Saudi Arabia builds first University for men and women, Scholar doesn’t like it and loses his position

King Abdullah builds a university for men and women and allows women to drive within the university as well as not wear the niqab. A scholar from the Saudi leading ulema council, Shaykh Saad al-Shethry, complains and King Abdullah removes him from his position. I guess we can no longer say women can’t drive in Saudi Arabia.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has sacked a senior cleric who criticised a new science and technology university which opened in September.

The cleric, Sheikh Saad al-Shethry, said the mixing of sexes in any university was evil and a great sin.

He demanded the curriculum should be vetted by Islamic scholars to prevent teaching of “alien ideologies”.

The $7bn university near Jeddah, named after King Abdullah, is a key project of the reform-minded Saudi monarch.

In what is being seen as a rare intervention, a royal decree removed Sheikh Saad from Saudi Arabia’s most senior council of religious scholars, or ulema.

No reason was given publicly for the removal.

The timing follows the sheikh’s stringent criticism of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), whose administration lies outside the control of the cleric-dominated ministry of education.

“The recommendation is to set up Sharia (Islamic law) committees at this university to oversee these studies and look into what violates the Sharia,” Sheikh Saad was quoted saying last week in the Saudi press.

The government hopes the technologically advanced centre with its relaxed social constraints will help modernise the kingdom’s deeply conservative society.

In contrast to the strict rules outside the sprawling campus, women are allowed to drive and are not required to wear veils in classes.


High-maintenance and the back hand

“If a person gives SR1,200 to his wife and she spends SR900 to purchase an abaya (the black gown) from a brand shop and if her husband slaps her on the face as a reaction to her action, she deserves that punishment,” said Judge Hamad Al-Razine.

Al-Razine’s comment evoked an immediate reaction from the women in the audience who loudly protested. They were all the more surprised when they learned that the man who made the comment was a judge.

Props to the sisters that protested.

Source: Arab News (also on CNN)

Norah al-Faiz – Saudi’s first woman minister in Saudi Arabia’s history

In Saudi Arabia small changes carry deep meaning, so the appointment earlier this year of Norah al-Faiz as Deputy Minister for Women’s Education was nothing short of an earthquake. Educated at King Saud University and Utah State, al-Faiz is the first woman minister in Saudi history. The appointment of al-Faiz, in her early 50s, was the most significant sign yet of the quiet revolution under way since King Abdullah ascended the throne in 2005. The King also replaced his Minister of Justice, head of the religious police and Minister of Education with more moderate, reform-minded leaders.

Saudi reformers welcomed the changes, especially the appointment of al-Faiz, but the real test will be whether she is allowed the authority to get things done. The education of girls has long been a battleground within the kingdom. Al-Faiz faces practical difficulties too. She can’t, for example, work face to face with male counterparts without violating the kingdom’s strict religious code — so she has said she will conduct meetings through closed-circuit television. Her presence at the ministry has had an immediate impact on Saudi women, who had been unable to enter the building. No longer. “Now I am the deputy minister, and my door is open and accessible,” alFaiz said after her appointment.

The path for al-Faiz will not be easy. But something important is under way in Saudi Arabia, and al-Faiz, and her King, are two people to watch.

May Allah (swt) bless her and protect her.


The “Saudi Obama” – Shaykh Adil Kalbani, first Black Imam of Masjid al-Haram, Makkah

A Black Imam Breaks Ground in Mecca
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia

TWO years ago, Sheik Adil Kalbani dreamed that he had become an imam at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city.

Waking up, he dismissed the dream as a temptation to vanity. Although he is known for his fine voice, Sheik Adil is black, and the son of a poor immigrant from the Persian Gulf. Leading prayers at the Grand Mosque is an extraordinary honor, usually reserved for pure-blooded Arabs from the Saudi heartland.

Continue reading “The “Saudi Obama” – Shaykh Adil Kalbani, first Black Imam of Masjid al-Haram, Makkah”

Youth Fighting outside the Prophet’s (s) Mosque in Madinah, Some Arrested

Update: Here is a video from the incident:

News articles:

MADINAH: Madinah Gov. Prince Abdul Aziz bin Majed ordered yesterday the release of all youths under 18 detained in connection with a fight near the Prophet’s Mosque early this week.

The order was issued on the directive of Interior Minister Prince Naif.

The youths are to be released on guarantees from their guardians.

The investigation into the involvement of other detainees in the fight would continue, Col.

Mohsin Al-Radadi, Madinah police spokesman, told Arab News yesterday.

The youths clashed with worshippers at the mosque on Monday evening but there were no casualties.


Another source claims it was a Sunni vs. Shia fight. The Shia were pilgrims, while the Sunnis were the mutawwa or religious police:

Nine held in clashes at Madinah

RIYADH: Saudi authorities have arrested nine people following clashes at the Prophet Muhammad’s mosque in Madinah, an official said yesterday. Some pilgrims clashed with worshippers at the mosque but there were no casualties, interior ministry spokesman Mansur al-Turki said.
Turki declined to comment on reports on Shia websites that the clashes were sectarian and pitted Shias against Sunnis.
“The security authorities will issue a statement later to clarify what happened, the nationalities of the participants in the fight and their motives, once the investigation is over,” Turki said.
Saudi newspapers have reported that on Friday religious police at a shrine in Madinah clashed with pilgrims, who responded by hurling stones at a police station.
Iran’s Arab-language satellite channel quoted witnesses as saying that on Monday evening two Saudi Shias from Al-Qatif in the oil-rich east of the kingdom were killed and four others wounded by anti-riot police.
Saudi group Human Rights First said religious police had attacked Shia pilgrims in Madinah. They condemned the attack, calling on the government to launch an investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice. – AFP


I don’t really know where the truth is, but I’ll update as I find reliable sources, inshaAllah.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Dismisses Chief of Religious Police

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The Saudi king on Saturday dismissed the chief of the religious police and a cleric who condoned killing the owners of TV networks that broadcast “immoral” content, signaling an effort to weaken the country’s hard-line Sunni establishment.

The king also changed the makeup of an influential body of religious scholars, for the first time giving more moderate Sunnis representation to the group whose duties include issuing the religious edicts known as fatwas.

Not really sure if these are good things or bad things, but at least promotion of violence and killing are not tolerated anymore by the Saudi government.