What The Fatwa?!

I borrowed the phrase in the title from my friend Mona el Tahawy because if anything deserved a WTF then it definitely is the case of a woman in my hometown Al Ras, a little town in Qasseem where everyone is related in some way to everyone else. The woman is married to a Saudi and is now a naturalized Saudi herself. She was accused of making false malicious complaints against government officials working on a case raised against her husband. And she was also accused of going to the courts and government offices without a mahram (male guardian). Apparently the judge has now deemed that women without a mahram going into the court or government offices for their issues  an offence!

She was sentenced a year and a half in prison and 300 lashings. The judge also threatened her with withdrawing her Saudi citizenship and deportation. She has already started her sentence at the women’s facility in Qaseem and has her infant daughter in there with her too. Her side of the story was that she went to government officials to seek justice for her husband and was received with insults and ridicule. So she courageously took it took it upon herself to go to the courts herself and complain. What was she supposed to do?

I don’t remember ever reading that the Prophet PBUH turned women away telling them to come back with their mahrams. Let alone punish them for it! And what if a woman was abused by her mahram and wanted to seek help?! This judge is wrong on so many levels, and that’s only natural without codified laws. She probably rubbed him the wrong way and he decided to take out his annoyance any way he could. He threatened her with taking away her citizenship! I thought those can’t be taken back. What’s next? Are we going to threaten non tribal Saudis or expel specific tribes like Qatar did?

As you can tell by the photo above, they are real simple people. Al Thawab (her husband’s family) aren’t known for their riches and power. The whole story is just plain dodgy. And yes that’s her in the picture. She was born Sudanese.

The photo is linked to the news article that was reported in Okaz newspaper.


I checked the gossip mill and some people think that she was  just unlucky, timing-wise. Because at the same time her case was in the courts another  case regarding a judge was also being reviewed. The judge was accused of making false and malicious claims and the Al Ras court really had it in for him and gave him 10 months prison and 120 lashings. People speculate that when the woman’s case came up, the court wanted to ‘seem’ fair by being harsh on her too! Now the accused judge is appealing and will probably go around in circles until his case is dropped while the poor woman, due to her lack of wasta (nepotistic) influence, will have to take the fall.


Filed under Fatwas, Gender Apartheid

32 responses to “What The Fatwa?!

  1. WTF?!!!
    Can’t this be appealed?
    If she had no proof for her complaints, then I assume they considered it slander and that is why she is suppose to receive lashes. Slander is very serious, so even she is was correct, it was her word against there’s and if she had no witnesses well then…

  2. Jeez … these KSA stories freak me out.

  3. I like WTF, that works. Horrid story though.

  4. WTF!!!!
    I am so upset reading this!
    So frustrating there is nothing one can do!
    And what’s up with always doling out lashings????
    Seriously. Why do they always give out lashings? Lack of imagination? Fetish?
    And imprisonment! Sick!

  5. I just read your update. This makes it only more sad and unjust 😦

  6. Maryam Ruhullah

    What can be done to help this family? I think the fact that the author of this article stated that the prophet (PBUH) did not turn women away is an essential argument toward what should be considered illegal action by the judge whose personal disposition dictated his judicial judgment.

    This woman should not be jailed. Let’s do what we can to very soon read that she has her freedom.



  7. I agree, what sort of social action could be helpful to this woman?

    Maybe this is a good time to use the Western media and women’s rights groups as well as the Saudi/Arab ones. They might be especially in favour of helping a Sudanese, if the word Darfur could be used somewhere.

    I just did a rapid check and this story is not in the Western media at all (to busy with the 13 year old and the head mistress; and a filipina maid)

    • I noticed the same and I really want her story to get out to the media but I don’t know how to go about it except write a post.

      • I’m wondering about the Huffington Post or CNN-Asia or some international women’s rights group ; or AI, HRW, etc, and Muslim Women’s rights group.

        I can see what I find about how to do this, aside from posting and linking your post on my blog.

        Oops–Facebook and Twitter! Neither of which I use but are highly effective in some instances.

  8. coolred38

    Why do they put women in jail with their babies and young children? Seems like child abuse right along with abuse of the victim.

    • actually it could be considered the opposite because having the child in there is optional. From what I hear, women prisons are pretty laid-back and even the women working there act more like social workers than anything as sinister as a prison guard. So if the mother wants to not be separated from her child, she could take them in with her.

      • Good points both. In general a prison, and a hospital (!) are considered more humane if they allow mothers and babies to stay together, for bonding, and breast feeding both. Small village prisons, in Italy for example, did this, even with young toddlers, still breastfeeding. The mother’s behaviour in prison and that of the other prisoners is found to be improved by the presence of a baby.

  9. Aaishah

    Theres nothing I can do but make dua for her…so I shall insha Allah and encourage anyone else to do the same.
    This is shameful.

  10. Rozy

    WTF!!! 300 lashings is too much for a woman to bear!!! I pray she could appeal for leniency or something.

  11. Abu Rumaisa

    If the case was reversed, and it was man who was slandering a woman… and the judge gave the man lashing as the punishment, would we so outraged!

    The judge (a man) did get the same punishment, so we can’t claim only women get this punishment. It’s just that we tend to make it an issue if it’s a woman getting punished even if she’s guilty.

    Lashing is actually better than prison term, with lashing u r done with & then u go home. Prison terms mean u r stuck in there for months or years with more hardcore prisoners. And let’s not forget the added expenses to the state.

    From what I heard from ppl who witnessed lashing, there are many rules that are followed. It’s not on bare skin to begin with, excessive force can’t be use, the lasher has to keep his arm against his body when lashing so that excessive force is not applied (they tie the arm to body to ensure this), the lashing is done in intervals if they don’t think the person can take the punishment in one day.

    I m not saying it does not hurt but it’s not exactly like many ppl imagine it to be.

    • I would like for you to see how you take the lashings and then see if you still speak so lightly about other people being tortured.

      do you believe that crap about holding arms against the body?

      And have you actually read your own comment?
      They give out the lashings in intervals if they think a person cannot take it???
      But it is only a light punishment…
      Are you really that dumb?

      • Abu Rumaisa

        Have you witnessed any lashings? I was quoting ppl who have actually witnessed lashings here in Saudia.

        Most ppl get only about 50 lashes per day, that’s how it’s done for the most part.

        I didn’t say it was light punishment… but without the intervals & to be able to extend the arm would make it worse.

        I would not break the law in the 1st place, but I choose to then I should be ready to face consequences for it.

        Personally, I think prison terms are far more worse punishment as it extends the suffering for a long time. But that’s my opinion just like the enlightened west thinks lashings r barbaric & ppl can be locked away for 5 yrs for minor crimes… 5 yrs of their lives taken away & make it harder for them to re-adjust to the normal life once they are out. Yup only lashings are torture, prison term is a vacation. Ask the one who is serving one.

  12. Great post Iman, keep up the good work.

  13. Patrícia Rocha

    Hi, my name is Patrícia Rocha, I am a Brazilian journalist and I would like to ask you some help to an article I am working for. Could you please send me an e-mail so I can explain better my project for you? Thank you so much.

  14. sameer

    this is precisely why saudi is such a fucked up country

  15. I find your blog very interesting, if you find all so repulsive and difficult, why do not you have to live in Italy, we find food, good wine and fun.

  16. Walter

    That’s a very interesting story. I totally support your blog! keep it up! W.

  17. I am speechless yet at the same time not at all surprised!! That’s Saudi Arabia for youm the good ‘ol Kingdom of Injustice! lol

  18. Pingback: Sawsan Salim in jail « Saudiwoman’s Weblog

  19. Richard

    This is one man that feels for you saudiwomen.

    I dont know how anyone could treat you like that.

    You are humen beings.

    I hope and pray for all of you.

  20. boredwell

    For too many women from diverse cultures throughout the world, “Justice,” is an arbitrary concept when it is prejudicial to women and summarily dispensed as in the case of Mona el Tawahy. It’s a travesty to deny women their god-given and universal human rights which should be respected as inalienable. But we do not live in a just or equal world and Ms. Tawahy has become another victim of its blindsighted prejudices. How, as a global community, can we work to ensure that all women become empowered to attain first class citizenship?

  21. Susan

    Abu Rumaisal said: “I would not break the law in the first place.” So what if the mullahs and the authorities decide that your commenting on this blog is now a crime? What will you do when they come for you?

  22. dave

    Hi Eman. I haven’t come back to your blog for a long time. I just want to say I really feel sick from the idea that women should have lashings. And that this punishment (or any punishment) seems to be given to women so much more than men. So is very unequal. And that in this story it seems that the comparison you gave, the woman has been given twice as many lashes for her punishment, as the man for his punishment. Why is punishment so unequally harsh for women, and half as severe or commonly no punishment at all for men? Why do saudi judiciary or authorities or people hate women so much or give them so less or secondary value to men?

  23. I don’t get this.Where in Islam does it say you can give lashings to a woman without Mahram and even then 300 lashes.In case of Zina(adultery),You have to prove it with 4 reputable witness.The judges of Saudi Arabia make their own law?

  24. Madrona

    dave asks: “Why do saudi judiciary or authorities or people hate women so much or give them so less or secondary value to men?”

    Because, Saudi men can’t control themselves like other members of their gender. They are sex obsessed since they have little else to think about. They want women. Therefore, women are “evil.” Sadly, many of the women believe this and don the abaya.

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