No Woman, No Drive....Ever?: Why Time Betrays Conservative Notions

By now you have either seen the youtube parody, or heard the news of 60 reported women protest drivers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia this past weekend. Born out of the paranoia created with the impending war with Saddam and the presence of US soldiers, particularly women soldiers, the legal ban legitimized a cultural taboo: The free movement of women within society. While most Muslims, let alone Saudi Muslims, fail to understand the religious rationale behind such derivative laws (i.e. not based upon explicit scriptural authority), we can relate to the ethos of conservatism within our own social and political contexts. As much as conservatives of every ilk would like social paradigms to remain stagnant, connected to a romantic epoch and place, they simply do not. Seconds give way to decades and to generations who live with legal measures delaying the inevitable, consequently giving rise to more dramatic social tumult. Studying the edict issued in 1990, one sees that whatever the pretexts used to enforce the ban, the social conditions have no doubt changed to leave the standing law mute to reality, a position taken by the scholar, and son of the late Grand Mufti, Shaykh Ahmed Bin Baz in 2010. It was the elder Shaykh Bin Baz (may Allah have mercy on him) who led the legal body that issued the original fatwa. Now, as in most cases, new fear-based arguments are presented that reflect the true irrationality of trying to go back in time, by ironically appealing to our modern minds with "science” to support false claims. Recent claims of “damaging ovaries” and driver-borne “clinical disorders” found in children only serve to highlight the lengths to which individuals, even religious scholars, will go to escape reality. This embarrassing episode should compel all Muslims, who have a spiritual bond to this land, to reflect upon rigid positions held against the fluidity of time, and more importantly the greater aims and goals of the Sharia of Sayyiduna Muhammad, Peace and Blessing Upon Him, his Pure Progeny, Rightly-Guided Companions, and all those who follow them, not only in deeds but in spirit, till the end of time.