A special day in Saudi history

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Al-Riyadh

SEPTEMBER 26, 2017, will be recorded in the history of Saudi Arabia as a special day when Saudi women won their innate right to driving. I don’t want to pretend my ignorance of the reasons put forward by opponents of women driving but those reasons would not convince anyone.

The arguments they made were not only hypothetical but also exceptional. Some of them encroached on woman’s nature and questioned her chastity. What excuse they have to prevent women from driving but the fear of getting corrupted or being attacked by bullies.

These reasons are hypothetical and based on assumptions. They are also insulting to our daughters, wives and mothers. We know that these arguments are not based on studies and experiences but on assumptions, generalizations and accusations that do not deserve any debate.

Car is just a means of transport and has nothing to do with corrupting women.

In contrast to their obvious right of movement and the need for mothers as well as female teachers and doctors to have a safe means of transport, there is not a single religious text that prevents them from driving. Then why do we prevent our women from driving this silent and harmless vehicle that protects her dignity and for whom we deny them this right?

If there was a text in the Qur’an or the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) preventing women from driving we all would have stood against the decision allowing them to drive on the Kingdom’s streets and we would have opposed the international pressure to lift the ban.

Muslim women used to lead caravans and do business during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions. Then how can we ban them from driving without any Shariah evidence?

I don’t want to use this column today solely to refute the arguments of opponents but I personally know for years that many of our leading Islamic scholars stood against women driving and during these years I witnessed them from moving from the group of individuals who opposed women driving on religious grounds to the group who opposed it for social reasons.

When they opposed women driving on the basis of religion they presented all sorts of arguments but could not produce any evidence from the Qur’an or Sunnah to support their views. When they shifted to social reasons they were talking on behalf of the community without consulting them and assuming that society backed their views.

I personally respect the views of some opponents like my father and my father in law but I believe that their fears were hypothetical and the disadvantages of preventing women from driving are more than those of allowing them to drive. I have full confidence that time will prove the decision allowing women to drive is wise and correct. It will also reaffirm the farsightedness of our leadership, which they proved in matters such as girls’ education and use of electronic gadgets.

I am confident that the opponents will change their views tomorrow and purchase cars for their wives and daughters for fear of foreign drivers and other dangers waiting them in the streets.

Before concluding this article I would like to remind you that the decision allowing women driving does not mean women would conquer our streets tomorrow. There are technical obstacles that stand in the way. Actually most of our women do not know how to drive even if they want it. It will take several years for our women to master driving like our teenagers.

This is a blessing in disguise as it will give us enough time to psychologically, mentally and socially prepare to accept the new phenomenon on our streets. The Traffic Department should also take adequate measures to welcome women drivers and facilitate their driving.


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