Today marks the first day where women are able to legally drive in Saudi Arabia. Previously, only men were able to legally drive on Saudi roads based on Saudi Muslim scholars declaring that it is not permissible in Islam for them to do so.
This change is part of a series of cultural changes made by the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, who is next in line for the throne. His commands were met with little resistance – and who dares to?
Most Saudi religious scholars that have insisted for years that women driving is “haram” (not permissible in Islam) with all sorts of justifications, many of which were ridiculous, have suddenly had a change of heart and moved to support the Crown Prince’s initiative. These scholars have now turned their pastime of suppressing Saudi women’s rights into freedom fighting social media campaigns.
Saudi Arabia is looked upon as one of the highest authorities in Islam, being the country that hosts the ‘Holy Kaaba’ in Mecca. The fact that it was illegal for women to drive has had a negative international impression against Islam for many years, especially in our current modern age. With that out of the way, it is now clear that these religious scholars were nothing more but followers, rather than leaders, and that their religious extrapolations hold no strong base against the king’s command.
Having witnessed this wave of mass discredit against Saudi Muslim scholars makes us wonder: are they really a high authority on Muslim rulings or will following them lead us to a path of blind extremism?