The unthinkable has happened in Saudi Arabia: women have appeared in public without their headscarves “” and mingled freely with men! The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia is outraged, for “” note well “” the hijab was “ordered by God.” Western commentators have misled many people lately into thinking that the hijab was an invention of the Khomeini regime in Iran, or that it was ordained only for the Prophet Muhammad’s wives, or as the relentless Karen Armstrong continues to insist, a borrowing from Byzantine Christianity. Well, I know plenty of Byzantine Christian women, and they don’t wear it “” because nothing in Christianity suggests that it was “ordered by God.” But that is not the case in Islam. The Grand Mufti can point to ahadith like this one:
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin [Mother of the Believers]: Asma, daughter of AbuBakr, entered upon the Apostle of Allah [Muhammad] (peace_be_upon_him) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) turned his attention from her. He said: O Asma’, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 32, Number 4092).
It is difficult for reformers in the Islamic world to try to counter the command of the Prophet. That is no doubt behind the thinking of the Grand Mufti in this story from Arab News (thanks to “Allah“):
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh yesterday issued a scathing condemnation of Saudi women who showed up unveiled at the Jeddah Economic Forum and mixed with men.
“We followed up what happened at the forum and which should be denounced… namely, the mixing of men and women and the latter’s appearance without wearing the hijab ordered by God,” the mufti said.
“This is prohibited. (Moreover), newspapers published their pictures in this state which violates Shariah,” he said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
Not only did newspapers splash the pictures of these women, but some portrayed their conduct as “the beginning of the liberation of Saudi women “” as if they were being constrained by Islamic law,” said the mufti, who also heads the Kingdom’s Council of Senior Islamic Scholars.
“I warn against the dire consequences that such practices will have,” he said.
“What is even more painful is that such outrageous behavior should have happened in Saudi Arabia, the land of the Two Holy Mosques, whose rulers consistently abided by Shariah without fear of criticism… and remain on this right path, thanks be to God,” the mufti said.
“As if they were being constrained by Islamic law”! The very idea! How could a woman possibly feel constrained by a law that forbids her to go out of the house without permission from a male guardian, or to speak to a man unless spoken to, or to testify in court if she is a victim of rape, or myriad other similar statutes! It’s also useful to remember that people like the Grand Mufti would enforce the laws of dhimmitude while likewise maintaining that they cannot possibly be unjust, because they are ordered by God.