Interview with Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef:
Women in Shoura Council of Saudi Arabia
Women are half of the population of Saudi Arabia. Women sometimes gave advice for the country. In Islam, which is a way of life, must have some provision for seeking advice or opinion from women. I think the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to have opinions on some important matters with his wives. I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, the former Vice Chairman of the Shoura Council of Saudi Arabia.
Dr Naseef, said, “In Islam there is no difference between man and woman in matters of life. Of course women have their role to raise the family and to regenerate children for Islam; so they have very noble cause to do that. When we talked about the role of women in the political area; they can be as useful as men and the advice they had given at the time of Prophet (peace be upon him) is very well known. We have to respect their opinion. They can produce more wisdom because they have the time to think and to do it. That’s why, I think, it is very important for every country to take care of women and let them participate in the affairs of the country.”
Speaking about the women as advisers during the early period of Islam, even during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Dr. Naseef, former Secretary General of the Makkah-based Muslim World League, said, “It is very well known that in Hudaibiyya the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked the people to slaughter their sacrificial animals and shave off their heads. They refused and then his wife Um Salamah told him give them the example and they will immediately follow. So that was as had happened.”
“There are lots of examples; there are thousands of examples. The woman who corrected the Umar ibn Khattab on the Mimber. So he said, yes, our woman is right and Umar is wrong. Similarly there are many many examples recorded in history. Even the wife of Harun ar-Rashid during the Abbasids period,” said Dr. Naseef.
Dr. Naseef mentioned, “This situation has changed when people have stopped the contribution of women. This is by tradition but not by religion. Religion gives them, the woman, the freedom and power to speak, to take part and also to participate; but yes, some societies neglected and thrown the womanfolk away from the public arena. We have to bring them back. Islam is the reference and not tradition of the people.”
Then I mentioned about Saudi Arabia where women are not only progressing in education, achieving good grades and contributing to every field, specially in economy, business, medicine and education and the number of woman graduates are more than that of man. Appreciating their contributions to the society and the country, King Abdullah has taken the decision of inclusion of women in the Shoura Council. Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef was the former Vice Chairman of the Shoura Council of Saudi Arabia.
I requested Dr. Naseef as a former Vice-Chairman of the Council to shed lights on this new development. .Replying to my query, Dr. Naseef said, “First of all, I want to say that the contribution of women in the field of national dialogue is very very important. During the last ten years, at the conferences and seminars, 50 per cent of the participants were women, University students, teachers and professors. It was especially very important. Their contribution was much more valuable than man’s contribution in the dialogue session. They bring new ideas and they are very much educated and they are also very much thoughtful of what is happening.”
“Since the new establishment of the Shoura Council, it was promoted that women should participate as soon as possible. When I was Vice Chairman of the Shoura Council, I said it was a matter of time when women will participate and take part in the discussions and debates of the Shoura Council. 50% of the members of the Council should be from the women. It would be very useful and it is happening now after ten years. Alhamdo lillah, thanks to Allah the Almighty, who makes this possible,” commented Dr. Naseef.
Speaking about the position of women membership of the Arab parliaments vis-a-vis that of the Saudi Shoura Council, Dr. Naseef observed, “I was seeing the Arabic newspapers called the Sharq which comes from Dammam. According to this paper, among the membership of women of all the parliaments of the world, Saudis are much more progressive. But in the Gulf countries, of course, it is number one; because there are some countries in the Gulf which don’t have member of women in the parliament or have a very negligible number. This is not for comparison but it is very encouraging for people.”