My reply to the letter sent by the Arabian Lady

Dear *****, Assalamualaikum, Thank you for your e-mail. I truly appreciate your kind comments. I also want to thank you for writing to me about the e-mail section.We discussed Arabians and you being an Arabian, should have a strong say in this matter and if you don't mind I would like to add your e-mail to the thread.

ok now for my reply. I wish to apologise if I have hurt you with my remarks or if any of the other people who replied have. But please hear me out.

With regards to your suggestion that we should not have even bothered replying tothis person - I personally believe it is our duty to correct people's misconceptions with regards to Islam, I'm sure you will agree with me. That's the reason why we replied. Furthermore, she mentioned in her first e-mail that she wanted to "clear doubts" and I felt a responsibility to reply to her.

Secondly, you suggest that we should not have believed all the stories she told and that everything she said is made-up. On this i'm afraid we have to strongly disagree.

Telling her that she is lying and her stories have no basis does not solve the problem. It is not fair to her because we have no right tojudge whether she is lying or not. There are some strange individuals in this world and we have to give her the benefit of the doubt that she came across some of these strange individuals who warped her opinion about certan things. The best we can do is to help her understand thather experiences are not necessarily as she makes them out to be, and if she is lying then God will judge her for it, not us.

Our response was also caused by other factors.

1) Killing of female babies still happens in rural areas where the law you mentioned is not reinforced as effectively. I am not referring toSaudi Arabia alone. Tribes and rural folk in India, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Africa, etc etc still kill their baby girls too. It was a very common practice before and it is inaccurate to claim that the practice has been wiped out. I am doing degrees in Sociology and English Literature in the university here and the nature of my studies in Anthropolgy and Gender/Power relations is where I derive evidencefrom. This is not about pre-Islamic barbaric civilisations. It still happens today, I'm sorry to say.

2) Many of us have had some bad experiences with Saudi Arabians. Some of us while we lived there and others while visiting. It is not amatter of believing Westerners as you put it.(Mind you, I do not generalise that the Arabians as a whole are like that. I am very willing to put the blame on individuals.) Hence, once again, we give her the benefit of the doubt that yes, there is a high possiblity thather experiences are authentic to some degree or another.

With those two factors in mind, we tried to convince her that blaming it on Islam as a whole is wrong. That was her approach - she blamed it on Muslims, on Islamic countries and the religion as a whole. That is what we attempted to dispel. I realise that we did not stress sufficiently that Arabians also should not be stereotyped and for that I apologise. It was not ourintention to give the impression you got.

Our main point is that a small group of individuals do not represent the whole.That is why I gave her the scenario that since crooks, wife beaters and murderers do not represent America as a whole so she will get a clearer picture.

I did not just blame the Arabians...I made a point to show that cultural practices and stigmas play a role....

"Your anger should be directed at a particular culture - the Arabs and NOT ISLAM! The Chinese and Africans kill baby girls even today!"

"Killing baby girls is a social problem.....it stems from the attitude that boys are better than girls and for that stigma we ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE indirectly! "


Here I mentioned specific people and not Arabians as a whole

"the people you may complained about have manipulated religion to serve their own purpose. Blame it on the tendencies for males to fight for dominance if you like!"


Again...I spoke of Muslims and not Arabians...

"I ALSO wrote that they ARE Muslims but THEY ARE NOT REPRESENTATIVES OF ISLAM. is that so hard to understand? I did not deny that some Muslims can be as your described. So many of the problems are social ones!"


I realise the point you are trying to make with -

>Don't forget Islam came to us,
>Arabs, first. And when the Qur'an was revealed, it addressed the
>**ills** of the Arab culture--not yours. Laws and commands abound in the
>Qur'an and in the Hadeeth regarding women and their rights. It is of
>significance to ponder the Rasoul's (PBU) farewell speech. Among the few
>admonition(?) he listed for his followers was one regarding women. Our
>prophet implored (ordered?) men to treat their wives as equals, to look
>after their comfort . . . etc.  for this to be mentioned in his last
>speech bears indisputable proof as to the women's place in Islam.


If you read my first reply to her carefully, I made it quite clear with verses from the hadith that women have a very very fair place in Islam. I do not deny that as you imply I did. But I think we all have to accept the fact even though it is stated in thescriptures, it is not widely adhered to by Muslims. Social and gender power relations cause the manipulation of such rules. Your family respects these rules and so does mine but we are not representatives of Muslims as a whole. There many people out there who have read the Qur'anrepeatedly and they pray five times a day but they fail to put the instructions of the Rasool to practice.

You also said:

>About the young servant who didn't utter his gratitude for the gift he
>received. I'd say this woman is all wet . . . the first thing any Muslim
>in the ME does upon receiving a gift is expressing thanks; it's in our
>nature, like breathing. we are humbled by a simple show of kindness.
>More over a Muslim from the ME would try to return the favor, expressing
>thanks for the thoughtfulness of that person by offering a gift of at
>least an equal value --if one can afford it. ME Muslims are famous for
>their generosity; it's documented!


With all due respect, it is difficult and inaccurate to deny that some people do not fit into this generalisation. There can be many ickyindividuals in a society that is known for its graciousness. Are you saying your statement reflects every individual in the M.E?

It would be wrong of us to call her a liar with regard to her story about the sweater being stolen. We have no right to judge whether she is lying or not, that is up to God. Instead we gave her the benefitof the doubt that ok, even if it did happen, she should not generalise that all people in the M.E and Islam are like that!

You also said:

>Let me tell you something. The culture in some ME Muslim countries may
>be oppressive to women. But so is the culture in Greece and Southern
>Italy, China, Japan . . . and God knows where else.
If you read my reply Madam, I mentioned many other countires when trying to point out to her that she should not blame one culture for such things.

You also said:

>No Muslim is better than another... it's a basic rule in the Qur'an.
>Muhammad (PBU) was an Arab, too. And he was the kindest to his wife.
I agree with you but we cannot accept the fact that all Muslims are like our Rasool and that no Muslim thinks that he is better than another.Just as the "bad Arabians" she mentioned do not represent the M.E, the good people you mention do not either.

If you would take a look at this site below, it will show you that many people DO NOT adhere to "No Muslim is better than another... it's a basic rule in the Qur'an." - http://geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/9684/Index.htm

Once again, I would like to apologise for hurting your feelings. I do not wish for anyone to bear a grudge against me. With your view in mind, I STILL stand by what I told that person but this time I should make it clearer that I do not believe Arabians or Muslims should be stereotyped. I hope my reply has made my intentions clearer to you...thank your visiting my site. I really hope you continue to do so. I will be putting your mail up under the e-mail section so that others may hear the point of view of an Arabian.

Hope to hear from you soon,
Fareena

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