WOW! - I can't believe it! - brother from USA
We Love It! It really is fantastic! - Father of 5 in American
At LAST! We waited so long...- sisters in Saudi
Finally! This is so great . . . - brothers in Europe
Bravo! Keep it up ladies . . - Convert to Islam in Gulf
These are just some of the many comments and sentiments being expressed by folks around the world, both the Muslims and Non-Muslims have quite a lot to comment on this recent turn of events.
But what do you say? (comment at end of this article please)
From The International Herald Tribune - February 20, 2013
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA:
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Tuesday (February 18, 2013) swore in the country’s first female members of the Shura Council, an appointed body that advises on new laws..
The article indicated the move has caused deep concern amongst some of the more conservative imams (clerics) in the Kingdom.
King Abdullah who has not been shown on TV since his back surgery in November, came out in his full capacity on state television, sitting in the palace chamber to give a brief talk of appreciation and full approval, as he swore in the thirty new council members.
His Majesty has moved forward cautiously to insure the advancement for women in the kingdon would be seen in the most positive light by all concerned and to further insure it would continue with the least demonstration from oppositions within the country.
Regarding the health of King Abdullah, who is about to turn 90 years old this year, the article continues -
.. (his health) is closely watched in the world’s top oil exporter because he has the final say on policy.
Major speeches in recent months have been made on Abdullah’s behalf by his heir, Crown Prince Salman.
State media have also listed Salman as chairing the weekly cabinet sessions in place of the king.
The address to the new lady council members as representatives of the society went something like this:
“Your place in the Shura Council is not as those who have been honoured, but as those who have been charged with a duty, as you represent part of society”
The 30 new female members of the 160 member cabinet sat along with their male counterparts listening attentively as they were being sworn him by the king.
The decision to appoint women to the body, which functions in place of an elected parliament, was announced back in 2011 - Names were being withheld from the public until last month.
The Shura Council is remodelling parts of its chamber to ensure privacy and protection as well as put strict segregation between male and female members.
Saudi Arabia’s government is appointed by the ruling king, who is also Saudi's prime minister. The country’s elections are for half the seats on municipal councils that have certain limits and powers.
More good news for the ladies: Women now have the right to vote and stand for office in the next municipal ballot, King Abdullah said back in 2011.
This decision to appoint women to the Shura Council did prompt a protest by opposition conservative clerics outside the royal court in January.
Their complaint was that the move, and other reforms aimed at making it easier for women to work, went against Islam law (Shari'ah).
However, a majority of other scholars produced numerous evidences from the Quran and the traditions (hadith) of the prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, indicating the stronger opinion in favor of women having their own say-so in these matters.
Previously under former rulers in this religiously conservative kingdom, the women were not allowed to drive automobiles and even required consent from their male 'guardians' to be alone when going abroad, or to work or even to conduct their own banking business, except by similar consent.
Speculation has it, that since so many women from other countries are coming to work in the kingdon, this may have inspired the forward thinkers in the country to reconsider their position and to look deeper into the meanings behind pervious rulings, based on the Quran and the sunnah (traditions) of he prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
In any case, the world is watching and applauding the efforts of the Saudi people and their ruler as progress brings about more positive changes.
Congratulations to the women there - and to all there who are working to bring about better understandings and practices under the Shari'ah (Islamic Law).
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