Saudi Arabia: Girls…Don’t Do It!

When I receive enough email queries on one particular subject, I will then, as I am now, write an individual blog post on the topic.  Today, it’s about foreign women who believe they can not only change but  “mold” their Saudi.

I’m not going to deny that romantic relationships do not happen between Saudi’s outside of the Kingdom with foreign women and especially between Saudi students and foreign women.  Yes, this happens routinely and will likely continue to happen.  Most, however, do not have a happily ever after ending.

Many Saudis outside of the Kingdom will take the opportunity to embrace and experience a new country, its cultures and traditions.  In America for example, they may give every appearance and indication of having become more American than Saudi.  They may have – during their respite outside of their country.

Yes, they may even attend church services with a foreign girlfriend.  They’ve never had the experience to enter a church let alone observe a service.  They may do so both out of curiosity and a desire to please a foreign girlfriend.  But do not assume that a Saudi is going to automatically turn his back on his heritage, his country and his religion.  Furthermore, to insist that he denounce his religion in order to continue a non-halal relationship with a foreign woman is not going to happen.  It’s truly the ideal recipe for a perfect storm.

Yet I receive emails from non-Saudi women who are so confident that their Saudi has become totally Westernized and will bend to their rule for love.  They cite how he goes to church and is “almost like an American but only better.”  Then comes the crashing disappointment when the woman discovers he moves on either to Saudi Arabia or perhaps to another relationship.  They are so disappointed and feel betrayed.

For women in such a situation I hope you’ll take some advice from the heart.  You can’t and should not try to change the inner core of what makes a person who he is.  A relationship takes communication and compromise not demands and assumptions.  Last but not least, the odds of an ongoing long term relationship between a Saudi student and a foreign woman are minimal at best.  Just accept and enjoy the opportunity to have a male friend from a country whose culture, customs, traditions and religion is difference.  Appreciate and learn but do not set yourself up for false hopes and crashing disappointments.

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139 Responses

  1. good advice!

  2. We’re too often blind by love and later on we wake up when it’s too late. Please women, don’t think Saudi men could change their habits and denied their religion, faith, culture and customs………Saudi men are from the home country of Islam, the islamic religion. They can’t change like that!!! Religion, faith, culture and customs are things very important for Saudis and inside their bodies. Yes some Saudi men might be open minded, but they would keep their arabian background inside theirselves forever. + In Saudi culture, children and women are following the men. Children and women are under men’s responsability. So, Saudi men never take his wife’s religion or faith, or culture, or customs. It’s the foreign wives who has to swallow all aspects of Saudi Arabia. + Be careful, in the beginning Saudi men are very charming and in order to attract you, Saudi men could do anything and after……later on…………the true reality appear

  3. *ANY* relationship that is founded upon the foundation of changing the partner is like building a foundation upon wet sand in an earthquake zone. Any disturbance and the foundation fails.
    That isn’t nationality specific, religion specific or ethnicity specific. It’s a law of human nature. If the one party or the relationship does not wish to change and the other party wishes to “mold them” or otherwise change them as part of the basis of their relationship, the relationship shall fail with much pain on both sides.
    I’ve watched many, many relationships fail on these grounds. In some cases, a woman wanted to change the man from his party boy mentality into “responsible husband” (or some similar nonsense), complete with trying to induce the change with bearing children. The only real thing that accomplished was an extra human being hurt, a child.
    The ONLY way a relationship may last with “induced change” is if BOTH parties desire it, as then, it is the parties changing themselves with guidance.
    Consider the famous “Serenity Prayer”:
    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

    The wisdom in a relationship is to have the wisdom to not attempt to “mold” an unwilling partner. And to accept that many people do not WISH to change.
    And to be brutally honest, the best the starstruck young woman may manage to change is getting him to take out the trash without being asked.

    Aw, crap, that reminds me. I have to take out the trash…

  4. I agree with wzrd1 all the way.
    Religion should never interfere with Love.

  5. I don’t understand why someone would want to change another person. This is not just love relationships, but can be applied to other relationships as well (family, friend, etc.). I have been in situations where the other person expected me to change my personality for them, and it hurt a lot. When I tried to change, I just felt awful on the inside and depressed. When I didn’t change, other(s) were not happy. If two people can’t accept each other for who they are, they probably aren’t compatible. That, or they need to learn acceptance.

    To me, if someone asked me to change religious views, I would see that the same as them telling me that they didn’t love me for who I am and didn’t care about my feelings or respect me because in essence, that’s what the other person IS saying.

    My relationship with my Arab sweetie works because we both accept, respect, and love each other for who we are. We don’t try to change the other person. Do I agree 100% with his views on life? No. But we agree on the important things that matter AND we agree that life is better when we’re together than when we’re apart. I am a better person because I am with him. He tells me when he thinks I’m doing something wrong, but is also the shoulder I cry on, and the person I turn to when no one else understands me. Do we fight? Yes. But we love each other unconditionally and are completely honest with each other. His family seems to have accepted me mostly because I make him happy and try to take good care of him, and for that I am very grateful and blessed to have such a loving extended family. All these things, together with the fact that we want a similar lifestyle, helps our relationship work.

    @Wzrd1,
    Agreed! Although, my partner cooks for me without being asked and sometimes even cleans, too. He’s a sweetie for sure! <3

  6. I think that change is inevitable in any relationship. The problem, in my opinion, is when one person is doing all the changing and the other remains the same. Whether it’s a Western woman embracing Islam and shunning her family in deference to the cultural (but often deemed “Islamic”) norms of her Saudi spouse/significant other, or, as American Bedu alludes to here, a Saudi man going to church and becoming “like an American, only better”–either of those scenarios is bound to end in heartbreak for someone, or both of them–although would guess that the former’s situation is much more sad, because her family has to watch her bend to the whims of this other person and mourn the loss of who she used to be, while in all likelihood, the Saudi’s family has no clue of his “transformation” (which, of course, is likely completely superficial). Yes, you have to accept each other for who you are, but you also have to accept that people grow, and people change, and a certain amount of change is to be expected, on both sides. I have to guess that the definition of true love is being able to accept who a person essentially is while being able to grow and change alongside that person at the same time. But heck, what do I know? :)

  7. Strangeone, your Arab sounds like a wonderful partner. Yes it is true, trying to force someone to change for your sake is selfish and damaging to both the ppl involved an no matter how much you love one another, it doesnt work. I really feel that women should be more careful of the men they choose (Saudi or others,guys are guys) and be aware of the odds stacked against them. if his background is so vastly different in terms of religion,culture,education,upbringing,even social status then one should be prepared for the worst,not to say tht it will always fail but just be prepared.

  8. wzrd1, on August 6, 2012 at 5:49 am said: “*ANY* relationship that is founded upon the foundation of changing the partner is like building a foundation upon wet sand in an earthquake zone. Any disturbance and the foundation fails”.

    Wzrd1, I think what you said sez it all and then some! And the imagery in your stmnt about “foundation”, “wet sand” and “earthquake zone” was mindblowing.

    I have been happily married for over forty years to my high school sweetheart and, yes, any marriage (or for that matter life) is a series of compromises between the two parties. For example, my wife is Catholic and I have been a Deist all my life. We got married by the justice of the peace without involving any “religion” in tying the knot. Our two children were brought up as catholics; they are both adult grownups now and now one is an atheist and the other a deist like me. We didn’t try to change each other but made a lot of compromises as we went through married life.

    I recently read an online article about “relationships” and the NINE STAGES that all couples go through, no matter how the “love” starts:

    #1 – Infatuation Stage
    #2 – Understanding Stage
    #3 Stage Of Disturbances
    #4 Opinion Maker
    #5 MOULDING STAGE
    #6 Happy Stage
    #7 Stage Of Doubts
    #8 Sexual Exploration/Bust Stage
    #9 Stage Of Complete Trust

    Here is the complete article:

    http://www.lovepanky.com/love-couch/romantic-love/relationship-stages

  9. Don’t get me wrong, ladies and gents, I do like the idea of Carol posting these sort of eye-opening, self-searching posts, but on a personal note: they make me sick just because I am one of those silly girls (with a huge heart and a little bit of life knowlegde beyong all my degrees). Approaching 30, I am stuck in the situation which brings me tears every day. I swear, I cry over the whole paradox every single day.
    I cry because our love is growing stronger, while the circumstances chave not changed an inch. How can I trash this love and move on with my own life??? And how can he do the same??? It is beyond my understanding. I am a threat to his brilliant career and to his strong support from his kinship. I do not want to change anybody, I have never in my life wanted to change anybody, but I definitely believe that people who love each other truly should strive to be together no matter what. They should strive together, both contributing compromise and change, should the need be. However mySaudi boyfriend believes that no love in the world can force him destroy his life – the so comfortable life that he has in KSA. I am just a page in his shot life in the US. But why even let somebody love you then? Why let yourself love somebody? I mean, he swears to God this love is pure and real. What should I do?

  10. IMO, people react differently to diff situations. As long as you like the core of that person, their values and love each other and together you are happier – then you can make a go of it.

    I think in saudi-western relationships especially those with students, the culture is so diff and they don’t realize both are pretending to fit it to a large extent and one cannot keep up th epretense for long..

    I married my husband right in college, but we had the same values, same background , he knew my family and i knew his uncles ( who raised him) we also felt very confident that either wouldn’t force / ask the other for a change int he religion… we had hashed out the kids deal earlier… all these make a big diff more important we had the same future dreams and goals. what we are now individually could never be achieved alone without the support of the spouse.

    i don’t think students think that far and you don’t have to ,if you belong to the same culture and religion and upbringing but you have to give it a lot of thought if you are not. and there are always players on both sides who are out to play, helped along with stereotypes :-)

  11. Radha, clearly you have a point! Well, my Saudi boyfriend is a mature individual who is undergoing a professional training in the US. He will have a brilliant career in his life, and just like all Saudis he gets a great deal of support from his huge family, be it financial or emotional.

  12. Men also aren’t free in Saudi Arabia. A Saudi man married with a western woman can change to make its marriage work on one condition: he must lives far from his family and his society. Otherwise the social and family pressures are unbearable. the risk he gives up to have peace is big if he lives in saudi arabia. But to my knowledge sooner or later the Saudi man will want to return at home to raise his children as saudis. And that’s the beginning of problems.

    Married life is already difficult by the adjustments it required. To add it difference of religion and culture makes it more perilous. In Saudi Arabia, religion and traditions take a dominating place in life. Most of Saudi families get involved in the life of the married couple. This concept is very difficult to understand by non Muslims.

  13. I think women need to focus on the negative of what could happen and remain in a society that gives them the best footing otherwise they are doing themselves not only a great disservice but potentially placing themselves in harms way. Let’s face relationships change and when they do they tend to get real nasty for many. If a woman wants to try to have any level playing field she needs to stay out of the middle east.

  14. I do not mean to be overly dramatic but it is extremely hard for me right now to even think that a day will come and he will leave me for good. If nothing productive comes out of this relationship, if we are not together forever – my heart will never be able to survive this and I will never give it to a man again. Again, no drama here, just real thoughts, real feelings.
    Why is it so easy for a Saudi man to create a relationship, worship his woman, kneel down to her with words of love – while knowing there will FOR SURE come an end of this chapter? Why do Saudis then like to be viewed as righteous men with solid morals? I mean, even a Western man would not settle for such a relationship (he would look for a more sustainable one).
    What should I do with all this? I have tried to cut it off several times, but we come back to each other, even tho we know our tragic day is yet to come.

  15. I’m compelled to share what i noticed last tues…I’m not trivializing anyone’s distress or saying heartbreak over a love gone sour is any less distressing, these are just my observations and you can chalk it up to my being older and many yrs in a marriage and not being young and idealistic any more :-)

    A young woman whose love in life dumped her ( very nicely) and left to go back home to marry the girl his mo picked ( citing mom FORCES???l) she of course gave her all while being warned by all and sundry . and anyway she was devastated and couldn’t understand why people were not more sympathtic. couldn’t move on tried to overdose on sleeping pills!!!!!!!!!!

    I also saw a Mom who had lost the last of her 3 children – same medical issue who walked in , said hi , thanked the staff for taking care of her kids and husband of 14yrs and told me she will be back to work at the begining of sept, she needs a few weeks to set everything .

    Again i’m not trivializing love , but i can’t see a greater loss than losing one’s children and spouse in a span of 2 yrs. and yet she’s able to go ahead and live with a smile i can’t for the life of me understand why the young woman whose boyfriend dumped her to go marry someone else can’t move on. maybe i’m old and jaded.. but seriously if someone brings you flowers and pays attention and then stops it makes you want to end your life????? huh

  16. Worstisyet to come. looks like the all too common ”saudi student enjoys sowing his wild oats with the immoral hussies of the Wicked West”, and as soon as it’s time to go home he will drop you without much qualms. Oh, he will whine to you but he doesn’t really care, he certainly doesn’t really love you.
    And for all you know he might be already married or at least engaged, you are just a bit of booty to be made use of while he is in the west.

    Were you intimate? If you have had sex you are definitely not marriage material from a Saudi point of view.

    You really should choose for yourself, and cut this snake out of your life completely. Let him search for some other booty in his remaining time.
    Live your life for yourself. Find another man who is at least honest with you. Don’t waste you time on a deceitful, or at the very least weak and worthless, liar. You don’t love this man, you love a mirage image in your mind, this man is not what you made yourself believe he is.
    You deserve better. You will find someone better.

    Why he’s doing this to you? Probably because he heard all his life that women are objects to be used, and that women in the west are all whores anyway.
    Saudis like to be viewed as righteous, but to act righteous is a completely different matter. As long as nobody at home knows about what he is doing in the west it doesn’t matter. In this his friends will support him by lying to you, and to his family at home. Saudi culture is an artificial enforced experiment in social engineering, and it has turned Saudis into the world masters of hypocrisy. And selfishness. And disdain for others. As you are experiencing right now. Why is he continuing the relationship? Because he’s getting something out of it.
    Get something for yourself and dump this hypocrite, because it will come to an end, as soon as he has finished studying and goes home to his family, and either to his wife, or to marry the ”pure” modest Saudi girl his family has picked out for him.
    This relationship is a dead end. You will be much better off when you are the one to end it then waiting until he dumps you.

  17. Aafke, thank you. I know. Believe me I do know. It’s just very hard to do.

  18. believe me it’s less hard now than it will be if you remain with him. And even if it works, have you an idea of the sacrifices you have to do? Will your love resist so many sacrifices? believe me it is you who have to change not him because he(it) will be in a strong position in his country among his clan ( family and relatives).

    If you are not convinced read this true account.

    http://susiesbigadventure.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2009-01-01T00:00:00%2B03:00&updated-max=2010-01-01T00:00:00%2B03:00&max-results=50

    maybe what I am saying is harsh for you. believe me I do it with kindness. I feel concerned by your happiness because I know the Saudi mindset from inside.

  19. Listen, TheWorstIsYetToCome. Everyone, even people who have no idea what they’re talking about, will tell you that your Saudi is a snake, that he’s using you, that he will leave you, that if you have slept with him you are essentially trash to him. And you know what? They may be right. But I know that if I had listened to them four years ago, when my husband and I were already deeply in love but he refused to discuss our future because he insisted we had none, I would not be married to my husband today. I think you and I are in the same age bracket (I’ll be 29 in 2 weeks). I’m educated and I’m not naive about Saudi Arabia (well, not as naive as many others are, anyway). And I’ve only been here in Riyadh for less than 2 months. But I am happy. My in-laws are kind. My husband is my sunshine and a pain in my ass in the exact same ways he was in the States; in other words, he hasn’t changed a bit. And maybe things will crash and burn in the future in a really horrible way, the way everyone has warned me they will (although I pray they won’t), but if they do, at least I won’t live my life filled with regret that I let someone I truly loved go because I let people on the internet convince me this person I am blissfully happy with is going to turn into a werewolf the moment his plane lands in Saudi. I’m not saying you should hold onto your Saudi like a rabid monkey. But I am saying that only you can figure out whether or not your Saudi is worth fighting for, and maybe only time will tell you whether or not your relationship will go the distance. It’s something you have to figure out on your own. Because some of them are worth it. Or worth giving it your best shot, anyway.

  20. TheWorstIsYettoCome,
    I agree with both Radha and Nicolejhm; they both bring up good points. Questions worth considering: Is your Saudi honest with you? Does he try to do what’s best for you and look out for your best interest? Or does he mainly just look out for himself? Can you focus on your life now and just enjoying time with him, or is it going to bother you too much that he may likely leave you someday? Is he being honest with you, or is he playing with you?

  21. Saudi society is changing (which scares those who want to preserve the traditional ways). But let’s face it, the old ways will fade away (sadly). It will be extremely fascinating to observe the implications of all these Saudis studying overseas and returning.

  22. That’s why they don’t get permission to get married to foreigners anymore. Also it is extremely rare that a Saudi family accepts a foreign wife.
    So I am interested, Nicolejhm, how you managed to get government permission! How much did it cost, and did you have wasta?

    I still think Worstisyettocome, that you do not really have a future. Its not that your situation is rare, it’s the same as many other, hundreds of women, who are being taken for a ride by Saudi students. Nicolejhm’s story is unique. In fact it’s só unbelievable that I am wondering…. After all, one can claim anything on the internet. We have had people here before who made up stories. We’ve had men posing as women, while claiming life was lovely for women in SA, we’ve had people making up life stories which clearly were fabrications…. I suggest you listen to the people of which we know they are real, Carol, Radha for example.

  23. Thank you thank you THANK YOU Nicolejhm. I’m so sick of hearing “all Saudi men are evil.” What a horrid generalization. The “Saudi Student Heartbreak” is indeed a too common phenomenon and it’s a challenging situation overall, and we should warn young women of the reality of the situation, but that doesn’t mean those guys are all deliberately evil (or any different than the average human being)… in my experience it’s more that they are young, confused, and afraid, having assumptions about society and what would happen if they broke it, and trying to grow up like the rest of us.

    The statistics are very much against you TheWorstIsYetToCome, but there ARE those of us who were in the exact same situation and feeling the same as you and our story has a happy ending (thus far at least) – happily married and very satisfied with our partners, with supportive in-laws.

    The key really is honesty. Is your partner honest about his expectations with you? (sounds like he is). Are you realistic with yourself about probable outcomes? Are you willing to go through this pain in return for what may be quite a brief time with your loved ones?

    I was in your position a few years ago where it was “I can’t live without this love of my life but there’s no way I can be allowed to be with him.” It then switched to “you know what, I am a strong person and I could live on my own, but I really do want to be with this guy.” My husband went through the same process. I don’t want to get your hopes horribly high but do assess your situation with full honesty.

    To this day people tell me horrible things about my husband having never met him just because of his ethnicity, They say that living in Saudi will be the hell of my existence, and tell me that my in-laws will torture me.

    My (American) friends who have actually gotten to know my husband closely tell me he’s more kind, respectful, and willing to compromise and support me than most all boys of my own demographic they know – and this showing from his actions and choices, not his words.

    Living in Saudi I do have some apprehensions (we’re not there yet), but I already love it so much here in UAE, I love Arabic language and culture, and I am even starting to love the desert.

    As for in-laws torturing me, one of my best memories is getting hit by my abaya-wearing sis-in-law while we were playing paintball. So many smiles!

  24. Wow, Aafke, lol…well, you are not the first person to ask about how my husband and I got the permission–however, you are the first to ask with the intent of proving that I am lying about my life! :) Long story short (I’m in the process of writing about it in greater detail on my blog, since so many have asked), we got the permission because a kind prince signed off on our permission file, after my husband waited for hours to meet with him during his majlis here in Riyadh. We are extremely grateful for the permission, and we affectionately refer to that prince as “our prince” around our house. :) Anyway, if I’m fake, then I’ve gone to a heck of a lot of trouble to build this enormous persona, lol! On my blog you can see a video of my husband and me (well, not our faces, but our voices), a few of our wedding photos, and some snapshots I’ve taken since arriving in Riyadh. If you were Facebook friends with me, Aafke (as Carol is), you would see all my wedding photos and assorted photos of my husband, our dogs, etc. If you were to find my Twitter account, you’d see photos of me, my husband, us together, etc. So I guess you can surmise that I’m faking my life, but I’d have to be devoting my entire life to crafting this enormous fake persona–dang, I could work for the CIA or something with these skills! :)

  25. There s a bunch fus married to Saudis and lived or living in ska and quite happy but all I say is that the rate of success among student romances I dismal. The by are playing and the girls are living in fantasy land and the sai govt does not like to hand out licenses seep. Ally after it as warned the boys. I see about 5-6sadi students come thru every sem. Bright smart ad handsome almost 100% of them acquire girlfriends. Almost never Saudi. And in the past 2 yrs here I have not seen even 1 survive past their education :-). There are of course couple of young ones I know who look like they’ll make it. But time only will tell. In almost all cases I can tell the bis playing now why can’t the girls figure that out is a big mystery o me, they don’t even want to listen. Oh well sometimes it takes a dumping to sink in. Please protect yourself and your health.

  26. ” almost 100% of them acquire girlfriends. Almost never Saudi”
    That means that they don’t respect islamic rules of as soon as there is no supervision.

    Finally if they left them freedom they would rather choose to have a saudi girlfriend, what would be less dramatic for the parents and would correspond to the country rules.

    And maybe that would help them to learn better their courses. saudis girls have better exams results at the university.

    All those Saudis (guys and girls) want is some freedom to bloom. As in other muslim countries.

    I wonder if this problem concerns also saudi girls? have they western boyfriends?

  27. I would like to thank Carol again for posting this piece for discussion: Carol I know you are going thru a life battle these days, but as I always see in your posts – you care about others, be it Saudi female athletes, the needy in the KSA, or simply us, silly American girls who fell in love with the forbidden. My prayers are reaching out to your heart and soul, Carol, you are one of a kind, an amazing woman, an individual who wants to make a difference and who IS making a difference in this difficult world we live in. Thank you Dear.

    As to this post on Saudi men with Western women, I think that there is a huge need of relevant, true knowledge in order for girls to understand WHY these relationships/marriages are not going to work in 99% of the cases. There is a huge need for an eye-opening, sobering revelation for these girls (including myself, and I promise I am working hard on this one myself) to be able to understand WHY they should NOT even waste their time. But love is blind, and anything that’s blind and walks down the road of life will produce mistakes, grief, and regrets.

    I read Susie’s soul-crying story ( http://susiesbigadventure.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2009-01-01T00:00:00%2B03:00&updated-max=2010-01-01T00:00:00%2B03:00&max-results=50 ). And actually so many things clicked for me! It’s like I have been collecting pieces of a puzzle game for the last several years of my life, trying to undertand why, and the picture is almost ready. So, I would like to share several things that concluded for myself (and the credit goes to those who unfortunately had to go thru this traumatizing experience whether here in the US, or in the KSA).

    1. Saudi boys start to get their religious education pretty much while they are still toddlers. From the early years of their lives they observe older men practicing Islam, they are exposed to countless religious TV programs, they observe holidays, special events, and learn to be proud of Mecca and Medina. We all know, that regardless of religion and/or culture, the seeds of future personalities are planted during the years of childhood. This is universal, no matter where and how you raise your child – the consequences (the “fruits”) will come out later. This is why Saudi men, no matter how spoiled, sinful, and lost they are during the young years of their lives – they will always want to be religious, they will always strive to be religious in their daily lives.

    2. To continue the thought above: society, communities are built around the concept of Islam; lifestyles of men and women are built around the concept of Islam. So, it is only EASY and natural for Saudi men to be practicing religion sooner or later.

    3. Saudi men love to have fun, they love to learn other people’s cultures, religions, languages, etc. Those who come to the English-speaking countries have the goal to learn the language to the best of their abilities. In order for that process to go well, they understand that they need to blend in with the community to be able to SPEAK (for some reason many Saudi men do not care about proper grammar or spelling). I know many young men who go clubbing or simply drink socially with American people – NOT because they like drinking, but because this is their chance to learn something. They understand they are here for a limited period of time and strive to take as much as possible from this experience to come back home with “results” (some men will want to show off their English skills; seriously, it’s like a prestige).

    4. 99% of the men I met and spoke to are very nice. Saudi men are generally very soft-spoken, and sometimes more polite than Western men (sorry, but it’s true). But that’s just the “cover”. And you know why? Because they know they represent their country and religion here and they would like people to think good things about Saudi Arabia, specially! after 9/11. They would never hurt anybody verbally or emotionally. At least I have never heard of a case.

    5. As mentioned above, that is just the cover. Underneath that cover (should you decide to discover, but PLEASE DO NOT!) there are multiple personalities, of course, like in any other society. People are different. Just like with the American people, the same kind of diversity of personalities exists among the Saudi men. But this post is not about that. I would like to say that despite all the different personalities that are out there, there are things ALL or nearly all Saudi men have in those personalities. This is the KEY thing to learn and to look at, when analyzing them.

    6. I have met and spoken to some nice men who are trying very hard to respect the concept of ” Western woman”. Yet, they CANNOT, due to the already existing set of religious practices and morals. Remember the society they were born and raised in? Do women socialize with men? No. Is that considered to be very bad? Yes. Are they trying to understand that this is America and it’s ok to do that? Yes. Do they truly understand? No. Why? Because why should they change their moral background!!! They believe in those things strongly and they will come back home to live in the society where those things are practiced. So, why in the world should they understand us, Western women? All they do is try to be tolerant of that kind of behavior from a woman. and that’s the most they can offer us, but the respect is minimal, believe me. That “behavior” also includes women’s employment, independency, the ability to travel and commute freely, make decisions, etc etc etc.

    7. Just like any other men in the world, Saudi young men thirst for romance (either here in the US or back home). I mean, c’mon, they are young people, what do you expect! I used to think like many women think today “oh, they just wanna play and when the time comes they will dump us”. Well, maybe there are some men who are that evil. But a lot of them actually form feelings and become soul mates with girls here. They will suffer the painful consequences of the break-up too, ladies, don’t worry, a lot of those men DO have hearts. And some will never forgive themselves that they hurt women’s hearts. I am not trying to say here that all those men are super sweet and nice. But believe me some are and they are humans just like us, they are normal people, and yes they DO fall in love. Because this is how human psychology works.

    8. Back to Susie’s confession. The last thing I wanna do is judge her situation. But there are some thoughts that came to my mind and they are based on the things I heard from my Saudi boyfriend (I hate the word boyfriend by the way, ew). I heard that there is a prestigious dream among Saudi men: to live very close to a mosque when they get old. Lots around the mosques are the most expensive ones in the area, because it is considered to be a cool thing to be an old man who attends every prayer (what else is there to do, life is so boring in the KSA). I am not trying to be sarcastic or anything, I just heard this one so many times. My current boyfriend has the same dream, he is already seeing his father fulfilling his dream and wants the same when he gets old. Older men in the kingdom are respected by others sooo much, they are wanted as community leaders, and are always welcomed to gatherings. They shape the Saudi male society and again, are almost worshipped by younger men. So, I have a feeling that Susie’s husband wanted same kind of status (he knows that no way he can get it in the US) and that’s why he made the decision to move back to his country. Recognition plays an important role here, epsecially for somebody who, maybe, wasn’t recognized for years and years. It’s just an ego concept. No matter the religion or culture. Plus, we should always remember that the life of an elderly person in the KSA is very peaceful, comfortable, it’s filled with the attention and care coming from family. It’s like an honor to be old in KSA, you know for sure you will be treated nicely by others and in some cases all they will have to do is sit on the couch all day long. In Susie’s case, her husband is now guaranteed to have male buddies (family or friends) who have the same set of beliefs. He knows he can get the attention and respect (somehow, things work a little differently in the US).

    There are many more things that I would like to share with the readers of AB’s blog, but the most important ones are highlited here. Just a couple of words about my current relationship (to clarify). My boyfriend from the very beginning of our friendship (well at the moment it started growing into something else) told me the future was impossible together. He basically said that he was not gonna lie to me (like other men would), and that it was up to me whether to communicate with him or not. I think I spent about 6 months trying to understand WHY it’s imposisble to be together and HOW his mind works. Now, I am seeing some sense in all of this and I am giving up, but you know, after being together for months it is very hard, coz I have a heart full of feelings and care for him. I love him very very dearly.

    Girls, don’t wait until the love traps you. For me it’s very painful to wake up with the thoughts that we cannot be together and go to bed with the same thoughts (and cry myself to sleep every day). It’s hard to understand why there is an expiration date stamp on his heart and why my heart does not have this kind of stamp.

    The end WILL come, there is no other way around, and I am not a drama girl at all. I am saying all this to help you girls who are currently in a relationship with those men. If you don’t get it, please read Susie’s confession, and read it again. And again. Please, respect your life, your dignity, your emotional health. And remember: the love is from God, He gave it to you and in the same manner He can take it back. When the time comes. But you better don’t put yourself in the circumstances from the very beginning.

  28. @ TheWorstIsYetToCome

    It ‘s not susie’s story , as you can read in susie’s Blog:

    “Western Wife, Saudi Husband
    As a result of my last post “Dear Susie…” another Western woman married to a Saudi has given me permission to share her recent emails to me with you. I found it distressing to know that after close to two decades in the Kingdom, she is still not happy living in KSA, and yet at the same time I found it comforting to know that I am not alone in feeling this way. Here is what she has to say…”……………….

  29. They have a choice, they can choose to stay outside saudi for a while maybe in a neutral to both country and have a great marriage and then once they get permission move to saudi for a while and back to US for a while etc., It’s not totally impossible. We have lived in diff continents and still had had satisfying lives and careers . it’s not about the place it’s about the relationship. Both of you must want it enough, must have equally invested in ti and must love each other over and above all the cultural,religious, nationality BS.

    You both can be indivual in your likes an ddislikes and still be happy. When you love someone you want the best for them. your happiness is linked , only when both are happy the Unit is happy. so either may not be ecstatic but it is the unit that counts. and most important you learn and agree to ignore the BS dumped on you by well meaning relatives, parents, culture, friends etc.,

    I don’t see this commitment even after relatonships of a few yrs, no one dates someone thinking they wil stay together for life, it’s a testing the waters stage, but after 2+ yrs i expect bot partners to be invested int he well being of the other and have a fairly reasonable assumption of what they want out of life. after all they are not 12. I see saudi young men in a realtionship , treat it like it’s temporary, and they are true to that, but i also see the other half treat it like a permanent one. where is the disconnect??? he;s telling you he will LEAVE!! what makes you think he’s going to change his mind? why do you invest emotionally when you know it’s going ot end. do the girls thnk he will change his mind, they can change it? do you want a fickle minded person for a partner???
    there are plenty of saudi men who marry and stay and maybe move to saudi and move back whatever workd for the couple, so they are not all commitment phobes. and it’s not hard to spot the payers either. so i don’t really get this whole deal. like i said , ranting of an old woman :-)

  30. Nassima, I am talking about Susie specifically, not the girl who emailed her. Coz if you read further, Susie shares some of her thoughts about her life in Jeddah. I did read carefully.

  31. @TheWorstIsYetToCome

    “My boyfriend from the very beginning of our friendship (well at the moment it started growing into something else) told me the future was impossible together. He basically said that he was not gonna lie to me (like other men would),”

    At least he warned you from the beginning, that proves he is a honest guy.

  32. Yes, he is a honest guy. But does that help now? Not really. Bottomline, we all face the same difficulties, whether the relationship is based on honesty or not. It’s just very hard to live knowing that you will have to say goodbye to your best friend, a brother, a soul-mate.

  33. “Yes, he is a honest guy. But does that help now?” it certainly helps.

    look this worst situations :

    http://saudichildrenleftbehind.com/

  34. I know :( You are right.

  35. @TheWorstIsYettoCome,
    If you’re not content with the happy memories you’ll make in the time now with your boyfriend, then maybe it’s time to move on? I have been in love more than once with guys that put my needs and wants above their own. It is possible to find this with more than one person.

    However, if you are content with just spending time now with your boyfriend, then don’t worry about the future; it’ll be here soon enough and you can worry about it then.

    It honestly depends on you and what you want. No one can really force you to live a certain way, and different people will be content with different things.

  36. @MrsBawazir,
    I was re-reading through this and realized I never did say thank you for your kind words, so just wanted to say thank you! <3

  37. Nassima, all the girls from ”Saudi children left behind” were also all convinced that their boyfriends were ”the love of their lives”, ”honest” and ”caring”. Until they had a baby and the loves of their lives ran off, without any care or responsibility towards the girls or their children.

    Radha is right, As always.

  38. @Aafke-Art,

    TheWorstIsYetToCome said

    “My boyfriend from the very beginning of our friendship (well at the moment it started growing into something else) told me the future was impossible together. He basically said that he was not gonna lie to me (like other men would),”

    he tells her “there is no future”, he is honest. she must run far away from this relation

  39. I agree with you, sad as it is.

  40. I am also wondering : have we the right, when we are native of a country where women have rights, to condemn our future girls to grow in a country which doesn’t grants basic rights for women?

    it’s selfish to take that risk especially for girls. it’s problematic to raise a girl in KSA, to empower her, to help her to spared her wings. she can’t just go and take her bike for a walk, she can’t practice sports, she can’t drive, she can’t participate on a summer camp……

    adult decide for them in full knowledge of the facts, but what about the future children?

    irrelevant :

    (Did I make progress by expressing me in English?)

  41. Aafke, I’m trying to run away and I promised myself that I will very very soon. I know my whole story sounds like a joke and many people are wondering why in the world am I even with him still?! It’s hard to explain why, other than just say that love is blind. I really need the power to stand up and leave this circus, because it’s hurting me every day, and I am tired of crying myself to sleep.

  42. Worst:

    Try it a different way. If you can take a vacation away by yourself (meaning not with him) for a bit get a support person (female) and then return. This way you separate yourself for a while and you can possible think about a future that actually shows promise where you can achieve and be exactly what you wish to be.

  43. Big Stick,
    Thank you for the advise. I tried and that failed. And I will try again.
    But honestly, he is not that great of a person. He cannot even be a friend when I need him, like yesterday when I was sick – he did not even care to come check on me. Of course he was busy eating with guys.

  44. Okay:

    Then try the rebound route believe me there are ways to get over people who are not healthy for you. You just have to want to do it.

  45. Exactly, “not healthy” is the key here. I even got sick because of the whole stress and thinking. And you know what? He is totally fine spending fun time with his friends.
    I know I should move one, but you also know how hard this kind of transition is. I gave him my heart.

  46. Yes; the guys may be honest and tell you there can not be a future but they will not extract themselves. If the woman allows, he will remain in the relationship and be charming and loving until he simply disappears. Up to the very moment of the last goodbye, the woman will still believe there is a chance he’s going to change. Instead, he is just accepting and enjoying what is offered.

  47. Carol, you are absolutely right. This is what’s going on with me right now, and I can only blame myself for that, my weaknesses, my loving and giving heart and soul.
    Ladies please find me a husband LOOOOL. Seriously.
    I want somebody who deserves me, because I know I can give so much care and love.
    I also need to cure myself from the syndrome of being attracted to Middle Eastern boys only, it’s like a sickness I swear! I am starting to hate them.

  48. @TheWorstIsYetToCome,
    If he doesn’t come to check on you when you’re sick or help out at all, then it sounds to me as if he doesn’t really care about you. Rather than look for a husband, go take care of yourself and your needs. Go have fun and do all the things that are hard to do when you’re in a relationship. Move to another country/state if you feel like it. Focus on a career. Save up money for a trip you’ve always wanted to go on. But most importantly, if you think it’s time to move on, then don’t wait around; move on.

    I found my habibi the very day I was enjoying being single and was perfectly content not to ever get married. I’d pretty much given up hope on finding someone that I meshed well with, but then I found love in a very unexpected way. If you want to get away from Middle Eastern guys, then go hang out places where there aren’t many of them and make new friends. You could always find a different culture to explore and possibly join an ethnic group/association/club/whatever on campus or in your local area. That might give you a different place to focus your energies.

  49. @Worst,

    Try checking up http://www.meetup.com for whatever area you are located in. It’s a great way to meet others with shared interests and keep you busy. It may make it easier to move on.

    Mama Bedu

  50. Women who get themselves in order first- attract the right sort of men for them. Women who are in a mess, attract men who want a woman in a mess.

  51. Sandy:

    Nicely stated.

  52. @Sandy,
    Just wanted to add that a woman who is in a mess will have a harder time discerning what type of guy is a good match for her, too, because it’s hard to pick someone who goes well with her personality if she’s not sure who she is. Also, a woman in a mess may also attract a man who is good, but also a mess (and not necessarily a good match for her) which could cause problems later on in the relationship.

  53. I am NOT a mess. I am just a lonely person in the new area. I’m also a person with a huge heart, I like to help people.
    Watch your language ladies. Let’s not insult those who you don’t know anything about.

  54. @TheWorstIsYetToCome,
    I didn’t mean it as an insult; that’s just how I’d describe myself and the period of my life that sounds somewhat similar to what you’re going through now. I wasn’t describing you so much as I was describing myself a year or two ago. Sorry.

    As for having a huge heart, while that’s a good trait to have, make sure that you value yourself equal to other people. Just something else I also learned along the way. I know sometimes it’s hard to say no when you feel someone needs you, but don’t forget about your own needs, either. Make time for “chill” time- whatever that is for you. Make time for yourself, too. Not saying that you do this, just speaking from experience. It’s something I struggle with, but that doesn’t mean this advice applies to you, too.

    If you’re lonely in a new area, definitely check out meetup.com like AB said or couchsurfing (though be careful with couchsurfing). Take classes at the local community center, college, etc. Go to your local outdoors store or whatever it is that you’re into and see what classes they have. Explore the city. If you like to help people, have you thought about volunteering somewhere? You could always contact the city, local community organizations, hospitals, etc. and see what you can do. Not to mention, volunteer work looks great on a resume, etc.

  55. I didn’t really mean to call YOU a mess. But definately the situation you describe is a mess. Wasting time with a man who doesn’t really care for you and you don’t know how to let go. I don’t mean to name call- but I’m not going to sugar coat it either. You may be a lonely person in a new area, with a huge heart that likes to help people- but that doesn’t mean you’re not in a mess. I’d also suggest you consider that the amount of energy you have available for helping people is indeed a big blessing. Don’t squander it on the undeserving and save some for yourself so you can continue to channel it for good.

  56. *Don’t squander it on the undeserving and save some for yourself*
    Excellent

  57. Thank you, ladies!

  58. @TheWorstIsYetToCome
    I am sorry for the situation you are in but if he told you from the beginning…its not all his fault his either. He basically made it clear it was a relationship without a future any guy that does that..should make you think twice..unless you are fine with having a good time and just enjoying the present. You do realise when you contuned your relationship after he told you it was tacit acceptance of that fact.

    I was discussing dating Saudis with a Saudi girl, and she’s like if you let the relationship become physical with a Saudi he’ll gladly have you as his girlfriend, but behind your back he’ll say she’s a slut not marriage material– and this is for Saudi girls-same country, same city, same religion, same culture. So I’m sure you know what the implications are for American girls.

    @anyone
    This type of warning post is common on AB’s blog, and there are always responses from jilted American women. I was first going to suggest that maybe a pamphlet should be distrubited at universities that have Saudi students ‘What to expect when you are dating a Saudi’ , but that would be wrong on so many levels…

    I thought back to when I was in uni in the UK and the girls that were dating guys whether local or international students most of of them weren’t under the impression that he’s the one ..and I’m going to marry him! Especially at that age 18-22 guys are n’t ready to settle down, and most aren’t even think bout it.They just want to have a good time. And most girls are very clear on that..It isn’t a new phenemenon.

    So I when I read these posts again and again I’m just a bit confused have the following questions:

    Are these American girls( the ones who get into relationships with Sauid students) just very naive and expect that any guy will settle down after dating them in college? Let alone an international student from a country, religion, family, insert any word, very different from theirs

    What percentage of Americans marry their university sweethearts?

    Don’t American guys fool around and break hearts while in college?

    Are Saudis so charming and romantic that American girls expect more on that basis alone?

    Basically, you can tell from my questions, that I’m surprised that this is such a big issue that it comes up again and again, and there are unfortunately so many girls that feel like ‘victims’. I don’t mean to trivialise anyone’s feelings or heartbreak, I just want to understand the thinking (or lack of) that got them into such a situation.
    Plus in case anyone thinks I’m defending hte guys- I am not, their behaviour is despicable in my eyes- but as I have found, through these posts and otherwise, unfortunately commonplace.

  59. You asked great questions, Misha. I do think the Saudi students which the American girls meet are different from the typical American guys. They are (in general) more polite, respectful, charming and attentive. They also come from a different land, speak lovely accented English and a magnet for the young woman seeking the tall dark handsome prince type.

  60. for american girls saudi men are exotic.

    saudi men aren’t free to date in their country, so they over-date when they go abroad for studies. they want just have fun.

    they prefer women who has white skin and fair hair.

    in Arab countries they have often a bad reputation. And when they get married there, there is often a pecuniary interest.

  61. If you want to understand Saudi, you have to understand Islam, the real Islam.
    The saying,” Love Conquers All” is a famous saying in the West and almost everywhere…and I was a believer of it… once upon a time…the mostly emotional love…but here in Saudi…”Religion Conquers All”! Even if they are religious or not, even if they are disagreeing with it at the moment or not …at the back of their minds…in their consciousness…right is very clear from wrong based on their belief.
    So it is very hard to separate them from their religion.

    And why not? Isn’t it that even in the West, God should be above all?

    They are humans like anybody else… they commit sins…they do things against the rules…(“having girlfriends”)…these students … young…very vulnerable in an open society…will be weakened…but in general…their belief will force them to do what is right, God willing.
    But when they do that…they will be labeled cheaters…or …just toying with the girls,,,but I believe not…but it is the time they came to their senses!
    So to those who want to deal with the Saudis…study Islam…you will be more than half-way through them. Even if you leave them…you will gain something more than what you have asked for…PEACE!

  62. married2saudi:

    No in many parts of the west that is not true. Many are non-religious, secularist, humanist, agostistic or atheists. I suspect their are far more in the Middle East but keep it too themselves out of fear.

    The gain of something more has nothing to do with Islam it has to do with people and humanity. It is the human experience that allows people to gain more and nothing but that.

  63. married2saudi is right, girls interested in Saudi men should study islam and the hadith, especially the bits about how Mohammed and his merry band of marauders attacked unsuspecting villages, killing the men and enslaving and raping the women.
    Or the bits which make clear that women are to be second class beings, that’s why men can marry four wives but women can marry only one man. How men can also have sex (rape) as many women as they enslaved, but women can not have sex with their man-slaves.

    The enlightening hadith which tell women they are to be subservient to men, to allow them to have sex with their property whenever the mood strikes them, even if they are cooking, which tell the men that women are like a field to be ploughed, and they can plough whenever they want.
    How angels will curse and weep when a woman denies sex to her husband (owner)
    How women are deficient, and most will end up in hell. Because they are so inferior to men.

    And what about the afterlife? We know what the men get, an eternal orgy with 72 eternal virgins, pearly boys, food and booze and a penis which will be eternally erect.
    What do women get?
    They get to watch their men at the orgy.

    This might explain a lot.
    Anyway, a good study of Islam and the hadith should certainly teach women a valuable lesson.

  64. I disagree. To understand about Saudi- you need to understand about tribalism and patriarchal societies. You also need to learn about “face”. Appearances often matter more than the reality. The “belief” that will force these men to do the “right” think in the end- ie: dumping the girl friend- isn’t inherent piousness- it’s that their parents won’t accept it- and often the man himself never really wanted to marry the girlfriend either. But she was a good enough placeholder till he went home to marry.

  65. first of all, married2saudihappily, i have to disagree with your notion of “the real islam.” as an american who loves my country and my culture, frought with problems though it may be, i bristle at the characterization of an “open society” as one that just breeds sin, however you may define it. i love my open society, and if my husband had not studied in it, i wouldn’t have met, befriended, fallen in love with, and eventually married him. secondly, the mass generalization of saudi men gets really tiring to those of us who are actually married quite happily to one. yes, there are commonalities in experience when it comes to saudi men, but this does not mean that all are snakes. my husband is not tall or dark (although i find him very handsome), he is not rich (there goes the “prince” thing), and while his accent is adorable, on accents alone i have to admit swoon for a british accent more than an arabic one. but he is truly my best friend. seriously. friend. he’s who i talk about everything with. bottom line, as with any marriage, you have to get yourself together first. if you’re a mess (however you want to define that) no relationship you have, whether the guy is from saudi arabia or south dakota, is going to clean it up. as the ancient greeks said, know thyself. and i would add, be comfortable with thyself, and be willing to learn. i was two months away from starting my phd program and had come to terms with the fact that i would likely never marry when i met the guy who would become my husband. about two months after that, i discovered the american bedu blog, which told me repeatedly that i was playing with fire. thank god i knew myself enough to trust my instincts, or i would be mourning the loss of a great, great love. and although i hesitate to post this comment, lest i be told that my opinion doesn’t matter because my experience is atypical, or even that i’m lying about my life, i will say this: aafke, it sounds like you’ve been drinking from the well of pamela geller; just to tackle one of your claims, the 72 virgins thing has been debunked time and time again. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/03/30/trying-the-make-sense-of-the-72-virgins-myth/

  66. Nicole, there are happy stories like yours of relationships with a Saudi man. I’m not against them; especially considering I also married a Saudi man! However, I will likely discourage such a relationship for the average American female student with a Saudi student. Although there have been exceptions to my own rule and particularly when both the guy and girl have asked for advice on wanting to make the relationship and get approval among families.

  67. i understand, carol! i wouldn’t discourage such relationships, though. i think that just breeds the whole, “oh, my saudi is different” thing, and leads her to approach the relationship with even more of a blind eye than she had before. and of course, as i’ve been arguing here, sometimes he really is different. but only the girl can figure that one out, and only if she’s willing to take an honest look at herself. generalizations have the potential to be right, but they also have the potential to be ruinous. i think it’s disingenuous to encourage a girl to run far, far away from someone she loves when if i followed the same advice (which i got, believe me), i would have run away from my happiness–or, if things go belly-up–which i pray they won’t, but reading the bitterness that often gets tossed around here is enough to make a girl a believer in the evil eye–at least a temporary period of happiness which i wouldn’t trade for having never had the experience to begin with. i’ve had students who are involved with saudi men and while i would never tell them, “run, run as far away as you can,” i would tell them that there are things they need to know about where their man comes from…and that they need to read, learn, and figure out if what they want in life–without a man, any man, in the picture–is compatible with what they could reasonably expect to get if they were to marry the saudi and move to ksa. but that’s just me. :)

  68. nicole, nothing in my latest post is not written black on white in the holy islamic texts.
    Of course the 72 houris are really grapes. ”houri” is one of the many foreign words in the Quran which the men who translated the quran in Arabic did not understand.
    However, for the majority of Muslims they are reality. Scores of repressed, indoctrinated young men blow themselves up fully convinced the ”black eyed” will be awaiting them in paradise.
    Unless the vast majority of Muslims decides they are grapes, they are still black eyed virgins.
    Religion is a construct. it is made up by humans, it develops by the wishes and desires of humans, and so what used to be grapes have now turned into virgins.
    Religion is what the humans make it.

  69. @American Bedu and @Nassima Thank you for your responses, I get the politeness of Saudis and even the ‘tall dark handsome prince’ attraction, maybe its just me-but I still don’t get the expecations that follow….

  70. wow, aafke, i’m pretty impressed that you’ve managed to ascertain the beliefs of the majority of muslims! that’s a pretty tremendous feat! tell me, how many times have you visited saudi arabia?

  71. bigstick1,
    hi, i hope that you can read more about Islam.

    Aafke-Art,
    Every coin has two sides. To have better understanding, you should see both. I hope that you can find the right source.

    Sandy,
    I agree with you, that in most of them, ” The “belief” that will force these men to do the “right” thing in the end- ie: dumping the girl friend- isn’t inherent piousness-” but they knew that it is not acceptable to the society…to their family…why? …this is in the religion, in their belief…that they have to marry…not take girlfriends…the guilt is there.

    nicole j. hunter mostafa,
    Hi, what I meant in a “open society” is just that…something open…that men and women can meet freely…not as what you said, “characterization of an“open society” as one that just breeds sin,”

    I don’t mean “open society” in a bad way. It’s just that, in general, most of those Saudi students have never experience that, so in a way, they don’t know how to react to it.

    Thanks.

  72. thanks for the clarification, married2saudihappily. sorry if i got my dander up! :)

  73. nicole j. hunter mostafa,
    You are welcome, sorry too, i hope that I can say it clearer!

  74. married to saudi:

    I have learn quite a bit on islam. I have various sources that I have researched. I am a non-believer and no amount of extented reading will ever convince me that religion isn’t anything beyond make believe based on good old story telling of people before just like harry potter.

  75. bigstick1,

    Well and good! Every one has a right to their own opinion…no matter how wrong they are…there is no compulsion in religion!

  76. married2children:

    Tell that to the apostates who die or the witches who are hung or the many who have paid with their lives. You spout an absurd statement. I will go see if harry potter has a spot for you in hogwarts or if you can be one of Santa’s little elves.

    Maybe you don’t know it yet but they killed people for being a witch in saudi, they imprison people for tweeting a mild tweet to Muhammad. You are delusional if you think there is no compulsion in the evil that is religion.

  77. There’s no compulsion in religion???
    You must be joking! Do you read the news at all?

    All religions don’t like competition, but especially in current Islam this is really a ludicrous comment.

  78. Seriously happilymarried, why not try it out? You just walk around the streets in Saudi Arabia, wear a big crucifix around your neck, and swing a bible around, and see what happens.

    Or try tweeting about how Mohammed is just a man…
    And don’t try to run off via a Muslim country, they will send you back against all international laws and put you into jail before you can say ”there’s no compulsion in religion”.

  79. Is there anyone who threatened you that if you will not become Christian or Muslim…etc…you will be killed?
    Then if you became one of either because of a threat, then you did not really believe.

    What I meant of compulsion in religion here is that you cannot force a belief…a belief is a belief…you will never be able to practice a belief sincerely if you don’t believe in it…so a belief is something that cannot be compelled or forced to someone.

  80. Re: “No compulsion in religion” (Koran 2:256)

    Given Islam’s violent history and the unfavorable contrast of its oppressive practices against 21st century values, especially after 9/11, Muslims are hard-pressed to repackage their faith in the modern age. This is known as gaming the koran and hadith to make Islam look more peaceful than it really is. Some of its leading apologists have come to rely on tricks involving semantics and half-truths that are, in turn, repeated by novices and even those apologists outside the faith.

    For example, Muslims quote verse 2:256 from the koran to prove what a tolerant religion Islam is. The verse reads in part, “Let there be no compulsion in religion; truth stands out clearly from error…”

    Truth be told that Muslims who offer this verse may or may not understand that it is from one of the earliest Suras from the Medinan period. It was “revealed” at a time when the Muslims had just arrived in Medina after being chased out of Mecca. They needed to stay in the good graces of the stronger tribes around them, many of which were Jewish. It was around this time, for example, that Mohammad decided to have his followers change the direction of their prayer from Mecca to Jerusalem.

    But Muslims today pray toward Mecca. The reason for this is that Mohammad issued a later command that abrogated (or nullified) the first. In fact, abrogation is a very important principle to keep in mind when interpreting the koran – and verse 2:256 in particular – because later verses (in chronological terms) are said to abrogate any earlier ones that may be in contradiction (2:106, 16:101).

    Also, according to islamic scholars, there is some evidence that verse 2:256 may not have been intended for Muslims at all, but is instead meant to be a warning to other religions concerning their treatment of Muslims. Verse 193 of the same Sura instructs Muslims to “fight with them (non-Muslims) until there is no more persecution and religion is only for Allah.” This reinforces the narcissistic nature of Islam, which places Muslims above non-Muslims, and applies a very different value and standard of treatment to both groups.

    Forced conversions have been a part and parcel of Islamic history since Mohammad first picked up a sword. As he is recorded in many places as saying, “I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah…” (Bokhari 2:24)

    Mohammad put his words into practice. When he marched into Mecca with an army, one of his very first tasks was to destroy idols at the Kaaba, which had been devoutly worshiped by the Arabs for centuries. By eliminating these objects of worship, he destroyed the religion of the people and supplanted it with his own. Later, he ordered that Jews and Christians who would not convert to Islam be expelled from the Arabian Peninsula. Does forcing others to choose between their homes or their faith sound like “no compulsion in religion?”

    According to Muslim historians, Muhammad eventually ordered people to attend prayers at the mosque to the point of burning alive those who didn’t comply. He also ordered that children who reached a certain age be beaten if they refused to pray.

    Interestingly, even the same contemporary Muslims who quote 2:256 usually believe in Islamic teachings that sound very much like religious compulsion. These would be the laws punishing apostasy by death (or imprisonment, for females), and the institutionalized discrimination against religious minorities under Islamic rule that is sometimes referred to as “dhimmiitude.”

    Islamic law explicitly prohibits non-Muslims from sharing their faith and even includes the extortion of money from them in the form of a tax called the jizya. Those who refuse to pay this arbitrary amount are put to death. Pray tell, If this isn’t compulsion, then what is?

  81. And how insensitive of Mohammed, to destroy other peoples cultures and idols. Such offensive actions!!!
    Not really a good example to follow, no respect for religion, culture and traditions, no respect for life, women and freedom…

  82. Nicole…Aafke is the resident blog Saudi/muslim/Islam expert. Do not bother trying to explain her errors…she doesnt make any.,..she has read books.

  83. Aafke u have made a terrible flaw pertaining Prophet Muhammad. http://sabr.com/downloads/category/4-seerah?download=7%3Amuhammad-by-haykal

    Pls read this for a correct account. Thank you.

  84. good to know, coolred38. thanks for the heads-up. from what i’ve managed to ascertain, aafke is beacon of gentle, infallible wisdom whose sarcastic wit irreversibly enlightens everyone it touches.

  85. Nichol :

    You new to the religion I see and to this site. Coolred is an x-muslim as well. Learn the history of the religion get ahold of some books sub as:

    The Development of Exegensis in Early Islam by Herbert Berg or Read about ignaz Goldziher on “Muslim Studies” which deals with the hadith

    You can also The Quran in it’s Historical Content edited by Gabriel Said Reynolds

    Or The Hidden Origins of Islam by Ohlig and Puin

    or The Textual Criticism and Quran Manuscripts by Keith Small

    It is address in Small’s book that their is a lack of suitable primary source material (no orginals) and the reliabililty of the secondary sources, this is, the records of textual variants for the Quran found in early Islamic literature.

    It breaks down that what is provided on secondary literature provides an incomplete record.

    It talks about Gilliot mentioning two forms of texual reconstruction that are appropriate for the available Quranic materials and thus what is provided was written later edited into a canonical form.

    In addition the Companion Collections cannot be reconstructed with precision or a precise vocaliztion of the accepted consonantal text from before 1000 CE or 391 AH

    In his closing thoughts he states:
    “Instead of the pure authographic text-forms being preserved, what has been preserved and transmitted for the Quranis a tex-form that was chosen form amidst a group of others, which was then edited and canonized at the expense of the others, and has been improved upon in order to makeit conform to to a desired ideal. Altogether, the transmission of the text of the Quranin early manuscripts shows evidence of editing, control, correction and preservation. The textual tradition shows fidelity to a standard form of the text that within the flexible conventions of orthography for the time respresents a very high degree of presicion. Though they are few in number, textual variants that show intentionality and that affect the meaning of the text can be found. Evidence of readins attributed to the Companions of Muhammad can also be found. However, what cannot be deremined are the Autographic text forms of what the earliest Muslims considered to be the full corpus of revelations given through Muhammad and left at this death. It is impossible to know how much material was left out or changed in order to make this edited version, though from all indications it was material of a similar nature to what was preserved.

    The Quran as it is perserved today is a book providing a glimpse into many eras of Quran development. The consonantal text perserves much of what was considered Quran material from at least the beginning of the eighth century. The diacritical marks on the consonants bear testimony to a period of development between the seventh and ten centuries. The vowel points also bear witness to developments in orthography in the ninth and tenth centuries. The pattern of recitation that is found in printed texts fprovides testimony to the eighty systems of the ten authorized reading systems of the Quran that were standardized in the tenth century. The actual form of the printed text also bears witness to the twentith century that it was produced specifically fo printing and wide acceptance to an international audience.”

    Be happy to discuss the historical aspects with you verses the story telling content.

  86. bigstick1, i’m cursorily acquainted with the cast of characters on american bedu’s blog, thanks. :) i know that coolred83 is no longer a muslim; i am a fan of her blog. i don’t know how many books aafke has read, but i’d still like to know how many times she has been to saudi arabia and how she has become qualified to speak for “the majority of muslims.” she managed to ignore my question.

  87. not sure why my last comment did not post, but in any case, i’ll do my best to repost it. i’m cursorily acquainted with the cast of characters on american bedu’s blog, bigstick1. i also know that coolred83 is an ex-muslim; i am a fan of her blog. regarding aafke, i’d still just like to know how many times she’s been to saudi arabia, and what makes her qualified to speak for “the majority of muslims.” she managed to ignore my question.

  88. Nicole:

    First no one techniqically can speak for the majority of muslims just like Christians as each one has different opinions, however, adhere to a religion still does not somehow provide you with a hands off or a manner to which no one else can understand if they are not a believer of faith. The dogma is the same whether you are or your are not a believer thus being a practice christian, mulsim, jew or insert religion is not somehow lofted from those who study religion in depth.

    Here is an interesting revelation. Most atheist know more about the origins and the texts than the faithful and that has been studied and is well documented.

  89. Correction:

    A believer of religion. Faith is something entirely different.

  90. thanks for the “revelation,” bigstick1. :) i hope that it has also been revealed to you that in any religion, orthopraxy and orthodoxy are two entirely different animals, and vary widely based on any number of factors. thus, while you and aafke may have read many books (mabrook, by the way), that doesn’t mean that you or aafke are qualified to make blanket judgments about the people whose country and religion you’ve read so much about. reading is wonderful, but it doesn’t replace experience. i’m sure a surgeon reads a whole lot before he makes his first incision, but i certainly don’t want to be the first one he cuts.

  91. Your naviety shows. I have lived the life of fundie religious in my younger years due to family and seen the culture in play that surrounds it. I assure you that this thread is a commonality amongst them all. I do no need to experience each one to know their full effects.

    Why don’t you try driving in Saudi or get a job or dress the way you like.

    You are young and naive. Now although there are some beautiful aspects that can come from it, it will never make up for the aspects that subjugate, discriminate, oppress or any number of human violations that it brings.

  92. oh, bigstick1. surely you don’t believe that you’re the first one to tell me that! as my experiences have thus far colored my worldview, so have yours, i suppose. so i guess you and aafke are just old, bitter, and jaded. ;)

  93. easy now….folks can agree to disagree but please do not take any pokes at personal attacks!

  94. sorry, carol. i generally don’t engage in personal attacks, but my knee-jerk reaction to being called young and naive in order to dismiss my viewpoint was to offer a similar dismissal on the other side of the coin.

  95. Yes it has so try to learn from your elders. Your comments do not phase me and are typical of a grasshopper.

    Let me tell you until you have witnessed children being beaten due to religious reason or infants/children dying due to faith healing or until you have experienced the full effects of religious abuse then you are limited on the darkside. However, I have a feeling that you might one day fully experience the full effects of both an oppressive culture and religious abuse.

  96. well, bigstick1, your comments do not faze me, either. you certainly may be right about my future. however, i’m grateful that, perhaps due to my naivete and youth, i am able to hope–and even pray!–that you may be wrong, as elders–and even books–sometimes are.

  97. Nicole:

    Have you tried dressing different or driving a car? Over time the novelty will wear off and the reality will set in.

  98. thanks for that reading of my future, bigstick, o master of anonymous internet clairvoyance! :)

  99. You are welcome oh potential assumed named one. I look forward to your checking back in three or four years on your happiness with your newfound constraints due to your being born a woman. For enjoy those rose color glasses of inexperience and life lesson for one day you too will be an old bitter jaded soul.

  100. wow, check out those assumptions! you know, my daddy always says this thing about assuming… :) i may be a naive youthful woman with a religion, but at least i don’t wish ill on others just so i can be proven right. i hope someday you find your own happiness, bigstick1, whatever that may look like–unless, of course, it looks like me or anyone else being miserable so you can puff up with pride at having called it.

  101. Your funny. :) Who is wishing you ill. I am just pointing out the reality there is a difference. Have fun but fooling yourself or lying to yourself is at your own peril not mine. The reality is what I have stated. That reality has been provided by numerous people living in saudi on first hand accounts and your choicing to dismissing doesn’t negate that.

  102. you’re funny, too! and i never said that i don’t know the odds, that i don’t know the challenges or the perils, or that i think saudi arabia is some magical playland, as you seem to believe i do. you know of a reality, not the only one. your choice to dismiss that fact doesn’t negate said fact. and if firsthand accounts of experiences given by a large number of people are all it takes to demonstrate a universal reality, then you should be a muslim by now, bigstick. but you know better, right? :)

  103. Re Comment #96493: Biographies/Seerahs of Prophet Mohammed pbuh saw

    There are hundreds of biographies or seerahs written about Prophet Mohammed pbuh saw. I have read quite a few or read reviews about them. In my opinion, they are all “good”, depending on one’s pov and/or mental inclinations. One can learn so much after reading these biographies and they all invariably present differing points of views.

    One of my all-time favorites is the best-seller by Dr. Ali Sina, “Understanding Mohammad: Psycho-Biography of Allah’s Prophet”. Dr. Sina is an ex-muslim and an accomplished author on Islam. It’s available on his website at AliSina.org/understanding-muhammad for a free download in pdf format.

    Another good biography (from my pov) is “True Dark History of Islam & Mohammed”. It is available for online reading at: http://www.bibleprobe.com/muhammad.htm

  104. There are people who will break the mold, tradition, and be outside the range of “average” or “normal” for any given situation. Most people have a hard time crossing cultural, religious, and societal barriers, but some are able to. This usually requires give and take on both sides. Not very many couples will be able to cross these gaps, but if two people really love each other and want to stay together, they will do what they can to stay together.

    The problem comes in when you have two people who are “settling” for each other or think they’ve found mr./ms. “right”, when in reality they are trying to force a relationship. Maybe they think the other person isn’t exactly what they want, but it’s close enough and the other person can “change” for him/her. Maybe they don’t want to “waste” all the time they’ve invested into the relationship so they try to force things.

    However, deep down in your heart, you know if it feels right or not; if it’s meant to be or not. If it doesn’t feel right, then end the relationship because it’s probably not right. If it feels right (which for me, I can feel deep down in my soul), then go with it. Stay with the person, but don’t give up logic and reason. Know how much you each can bend for the other person, and don’t make either person force themselves to change too much. It is possible to love someone but not be a good marriage partner for him/her. Know the difference. Take things slowly at first, and just enjoy each other’s company.

    Even if you have that special connection with someone doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t find it with someone else. However, cherish it if you find it.

  105. come on, bigstick. if numerous firsthand accounts on the internet were all it took to demonstrate a completely universal reality, wouldn’t you be a muslim (or a christian) by now? ;) and strangeone, i think you’re on the right track. :)

  106. Nicole, Look, I am arguing against bad ideas, not against you personally.
    However, you turn it into a personal attack. The ”Ad hominem” attack, a logical fallacy. That is a sign of weakness, you use it because you cannot handle a legitimate debate. And you cannot defend your own ideas because you are not knowledgeable enough. You really should read a few books yourself.

    I cannot answer your comments the moment you write them, I can’t be online 24 hours a day, for one I have a life, and for the other, the retirement home does not allow us bitter, jaded geriatrics more than one hour of internet a day… :twisted:

  107. aafke, i didn’t get personal–ad hominem, if you will–until bigstick did, by summarily dismissing my viewpoint because i’m “young and naive.” and don’t kid yourself; your bitterly sarcastic generalizations and judgments about individual situations are enough to get anyone’s dander up. not to sound snooty, but i’ve read plenty of books. trust me. maybe not the ones you or bigstick have chosen for me, but that’s okay. i’m satisfied with the management of my library. :) and speaking of answering my comments, you never did answer any of the questions i asked…

  108. not sure why it’s taking so long for some of my comments to post, while others immediately show up…i’m not sure which ones are making it and which ones aren’t. oh, well.

    I am sorry about this problem: some of your comments go to spam. Not all of them, but some. We do not not know how or why this happens. It also happens to other commentators. It’s a WordPress bug. I will check the spam folder regularly while I am online and take your comments out of spam.

    Moderator

  109. Nicole:

    Question are you young meaning under 30?

    Have you ever experienced oppression?

    Have you ever experienced religious abuse?

  110. bigstick…simply being born female means you (any you) will experience some form of oppression…whether in a third world country or a so called first world. All the same…thats a trick question right?

  111. Aafke – Tripod and Saheba more closely resemble geriatrics than you. I checked on one of the animal to human years conversion sites and my two babies are actually each 73 years old in human years. Does that mean instead of senior citizens I have senior catizens? (g)

  112. Coolred38:

    Yes women experience it to degrees some more than other in certain first world countries. However the younger generation often times are removed from it and don’t have the same memory of what it was like even in the 70’s or 80’s let alone the 50’s or 60’s. This generation of women has far more opportunities and fewer barriers than the previous and let hope it stays that way even in the face of the tea party/Christian right. However you are of that generation prior who were told that you had to do twice the work of a man to prove yourself or that you should find a husband if you wanted to support a family. I remember distinctly when my mother was told that good paying jobs were for men as they had families. I thought at the time what a stupid thing to say, my mother was trying to support a family it didn’t dawn on me just how sexist that really was until I grew up a little more. I watched my mother fight for everything she got and put in twice the hours often times for almost half of what men were paid. Their response to her was to get a man or suffer the consequences.

    What I find interesting is just how easily some women are willing to give up that freedom and right to embrace customs to which are even more restrictive or disrespectful than what it used to be even in your/our time in the western world.

    I find it interesting just what women are willing to accept as a norm that men will not and just how little women place upon their worth in the business world or the public sphere. They are far less demanding of salaries and are in need of negotiation skills which as I raise my daughter who is constantly negotiating things with me, I am left to wonder what message we send women even if subliminally that takes that quality away.

  113. @bigstick1,
    I don’t think age has anything to do with experience. I’m under 30 and understand more about life than a lot of people twice my age. I find the age=experience thing quite insulting.

  114. StrangeOne:

    Yes and no. First age has a lot to do with things and that includes exposure to various areas just simply because of time. It is simply a fact for the majority of the cases not all. Next what people who are younger lack is the understanding how how time changes things in many respects as we have experienced it and lived through it. Quite frankly it is not an insult it just is a reality that for many with age comes experience both good and bad as you have been exposed to life and the trials far more than someone half your age at least for the most part.

  115. @bigstick1,
    While I realize that’s true for most people, that doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone because some people just get more difficult situations handed to them when they’re younger. I haven’t had to deal with as much at my age as some I know, but I also tend to take on a lot more than most people. To be honest, it’s only in the past few years that I have really felt mature for my age. What makes the difference is that a lot of people want to live, be, and act sheltered. They are content to live within their bubble, their world (whatever and wherever that is for them).

    I’m not. I want to explore and know more about life, constantly challenging myself to grow and take on more and more responsibility. That drive, that thirst for knowledge is I think, what makes the difference in how fast a person matures. That, and the experiences life happens to throw at a person and how well they adapt to it and overcome bad situations. It’s about both learning and listening from one’s surroundings.

    My best friends tend to be at least a good 10-20 years older than me, have experience with multiple cultures, and are educated. Why? Because they’re the ones I can relate to the best. They’re the ones that I don’t have to explain myself around and can talk about nearly everything with.

  116. Strangeone:

    I left a caveat in there for you as an exception to the rule. I put for most.

    Next I went up on her site and read some of her experiences I tend to believe I am correct on my assertion.

  117. Regardless of whether the Prophet Mohammed was merciful or not, what is the point of bashing Islam? Are some of you indirectly trying to say that Western ideology, which dominates, is any better? I’d rather be part of a society (Islamic) where family/kin is the priority rather than one that prioritizes Individualistic values any day!

    Making assumptions about Islam by simply reading books is NOT enough to fully understand the culture and religion. By reading, one can learn that women in Islam are legally inferior to men, but in the REALITY Muslim women are far from subservient. This is the problem with ‘book’ learning, it masks a lot of the day-to-day realities. We are so quick to judge others from our Eurocentric viewpoints,…we forget to ask the people themselves. Many Muslim women/men are content, so what right do we have to bash their religion because we don’t agree with it (or because some extremists gave their religion a bad name?)

    Someone who views women in Islam as oppressed and Muslim men as chauvinists have no experience living alongside Muslims.

    The strict version on Islam that is promoted in Saudi Arabia is one of countless interpretations of Islam.

    Also, I hear a lot of mention about ‘freedom.’ First off, the alleged ‘freedoms’ we have in the West are a farce. We are less free than traditional and tribal cultures in the past, as we are completely dependent on those in power to meet our basic needs (food, clothing, shelter). Traditionally, tribal cultures were self-sufficient and met their basic human needs by subsistence. Self-sufficiency is freedom. The global economic system that exists now is NOT freedom. The majority of us are not free to do what we want, we must essentially buy our ‘freedom.’ Muslim women are no less/more free than us women in the West.

  118. The underlying problem with Saudi culture is the exposure to Western influences, as with other cultures exposed. Many traditional societies, that have existed for hundreds or thousands of years, have been disrupted by outside influence. This is what is happening to many Muslim cultures. Rather than give up their cultures, they are holding on to them for dear life……which seems logical.

  119. escortdiary, but the current saudi ”culture” hasn’t existed for thousands of years, it has only existed in this form for 30/40 years. Only a short time ago the Eastern province and Hijaz were very different places, with real indigenous cultures.
    The women wore traditional embroidered dresses in the countryside, there was much more freedom, not all women covered their hair. In some villages the traditional head covering for women were straw hats, or little cloth hats. On old pictures of Saudi women you see Bedouin women with their hair in tresses in front. There are two pictures of Fatehma, who was governor of Hail for a few years, (try that in Saudi’s new artificial ”culture”) and she wore a wide dress and her hair in tresses in front of her.

    I saw an interview with an old man who told how a few decades ago men from Riyad came to his village and forced the women to wear abayas and cover their hair and wear niqabs, which was a great hardship fro them because they still had to work on the fields and tend lifestock in the heat. Poor women…

    Men and women worked, and worked together. In Mecca it was custom to invite sufi musicians for celebrations. There aren’t any sufis left in SA!
    People used to have literary clubs and read and discuss. Women could go out on the street. Women could travel.

    What Saudi has now is not an age old ”culture” but a violently enforced experiment in social engineering. Saudi has been impoverished and stunted.
    Why should we respect this harmful experiment in social engineering?
    An enforced artificial culture which btw, had no respect for Saudi’s real indigenous cultures, you should put the blame where it belongs.

  120. The real problem in the Muslim world today is Saudi Arabia, which uses it’s petrol dollars to influence and destroy other established Muslim cultures, and replace it with their own, modern, sterile and oppressive wahhabi form of Islam. You can see all over the world this evil influence destroy indiginous cultures.
    You can see what it does, tearing countries apart, subjecting women to the level of lifestock, inciting hatred towards other religions. You should worry about that. Not about Saudi holding on to their brand new artificial ”culture”.

    If you want to see women and children die go to places like Taliban governed Pakistan, this is what the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam does to culture and tradition.

  121. Carol, yes, your cats are senior catizens!

  122. Nicole, the ad hominem fallacy is appropriate to your comments.
    I will explain your mistakes This is the Ad Hominem fallacy;
    1 Person A make claim X
    2 Person B makes an attack on person A
    3 Therefore claim X is false.

    Do you see how silly this is? It doesn’t matter who or what ”A” is to the validity of claim X.

    This is what you do:
    1 Aafke makes claim X
    2 nicole attacks with the assumption Aafke is old and bitter
    3 therefore claim X is false

    1 Aafke makes claim X
    2 Nicole thinks Aafke has never been in country Z
    3 Therefore claim X is false

    Or the fallacy several people here have fallen for:
    1 person A makes claim X
    2 Others attack person A, ”A read a lot of books”
    3 Therefore claim X is false

    I hope people here will understand that this is not a good way to conduct a meaningful discussion, and stop making these logical fallacies so we can do some real debating.

  123. Assuming that ALL women who embrace islam will suffer from that choice is what exactly other than a gross exaggeration. I personally did not find comfort in Islam…but that was later into my experience with it. In the beginning I was satisfied and felt comfortable and safe with my choice. If you want to speak of fallacies….then making assumptions about all muslim women based on what some muslim men do is not helping your argument.

    Nobody “attacks”you, Aafke….and if we did, never at the depth and breadth that I have seen you go after women on this blog(myself included). Asking if you have been to Saudi is a legitament question…other than being friends with a handful of muslims (though I suspect if they were ever really muslim by the standard definition) and having an exmuslim for a boyfriend (or whatever his standing is currently), where are you getting all your information from if not from reading books? How is stating that someone got their information from reading seen as a form of attack? And have you been to Saudi? Im willing to bet you havent…they dont let unmarried women in unless you are going to work as a housemaid or nurse or something, artists arent high on their lists of work permits. I notice you did not answer that…just brushed it aside as assuming something about you…;which is what you do about others. Lets make it easier on ya…have you been to any Arab/Musim country?

  124. oh, but aafke…you forgot the one that started it all!

    1. nicole makes claim x.
    2. aafke attacks with the assumption that nicole is a liar.
    3. therefore claim x is false.

    so let’s not pretend that aafke is a seasoned debater who is far above resorting to fallacies. you kicked that door wide open long ago, my dear! :) and you STILL haven’t answered any of the questions i asked you…

  125. Women are subjugated wverywhere. Nowhere is a women 100% on par with men, Yes middle east and asia is terrible but even inthe west we don’t have 100% equality, Even if there is 99.99% eqiuality there is a sublime message we send to girls that teaches them that they are truly equal. and i blame myself too for that.
    It is hard to overcome that social conditioning , I have to consiously try :-)

    E.g my daughter wanted to go into a specific field of study in medicine. my first thought was happiness that she picked my profession followed by – ‘ oh no not that speciality , it’s hell on family life ‘ – lickily i didnt voice that and had to force myself to tell her if that is her interes to follow it , but after a few hrs in a casual chat i told her how good her choice was an dalso threw in the few cons to it. and i had to consciously refrain from pointing out that if she has a family , life may not be so much fun with that choice. :-) atleast for her family an then realised who knows maybe her partner will deal with domestic issues??? or maybe she will choose not to have kids?? or even get married at all..

    whereas when my son picks a line of study, talk invariable is around earning potential, is he happy , is that what he wants to do etc., etc., somehow the fact his kids may/may not suffer doesn’t come into the picture.
    so now i think everything a 100 times before i tell my daughter anything, i try to not give her any message that reinforces that she is a woman and believe me . IT IS HARD….

    so i thnk it will be harder in some places like th emiddle east where there is greater amount of social conditioning , where the goal for a woman is to be married and stay married…change will come only by choice. and not easy at all.

  126. Hi,

    In the constantly progressing and deteriorating and rapidly revolving kaleidoscope of misunderstanding and disgust and hunger that constitutes gender relations in the twenty-first century, a new gesture has emerged to define the women universally: the sneer, the female gaze of contempt. That gaze of contempt is as much present here in the USA as it is in KSA!

    Statistics showing the rise of women and fall of men are sobering, but is really only pointing out trends — when and if and how they translate into real-world power is vague. And as the statistics also show, women account for only 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, 17 percent of members of Congress, and 20 of the 180 heads of state.

    Matriarchy? Really? No. The world’s leading exporter of absurdity has shown the way: Women in Saudi Arabia earn more than half of all undergraduate and doctoral degrees — then they have to be driven to their jobs by their male guardians. :)-

    Here is the link to a recent article from Esquire magazine: Contempt of Women & Rise of Men & Whining of Girls …..

    http://www.esquire.com/features/thousand-words-on-culture/contempt-of-women-0912#ixzz23Q4njLFV

    Blessings!

  127. Aafke,

    Aafke, your argument reaffirms what I was trying to say…the problems associated Saudi Arabia, and other cultures, is Western influence (which you mention Oil money and ‘social engineering’ as problems). The whole ‘social engineering’ that lead to the formation of Saudi Arabia was European influence on creating a nation-state, and British backing. Saudi was created when the European concept of Nationalism hit the world like a plague. What about petro influence on Saudi society? Again, outside influence.

    You lay blame at Saudi because they use “petrol dollars to influence and destroy other established Muslim cultures, and replace it with their own, modern, sterile and oppressive wahhabi form of Islam,” BUT I want to ask, where did Saudis gain this power to exploit others? They gained this power when they exploited their own natural resources (oil) and profited handsomely. But where did they get this idea that oil-money could be used to ‘bully’ the rest of the world? OUTSIDE influence. It’s easy to blame Saudi, but the bigger problem is the Western ideology that has been forced upon the world (yes, forced, because historically cultures were coerced into joining the global economy)

    Nonetheless Aafke, I agree with many of your views, but this ‘social engineering’ has been occurring in EVERY current nation-state where a bunch of tribes were bunched together to form one country. Of course, this stemmed from European influence, as the ‘dominant’ global ideology was promoted for all. Europeans backed their favored tribe and put them in power (as the British had backed Abdulaziz bin Saud). Suddenly, all of these differing tribes (like the differing Hijaz and Nadj people’s) are lumped together to form a common identity (Saudis). Al-Saud, of course, with their power (backed by the British) constructs Islam to suit the needs of Al-Saud’s vision of Saudi society. Any loss of culture in this case is because of nationalism, which nationalism is also the root of the wars and genocides that have played out in recent history. In this instance, who is to blame for loss of culture?

    You mention that Saudi has ‘lost’ it’s culture. But again, that’s only from an ‘on paper’ point of view. A lot of Hijaz and Nadj tribal customs still exist at a day-to-day level in many Saudi families, despite ‘social engineering’ efforts to create one Saudi identity. Saudis themselves often differ themselves amongst each other, therefore ‘culture’ still exists as a way to define these differences. For instance, a lot of Saudis are fond of the cultural dances that exist in the South.

    Nobody addressed my question about Western life. Really, do we feel our lives here are any better? We, in the West, are also products of a big ‘social engineering’ project, as we have these nationalistic ideals propagated on us constantly.

  128. escortdiary:

    One has to wonder who influenced who? The Islamic slave trade existed long before and it had great influence on the Western World. In fact it was Arabs and Muslm’s who enslaved many Africans and sold them to the US and others. In addition they carried on a long tradition of Middle Eastern religion which encourages a range of violence, subjugation and violence.

    http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/248/islamic-modernism-responses-to-western-modernization-in-the-middle-east

    The Ottoman empire did influence the western world as well by conquest but here is the kicker that many in the Middle East fail to connect and that is that Judaism and Christianity are also religions from the Middle East. So who influenced who? Maybe it is the west that is trying to break loose of the influence that has ensured violence in the Middle East since history can remember due to it’s influence. The Secular west is actually less violent than the middle east.

    Now ask yourself how does anyone deal with a people who have an extensive history of deception, violence and the need to enforce religion on a world as in essence has done a great job with the Middle eastern origins of the Abrahamic (hate) Religion? When you deal with the middle east you deal with a hornets nest who are not children by any means or some people who do don’t possess ability of subtefuge. Hell they invented it. So spare me the poor pitiful them their history is replete with violence, slavery, rape, subjugation and use of others. Even now it continues. They are not the poor players in this game. They are very shewd and quite aware of there position and what moves they are making in propaganda.

    Next, what you are labeling as family can be construed as child and domestic abuse depending on the limitations and message that is being sent out in tradition, religion and culture. If you cripple a woman’s ability in society by constructed rules which places her at disadvantage or on a level of a child then it is abuse. There is no family here it is a man who rules by subjugation.

    Now in your agrument it is true that there are levels within society that are restrictive, however, the western world has found out that the best way to ensure a better society that offers opportunities, self-empowerment, and independence is by allowing women to be in the public realm and to be an individual that has authority over themselves thus they are actually happier for the most part. That happiness actually creates happier children.

    Now you can say what you want on divorce but Saudi has a higher divorce rate than the US. In addition, forcing a woman or a man to be in a position where they must remain married by keeping women depended on men or keeping men from divorcing women as it is their duty doesn’t create happy marriages or a happy society as you are living a lie in a marriage you don’t want or care for so both will cheat. In addition, oppressive cultures ruled by religion or communities are well know for systematic child and spousal abuse and more often than not rape of children t goes unreported in part to both image and the family unit (larger scale). In other words the INDIVIDUAL suffers the abuse to ensure that a dysfunction family continues.

  129. In part to protect both image and the family unit. (Protect is the missing word) in the last paragraph.

  130. Let’s share this cable from Wikileaks which could enrich the discussion and provide valuable insight about the life of Western women married to Saudis.

    http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/04/06JEDDAH302.html#

    Thanks to Julian Assange because without his bravery we might never read this. I hope Wikileaks is not censored in the US.

  131. Stupid people who say Wabbi .. there is nothing called wahbbi , there is a wahbbi movement but it is not a madhab ! if someone said there is such a thing called wahhbai .. please send me? their ONE only ONE book …
    If you mean wahhabi = sunni we are proud to attached to one of god’s names :) but we are sunni we are the followers of prophet mohammed :)
    if we are wahabbi = sunni
    you are Shia (rafidah) = shirk = abdullah ibn saba’a el yahowdi(jewish)

    Who says ((Wahhabi)) word is they are Shia Or Sufism..
    Shiites 8% of the proportion of Muslims.
    Most Arabs are Sunni Muslims.
    I forgot to tell you that there are people who hate Arabs because of doctrinal differences .. ..
    I do not want to discuss About Doctrines.
    But who wants to know What IS Wahhabi.

  132. @cahlah, you say Sunni are the faithful of the faith. Shia say the very same thing.
    That you call Sunni as Wahhabi interesting, as multiple Arabian nations follow different varieties of adherence to Wahhabi doctrine.

    YOU lock out ALL possibility of discourse and common ground, then moving forward into consensus.
    In short, YOUR view CAUSES violence, for there can be NO discussion. Ever.
    Such thoughts rammed two aircraft into the WTC and killed friends of mine and one of my cousins.

    I’ll be blunt. I’ve ate and drank in Shia homes and Sunni homes.
    Do you want to know what the REALITY is?
    Those narrowly defining faith and reality are few, but troublesome.
    Those who are “Good Catholics” (aka, go to the religious structure on time, perform the minimum of duty to faith and ignore some inconvenient parts as a habit) are far more the norm.
    Does that make them evil, shirkers, etc? That is up to you to consider, but be advised, my friends are those I’d defend. I may not follow their or your faith, but I’ll defend their rights to follow their faith in my land.
    I humbly suggest you learn the Jewish lesson of Masada. Where zealots sealed themselves into the fortress against the Romans.
    And not the lack of popular support for them, as they killed themselves rather than be captured and executed by the Romans.
    What WAS that group’s name again?
    Oh, yes. Zealot.
    Yes, the ORIGIN of that term.
    And hence, why they’re extinct. The MAJORITY considered them beyond reason, reality or support.

  133. Sometimes it all just boils down to the laws of probability.. and although I love love and the notion of finding your soulmate anywhere and everywhere, the odds are not really that high for the western- Saudi marriage to be a smooth ride.. If you are very very Lucky you will meet a Saudi man who is like American Bedu´s late husband or the husbands of the lucky ladies who blog about their happy lives in Saudi Arabia, but unfortunately those are rare jems.

  134. I agree with you, Bella.

  135. In the name of Allah who no God but him

    Hello to everyone…

    I want you (pro)Westerners to observe youre literature, your websites, musics and movies which show girls in cage and then come to critisize girls’ limitation in muslim country. Look at your books written by women who mentioned herself in abbreviation like the author of Harry Potter and listen to Lady Gaga when says that “why when a women did a men work will be called a bitch?”in musics and your movies that really explain man-superiority in all field of cinema and eventually google such things like teen, humiliation to understand what is happening to your pure girls…

  136. @؛a Ali, you conflate some sparse instances and a majority, whilst you ignore the majority who have no such issues.
    That one author chose to have her name listed by abbreviated first initials isn’t quite notable, I’m guessing that you are unacquainted with Herbert George Wells, aka H. G. Wells.
    That one singer, Lady Gaga sings about one thing is a sign of an endemic problem? What a fascinating perspective! I’m guessing that my youngest daughter being a professional chef makes her fall into that category. Funny how that hasn’t happened to her in the past decade or when she started out as a chef.
    But, you’re right. Why, Terminator, Terminator 2, Courage Under Fire, the entire Xena Warrior Princess were all explaining male superiority.
    As for teen humiliation, that goes for both male and female, it’s the barbarity of the young and something that they must be taught to not do.
    As for my eldest daughter, I’m hoping we can find time off that is mutually matching so that we can go to the gun range again, we both enjoyed firing a few hundred rounds down range.
    The funny thing is, I’m willing to bet that she is a better shot than any son you shall ever produce. But then, I trained her. :D

  137. Cultures are slow to change, and typically only undergo major changes when there is a pressing reason for it if for no other reason than there has to be a good reason to make the general public consider change as a good thing when compared to the status quo. In other words, to answer the question: “that’s the way we’ve always done it; why change now?”

    An interesting note on the Arab-Western couple: I have found that in the short time (less than 2 years) I’ve been with my husband, we’ve adapted to each other’s culture and found our happy place in the middle of both. Although I knew he’d adapted to my culture, I didn’t realize how much I had also adapted to his until I recently went out with a group of my American friends. I felt like I’d almost forgotten mainstream American culture! There are hidden gems in the form of cultural values in both that aren’t apparent at first to the other group of people.

    Why am I saying this? Just to point out that both parties (typically) need to be willing to adapt to the other person’s culture. It’s not easy, and if one isn’t willing to do so, it’s going to be a rocky road ahead. Sometimes my friends ask why I change for my husband (in what I perceive to be relatively unimportant things to me), and it comes down to one word: respect. I love him, therefore I respect him. I want to spend my life with him and don’t want to fight all the time with him. Therefore, on the things that are more important to him than me, I respect his wishes. He does the same for me! :) And that’s how to make a bi-cultural relationship work.

    That said, it’s still not easy and I still wouldn’t recommend it for most people because most people wouldn’t want to tough it out in order to find that comfortable, joyful, and peaceful middle-ground. Also, most people wouldn’t be as open to cultural change.

  138. StrangeOne, marriage has always been one of two things.
    Parasitism or symbiosis.
    The successful marriages are symbiotic.
    The disasters are parasitism.

    But then, what would I know? We’ve only been married for 31 years now.
    I’d have fun with a “DELERIOUSLY HAPPY” bit, but she’s resting and can’t give her part of the humor.
    Small hint, we do “The Lockhorns” out of pure fun.
    One idiot remarked at a party, after our joke, “MY wife would’ve stabbed me in the ribs with that one!”
    My rejoiner was, “Try TALKING to her for a change! SHE knows I’m not serious and this is humor and does her bit. DAMN!”
    I’ll suggest, some marriages dissolved after, some succeeded, the latter attributed it to our guidance.
    For, we TALK. ALWAYS. Even when annoying, it’s important. We’re a couple, a team, equals in moving forward in the world. We are one.
    But then, we’re newlyweds. Only married for a mere 31 years.
    Compared to my parents 50 years. Regrettably, her father died younger and they lost the ability to brag. :/

  139. @wzrd1,
    I like the way you think and wish the best for you and your “newlywed” wife for the years to come. :) Sorry to hear about her father, though.

    I agree that communication is very important. I sometimes wonder if it has helped that my husband and I come from different cultural (and language) backgrounds because we were forced to talk about our expectations from the beginning rather than just assuming that we were both in agreement. It may have meant a rocky road in the beginning, but we get along really well now and more importantly, we understand each other. Interestingly, people say we act more like a stereotypical Italian couple. hehehe

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