Books I'm reading

Princess: a true story of life behind the veil in Saudi Arabia

Entering the hotel’s restaurant, the books were the first thing I saw.  These were piled on the floor in a nook.  I got down immediately on the floor looking over the titles, almost forgetting I was there to eat.  But since the place wasn’t very formal the crew left me alone, even lending me the book so I could finish it in the comfort of my room.

Princess is written by an American.  It is about Sultana (not a real name), a princess of the current reigning family in Saudi Arabia. Sultana, even as a child stood apart from the rest of the family because she rebelled against the culture of patriarchy and female subjugation.  She was married off to her cousin who was in a way a blessing because “he liked women complete”, that is he didn’t like her circumcised which was the custom for brides.  However after bearing three children, her husband decided to take a second wife.

Sultana rebelled.  With the children in tow, she went to Europe.  She threatened to leave her husband if he fails to produce a legal document saying that he won’t marry another and that when Sultana returned to him she’d be his only wife.  Her husband complied with her terms.  But by the time she returned to him, her love for him had disappeared.  Still she stayed with him.

She found she’d come full circle upon her return.  She saw how her children lived with the discrimination against women the same culture in which she and her siblings grew up in.  Her husband, while observing his vow not to marry another nonetheless participated in orgies, in short, he still regarded women as objects.  Yet Sultana continues to resist this mindset and practice.

She met and became friends with an American writer who became this book’s author.

——————–

I noted down these Koran texts on women from the book:

Sura II, 187

Complete your fast / till the night appears, / But do not associate/ with your wives / While you are in seclusion / or in the Mosques. / These are limits God has set / signs to Men; that / They may learn self restraint, / Permitted to you, / On the night of the fasts, / Is the approach of your wives, / They are your garments.

Sura II, 222

They ask, / concerning women’s courses, / Respond:  They are / a hurt and a pollution / Keep away from women / in their courses, and do not / approach them until / they are clean. / But when they have / purified themselves, / You may approach them / in any manner, time, or place / Ordained for you, by God.

Sura II, 228

Divorced women shall / wait, concerning themselves / For three monthly periods.  / It is not lawful for them / to hide what God has created / in their wombs. / Their husbands have the right / to take them back, in that time / of reconciliation. / And women have the rights / similar to the rights, / Against them, according to / what is equitable; / But men have more rights / and power over them, / For God is most powerful / and wise.

Sura IV, 11

God directs you as regards to / your children.  The male shall / receive a portion equal to that / of two females.

Sura IV, 15

If any of your women / are guilty of lewdness, / Take the evidence of four / witnesses from amongst you, / Against them; and if they testify, / confine them to horses until / Death do claim them.

Sura IV, 16

If two men among you / are guilty of lewdness, / Punish them both. / If they repent and amend, / Leave them alone.

Sura XXIV, 31

And say to the believing women / that they should lower their / gaze and guard their modesty; / that they should not display / their beauty and ornaments except / what must ordinarily appear. / Therefore, they should draw their veils / over their bosoms and not display / their beauty except to the husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves they possess, or male servants / who are free of physical needs, / or small children who have no sense / of shame of sex.

Sura XXIV, 60

Such elderly women that are / past the prospect of marriage, / there is no blame on them, / if they lay aside their outer garments, / Provided they make not a wanton display / of their beauty; but it is best for / them to be modest.

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