This article reports on the recent decision by the Saudi King Abdullah to grant women the right to vote and run as candidates in local elections in 2015. This is obviously a considerable change in a country where women and men are still segregated and women are still banned from driving. Some women have staged public defiance of this law. It is perhaps difficult for us in the West to appreciate that such levels of discrimination still exist such that women are prevented from driving.
However, the King says that ‘we refuse to marginalise the role of women in Saudi society and in every aspect, within the rules of Sharia.’ It would appear however, that the laudable aspiration of the first half of that sentence is somewhat negated by the second half. In addition, he states that ‘Muslim women in our Islamic history have demonstrated positions that expressed correct opinions and advice’ as per the Prophet Mohammed teachings of the 7th Century.
It is possible to see here a conflict between what I would call the wisdom of the heart that sees and knows men and women are equal and the dogma or doctrine of an ancient text that does not in its entirety reflect the true wisdom of the heart or of God and may include laws or stories that refect the prejudice of man rather than the love of God. On the one hand, the King recognises that it is wrong to marginalise women (wisdom of the heart) but on the other he is constrained by an interpretation of an ancient text that does not fully portray that heart wisdom or livingness of love.
We can see the same thing within Christianity where there are many who consider the bible to be the literal truth and use it to justify homophobia and the suppression of women amongst other things. Both of these go against the wisdom of the heart, the wisdom of God, who sees and knows all are equal and all are love. If people re-connected to this wisdom in their own hearts instead of relying on man-made texts that have been written by those who did not live the ways of love as Jesus or Mohammed did, then these simple truths would be self-evident.
Whilst we may all use texts of one sort or another, ancient and modern, we can still discern for ourselves if they are true or not rather than blindly accept them because of an ancient heritage. We can feel if the messages contained therein are unifying and universal in application or whether they promote separation of humanity; are they consistent with love or that which is not love. If they promote separation between man and man, or man and women, if they do not see all as equal, all as love then they cannot be from Love.