Tolerance and intolerance, reform and non-reform among the Saudis. Will they have the will to change what really needs to be changed in order to address these problems properly? I doubt it. From Arab News, with thanks to Doc Washburn:
A Saudi father came home from work and relaxed in the living room, watching TV after a long day. He wanted to watch his favorite show hosted by the Islamic preacher, Amr Khaled, who has become popular by telling stories, in an interesting way, about the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) life. As he sat calmly on the sofa, his son, an intermediate school student, came in and watched a bit of the program. Suddenly the boy said, “All of those women are probably going to Hell.” He was referring to the women in the studio audience who had come to hear the preacher and learn about the Prophet.
Shocked at what his son had just said, his father asked, “Why.” To which the boy answered, “Because they are committing a grave sin, making a tremendous mistake.” He then went on to explain to his father, “Today in school, in one of our Islamic textbooks, we studied this passage: ‘And what some women do by being easy in the matter of hijab and not covering their faces and hands in front of nonrelatives is a grave sin and a tremendous mistake.'” This story is taken from one of the letters to the editor published in Al-Watan last week. It was written by a Saudi father who had this experience. In the letter he said that our religious education is completely sectarian and one-sided, stressing only one point of view. These one-sided views often deal with subjects that are open to different interpretations by Muslims in different parts of the Islamic world.
The father also said that he believed that the difference of opinion in the matter of the hijab – whether to cover the face in public or not – between Islamic schools of thought should be part of our curriculum. Students should be made aware that there is no single opinion on the matter; rather there is disagreement among many Islamic scholars….
The man went on to point out that in the Islamic world today, 90 percent of Muslim women believe that it is not a sin for them not to cover their faces and hands in public – and he added that most Muslim scholars in the Islamic world today do not believe that women’s uncovered faces and hands are sinful….
This is because Muhammad commanded that everything except the face and hands had to be covered.
Secondly, if a young person is filled with such intolerance and prejudice at such an early stage of his life, what will be the consequences when he is an adult and interacts with either Muslims or non-Muslims? His father, however, must be commended for bringing up the topic of the sectarian minds that supposedly educate our children in matters of religion…
Last year, many delegates at the second National Forum for Dialogue in Makkah spoke about the need to change our school textbooks, saying that they were not suitable for today’s generation. They also said that the textbooks failed to teach tolerance and understanding. Their recommendations were made, forgotten and have now gone with the wind. The status quo remains. Unchanged. The fourth National Forum for Dialogue in the Eastern Province also called for a change in the curriculum – and these calls came from the young participants who represent the Kingdom’s new generation. Their calls were made, forgotten and have now gone with the wind. The status quo remains. Unchanged.