Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fatwa Madness and Panda Supermarkets

In my previous post I talked about King Abdullah and how he is trying to move the Kingdom forward to this millenium. However some other Saudis seem to feel the opposite.

They want to regress.

Whenever something advanced happens in the Kingdom there will always be the people who want to drag things backward as much as possible by making people feel guilty and blaming them for "imitating the west" or being apostates. Many of the progressive issues that stir conflict involve women. Conservatives just cannot let go of their total domination over women. The excuses are always the same.

For example the female cashiers now working at Pandas and the commotion it has caused.

Some comments from public and clerics have included:

"this could lead to harassment because women will meet young men and that could harm both of them."

So lets see, so only when women are on the other side of the counter, they will get harrassed?
But if they are standing on the opposite side as customers, that wouldn't of course happen right?

The difference between normal interaction and gender mixing:

Also women and men don't really meet when the woman is the one buying and the man standing about half a meter away from her is checking her out while doing his job. That way it doesn't lead to any "harm". But if the woman is the cashier, then boy is that dangerous!

This is why supervisors are present to intervene IF someone started bothering the working woman.
I'm sure women would much rather choose the female cashier over the male one, why not give them that option?

Some Saudi cashiers will take the opportunity to check out women that are bending over to move their groceries to the conveyor belt.

"Abdullah Al-Amri expressed his dissatisfaction with the decision which he said is humiliating to Saudi women who might also end up working as maids and security guards."

Humiliating to Saudi women huh? How about the tens of millions of female cashiers of other nationalities around the world?
Being a cashier is a humiliating job? So how come Saudi men can do it?

According to this racist mentality shouldn't the job be open to Indians and Pakistanis only who are worthy of such "low" jobs. Not sure about maids but Saudi women do work as guards at hospitals and female only venues. They seem to be doing just fine.

"Sheikh Mohammad Al-Habdan, the CEO of Al-Osra religious channel, told a local online newspaper that this decision violates the law of the General Presidency of Scholarly Research and Ifta, which states that women should not compete by going into men’s jobs."

I wonder if Al-Habdan is aware that in most of the world cashiers are actually perceived as womens jobs. It's more suitable for a woman because it doesn't include any heavy physical activity. It's certainly not a "manly" job.

"Giving her that opportunity prevents men from having these job opportunities"

So men are more entitled to having jobs than women? What if she has a family to support, if she's a widow or a divorcee and the ex is totally useless and does not provide for her?
Perhaps it's just better for the women to continue to beg outside the Panda because that is all she can do to get money for her children.

Women worked along with men at the times of the Prophet, have the scholars forgotten? Or are they just picking and choosing Hadith again. Prophet Muhammeds dear wife Khadija was actually his boss and employed many other men besides him.

And the worst case of them all Sheikh Al Ahmed has really exceeded himself this time. He actually issued a religious ruling aka fatwa (King Abdullah FORBADE issuing fatwas like this last week) to boycott Pandas. The Sheikh said it's ok for the Hai'a aka muttawa to issue a lawsuit against the chain. This guy really is so frustrating! Does he think he can just overrule the Kings orders?

Read more o the subject from Saudiwoman's blog:

Well I'm definitely going to shop in Pandas from now on just to support the cause of females working their!


Azahra said...

Laylah , I know you are still new muslim.Be very carefull what you write about other muslims.
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Do you know what is backbiting? They (the Companions) said: Allah and His Messenger know best. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Backbiting implies your talking about your brother in a manner which he does not like. It was said to him: What is your opinion about this that if I actually find (that failing) in my brother which I made a mention of? He said: If (that failing) is actually found (in him) what you assert, you in fact have backbitten him, and if that is not in him it is a slander. [Sahih Muslim Book 32, #6265]

Allah(swt) says in the Quran:

"O you who believe! Shun much suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a crime. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would abhor that. And keep your duty (to Allah). Lo! Allah is Relenting, Merciful." [Quran 49:12]

When you backbite your muslim brother one part of your good deeds goes to him and specially now in Ramadan one must be carefull.
Ramadan Kareem to you.

Mubeen Shahid said...

Why dont they create a chain of separate (ladies only) grocery stores? The unemployed saudi woman would get jobs and the religious establishment would be happy too. Win-win situation for all :)

Anonymous said...

Assalam alaikum

Sis, I really like your post and your sanity and also courage to talk about the things others keep silent about (from fear to talk against Islamic authorities, against some fatwas). What's happening in the KSA is often insane.

I agree with you on this particular issue. Saudi society leaves me frustrating.

I found the following on one famous Islamic fatwa site:
Thus it should be clear that Islam is the foremost system when it comes to protecting women and taking care of them, and respecting and honoring them, and regarding them as precious jewels that must be guarded against evil.
This kind of "care" is too much, it's suffocating, restricting, unbearable. In the name of caring for women like in KSA, women are not given their rights, women suffer. Women should be given more respect and trust, men should believe in their women, encourage them to be socially active, to study, work, achieve something, realize their creative potential. Caring, protecting women is good, but it should not be extreme when a woman is treated like some kind of a disabled person or a child.

Layla said...

Wa aleikum salaam Alice!!

Thank you for your support!

Yes it makes me very frustrated too..thats why I had to rant about it :D

I wonder what kind of mothers did these men have? I mean didn't they teach their sons to respect women?
What went wrong?!

Alot of the oppression is said to be "caring" about the woman, protecting her from evil..
Sure its a good thing that men are protective and caring of their women, but like you said..there is a limit to everything, even caring. at some point it will turn into something else altogether. something not far from enslavement.

Layla said...

Salaam Mubeen Shahid and welcome to my blog!

Your idea is good, but it would have some cons to it.
First, think how many hundreds of new stores would have to bulit, and where would they have the space for them?
then, how about if the woman wants to go shopping with her husband, he will be forced to stay in the car waiting for her her to finish and cannot even help carry the groceries..
Also what if the woman has her sons with her, would they be forbidden to enter too?

I think a couple women only grocery stores could be a good idea..there is already a women only shopping mall and hotel.

The Burdened Mary said...

I am named after Khadeja (RA) and I am very proud of this post. Every time someone starts blabbering about how women shouldn't work or how they shouldn't be bosses, or something like that, I just say, "the Prophet married his boss and according to the tale, SHE proposed to HIM." Women were able to be strong in this region before and make their own living, sometimes running their family business - why can't they now? I agree that hadiths are cherry picked by the wrong people who have too much influence.

WhiteOrchid said...

We don't have a women-only shopping malls in jeddah yet although they do have a few stores where men aren't allowed. I think it's great that they've started employing female cashiers. I think a lot of Saudi women themselves think it's demeaning to work as cashiers, and that only Asians (or certain other nationalities) should be employed for such posts.

Aafke-Art said...

*So lets see, only when women are on the other side of the counter, they will get harrassed? But if they are standing the opposite side as customers, that wouldn't of course happen right?*


And ''backbiting''???
Surely I have never seen so much backbiting as between Muslims!
And why else would ''what will the Jonesses think'' be of such monumental importance?

Actually I have to include the Dutch horsey people amongst the top three of backbiting people, especially those who ride western. Sheesh!

Layla said...

@ WhiteOrchid

Do you have men selling the lingerie to women?Are there any lingerie shops for women only?

Layla said...

@ Aafke-Art

Welcome to my blog and thanks for your comment :)

You're right some muslims unfortunately have a tendency to patronize and criticize fellow muslims.if it's done behind the back its backbiting but what would it be called if said straight to the face? Just biting?!

Maha Noor Elahi said...

Well...I am not against women working anywhere..and that fatwa is just STUPID!

However, I hate shopping in Panda..I went there once and will never go there again...the place is very dirty! Plus..the place is full of non-Saudi workers...I really doubt if Panda is really concerned about employing Saudis...Each Panda store has over 30 worker from Bangladesh and Pakistan, cleaning and packing the bags!
I wish I could see Saudis do these jobs instead of meddling in the streets doing nothing!

Saudi Arabia always works upside never has a strategy of working on the priorities :(


Anonymous said...

panda and lulu sells things for expats not for saudis most of the things i found there normal export quality items from india and etc and not branded things and by the way the number of people living in sauid are expats and workers and dont visit these malls on fridays as its a holiday and most of the companies are closed then . How do you expect saudis or armeicans there doing these jobs?

Anonymous said...

simply stopping by to say hi