Monday, March 09, 2009

Prophet's Birthday: A call for ending Saudi Arabia discrimination against Muslim young women worldwide!

Today, Egyptian Muslims celebrate Prophet Muhammad's birthday (PBUH); known in Egyptian colloquial as Mawlid Elnaby. On this day, Egyptian Muslims eat special desserts (halawet elmwalid), exchange visits with relatives and acquaintances, and hold religious sessions to remember Prophet Muhammad. It is an intensive spiritual course that gives power to Muslim's soul and heart.

This is my first time, in five years, to celebrate Mawlid Elnaby at home. This year, I insisted on seizing the opportunity to purify my soul away from the usual concerns of daily life. Early in the morning, I woke up on the beautiful lyrics of Mohamed Tharwat, singing for Prophet and praising Allah! His song was so touching. I had my breakfast with my sweet mother and three siblings. Then, we ate desserts, recited Qura'an and made wishes. I was extremely happy and I hoped if this hour of my life could last forever.

After performing noon prayers, the idea of making a religious trip to Mecca and visiting Prophet's tomb stroke my mind. My mother had been to Mecca and Medina, in 2007. She says it was the best experience she ever had. My mother told me she is planning to make another similar trip this year. Thus, I decided to do my best to join her.

I ran, immediately, to my lap top and searched Google for quotes and procedures required for making O'mra (minor pilgrimage) trip. There, I had a great shock, which spoiled my day: I am not allowed access to Saudi Arabia to do "O'mra!" Why? Because I am a young woman under the age of 45! The only solution for me to get to my beloved Prophet's land is to be accompanied by a male chaperon. My mother, 51, is not enough to get me there.

Do you know what a male chaperon is? A first-degree male relative: father, brother, husband, or son! I am in a big trouble. On one hand, my father is dead and my two brothers are not interested. Even if they are, I cannot afford their tickets. On the other hand, I do not have a husband; and of course I do not have a son!! What can I do, now?! I am terribly confused! I have already traveled to several places around the world. I was completely alone! I did not do something wrong, and nothing wrong was done to me!!

I was told that this unjust restriction on young Muslim women is the pure invention of Saudi Arabia. It has nothing to do with Islam! Saudi government entitled itself to block one-third of Muslims (i.e. Muslim young women) from fulfilling a religious order of Allah! Apparently, Saudi government's word is superior to the word of God! Who told them that Mecca and Prophet Muhammad is their own property? Who gave them the right to prevent me, among other young Muslim women, from visiting Prophet's land?!

Saudi Arabia has always been the biggest abuser of women rights. They deprive Saudi women from showing their faces, driving a car, or even working or socially mixing with men! Hilariously, Saudis commit these awful violations of women rights in the name of Islam. They distort the image of our tolerant religion. But, I am not Saudi Arabian; why should I comply with their naïve rules, then? This is not fair!

Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia does not celebrate Prophet's birthday! Historical facts state that: Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was born in Saudi Arabia and his mission to call for Islam started from there. Saudi government holds all property rights for Prophet's heritage. Still, they do not celebrate his birthday as we do in Egypt. Why? Because, according to Saudi scholars, remembering Prophet's birthday is a heresy (beda'a)!!!!

Thereupon, I call upon international feminists, moderate Muslims, and those who believe in women rights in the Muslim world to join my upcoming fight against the Saudi government for getting my right (as a woman) to practice my religion without the unreasonable and unjust restrictions imposed by extremists and patriarchal governments like that of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia does not have the right to "monopolize" Islam!