Riding in Cars with Satan

2001: Driver’s Education on a warm spring day. Despite years of riding in cars, I felt the tremors of Western decadence between my legs once I sat behind the wheel. My hijab felt a little looser, and I was overwhelmed with so many haraam thoughts that I could not hear a word that my driving instructor was saying.  My brush with life behind the wheel showed me a darker element to driving. Professor Kamal Al-Subhi recently warned against lifting the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, as women driving directly correlates with the moral decline of society. I would have to agree with him; the moment that the key to the car rested in my own hand, I did not think of errands or going to school, but of unlocking a world of nightclubs, sin, in a station wagon that was most certainly steered by the devil.  It made me want to wear “a pair of pants so tight that [my] innermost organs were discernible.”** But thanks to Al-Subhi, I resolve to never drive again.

Please do not place pocket mahram in a haraam location, especially when batteries are in the device. This is to avoid forbidden sensations.

First and foremost, what Al-Subhi reiterates is something that I accept to be a reality about being a Muslim woman: my self-worth is directly proportional to my chastity, and we must never forget this. Clearly, this is our primary goal when we discuss Muslim women: keeping them pristine. I am not fooled when I read about the work of female activists in Saudi Arabia that want to drive. It is not about convenience or autonomy, or, I don’t know, trying to get to work on time. It is really about a Hollywood induced vision of broken hymens and debauchery in the backseat of cars, which, by the way, would be a logistical nightmare if women could drive.  Let us forget the other roles that women play in Islam; after all, what matters most is keeping women on the straight and narrow paths to avoid exciting them, as even the slightest taste of independence turns them into filthy-minded beings.

But in blaming the decline of society on women driving, Al-Subhi missed the real culprit:  unchaperoned women.  The problem is not the actual act of driving, but perhaps the fact that a woman is left in a space without a guardian. We cannot trust women with their urges, as even a speed bump could create worrisome scenarios. After all, a car can even become a portable whorehouse if it goes unsupervised. In order to avoid temptation and protect their honour, it would be wise for Al-Subhi to create Pocket Mahrams, which would be a collectible and fun way to teach women the importance of never leaving home without their small piece of patriarchy.

And as a final note: I would encourage Al-Subhi to push for heightened web censorship in Saudi Arabia. I was alarmed to read about such a learned scholar knowing what kind of a gesture would indicate availability. I presume that he gained this knowledge in research and good faith to protect the innocent and pure minds of Saudi women. However, I worry that women may be able to accidentally pollute their minds and perhaps expedite moral decline by being influenced by such rude gestures. Perhaps gender-based censorship would be most pertinent, after all, men must know what to keep out of the minds of women. Either way, I am glad that Al-Subhi is taking a stand and showing us the real value of women – and most importantly, keeping me from ever driving again.

** This part? Not making it up.  It’s a direct quote from Al-Subhi himself.

  • http://www.akkas.co.uk/ Akkas Al-Ali

    Studies like this say a lot more about the degenerate minds of perverts like Subhi. reading your piece, I was caught between laughing and crying.

  • http://www.philosufi.com Deborah

    If we could harness the power of eye-rolling, we wouldn’t need Saudi oil…just their ridiculous pronouncements about women.

  • Zahra

    Disturbing on so many levels. God help the muslim ummah from these hypocrites!

  • mariam

    None of us as mere humans have the right to take women “pleasure” out of Driving. You and every other human being on this planet do not have the authority to oppress women driving freely on the roads of saudi arabia, new york, etc. While interpreting the work of Al subhi you severly fail to realize (or frighteningly do realize) that you are reading the standpoint of a MAN whose knowledge is based on politics of location. Look into this concept and it will open your mind. My point is that you are reading and internalizing the biased and oppressive perspective of a patriarchal man. You as a self-identified woman have the right to drive and if you beleif that you should suppress your sexuality, then instead of running away from driving (which i still dont understand as being sinful becuase when i drive i like to run errands and take my family places as well as enjoy time with friends wherever that may be) it would be wise to deconstruct why you feel guilty sitting behind of the wheel of a car.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mmw/ Krista

      You know that Sara’s joking, right?

  • http://www.muslimahmediawatch.org Sara

    Dear Mariam:

    I don’t know even know how to respond to you, so I’m going to let my friend Wikipedia answer for me:


    If a man wrote that, I apologise in advance for letting my internalised oppression win. again.