly how to go about it. We see from the writings preserved by the Wives & Companions of Rasool-ul-Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) detailing how to pray. The Quran even mentions that we are to follow the Quran and Allah's Messenger's Sunnah. The Prophet himself declared, "hold fast to my Sunnah, and you shall never be astray." Just some food for thought ;-)

    Meanwhile Susie, I'm very sorry for hijacking your comment section but one of my passions in life is to do my best to show people the TRUE Islam. Not the one portrayed in the media, not the one demonstrated by angry American flag-burners (burning flags is a sick act BTW, I don't care what flag it is!) and most certainly not the one explained by sites such as Islam is my religion, I live and breathe it 24/7 so I have a right to speak about it. You will not find me preaching about Judiasm or Christianity, as I am neither a Jew nor a Christian! Ya know what I mean, Susie?


  22. aalia....if you noticed I did say many hadith are beneficial and helpful....but I also said many many are harmful and useless....its not hard to figure out which are which....I dont need a thousand of years of scholarship to tell me that according to a consensus apostates should be killed...meanwhile God does not state such a thing....or that adulterers should be stoned to death even though God does not state such a thing...or that anyone who maligns the Prophet or the Quran should have swift action taken against them...usually seems Muslims can wax philisophical about how peaceful Islam is...but will use any and every excuse to kill someone for something...just my opinion on that.

  23. Hi Susie!

    Heard of Hamza Yusuf? He's an American Muslim convert living in California. He's very articulate and also an erudite scholar. I would strongly recommend visiting his website at
    Take care!!

  24. Great post! You brought up many of the same problems I have with Islam. I never understood why a religion so "good" has to threaten people with death. Now I have one Syrian friend who said that was for a time in history (the treason that someone else mentioned in the comments), however, another Syrian friend mentioned nonchalantly that if someone converted to Christianity from Islam in an Islamic country, he would be killed. WHAT?! His words were, "Well, it's a good thing he didn't convert in an Islamic country or we would kill him." And this is a "liberal" (his word) Sunni from Damascus! I find this attitude in more than just Saudi Arabia which is beyond extreme, imo.

    If GOD guides people to Islam (and other religions) and if religion is a matter between an individual and GOD, WHY should people be forced to stay Muslims if GOD leads them elsewhere? Is it proper for me to stay a Muslim outwardly when my heart has left the God of Islam? All for the sake of pleasing fellow humans? Do you not think God knows already??

    I never understand this thought process.

    Let the people decide! Give the people the freedom to choose and for GOD to work in their lives. Why does God need YOU to force them to stay Muslim?

    Thanks for this wonderful post! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one asking these same questions.

  25. The prophet's use of torture:

    Kinana b. al-Rabi`, who had the custody of the treasure of Banou al-Nadir 9 (a jewish tribe), was brought to the apostle who asked him about it. He denied that he knew where it was. A Jew came (T. was brought) to the apostle and said that he had seen Kinana going round a certain ruin every morning early. When the apostle said to Kinana, "Do you know that if we find you have it I shall kill you?" he said Yes. The apostle gave orders that the ruin was to be excavated and some of the treasure was found. When he asked him about the rest he refused to produce it, so the apostle gave orders to al-Zubayr b. al-`Awwam, "Torture him until you extract what he has," so he kindled a fire with flint and steel on his chest until he was nearly dead. Then the apostle delivered him to Muhammad b. Maslama and he struck off his head, in revenge for his brother Mahmud. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, translated as, The Life of Muhammad, (tr. A. Guillaume), Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998, p. 515.)

    I did not generalize. Of course not all Muslims think torture is OK, but Mohammed did. And he is supposed to be the Muslim's role model, isn't he?

    The quran and the seerah clearly show Islam's attitude towards women and non-Muslims.

    As for the supposed quranic miracles you have mentioned, the quran talks about a lot of subjects and it gets some right and some wrong. We see that in a lot of ancient scripts. Also, Muslims deceitfully reinterpret verses to make them correspond to a certain scientific fact. e.g. the verse of salt/fresh water that has been mentioned, was understood for centuries to mean that god has separated between bodies of fresh water and bodies of salt water through land so people can have fresh water to drink and use for irrigation. That's why it says in that verse (a boundary that can't be transgressed) when salt and fresh water meet they do mix it just takes a little more time.

    Don't forget that the quran also says that
    Adam was 90 Ft high.
    people can live to be 900 years old.
    that semen comes from between "the ribs and the back" while it actually comes from the testicles.
    ALL creatures come from sexual interaction between a male and a female. Thus, ignoring many species the reproduce asexually.

    That's just off the top of my head. There are many "anti-Islamic" websites that exposes many of these claims.

    As I said if it gets some things right, it also gets other things wrong.

    PS: there's a program Susie, that you can freely download called Hotpot shield that can open any blocked website.

  26. Those of you who have never lived in the states wouldn't have a point of reference. Kindness, non-obtrusive comments, none I'm right and your wrong. To wrap your brain around something so foreign, so different is a difficult undertaking. You have simulated so well in Saudi. Don't criticize her for asking question? In Islam, you are told to search for yourself.
    Something I have always question about cultural norms in Saudi is, why do they pay their maids such a low wage? Do Mother's even teach their daughters how to run a household without help of a maid? It baffles me,simply baffles me.


  27. Just one more note coolreds, if you look in Quran, no where does it say ONLY obey Allah. It always says... "Obey Allah and His messenger." How to do that? Follow the Sunnah. No where in the Quran does it tell us how to perform Salat for example - we only know this through the Sunnah of the Prophet sallahu alayhi wa sallam. We cant just pick and choose what we WANT to listen to. Allah was clear in the Quran, and He Himself mentioned we should follow the Messnger.

  28. CoolRed: Alrighty, that's your opinion and everyone is entitled to their own :-)

    AbuDhabiBlogger makes some good points. Religion should not be enforced like it is in Saudi, because we see that the forced segregation of the sexes leads to something more sinister behind closed doors. If someone is gently taught why men and women do not mix outside of the work or school place, then they will eventually understand and CHOOSE not to do so! As I stated earlier, the Hedaya are not supposed to go after people or chase them in cars, rather they are to be in the mosque and if someone comes to them with a concern, then they can address their concern in an appropriete manner.

    Crash: Please state your resources (ie. Quran or Authentic ahadith) about where Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) say that women are inferior and men need to control them, same with about him hiding a man's money. If you're referring to the two ahadith I am thinking of, you are grossly taking them out of context and misleading others as to their actual meanings. State the ayah or Hadith with Book # so I can see what you're talking about

    Susie, again I apologize because I know I said earlier before in another post not to take religious arguments but it seems a few people are trying to pass of their views (incorrect perhaps) as true Islam. This is not acceptable.

    For anyone else out there concerned about what Ahadith, there are no recently discovered ahadith, all of them have been studied since the days of the Salaf, and saying that stoning an adulteror/adulteress is not in in Islam, well it is! I am not ashamed about my religion, and I am not afraid to say the truth. If you do not like some of the laws or rules in Islam, and feel Islam is not for you, then don't feel obligated to become a Muslim. There are thousands of men & women (mostly women, including myself) who became Muslim and live Islamic lifestyles, yet we have no quarrels or problems with it.

    It would be so easy to take off our hijabs, go drinkig at a bar and get some random guy to go home with. But what stops us?? It's not our husbands threatening to beat us (which, BTW is NOT allowed in Islam, lay-men who read the single verse say men can beat their wives because that verse says so -- sorry to bust their bubble but the word means TO SHAME or SHOW DISPLEASURE, not the English meaning of BEAT which includes strong physical force) but in fact it's our fear of displeasing God.

    Susie, if all you're looking for is to worship the Creator, and fulfill the 5 Pillars of Islam, leave all of this stuff out of your mind and concentrate on those. These matters are secondary and only apply if someone actually commits them. Who would want to have intercourse with someone other than their spouse? Who would kill someone in their right mind? Hopefully noone here reading this who are Muslim.

    Well that's all I have to say right now, gotta get ready to go out for lunch.

  29. Crash, Ibn Ishaq was known to have untrue or weak narrations. If you can show me the CHAIN of narrators, this would be very helpful. But you're just quoting one person who has a history of being accuses as a liar or inventor of weak ahadith.

    Susie, Islam has a strong basis in narrations coming from the words spoken by the Messenger of Allah himself.

    Crash, are you sure you're the one who is not twisting words around to suit your message that Islam is not a religion that it says it is? No offense but everything you just stated can be easily proven in history and classical Arabic context to show it's correct. Are you familiar with classical Arabic, or can you read and understand al-Fusha? Every Muslim will agree that the English translations of the Quran cannot do justice to it's origional version it was revealed in.

    And just the admission that many anti-Islamic website expose these claims kinda shows where you get your "facts" from. There's a reason why they're anti-Islamic, THEY HATE ISLAM. Of course they're gonna make things looks a certain way so that people will hate Islam and think it's a false religion.

    I said many times: Bring your evidence from TRUE Islamic resources. I have a whole library in my house with ALL of the books by Bukhari & Muslim (in Arabic). If you quote the number and book of a certain hadith that comes from an anti-Islamic website, I can prove that it has either been purposely mis-worded OR said in a way that gives it a bad explanation. It's not hard to do, since I have proven to many non-Muslims that their information from these hateful websites are very deceiving. Usually they have nothing to say or they admit that what they read was wrong, especially when I show them what it actually says in the actual book.

    If you wanna debate, dont get your "facts" from sites that are built to purposely make people hate Islam or quote misleading things. There is a difference between that and asking a genuine question :-)

    Uffff... okay now i really gotta get going or else i will be late xD -- mmmm but this is fun!!

  30. Am finding it highly strange that CRASH is quoting a thing that can be read on every single HATRED AGAINST ISLAM website. I did a Google searcg about Kinana Rabi and I found him in a book written by IBN KATHIR (trusted source as aposed to IBN ISHAQ). is it just me or has the whole story been misworded to make is seem Hadrat Mohammad - saaws- had ordereed Kinana to be tortured?
    See for yourself, as the story is talking about a CAMEL.,M1

    (srry my english not very good i just came in USA a few months ago)

  31. "It would be so easy to take off our hijabs, go drinkig at a bar and get some random guy to go home with. But what stops us?..."

    well I dont know about some women but what stops me from drinking and sleeping with just anyone is self respect...which i had before I became a Muslim...and I find it interesting that whenever the phrase 'take off your hijab" is used...what follows is usually statements such as "might as well drink and fornicate" as if women without hijab just cant help but do that stuff...and women with hijab would NEVER even think of doing it. I havent been a Muslim all my life...but I have always been a non drinker...Ive always respected myself not to sleep around...and Ive always dressed modestly...and still managed to have a good relationship with God...

    To "obey the Prophet" meant to obey the message...which is the Quran....we are meant to preserve life...not take it. Killing someone because they had sex...killing someone because they no longer believed what they believed before...killing someone because they maligned the Prophet...when he himself never raised a hand against those that did that very thing to his face? is not in the not part of the Message...killing is a serious offense...and we accept it defacto because some hadith tell us its What about God telling us its ok first and foremost...God... the one making the rules you know.

    I find it interesting to say that a certain hadith is weak...when quite a few of the "solid" hadith that Muslims spout out so easily concerning women which brings them down...are also weak...but that doesnt stop Muslims from believing them and using them against us. hadith may have their place...but they arent the Quran...simple. I find it increasingly harder to understand how Muslims can defend the very thing that kicks womens ass in so many ways. If we stuck simply to the Quran than women are elevated and equal to man...if we include the hadith...women barely register above animals.

    and Alia...maybe according to YOU that word means Shame or Displeasure...but to most scholars of the world from past history til now state that it means to in this instance you are bringing a meaning to the world that the consensus didnt agree on...but then get upset if anyone else does the same...if you dont like the rules then dont be a Muslim sister...and scholars say men have the right to beat their wives...(even if its supposed to be symbolic....puhleeeeze).

  32. Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
    Once Allah's Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) on 'Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Apostle?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone MORE DEFICIENT IN INTELLIGENCE and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 6, Number 301)
    Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
    The Prophet said, "Isn't the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?" The women said, "Yes." He said, "This is because OF THE DEFICIENTCY OF A WOMAN’S MIND." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 48, Number 826)

    Now I understand that this hadith has been interpreted in very different ways by different people. One opinion is that the prophet was only addressing that particular group of women and not women in general. I even heard one guy saying that he was joking or only meant to scare those women so they give their jewelry to their husbands who were in a desperate need for them.

    But here's the problem how can the prophet be irresponsible enough to say something that can easily be used -and have been used- to oppress and discriminate against women for centuries. How can he be so thorough in explaining something so superficial as dietary laws and neglect an issue that affects half of it's followers.

    My humble opinion is that those interpretation are the wishful thinking of well intentioned men and women who saw the clear injustice of the traditional interpretation of this hadith.

    Islam also discriminate against women in inheritance, giving them half of what their male counterparts get. Apologists have justified this by saying that men have more financial duties than women so they should be entitled to more money. I don't think an unbiased observer would find such a justification satisfying. For example, a rich brother could get double what his sister who is married to a poor man gets.

    A woman's husband and/or brothers are assigned as the guardians of their chastity. And that's what allow honor killings to persist in addition to Islam's rule that adulterers should be killed -even though stressing that this should happen only after being found guilty by a sharia court-. This sends the message that adulterers are somehow deserving of murder.

    I apologize if anything I said on this blog has offended anyone.

    And yes Arabic is my native tongue.


  33. Hey Susie, I just came back from hanging out with my friends so my mind is refreshed *lol*

    Okay let's address an issue here that Crash brought up:

    Kinana b. al-Rabi`, who had the custody of the treasure of Banou al-Nadir 9 (a jewish tribe), was brought to the apostle who asked him about it. He denied that he knew where it was. A Jew came (T. was brought) to the apostle and said that he had seen Kinana going round a certain ruin every morning early. When the apostle said to Kinana, "Do you know that if we find you have it I shall kill you?" he said Yes. The apostle gave orders that the ruin was to be excavated and some of the treasure was found. When he asked him about the rest he refused to produce it, so the apostle gave orders to al-Zubayr b. al-`Awwam, "Torture him until you extract what he has," so he kindled a fire with flint and steel on his chest until he was nearly dead. Then the apostle delivered him to Muhammad b. Maslama and he struck off his head, in revenge for his brother Mahmud. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, translated as, The Life of Muhammad, (tr. A. Guillaume), Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998, p. 515.)

    After cross-referencing and checking up on Kinana, because I never heard of such a story, the quote that Crash is talking about mostly likey never even happened (due to the absence of narrations or authentic sources), especially about the Prophet Muhammad ordering a man to be tortured.

    It should also be mentioned that Prophet Muhammaed declared in an another authentic hadith (peace and blessings be upon him) forbade the use of fire against mankind, stating that we do not have the right to use God's punishment ie. fire on humans

    Crash is doing exactly what I specifically mentioned that I would not debate with. Bringing into the topic other issues that are not relevent to the case, AND citing stories from sites that promote false facts about Islam, or stories that purposely make Islam look bad.

    Crash, you have shown that you're not one to argue further with since you bring in false information that have no truth within Islam.

    Cool-Red's Rant, I do not agree with your thinking, sorry;-) But that doesn't mean I will wish silence on your opinions.

  34. "It would be so easy to take off our hijabs, go drinking at a bar and get some random guy to go home with."

    Really? Bragging? I'd just love to watch you try it sometime. LOL

    CoolRed: 'I find it interesting that whenever the phrase 'take off your hijab" is used...what follows is usually statements such as "might as well drink and fornicate" as if women without hijab just cant help but do that stuff...'

    It gets real old doesn't it? You hear the same ignorant thing parroted over and over again. To these brainwashed kids it's all either black or white. It's very sad to see them missing all the beautiful colors this world has to offer.

  35. No one is bragging, so relax.

    BTW Susie, I just finished watching a movie called, "Where in the world is Osama bin Laden" and it featured Morgan Spurlock going to Saudi Arabia (among many other Arab nations). Not to my surprise, there were women who didn't veil or cover their hair and guess what -- noone was beating them with a stick!

    But it did show how much censure there is. For example, Morgan tried to ask two Saudi boys but it was obvious they're being told what to say and what not to say. Then when Israel is brought up, the supervisors say the interview is over. *umm okay???*

    I liked the over-all message that Morgan did get across: Islam is a peaceful way of life, and that some do try and twist it to suit their own desires.

    I suggest everyone who wonders what's on the average Muslim's mind to watch this movie.

    Also, the baby born at the end of the film was soooo cuuuute!!!

  36. Susie, since finding your blog I have been really happy but it really bothered me the negative way you spoke of Islam. I think you really have to be careful about the negative things you say about a country or religion bc many people read what you write. Your husband and son are Saudi and your bashing Saudi so much.

    The religion of Islam is perfect while people are not and never will be, please do not judge Islam on people. The religious people are just trying to uphold what is good in Islam inshAllah and they should not be bashed for that. KSA is not USA and it will never be, they do not want it to be so it should not be held up to the same light.

    Anyway, please remember so many people look to things like this and judge based on that. I would hate people to hate our religion more on judging it by peoples mistakes other then Islam itself.

  37. Susie, here is an article written in the Washington Post by a Muslim woman. I'm sure you will find it interesting and she speaks very bluntly about her rights as a Muslim woman.


  38. I personally see Susies questions and concerns as rather normal for a woman coming from the west and simply observing the Islamic culture of Saudi without being informed properly about the things she is asking about. In fact, it really is a mistake on her husbands part not to have educated her about the concerns which she has. However, I have heard many women complain about the way their husbands talk to them about Islam, so perhaps he is just too close to her to be able to describe it effectively. Unfortunately though, when one brings up such a topic on a blog you will get other people who say things, responding to her inncoent questions and concerns which is her right to have, in a way that is kinda ignorant if you ask me.

    "To "obey the Prophet" meant to obey the message...which is the Quran....we are meant to preserve life...not take it. Killing someone because they had sex...killing someone because they no longer believed what they believed before...killing someone because they maligned the Prophet...when he himself never raised a hand against those that did that very thing to his face? is not in the not part of the Message...killing is a serious offense...and we accept it defacto because some hadith tell us its What about God telling us its ok first and foremost...God... the one making the rules you know."

    I mean, where do you get this stuff? Tell me your proof that Allah meant we should obey only the message and not the example of the Prophets saaws? As I mentioned b4, no muslim would know HOW TO PRAY if we didnt follow his sunnah. So how do you know we should follow him in this but not in other things?

    Islam is meant for ALL TIMES. Stoning someone for adultery, killing apostates, even segration, hijab... well basically everything in Islam is to preserve the family and preserve society. That is why such events were done publicily, so that people would be afraid to commit such horrible crimes. My husband was telling me for example, many people "convert" to islam for certain reasons (ie to marry more than one wife) and then convert back to their old religion whenever their purpose is over. So having such a high punishment puts fear into people of commiting such crimes.

    Just as a muslimah cannot marry anyone but another muslim, because of the fact that the children will take the religion of the father - it is all to preserve the muslim ummah.

    Unfortunately people today think they can MODERNIZE islam, when Allah himself mentioned it is for ALL TIMES and ALL PEOPLE.

    We forget that not too long ago, many places, cultures and religions also used to have capital punishment, following the same prescription as islam... and likely for the same reasons. But now, in the last hundred years, the society has changed so much, and I cant really say that having so much FREEDOM is better for the human race, can YOU? Look around you. Seriously, the world is simply falling apart. And its a sad day, when even the muslims are arguing against things that are clearly in the Sunnah.

    And I wouldnt bother arguing with such people who are here to just confuse you, by insulting the muslims, or providing false or weak information. Its just not worth it.

    My 2 cents.

  39. I was not planning on debating anyone when I started writing here. All I wanted was to share my personal experience with the blogger. Especially since most of the responders' posts were onesided. So I think she has the right to learn about other peoples' experience with Islam.

    Aalia, I did not change the subject. You asked me to present an Islamic text that is discriminatory against women and I did.

    As for the torture story, I know that Ibn Ishak's writings are not considered authentic by most Islamic scholars.

    But that is not the view of secular historins, taking into account the fact that it was the first biography written about the life of the prophet.

    Also givig lashes is one of the commonest punishments used in Islamic law. Isn't that torture?

    Remember that torture is not only used to extract information. It's also used to cause the victim physical and psychological pain. cutting peoples hands and feet I think also qualifies as torture. It's certainly inhuman.


  40. I challenge anyone here to go through an entire collection of hadith books and come back with a clear and precise description on exactly how to pray...from start to finish....lets see what you come up with.

    Let me ask you this...if a new Muslim comes up to you and says...I dont know how to can I learn. Do you as a Muslim tell them to go read hadith books to learn prayer...or do you advise that person to come to the mosque and follow other Muslims...or do you suggest to that new Muslim that they watch you and mimic what you do and repeat after you etc....hadith may mention prayer...but they are not our source of knowledge about it...Muslim heritage is...Muslims praying 5 times a day everyday since the Prophet first SHOWED them how is what teaches us prayer...not hadith., thats just shallow reasoning skills there.

    Threats of death do not stop people from committing immoral actions that "require" death...or else we wouldnt have prisons full of inmates on death row...we wouldnt have Muslims throwing caution to wind and having immoral sex...or leaving the religion...or stealing or any other crime that obligates peaceful Muslims to either maim or kill them...threats of death do not stop people from committing sin...promises of Heaven do....period.

    "Where do I get this stuff...?"...well I get my "stuff" from the Quran...where do you get yours?

  41. A long me religion is a very private the end of the day we human beings have to be good and do good deeds...i dont need GOD for that...i pray to GOD to be in peace with me..thats all...

  42. "Just as a muslimah cannot marry anyone but another muslim, because of the fact that the children will take the religion of the father - it is all to preserve the muslim ummah."

    Factually incorrect. Literally every single muslim man I know who is married to a nonmuslim woman, their children have taken the religion of the mother whether she be jewish or christian or completely irreligious. This is a ridiculous excuse with no basis in reality and I can't believe people are still using it. Studies have actually been done on this and they have shown that children are more likely to take the religion of the mother simply because she has a greater influence on their lives than a father typically does

    And how is killing apostates helping to "preserve the society" as someone put it. Do people who come up with these pathetic excuses for everything even think or do they just rattle off information that some fat sheikh who is completely clueless about the real world has told them? The really ironic/sad thing is that it is apostates such as aalia and ummtravis who are actually spouting off this verbal diarrhea. I would think that these people would have more sense. Apparently not as evidenced by the fact that no hijab = turn into a drunken whore. There really is no middle ground for some

  43. That is why we have scholars to analyze the hadith and write for us the fatwa... on everything... from prayer to everything else which you are arguing about. As you mentioned the Prophet saaws showed his companions who later narrated it, and thus, we have the documentation which we could anaylze one by one if we had that kind of time. But there are people, islamic scholars who dedicate their lives to such matters and have done that for us. So how is the fatwa or example of prayer different from the rulings on how to deal with apostates or fornicators? We follow the rulings of the scholars, no difference.

    if you think you have that kind of time, it is easy to see how many hadith we have on prayer by going here,
    enter the word prayer and see how many thousands of hadith you come up with.

    You didnt mention where it says as well that we should follow only the message and not the example of the Prophet? Actually, if I re-read your comment, you say that the Prophet showed his companions how to pray, thus we know how to pray,therefore this is more than JUST the message (the Quran) in fact, is is his sunnah... so I really would like to know how you separate following the sunnah of prayer from the sunnah way of dealing with apostates and fornicators?

    And finally, of COURSE no one is afraid of the death sentence for apostates or fornicators cuz few are following that sunnah... in fact, in Saudi where the "religious police" are trying to uphold religious law, they are being criticised for being in the dark ages, extremist wahhhabis or whatever else you people keep saying. You want a more modern, "free" islam where you can do whatever you want, and see the result? People are fornicating and rejecting islam, because there is no real islam to be found! And the further we leave the Sunnah, and all his companions passed away, then finally the scholars... well, khalas! As the Prophet Muhammad saaws mentioned... Islam began as something starnge and will end as something strange, so give glad tiding to the strangers!

  44. Thank you all for your comments. There is always a lot of disagreement whenever the topic turns to religion.
    I just read another interesting (and frightening) article in the Arab News about another fiasco the religious police were involved in:

  45. yes susie, disagreement is one thing, insults are another.. when people start turning to that, especially "anonymously" generally they have nothing objective or factual to continue a discussion...

    anyway, thats it for me. when people start throwing in insults and such, i cant be bothered to waste my time anymore, and in shaa allah, you have my info if i can be of any help 1:1

  46. I didnt say there were no hadith about prayer...I agree there are plenty of them available...all I asked was to assemble a few that will give us a complete and accurate step by step run down of how to perform prayer from start to finish.

    Considering Saudi does put to death those that commit sin...according to the "sharia" full view of all would be would think there would be no sin in Saudi...or at least a drastically reduced level compared to other "Godless" countries...but I doubt crime statistics or the number of adulterers etc in Saudi is any less then the average non Muslim country. I wont post any numbers because we all know Saudi likes to keep its numbers to do most "Islamic" countries.

    The Prophet didnt just show the sahaba how to pray...and thus only they are the ones that narrated those actions to the people...people learned how to pray from others as well. Yes by God we do and should emulate the Prophet in all his good and righteous actions...but prayer in hadith is not a defacto reason to swallow hadith hook line and sinker. Critical thinking skills...something that God gave us for a reason...clearly show that many hadith are in no way factual and without error...and so...we read them...take what is beneficial from them...and get on with our lives...

    I find it hard to discuss Islam with Muslims who are afraid to take even one small "critical thinking" step forward without a trusty Imam burdened with hefty fatwas holding their hand. Yes...we all need some help in guidance etc...but we dont have to give up our souls and intellect to bearded mysogynistic men who clearly considered women and non muslims less worthy of Gods grace then men such as themselves...

    and no...Im not a Quran only kind of girl...but I do put the Quran first...where it belongs.

  47. Oh susie, what hast thou started! LOL!
    Pity that the foundation of religion has been and stays to this day, FEAR. In Saudi they just take it to the next level.

  48. Fascinating and brave post. Are you ok?

  49. Your post is very approachable. If you are so strong believer in success in life then like to share one thing with you. There is an e-book which depicts the description of the success in life. I hope you will like to go through it.

  50. Susie- I think much of what your questioning is nothing new for many people. As a convert I can honestly say I've asked all that you have. One thing that may severely muddy the waters for you is that you live in Saudi and are questioning. You can't equate Islam to Saudi or the Mutawwa.

    I think you should start with one thing and move on. Not something cultural like the Mutawwa either, for they are a cultural phenomina not a religious one. Regarding the killing of apostates research if Muhammad pbuh ever killed a person for simply being an apostate during his lifetime. There were plenty of them to choose from so should be a relatively easy thing to find out.

    I can tell you from my own research you'll be given a list of a few names. Each of those names research further, find out all the circumstances and see in the end if they were killed for being only an apostate from Islam. It is quite interesting to research this topic, at least I've found it to be. need resources shoot me an email and I'll give you some good starts.

    With every question research. It will take more in understanding than just the question itself. :)

  51. The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) is a government agency here in Saudi Arabia that employs religious police, called Muttawa, to make sure that the citizens adhere strictly to the teachings of Islam, especially those pertaining to dress, socialization, morality, and prayer.


  53. Asslamualikum

    Nice work about Islam..

    May Allah give you Ajjar.

  54. umm...hi..silent reader of ur blog but what made me comment was...i just saw this anony person linking my blog and just wanted to wasnt me! lol

  55. I see no problem with you asking questions/questioning. I would see a problem if you didn't ask questions. To me the worst thing you can do is just blindly
    accept everything that is put to you.
    "The unexamined life is not worth living. " -- Socrates

  56. oh poor susie!!!!! you've been bombarded with tons of info and comments!!!! It's kind of like when you're pregnant and you get tons of unsilicited info and advice. okay, sorry, but here's my 2 cents:

    There is no compulsion in Islam. The role of the mutawwa is handled wrong. Its so hard to ignore something thats in your face all the time but don't think that they represent Islam. Don't know if you watch Tash ma Tash but they did a great episode on this.

    If i were goes the unsilicited advice..........Focus on the true meaning of Islam. Study Al-Arkan Al-Islam ( the 5 pillars). Remember, it took Nabbi Mohammed(sws) 13 years just to teach tawheed.........the oneness of Allah. Read his seerah; "The Sealed Nectar" is an excellent source. This gives you an Idea how Islam came about for Nabbi Mohammed(sws) and how he taught Islam, His lifestyle, his trials and tribulations, etc. Of course, Al-Quran Al-Kareem and authentic Sunnah. I know that they're are a hundred million trillion of hadeeth and hard to learn witch are authentic or not but if you truly ask Allah(swt) for guidence he will guide you down the straight path. As you gain knowledge you'll learn who's authentic and whos not. They're are a TON of great sources on line and, of course, you can ask any of your blogging, or commenting buddies any questions you may have (I'd be more than happy to obllige)

    One thing that I will say, being an American revert, is that I have the benefit of not being clouded by all the "political/cultural" crap. I get so tired of being asked are you sunni or shia or which mathab do you follow. I follow Islam and thats it. When somebody shows me which one Nabbi Mohammed(sws) said he was then I'll follow that one. There is an ayah in the Quran which discusses that there will be 73 different sects of Islam but the only one that is accepted is the one who follows the quran and the sunnah of Rasool Allah(sws).........sorry Aalia, don't know which ayah exactly. I forgot.(saying with a smile and not being sarcastic). All I can say girl is Masha Allah!!!

    I shall make dua'a for you Susie that Allah(swt) will make your quest for the true Islam be an easy one and that He protects you from all the deceptions around you

    Oh, by the way, being married to a Saudi myself I can totally relate to some of the "questionable" comments, ideas, behaviors about Islam. But I try to take it with a grain of salt............look at how they've grown up and the environment they're in.........its kind of hard to escape it. Especially, if they've never lived outside of the country. Masha Allah, your husband sounds like all and all hes pretty opened minded.

    Insha Allah Khair. And may Allah(swt) Guide us all down the straight path.

  57. Susie, I have wanted to comment for a long time. Once even wrote a couple of lines. There are too many comments here and too many opinions and we all seem to confuse you anyway with so many conflicting themes so I thought I better not say anything.

    I have just started reading your blog and you come out as a very honest person. Americans are usually honest but perhaps you are more honest than many other Americans. To live in a country amongst people who are honest and don’t have to hide how they feel you have come to live in a country where you learn to hide everything from a very young age.

    I am certain that had you migrated to another less conservative and less ‘twisted’ Muslim country you would have had different experiences. Out of all the GCC countries (and I have lived in most) Oman is my favourite. It is peaceful, calm and non-threatening. Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE are all good. I’m not very fond of Kuwait, though. KSA, hmm…

    You said, “I would love to wholeheartedly embrace a religion because I truly WANT to, not because I am forced to.” You have hit the nail on its religious head! If you think you are being forced to convert to Islam, my advice is that you don’t. Tell whoever is forcing you that it doesn’t appeal to you. Nothing is more damaging to a person and their new religion than half-hearted conversion. You will regret it and will hate Islam. If you were thinking about converting to Christianity and had read all about the religion including the fact that God threatens Christians with Hell Fire 34% times more than in the Quran and that God tells Christians to kill anyone who doesn’t accept God, would you have converted?

    What I am trying to say is when one converts to a religion we take greater care in learning about the religion we are going to live. In learning so we also learn about that religion’s contemporary culture and traditions. Fortunately Christianity and Judaism are quite peaceful today sans the Crusades but with Islam comes a lot of explosive baggage! That is just unfortunate and does not represent Islam all the time. Muttawas don’t represent Islam. Period.

    I am a born Muslim but there is still something new I learn about Islam everyday. Don’t be afraid to learn. Islam is not monolithic. It would be unwise to listen to one voice and accept that it is what Islam preaches. For example, many here will tell you and have told you that keeping dogs is haraam, their saliva is impure and so they are banned in Islam other than when you need them for specific purposes etc. But under the four Sunni madhabs, one (Malaki) believes that dogs are not haraam and can be kept as pets. Their saliva is not seen as najas and the Malakis believe that the hadith in which the Prophet instructed to wash a vessel licked by a dog is just what it is – wash it seven times and get on with it! A dog is just as acceptable a pet as a cat. KSA has very few Malakis :) This is just one example of how colourful Islam is and how varied its followers are in reality.

    There is something else I want to say to you but I will not put it here for public reading because it will offend a certain type of people, I am sure. If you are ever interested in discussing more you can write to me at achelois06 at gmail dot com.

  58. Suroor, it seems are you forgetting what the Prophet himself said about keeping dogs. Here is a little reminder insha'Allah:

    "Whoever keeps a dog, his good deeds will decrease every day by one qeeraat (a unit of measurement), unless it is a dog for farming or herding." According to another report: ". . . unless it is a dog for herding sheep, farming or hunting." (Reported by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 2322)------- "The angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog." (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 3225).

    But that isn't to say that Muslims are told to treat dogs with ill content, as we see in another Hadith:

    the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Whilst a man was walking he became very thirsty, so he went down to a well and drank from it. When he came out, he saw a dog panting and biting the soil because of thirst. The man said, ‘He is suffering the same as I suffered,’ so he filled his shoe (with water), came out and let the dog drink until his thirst was quenched. Allah appreciated his good deed and forgave him because of it." The people asked, "O Messenger of Allah, will we be rewarded for how we treat animals?" He said, "In every living thing there is a reward." (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath, no. 2363).

  59. Still, these are only reports. And there is also a report that a prostitute who gave a starving dog water was forgiven her sins for doing so. And there is also a report that when a dog watered inside the mosque the prophet made no big deal of it but told his compagnions to just pour some water over it and it would be well.
    So apparently a dog isn't só filthy: because not only can it's piss be cleaned with just pouring a bit of water over it, but also dogs apparently walked about free, even inside the mosque.

    I think The Quran should take precidence over narrated stories remembered and only written down much later, and the Quran hardly mentions dogs at all. If it was really such a big deal that to have a dog in the house would make angels shun it, surely the prophet wouldn't want them inside the mosque, and the Quran would mention them together with pigs. But it doesn't, dogs are hardly mentioned at all, there is mention of a dog with the compagny in the cave, but only as part of that company, it is even counted in as a full member. And the angels did not shun the cave for the presence of the dog!
    No, I find these particular narratives extremely dodgy and contradictory to what we read in the Quran.

  60. Salams Susie!!!

    Wow, do ya feel like you've released a monster??????(heh, heh).

    Okay, on your quest for knowledge of Islam you're going to find different oppinions about a lot of things. That being said, I can only tell you what i did/do to find answers.........the Quran first and then to hadeeth. I also had books that spoke of Islam from different authors. Now, that being said, I know it can be really confusing as to what is authentic and what is not. Or, strong vs weak hadeeth. What i did was went to people who had degrees in Islam to help guide me. Key word is guide. I never took what they said as gosple. Its my responsibility to read on my own and to seek knowledge. (refer to surat Al-'Ala and the tafseer for it). But at least they led me in the right direction.

    Anywho, As you start to learn about Uloom il Quran and Uloom Al-Hadeeth (the science of quran and hadeeth) you will learn what is authentic and what is weak. I don't mean to scare you off.........i know it seems like a lot, but it will come.

    All and all, Islam is a religion of ease. Just read the quran (along with help you understanding the meaning of the ayat) And rely on Allah (swt) to help show you the way to the truth.

  61. Not to mention that Angels have no choice in obeying and following through with their duties...they obey...period. So declining to enter a house because there is a dog inside it is not something Angels are capable of doing...that would indicate they have a choice in the matter...and they do not...they are quoted in the Quran as not having nor desiring free choice.

  62. Afke, I believe that the Quran is the ultimate source of truth but at the same time we are commanded to obey Allah, obey His Messenger and then those who have authority over us ie. the khalifa. So how do we obey the Messenger? But trying our best to copy his example and obey his laws.

    For example, he cursed the women who (unnesscarily) plucked their eye-brows. So, we don't pluck our eye-brows. We are only permitted to tweeze the eye-brow if it resembles a man (according to Aisha r.a. I believe, may Allah forgive me if I am wrong) or are super thick that it hinders the eye-sight.

    Your stories are correct, including the one about the prostitute who gave water to the thirsty dog out of mercy and was forgiven but let's also keep in mind what Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said about keeping a dog as a pet.

    Muslims look to the Quran andSunnah for guidelines.


  63. BTW dogs themselves are not considered filthy, just their saliva. There is a certain bacteria in their mouth that is very unclean.

    I can pet a dog and still pray with my origional ablutions but if it licks my `abaya (long robe) then I need to clean it before praying in it.

    BTW I am interested Aafke, what do you mean when you say "reports"? How do you understand them as so?

  64. Hadith - Muslim, Narrated Maymunah

    One morning Allah's Messenger was silent with grief. Maymunah said: Allah's Messenger, I find a change in your mood today. Allah's Messenger said: Gabriel had promised me that he would meet me last night, but he did not meet me. By Allah, he never broke his promises; and Allah's Messenger spent the day in this sad (mood). Then it occurred to him that there had been a puppy under their cot. He gave an order and it was turned out. He then took some water in his hand and sprinkled it on the place. When it was evening Gabriel met him and he said to him: You promised me that you would meet me the previous night. He said: Yes, but we do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture. So the very next morning he commanded the dogs to be killed. He announced that the dog kept for the orchards should also be killed, but he spared the dog used for the protection of extensive fields (or big gardens).

    Hadith - Mishkat, Transmitted by Abu Dawud and Darimi

    The Prophet said, "Were dogs not a species of creature I should command that they all be killed; but kill every pure black one." [Muslim, Narrated AbuDharr: "...The black dog is a devil."]

    Hadith - Bukhari 4:531, Narrated 'Aisha

    The Prophet said, "Five kinds of animals are mischief-doers and can be killed even in the Sanctuary: They are the rat, the scorpion, the kite, the crow and the rabid dog."

  65. Hi! i just want to say that I like your blog very much!
    bye =)

  66. I still reiterate that Angels are in no position to decide to refuse to do something they are ordered to do...dogs or no dogs...they have no choice in the that hadith is suspect in my lowly opinion.

    And wantonly ordering the slaughter of an animal wholesale definitely does not sound like the Prophet...

  67. That was really a good read. Pity that I never came across your blog before.

    by the way, it is CPVPV and not CVPVP :-D


  68. Hi Susie!

    I will post more or less anonymously for this, if you don't mind.

    This post captured brilliantly how I too feel about islam in KSA. My soon-to-be husband is a Saudi, and he also shares my concerns. We were going to move to Jeddah (that's why I started reading your blog) but he recently returned from a visit "back home" and he doesn't think that KSA would be a good place for us, and especially - for me. We both read your post and he encouraged me to leave this comment to tell you that there are Saudis out there that share your concerns.

    All the best,

  69. Aalia, there are certainly many ahadith against keeping dogs and certainly Imam Malik Ibn Anas would have known about them before claiming that dogs are not haraam. All I was saying is that there is still difference of opinion which makes Islam more colourful and not monolithic.

    According to Sunnis every school of thought must at least respect if not follow the opinions of the other three schools of thought. Some anonymous has listed a few of such ahadith but how is that going to change Imam Malik’s opinion now? Cute :)

  70. Wow. What a blog. & the comments are amazing as well. I could spend the whole day reading the blog, the comments, then the links to other blogs of women living in the Middle East. Love the photo of your husband & son. Loved the story of how you two met. Totally overwhelmed to see the number of readers from all over the world on your counter.

  71. Here is a fatwa on dogs. This scholar has 4 in his home.

  72. Amazing! Dogs cannot be sold but females as young as 9 years old are given to old men "in marriage", of course for a dowry!
    If a person has no freedom of religion, no freedom to travel, no freedom to work, to drive, to chose their own food and drink, and cannot do anything or go anywhere without the permission of a male "guardian"....who can beat and kill the person at will. This is a slave.

  73. Wow Susie! I have long heard horror stories on the insanity that IS Saudi Arabia. Reading this post just makes me more furious. I'll tell ya...with all the money there is in Saudi, if I was a citizen and had the means, I'd get the HELL out ASAP. Who in their right mind would want to live like that??? As an American, I am sure I would be jailed becuz I'd kick those #$%^& mutawwa where it realllly hurts.

    Ahem...having said that, some of your commenters need to get educated on dogs! I wish people would RESEARCH before frothing at the mouth and repeating the same old crap about dogs verbatim. There are so many varying fatwas on dogs--and thanks to the reader who sent Dr. Khaled Abu Fadl's wonderful piece on the subject (scholar in the house). God we have so many bigger problems in Islam than DOGS!!!

  74. Anonymous, ignorance is bliss. There fore you must be the happies person in the world! Who told you marrying a 9 year old is acceptable? GET EDUCATED! And: CairoWife take care of who you say are frothing at the mouth lest you accuse Rasool Allah of frothing at the mouth since its his quotes we follow and he did say specifically the dogs salavis IS impure.
    And Fadl Abou Khaled has been on record for saying strange things so I do not take everything he says as "correct". His personal website calls him "THE MOST IMPORTANT SCHOLAR IN THE WORLD". hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh who calls themself as such? not even the most minor scholar will call himself this big title!

  75. hmm this brings up a few pints that I feel are incorrect. first of all western women by law are not required to wear the abaya as long as they are not muslim. however they are expected to dress modestly. but the mutawwa have been overstepping their authority for years. there was a case recently here in riyadh where a mutawwa was fired because he harassed the wrong women... a princess who apparently was pretty high up. my dad my mom and I both agree that one of these days the Mutawwa are going to be destroyed. My Mother suspects its going to be where a Mutawwa harasses the wrong person and then all the Saudi Women in the Area are going to be on him and the the Saudi Men will be on him and by that point the Mutawwa will be dead. There is a town near Jeddah (not sure of the name of the town) where a few years ago the Mutawwa were run out of there and the last time they tried to come back they were run out again. As for abayas I've seen women here in Riyadh wearing some Dark blue or Navy ones.

  76. What a load of codswallop. I've never read anything more ridiculous in my life that the enslaved minds here tryign to justify the most inhumane slaverings.

    Religion _ ALL RELIGION - is an evil that entraps people's minds and turns them into pathetic minnows.

    Get out now for sanity's sake.

  77. Susie, could you just post so we know you are OK? Please.

  78. @raikiri:

    you don't want to try, to get around without an abaya. Even as a non-muslim woman.

    I have seen a few here in Khobar, but you know what, they get attention. They look odd with their normal clothes. And a lot of them must think, I don't wear an abaya, so I can wear what I want.

    On the other side, if you wear an abaya as an foreigner in this country, the mutawwa tells you to cover your hair...

    I had a few comments from the mutawwa in Shopping Malls in Riyad, but you know what, do as the romans in rome...

    But I don't understand the problem abaya at all... I love mine dearly. It is so easy to get ready within minutes ;)

  79. Concerned from Kuwait,

    "his" website was not even statred by him but by his students who respect his authority and viewpoint. It says so on the site. Your a numbskull.


  80. 1. Chimming in on the dog issue and their saliva, actually it's been found that the saliva of the dog contains antibacterial components and is actually, in many cases, healing.

    2. Regarding traversing the religions and matters of apostasy, the three revealed essentially one religion. Each builds on the other, with Islam being the "seal" and final portion. Neither is to omit the texts, lessons, prophets, messengers, angels of the other. So does a person actually "leave" or are they "visiting"? Allah knows best and does it for Muslims become a minor form of shirk to presume we know what Allah knows" Are we placing partners with Him in severing the wholeness of the messages and creating divisions? idk. Can we traverse in both the verb and noun of "muslim" and "Islam"? Do we become better and more whole after the experience?

  81. Susie,
    Kudos to you for being so brave. Obviously, no matter which religion you follow, no one is perfect, and no one always lives up to the standards of our religion. It is there to serve as an ideal.

    That is personally why I like Christianity. Let's face it, many Christians are total barbarians (even me sometimes), but I like that Jesus was completely pacifist and loving. He never waged war upon his enemies. All the words he has written and all of his actions are those of someone as totally loving as I believe God is. This is different from Islam, where Muhammad himself led conquest. Even compare Muhammad to Ghandi or Martin Luther King, speaking of modern prophets.

    Another difference, which I can see might be attractive to some people is that Islam is a religion of laws. Many people like this to keep them in line. On the other hand, I like that Jesus said that the actual laws of the old testament are not nearly as important as the law to love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. The rest of the laws are truly superficial, ie guidelines. We humans are tempted to believe that just following laws will get us to Heaven, but there is so much more than that.

    Finally, I like that Jesus specifically pointed out the separation of church and state (not that later corrupt Christian rulers followed that). While the idea of a truly religious state is awesome, it is like communism - a beautiful idea, but we humans are too corrupt to trust ourselves to that.

    This is not to insult anyone, just to openly discuss differences, and to tell Susie that it is ok to doubt. On the other hand, of course I agree with others posts that Saudi Arabia is probably the worst introduction to Islam ever!!! Who in their right mind would want to convert after that? No one. If you met muslims in America, however, you might feel differently. But you do have to think about your personal beliefs about the divine.
    Good Luck!

  82. comments on dogs are absolutely hilarious. Come on, people! Does God really care about something as trivial as that? How about how we treat our fellow humans, how we treat our environment?

    Also, curious: have any of you converted Muslims ever looked at Mormonism? It is quite similar - saying all previous prophets were ok, but we need some final clarification. Then the "prophet" does some violent things and has many wives. Only difference: it happened after the age of enlightenment, so you probably think it is poppycock.

  83. Come on ! Leave the country ASAP :( Is a prison there !!!!!!

  84. Great information and topic and the commentary and different perspectives are much appreciated as they enable more understanding of the culture, religion, people and different regions.

  85. hi there
    firstly, i wanna say that islam is the way of ife and we muslims know that Quran serves as our references in our daily life in all aspects. personally i like waht the muttawa do when correcting the dress code, pray on time, but issues such as beating the man just bcos he is not in the mosque at the right time is not what has been said in the quran. Allah is Ar Rahman and he knows what is best for us. some things that the muttawa do is not what has been said by our prophet. dont mixed up with Islam and what the muttawa do when beats people and ect. Islam does not teach us ike that. about what Muhammad said which is those who leaves religion, will be killedd. Susie, this is not true. i assure u 100% it is not. im quite shoch to read this cos i hav read many books about the islamic law,prophet Muhammad s.a.w only said that whoever leaves ISLAM then he will be killed. i hope i made it clear for you. please i think you are confused. Prophet Muhammad never ever said that. only those whho are muslims and want to leaves ISLAM then he will be killed. even so, there will be a step by step procedure. but if one leaves Islam, then what is he gonna become? a christian, buddhist, hindu or be an atheist? it is clear to us that Islam is the only true religion. there should only be a true religion in tis world and that is Islam. actually you can look to Malaysia which is an islamic country but just look at the women, thry practised islam perfectly some even wear niqab but they enjoy working, driving and other things that woman enjoys. Islam does not make the people difficult. it is just us who allways find dault with Islam.

  86. Hadah, your comments are scary!

    "it is clear to us that Islam is the only true religion. there should only be a true religion in tis world and that is Islam."

    I really don't think that is your call. God is perfectly capable of doing what He wants and He doesn't need a bunch of radical Muslims killing people who decide they don't want to follow Islam any more. Are YOU the judge? It's no wonder some people have never heard of Muslims converting to other beliefs. Simply those who do cannot speak out because of people like you who will find no problem murdering them!

    You are scary.

  87. to susanne, i juz wanna make it clesr that Allah neven mentioned in the Quran about killing muslims who leaves Islam is compulsory. it is NOT COMPULSORY. ALLAH is the most loving and always gives his them chance to repent and never ordered them to be killed. please you are confused and ALLAH brings down Quran as the way of life to the people. for the people who leaves islam, it is between them and Allah. let Allah deal with them in the hearafter and is not compulsory to kill them. this is not the what has been mentioned in th holy Quran. islam is all about peace and loving to each other. for more clear and accurate about islam you can go to

  88. I'm just curious to know has your husband changed since moving back to Saudi Arabia and have you learned things about him you didn't know before. I have heard great stories like yours, and also many horror stories of women who married Saudi's and moved to the Kingdom only to be rejected and mis-treated by their husbands family, as well as seeing major changes in their husbands once they step off the plane. One woman said that he became a completely different man. I have an Iraqi friend and he is very open about telling me what Iraq is like even the horror stories, but I know that Iraq is very different than Saudi Arabia in a lot of ways. I love your blog by the way!

  89. An extraordinary blog, and this probably the most contoversial post. I'm 18, a Hindu born and brought up in India, a secular country with all the freedoms that people in America take for granted. I've seen Muslims aound me and let me tell you how Muslims around here are so different from what you describe. India has had a tradition of religious tolerence between Islam and Hinduism, the two principal religions, despite the fact that Muslims ruled noethern India for over 700 years before the coming of the British. In the Mughal empire especially we saw the synthesis of that culture, where Islam and Hinduism coexisted where both religions understood the other as different ways of seeking God. And also, the Sufi tradition of saints, related to Islam but venerated by many Indians of all religions. That is not to say, India doesn't have communal strife and problems, we have our own share of them. I've had many Muslim friends and we used to go to their house for Eid, they came for Diwali, that's what it was like. And this is despite that a Muslim majority state was created in the form of Pakistan because of communal strife. Do read if you can about the Sufi tradition.
    And in countries like India and Pakistan even though Islam is practised, the kind of restrictions that are in Saudi Arabia are just not there.

  90. Thanks, Trainspotter - When I thought I was going insane reading this heated debate about what Islam is and how people should practise it, what Susie should do to understand Islam and whether Islam is the only true religion etc, you spoke a voice of sanity - of course this voice had to come from India - the country where all the major religions of the world co-exist - yes India has Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikkhism, Christianity, Bahaism, Jainism and Judaism. While Judaism was persecuted everywhere, it received patronage in Kerala in India, where one can find one of the most exquisite synagogues in Cochin patronised by the local rulers, who were NOT Jews. India is where people are allowed to practise and profess their faith and also to question every religion and also the very existence of God - or the Goddess if you will. Yes, in India it's possible to worship God as a Woman - and also half man and half woman - notions that have led scholars to evolve theories ranging from feministic discourse to gender equality. Of course there are some fanatics in India as there are evrywhere who create problems as anywhere else, but in general people practise what they like or don't practise any religion if they don't like and don't try to impose their beliefs, practices and cultures on each other as if there is only one truth in this world - to the one billion people of India - each one of them has his/her own truth and is free to follow it - that's what makes India the most diverse country in the world! Yes there are many born in different faiths who go to each other's shrines, pray in different religions, celebrate their festivals together, have arguments with each other, call each other names and can still be together. And I don't think if there is a Supreme Divine Power, He/She would disagree with such an environment!

  91. Sorry, I forgot Zoroastrianism in the list of religions in the above post - Parsis as Zoroastrians are called in India, have made a significant contribution towards the making of modern India.

  92. Daisy--while what you describe is indeed positive, it is important to also remember that there has been much conflict and violence over religion in India--Muslim vs Hindu; Sikh vs Hindu, to name the most obvious ones. Still the ideal, and the positives you describe are admirable.

  93. Yes Chiara, you are right - I mentioned fanaticism in India as well, which have definitely tried to disrupt the social fabric specially in more recent times. But leaving those groups apart, general tendency in India is not to impose one's own worldview on others - to prescribe to others what is the ultimate truth and what is not is something alien to most Indians.

  94. Daisy--nice general attitude. I dislike proselytizing from any group.

    Susie-I am happy you switched on the moderation in light of the anonymous insults. They must forget that you may be out of Saudi but you still control/moderate YOUR blog.

  95. Al salam Aleikom wa rahmat Allah ba barakato.

    Dear Susie, I am writing this message as i m packing my bags to return to UAE. my parents sent me here ( US) to learn and be the best i can be. I spent 10 years in the US studying Business, Politics, religions and history while belonging and involving myself in the discussions in the ivy league alumni associations. I got intoxicated with the diversity of ideas and amount of knowledge the world has accumulated throughout the history. I wanted to learn and question. I went from a very conservative for some ( wearing sheila and 'abaya) to a modern free thinking muslim girl. ( i dont agree with that but i hear many people say that. as of now , i cant wait to return , put sheila on my head and cover my body with abaya. My heart wants it . Some of you might ask then , why dont you do that now in the US? I dont know , i want to live in the environment when that attire is natural and i dont stand out.
    I want to be with my family and create my own family. I consider myself a well educated and freely thinking woman who is not afraid to talk about any topic there is. I m about to hit the wall of ignorance .... i m going back ... my friends are warning me...
    I panic because i m straight forward , i panic because i hate pretending, i dont bend before anyone but ALLah. I panic because often my life can fall into the hands of humans.
    here I m sitting in my room and reading your blog . i smile.. i frown. i get puzzled. i tried to guess the next opinion. You have succeeded in letting people reason about themselves, about their outer world and about God.

    enough of my emotions...

    my mother is Jewish and my mom is Muslim. the Jewish side never accepted my father nor my male siblings. I m only girl and i was accepted by the jewish side. My mother converted to Islam but didn't stop educating me about 3 religions. She made me love Islam through the cute stories she would tell me when I was growing up. this is to address the imam talking about the hell and horrifying the kids story - it is a mother who teaches her kid how to see things in the most moderate way. I heard her talking about different punishments but i also heard her saying that I am her child whoe is born good and with a choice. She never tells me don't do it. She explains why. And no she is not educated and doesn't have a degree in philosophy . She is the true mother believing in Allah and being humble before Allah . I would like to say that Susie, remain on your quest to question everything in life but be open to the answers that you might not like. That is ok since that is how we all learn. I d like to ask the Majority of OBSOLETE ( dead in mind and heart) khaliji people----- my people, wake up and question you status.
    Allah yahdina ( Allah guide us)

  96. Waw, aliyah, what a beautiful comment!
    I wish you all the best when you return home.

  97. Aliya--thank you for sharing your experiences and emotions with Susie, and us, her readers. I greatly admire your mother's approach to teaching the Abrahamic faiths, and helping to open the world to you. After 10 years in the US, you are in for the usual reverse culture shock that people immigrating back to their home country feel. I'm glad for you, that you have friends and family to help ease the transition. You might also want to write about it, in letters to friends, in a journal, a blog, or commenting on other blogs, or for publication. Keep us posted. All the best!

  98. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has tried to explain answers to the questions I asked in this post, for the links you have given me to check out, and for your patience in helping me to understand. It's such a pleasure to know that there are so many passionate people out there who can discuss yet disagree about this topic and still remain civíl and respectful.

    To Aliya - I wish you all the best in your upcoming return to your homeland. I hope that you will find peace, hope, love, and understanding. Thank you for your comment.

  99. Hi, i think as a westerner living in a Muslim country who isn't Muslim themself, you must understand you cannot judge the beauty of Islam by the actions of imperfect Muslims or the law. For one there are many hypocrites (as there are in any religion), two, saudi only implements SOME aspects of shariah law, if they implemented full sharia and adhered to it strictly women would be far better treated. For example, banning women from driving has absolutely NO basis in islam AT ALL. And as to the face covering, there is even a difference among the scholars as to whether this is complusary or not. All i can advise is is you want to understand the true beauty of islam, read about it yourself and ignore the bad muslims and crazy law around you.
    I'm an english female convert to islam for nearly 4 years and i can't tell u i cudn't be happier, its SUCH a liberation!! I dress just how they do in saudi and would LOVE to live in a muslim country,even tho the hypocrites would make me mad!!
    I hope you learn to understand the true beauty and truth of islam!

  100. Hi PinkMuslimah - Thanks for your comment. I do understand all this, but the problem I have is that here in KSA, the restrictions placed on women are very much cultural, but there always seems to be some finger pointing back to the religion. It's these twisted interpretations that make it very difficult for me to accept the reasons for why I am supposed to act a certain way here. I can try my best to adapt, but to accept and appreciate are two entirely different things.