Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Saudis consider banning women from praying near "kaaba"

I was shocked when I read the news about officials in Saudi Arabia considering a proposal to ban women from performing the five Muslim prayers in the immediate vicinity of the “Kaaba” in Mecca.

The proposal raised a storm of protest across the kingdom and the Islamic world. The Saudi authorities claimed that the ban was only meant to overcome the problem of overcrowding!! And I wonder if this was the problem, why not ban men from praying near the “Kaaba” instead?

I wonder for how long will the Saudi authorities be allowed to bend Islamic rules to achieve its own hidden agendas. The holy “Kaaba” has always been a place where all human beings felt equal, it had men, women, rich, poor from all over the world pray side by side and for years it has been a display of the true spirit of Islam. It reflected equality between all human beings.

And now the Saudi authorities think that just because the holy shrine lies within its borders it has the right to impose its twisted understanding of Islam on all of us.

The “Kabba” belongs to all Muslims and not only to Saudis and they have no right to impose such laws without a clear justification in the Islamic law.

God clearly allowed men and women to both pray in the immediate vicinity of the “Kaaba” and off course God knew that there will be a time when the place will be overcrowded and there will be problems and wrong doings from some of the worshipers, yet God did allow women to pray there. And I believe that concluding the Haj or Umra ceremonies in these circumstances is kind of a test for the worshipers, it’s part of the pilgrimage to restrain yourself from getting angry or doing anything bad until you complete the rituals, and we all know how hard it is to stay calm when temperature reaches 50 degree and people are touching you as they pass by..So, why does the Saudi authorities want to deprive us from this test?

I don’t believe that their motive is overcrowding or any technical problem, because when I performed the Umra five years ago, it was in September and the holy mosque was nearly empty, I noticed that it was a common practice to prevent women from praying near the “Kaaba”, not according to a certain law, but by annoying them and pushing them backwards by the men prayers, so they don’t find a place to pray but far away from the “Kaaba”.