Saudi Cleric Sheik Abd Al-Muhsen Al-Abikan on Democracy and Women in the West
The following are excerpts from an interview with Saudi cleric Sheik Abd Al-Muhsen Al-Abikan, which aired on Saudi TV's Channel 1 on June 19, 2005.
Abikan: (We should) expose the false slogans spread by the West, claiming that they are the people of democracy, of justice, and of freedom, and that their regimes bring about good for all mankind. If we compare these societies to Muslim society, Muslim society would be superior in all aspects. In fact, they are more advance than us only in modern technology and material development, but at the expense of social behavior. These societies lack many things. The woman… They say there must be equality between men and women? Equality in what way? For example, they talk about equality in how they are treated, but, in fact, they have no equality. The woman is more advanced than the man. The husband, opens the car door for his wife, and lets her speak before him. Is this equality? No, it's the opposite. This is advancing the woman before the man. Western men should object to this.
Host: She has the same rights as others.
Abikan: Western men should say: "You've given women preference instead of equality." Equality should mean, for example, that the woman has to walk next to the man. If they enter a place, they should enter together, or whoever gets there first. Why should he open the door for her? Why is he carry the bags, while she walks ahead? You see such things. The woman walks ahead, and the man lags behind with the bags. Is this equality? They are spreading empty and false This is not equality but rather the opposite. They have turned upside down what religious law has decreed with regard to men and women is Islam. If we compare the status of women in our society and in the West, we find that our women enjoy a status of respect. The woman is honored, protected, and respected, and she enjoys the full rights accorded to her in Islam, whereas in other societies she is persecuted. She goes out to public places like men, and serves the men, and works twice. At home, she has an important task –raising her children. She's burdened by hardship of working outside, as well as the hardship of working at home. Who is supposed to prepare the meals and make the home suitable for living and for a happy marital life? Who will carry out this task? The woman, of course. Is she a servant? In this case, she won't be able to do this work. This is a woman's basic work, and if she goes out it is more work. In other words, they have burdened her with more work, on top of her basic work, and they have oppressed and exploited her. On the other hand, in our society, she is honored and respected, thank God.