Saudi cleric Abd Al-Rahman Abd Al-Karim said that Islamic law requires that the woman stay at home. When a woman goes out to work, "it detracts from the beauty of the home," he said. Abd Al-Karim, speaking on Rotana Khalijiyya TV on November 6, suggested that Saudi Arabia should instate separate hospitals for men and women, saying that it was "a mistake to have men and women together in hospitals" as this leads to temptation.
Abd Al-Rahman Abd Al-Karim: "The truth is that from the perspective of the shari'a, the woman is supposed to remain at home. That is the principle. As long as she remains at home, she is better off.
"It is best for the woman to stay at home. It is in her nature. As long as she remains at home, the home thrives and is beautiful. When the woman leaves her home to go to work... It’s not that it is forbidden, in general, but it detracts from the beauty of the home. The home is beautiful when the woman remains in it."
Interviewer: "So she shouldn't go out at all?"
Abd Al-Rahman Abd Al-Karim: "No, it's about leaving the home to go to work. What I'm saying is that if she remains at home, there is no doubt that the home will thrive and become more beautiful. It is the man who is responsible for providing the livelihood. Allah commanded the man to provide for [the family], and the woman to take care of matters of the home. This is an indisputable fact, which nobody denies. The shari'a laws are intended to protect the woman from harassment, and to keep her away from men and safe from them. Take the panel in which we are sitting right now. If a woman was sitting with us right now, or moderating this discussion, she would be denounced by society. Our society is conservative."
Interviewer: "What if you were asked to give an interview to a woman?"
Abd Al-Rahman Abd Al-Karim: "Me?"
Interviewer: "I'm asking, if there was a woman here..."
Abd Al-Rahman Abd Al-Karim: "I would have reservations."
Interviewer: "Generally speaking, there is no separation of men and women in the workplace. Saudi women work in hospitals and other places. What is your view on this?"
Abd Al-Rahman Abd Al-Karim: "With regard to the presence of men and women in the same place - you say that in principle, it is permitted, whereas I say that in principle, it is forbidden, because it leads to nothing good.
"If the woman has to be in the company of men, it should be in an open and public place. But if she is with two or three men in a closed place, there is room, in my opinion, for even more temptation. If it is an open place - like a hospital, for example - there is still temptation, but less so. But I ask: Why aren't there hospitals for women and hospitals for men?
"It is a mistake to have men and women together in hospitals. You have women sitting next to men and men sitting next to women - male and female doctors, male and female nurses, and so on, discussing medical cases and other things. This is a mistake. A woman must not work in this field, because it leads to temptation."
Interviewer: "Is it just wrong, or is it forbidden?"
Abd Al-Rahman Abd Al-Karim: "It is forbidden. We could serve as a potential model for other nations and countries, by having separate hospitals for men and for women. Furthermore, I ask: How can any reasonable man specialize in gynecology and obstetrics? This is strange. How can a god-fearing Muslim man specialize in gynecology and obstetrics? Would you?"
Interviewer: "I ask the questions, not you."
Abd Al-Rahman Abd Al-Karim: "Humor me."
Interviewer: "It is my job as an interviewer. I ask, and you answer."
Abd Al-Rahman Abd Al-Karim: "But I'd like to ask you."
Interviewer: "No, if you were sitting here, you could ask."
Abd Al-Rahman Abd Al-Karim: "No reasonable man would want to specialize in this. Impossible. If we have any religious or moral sentiments, we must avoid such things.
"When, in a rich country like Saudi Arabia, a woman works as a cashier, this is an affront to women and to girls."
Abd Al-Rahman Abd Al-Karim: "Let's say the cashier does the calculation, and some money is missing. Who will hold her accountable? Men. The problem is that the cashier is economically weak. Her salary is between 3,000 to 4,000 riyals. So the path to extortion is a short one. If she is short of money, she will be afraid. Then, one thing will lead to another. He'll say: “You know what, I can turn a blind eye.” So he earns her affection, she starts to like him, and so on...This is the problem. These are the things that scare us with regard to our girls. So I say: Don't let our girls become easy prey. The woman is virtuous when she is protected in her home.
"Take a women who is very weak and needy, and has found nothing but this job - and if she has to give up her job, she will die of hunger - should we tell her to stop working? No, let her work. So the criterion is that she is about to die of hunger? When I say that women should not work, I'm accused of wanting to kill girls. What I'm saying is that here in Saudi Arabia, we should take care of their needs and keep them safe at home.