'It's Her Choice!' Saudi Cleric Attacked For Saying Muslim Women Have The Right To Live Alone

Published January 16th, 2020 - 09:58 GMT
'It's Her Choice!' Saudi Cleric Attacked For Saying Muslim Women Have The Right To Live Alone
Saudi Arabia has witnessed several major social reforms especially when it comes to women's rights. (Rami Khoury/Al Bawaba/Shutterstock)

During a TV interview segment, Saudi cleric Abdullah Al Maeyuf stated that adult Muslim women have the right to live independently from their families. His statement stirred angry reactions across social media especially among men, as many users accused him of going "against religious and traditional norms."

Translation: "For everyone who thinks it's a matter of personal freedom and open-mindedness, fine that's up to you. But you can't just say it's allowed according to Islam. It's always been forbidden and always will be. We've always known that a woman needs a male-companion so she can go to places as close as Mecca, even for worship reasons. Stop making up stuff like this."

The controversial statement came as an example of basic human rights that both men and women can enjoy in Islam, with the cleric explaining that one of "women's obvious rights" is to choose where they want to live, including living independently in a safe city.

The presenter of the show interrupted the cleric with a follow-up question about cases that include women facing domestic abuse. The cleric responded that there shouldn't necessarily be a specific reason other than women's choice.

Translation: "How can he compare men who have physical strength with women who are soft and weak? How sane is he?"

As the show ended, angry reactions flooded Twitter with people accusing the cleric of not knowing enough about Islamic laws and Saudi traditions. 

Some demanded that he reference an official source to prove that Islam allows women to live independently. Additionally, some people said that his statement is not taking into account the dangers that women might face while living alone.

Translation: "Do you think he'd say the same thing if it was his daughter or sister?"

Translation: "I hope he shows us this in action allowing his daughters to leave their house. His words should be matched with actions. I dare him to do it."

Translation: "Why do they host such people on TV?"

Amidst the many furious reactions, many others expressed their support for the cleric's statement, highlighting cases where his perspective can be helpful and pointing out that no Islamic text has ever been against adult women living alone.

Translation: "No woman leaves her family's house without an actual reason, but if she did, what's wrong with that? Where does Islam say it's not allowed?"

Translation: "What's wrong with a woman living alone in her own house? Don't be closed-minded, many divorced women are stuck in their parents' houses with their kids even when they can afford to live on their own. This discussion is long overdue."

Translation: "I wish you were my brother or my father."

Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has witnessed several major social reforms especially when it comes to women's rights, most notably the 2018 government's decision to lift a ban on women's driving, in addition to loosening rules regarding women's strict dress code.

Still, many rights groups say that genuine gender reform in the Kingdom is still lacking. 


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