During a recent interview, I was asked the followi…

During a recent interview, I was asked the following question: “You are calling for more freedoms, what are these freedoms?” I said, all kinds of freedoms; let’s start with personal freedom. “So anyone becomes free to choose, and to speak his mind,” I added. After living for 22 years in this land, I have come to the conclusion that the word freedom is nearly meaningless here. I find it difficult to understand how someone can be so threatened by the ideas of others, but to feel threatened by the mere appearance of others is really beyond my comprehension. I mean, how can a pair of jeans, an expressive t-shirt, or a weird haircut be dangerous for a religion, society or culture?

21 thoughts on “During a recent interview, I was asked the followi…

  1. Ahmed, it is ‘dangerous’ as you are stepping outside of the fold. You are not only visibly daring to be different, it is a sign (and sometimes rightly so) of someone thinking independently. That is where it starts. Hence the going overboard in trying to control any kind of expression (generally speaking, not necessarily KSA)
    (keep thinking for yourself)

  2. I totally agree with you, though here in Jeddah much has changed since I moved here in 1988. Then you only saw young Saudis wearing thobes, even on weekends. Now they wear the latest jeans and have the trendiest hair styles, all the result of a shrinking world thanks to satellite TV, overseas travel and the Internet.
    Whether they can think independently, that’s another question altogether!

  3. الأخ الفاضل أحمد،
    ما قلته هنا، هو عين الحقيقة التي نبحث عنها.. هي الحرية التي ننشدها.. نريد أصواتنا تُسمع.. نريد مشروعا سعوديا حقيقيا يقوم عليه شباب لديهم أحلام بوطن أفضل.. وديمقراطية تتعدى الانتخابات البلدية (الشكلية)، التي لا تختلف عن انتخابات المجالس المدرسية!
    بانتظار مشروع وطني حقيقي.. أعوّل أن نبدأ به قبل نهاية هذا الصيف .. !!

    هذا أمل .. وعلينا تحقيقه

  4. Subhana’Allah.

    Its so sick to see women dressed in short, tight clothing.

    Its sick to see men without beards.

    May Allah protect us all from such people. Ameen

  5. i see some middle easterners sometimes. and even i, felt sad when the young ones dressed like they’re children on NY. it’s not about conservatism. it’s about — why can’t you love your own dress? your own culture. i especially think you’re more handsome in your flowy white robes, than jeans. it’s special. it’s not cloned mainstream.

    look at your arab delegations, specially robed among the rest of the rigid men in black coats. it’s beautiful. it’s amazing. it’s special. i appreciate it. will you?

    anyway, speaking ones minds should be supported by facts, truths & respect. if the other has their views, can you respect & accept theirs, so they too respect & accept yours?

  6. I think you’ve answered the question with a much better and eloquent question. You know, in a way, using your appearance could be a power full way of protest. One shows his or her resistance in a somewhat passive manner, yet absolutely not less powerful.

    As for the mr gq: Let me start with stating that I do respect everyone’s right to express himself or herself freely, including yours. Secondly, You should try that more often.

    If the act of seeing someone without a beard a sick act (you own words), this makes you the sick one for seeing or looking at him. As for you mentioning women in tight closes, I can’t recall anyone mentioning that, so I guess it’s better to stick to the discussion cadre/frame.

    If after all you have trouble with the presence of jeans, guys without a beard, then I guess you should remain in you Jahiliyya cave and leave others lead their lives.

  7. Nisa, I couldn’t agree more, that the freedom of speech, among other kind of freedoms, comes from both sides and is certainly subject to mutual respect and basing one’s view on facts, absolutely true.

    I too agree, that one should love and appreciate own cultural customs, including the traditional clothing. But, I also think it’s possible to still love the thobe and still wear a pair jeans (to stick to Ahmad’s example). And, when nearly everyone is wearing thobes, wearing a pair of jeans occasionally could hardly be considered “cloned mainstream”.

  8. Yazeed: Hopefully. Who knows? Maybe some day.

    Ingrid: I will keep on thinking, that’s the least I can do.

    Rasheed: Yeah, things are changing, but not fast enough, at least not for me.

    Hadeel: People like you and me should work to make the dream comes true. We are determined, and we have more tools to serve us now.

    Mr GQ: That’s your call.

    Nisa: It is not about the clothes; it is about respecting others’ right to choose. Clothes are only a simple example. I can’t see how you understood that I disrespect others’ views?

    Bittersweet: Sometimes it’s much more simple than expressing a point of view using clothes. It can be simply a matter of preference.

  9. Subhana’Allah.

    Ok, I agree that I should stick to the subject, so I will refrain from mentioning anything about girls in tight clothes.

    As for men without beards, I say it is sick because they arent following our beloved Nabi Sallallahu Alayhi Wasalam. They are doing something which is haraam: shaving beards.

    You say Im sick for looking at him. What can I do? I live in the land of the kuffar. These people (including Muslims who want to be like the kuffar) are all over.

  10. “I say it is sick because they arent following our beloved Nabi Sallallahu Alayhi Wasalam”

    Since when did not following the sonna become haraam?
    With all due respect, again, but your knowledge of basic Islamic principles is very poor to make powerful statements/allegations on what’s kuffar,halaal or what have you…

  11. Amen to that Ahmed! It’s funny but conservative people in any religion are so similar. Just change a few of the ‘requirements’ and their restrictions close in on you. I am sorry Mr.GQ. (is it lost on anyone how ironic his online handle is?) But as in Christianity, no person should make a choice for others how to follow God/Allah (and I don’t want to go into a discussion on who’s who and which religion is right, that’s not the point I am trying to make) I have met a few very spiritual people and they were calmly, in peace and (self)confidence, following God treating other people always with the utmost care and respect. Having said that, I trust that you must look impeccable and if your behaviour is such as well, you must be setting a wonderful example.
    Peace to you,

  12. Ingrid, please dont using your paganistic logic in Islam.

    Bittersweet, I see you are one of those “modernist” people. Whatever our Nabi Sallallau Alayhi Wasalam has commanded us to do, we must do it. Not doing so is committing a sin.

    Allah Subhanawata’ala has told us to follow Allah and his Messenger. We are commanded to follow RasoolAllah Sallallau Alayhi Wasalam.

    If you do not follow what the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasalam has said, you are clearly rejecting his statements.

    Its ironic how you are telling me how my knowledge of Islamic principles is poor, yet you dont even know the basics of Sunnah.

    You know, bring forth evidence when you speak about Islam and I will do the same.

  13. i feel it because i wear the scarf. and some (i said some) modernised non wearers, as well as the western reporters, have the habit of making scarf wearers seem like extremists. men have it easy. women, our clothes are now being pawned to move certain ideologies. don’t you see how modern women are cherished on pedestals, as if they’re symbols of liberation, while the covered are deemed as oppressed beings?

    they overlook scarved women contributions to education, health, science etc. wanting woman to be glossed with makeup & short skirt. they call it liberation. yet the women sending medical team to a disaster area? many covered women send medical team, build scientific research, build shelter houses. & yet we’re “oppressed”? it’s unbelievable. i’m truly sad.

    & look at the afghan documentary. they liberated the women by making her wear makeup & dresses. i once read one girl “pining” for pink jeans, as if her own traditional dress are shackels or something. the propaganda is horrible.

    anyway so ok, so if you want jeans so much, wear it if you like. when did i even say you disrespect anything, ahmed? i’m just saying they look better in their tradition attire.

    and if you long for jeans, you should be careful. out there, some people could use your longing to move their propaganda. they could make you look like you’re shackled by your “oppresive black evil culture”, and needed to be liberated. i hope you can be careful about what you wish.

  14. Mr.GQ, If you believe you have the sufficient knowledge in order to label me as “a modernist”, it’s fine by me, be my guest! Mind you that, this is not the first time you make an un-sustained statement.

    Based on what I read from you, I could conclude that you are confused, deluded, ignorant, oppressor and somewhat fatalistic, but I wont say that… I would like however to give you some advises:

    Try to check facts for yourself before having an absolute believe in them, try to think for yourself, become critical instead of “parroting” what you might have heard somewhere from someone, do your own research and form your own oppinion, try to understand others and to respect their views. Start with establishing (and I mean as un-biased as possible) why might wearing a pair of jeans or shaving your beard be haraam?

    As for the Sunnah part. I think everyone agrees that Sunna is “Sunnah”, the name says it already and I don’t think a debate is needed to establish that.

  15. Just read Arab News, I really appreaciate a young Saudi, speaking out so independently yet at decent intelectual level. Thumbs up to you :)


  16. Bittersweet,

    Modernist is anyone who wants to change the religion of Islam according to this worlds standard is a modnerist. Its the same people who say the time is different now and need to change Islam accordingly.

    You are surely entitled to your opinion about me being confused, deluded, ignorant, oppressor and fatalistic, but that really doesnt matter to me. I have been called worse only because I say we should stick to the Quran and Sunnah.

    Trust me, I have done my research and Im not parroting anything. Yes I have heard other people including the Ulema. I dont always take what they say. If they say something besides the Quran and Sunnah as their source, I reject it.

    Wearing a pair of jeans isnt haraam. However, its haraam for a woman to go out exposing her body like that when she should covered from head to toe.

    Shaving a beard is haraam because you are clearly rejecting a COMMAND/ORDER from RasoolAllah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasalam.

    Well, since you know what Sunnah is, please tell everyone what it means. Im curious to know what you think it is.


    I agree with you to an extent. Yes, I agree that its their choice and decision. However, I hate to see my fellow Muslims on the wrong path. How do I know that? By seeing how they dont adhere to the Quran and Sunnah.

    Im not perfect. I have many flaws. However, Im open to people telling what I do wrong as long as they show evidence from the Quran and Sunnah.

    I dont want my brothers and sisters on the wrong path. That is all.

    I apologize to anyone if I came off as rude.

    – Omar

  17. Omar, I honestly don’t mean to sound patronizing and it’s definitely not intended as such but..your views are extremely narrow and I don’t think you get the point. Jacques Ellul, a french philospher wrote this book about propaganda (and yes, it’s alive and kicking in the Western democracies as well as anywhere else in the world) which basically stated that you cannot achieve a meeting of the mind (not even having to agree)with someone who’s totally opposite of yours. I think Omar that there won’t be a meeting of the mind and sorry to sound like an ‘old bag’, but you sound like a fairly young person who’s dug himself in his opinion. No one is trying to change your mind or opinion though, you have been politely requested to respect others who do not share your views. A person’s appearance does not make what is on the inside. That goes as well for the lady who mentioned that she feels people seeing women wearing headscarves attribute them to be ‘oppressed’. If you want to be dressed modestly and you do it because you believe so, that is the point. I suspect that Afghani women or girls must have over reacted to the ‘newfound’ freedom (that really not being the case, they are just as badly off before the invasion) and wanted to do something that previously was denied them. It’s a feature of being oppressed in general; like teenagers, you are told to never ever do such a ‘thing’ and that very ‘thing’ becomes the object to desire (in a general term). It’s basic human nature.
    And btw Omar, I am far from paganistic. I am still part of the people of the book. So no name calling pls.

  18. Dear Omar,

    I understand that you don’t like to see your fellow muslims getting on the wrong path. However, as far as I know (and excuse me if I should be wrong) the prophet of your religion managed to unify the tribes of your region because his message was so great. Do you think he could have done that by saying: I’m right and you are all wrong now follow me? Instead he gave them great wisdom and they joined him. I think you should show your fellow muslims that wisdom and let the message speak for itself. In the end it would be a shame people turning away from your great religion because you are forcing a certain exterior appearance upon them. I think Islam is much more than a certain way of dressing or behaviour. It’s a message of the greatness of god.

    (Again if I said something that is not true it is because I’m not a muslim and therefore lack some knowledge…)

    With my respect,


  19. Ingrid,

    I dont go by what I think is right and what is wrong. I go by what Allah Subhanawata’la has revealed to us and what my Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasalam has said.

    As Muslims, our goal is to obey Allah and His Messenger, Sallallahu Alayhi Wasalam. Whatever I say is not from me. When I say something, I try to speak from what has been revealed to us.

    If I say something and someone doesnt agree with me, then by all means tell me that I am wrong. Of course, one must present evidence from the Quran and/or Sunnah of Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhi Wasalam. Otherwise, it bears no value.

    So, for example, the issue of the beard being obligatory upon every man, is not my opinion. It is a command from our Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasalam.

    By the way, the men and women you see from Afghanistan and Iraq throwing up hands while cheering for the Americans and expressing this joy for freedom, is only of a handful number of people. Otherwise, many of them hate the so called freedom they are being imposed upon. Many of them like/want to be covered from head to toe including face.

    Sure there may be women who cover because they think its cultural or they are forced, but a big part of women do it because they want to follow Islam.

    As for name calling, I apologize.


    I am by no means forcing anyone to do anything. Im just trying to point out the mistakes and anything that goes against Islam. How do I know? Well if its going against the Quran and Sunnah of our Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasalam, then its clearly forbidden.

    However, I do agree with you that I should change my method of getting my point across as I can come off rude.

    Point taken.

    – Omar

Comments are closed.