Saudi Arabia: Welcome to the 21st Century!

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Saudi Arabia issued a royal decree yesterday, allowing women to finally be able to drive. My mother worked as an OB/GYN in Saudi Arabia in the 1970’s. She was a practicing physician who had to have a mahram (a male chaperone from immediate family or husband) and could not drive to work. This made it very difficult for my father and my mother, since he would have to travel for his work. She tells me stories of how she would be denied transportation by taxi drivers who feared being seen with a woman who was not related to them.

One story stands out in my mind. She had an emergency call from the hospital and they needed her to come to attend one of her patients immediately. My father was traveling to another city and was not present. She called another female friend to come with her so she would not go alone. The taxi driver would not even allow them to explain themselves. He drove away in a hurry. She then called the hospital and told them they would need to send transportation for her. They refused. No one wanted to break the law that would land them immediately into jail for several violations (picking up an unrelated woman, driving her without her mahram, not reporting this to the authorities, etc).

Women in the United States go blissfully about their business daily. We take for granted many civil liberties that are offered to us without a second thought to other women who have to live by antiquated laws. I wrote another blog on women’s identity in Islam here Women have never been able to drive in the country because it was ruled by Muslim clerics that the additional freedom would impede restrictions on them (and yes, one cleric incorrectly hypothesized that driving affects women’s ovaries and pelvis).

While we can celebrate the fact that Saudi Arabia has finally made it to the 21st century, there are many other limitations placed on women. Driving is just the first (small) step. There are strict guardianship laws that are dictated by Islamic Law. Women there still need men’s permission to have medical procedures done and even see a physician! Where is the outrage at that?

Even in the United Kingdom, there are Muslim clerics who call for restrictions on women. There is an article here by the UK Telegraph that shares how a ruling went out that forbids British Muslim women to go more than 48 miles radius without a male family chaperone. All of this reminds me to be thankful of the freedoms we have here in America. We have freedom to drive, to seek medical attention, to go to school and to work. We have freedom to practice religion and to worship.

May we THANK men and women who have fought for our nation and may we THANK GOD for allowing us to live here!

~But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!

2 Corinthians 3:16-17

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Front Desk at Snow King Resort -Jackson Hole Wyoming

My husband & I just got back from a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This was a business trip for him, including days spent in a conference room with speakers on the topic of healthcare. His generous boss invited the spouses to come along and enjoy the hotel, amenities and excursions. So basically, while he worked, I got to play! 🙂

It is a different experience to travel for work. The expenses are usually taken care of by the company, but still there is that thought in the back of the mind that doesn’t quite believe it to be true. We always have that awkward moment at the end — do we leave the hotel keys in the room as we’ve been told over a hundred times, or should we go ahead and bring them down the front desk and checkout in person to make sure there aren’t any surprises? My husband, being the man who wants to make sure he is doing the right and responsible thing, always chooses the latter option.

So, yesterday morning at the dark hour of 4:45 am, we made our way to the front desk and turned in our keys. As the man was keying in our information, my husband asked for a receipt. The guy looked up and said “I can’t give you a receipt. The payment information goes to the Master. Your bill is paid in full.”

Immediately I thought of Christ.

His payment of sacrifice on the cross was given on our behalf to the Master. Our bill is paid in full. No receipt needed… only thankfulness on our part for what Christ has done for us in giving us eternal life through his death. This is the business of heaven – redemption and salvation.

What a gift of GRACE:

God’s

Riches

At

Christ’s

Expense

Amen.

Eid al Adha TODAY!

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image from RRB Result

Muslims all over the world look to Saudi Arabia to determine the shape of the moon to indicate the start of Eid festival. The Saudi High Judicial Council (HJC) announced August 22 that the new moon will be in a crescent, (they then calculate the date of Eid to be 10 days after) indicating the festival of Eid. The Islamic religious calendar is based upon a Lunar calendar and there is significance in the crescent moon. This is why you see the crescent moon for many of the Islamic nations’ flags and on top of mosques.

Eid al Adha (or Eid ul Adha – same thing) is translated as the “Greater Eid” or “Bakr Eid.” It is the Festival of the Sacrifice. I wrote about the rituals last year in this blog titled “Eid al Adha, 9/11, & God’s Sacrifice on Mount Moriah.” Every year, millions of Muslims sacrifice a goat or a lamb to commemorate Abraham’s sacrifice of his son. Muslims believe it was Ishmael who was offered on the altar, while the Jewish and Christian Scriptures state it was Isaac. Nevertheless, Abraham’s obedience to God is the commemoration on this day.

According to Hanifah (stricter rules of Islam), the offering for every Muslim is mandatory. According to other Hadiths (traditions), however, it is called “Sunnah” or a good thing to do. Either way, the Hadith says:

“Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is reported to have said :
‘Whoever can afford to offer a sacrifice but does not do so, let him not approach our place for prayer.’ (Reported by Ahmad and Ibn Maajah; classed as saheeh by al-Haakim from the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah.  ‘All those people who have the nisab (payable amount) of zakah should offer a sacrifice. The time for offering a sacrifice begins after the `Eid Al-Adha prayer.’ According to a Hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “Whosoever offered a sacrifice before the `Eid prayer, he or she just slaughtered an animal for meat, but whosoever made sacrifice after the `Eid Al-Adha prayer, he or she has offered a sacrifice.” (Al-Bukhari, Sahih, Hadith no. 902).”

So if you are called to sacrifice a goat or a lamb, how do you fulfill this as a Muslim? In this technologically advanced world, this has become much easier!  There are advertisements that allow a Muslim to pay for a lamb, a goat or even a cow (can share this sacrifice with up to 7 people) all around the world. Here’s an example of an ad:

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EXAMPLE of an ad for “Qurbani” or Sacrifice for sale

The problem with this is that the sacrifice needs to fulfill certain age requirements (more than 6 months old, but less than five years old, have none of the four defects mentioned by Muhammad, etc.). So how would you know that your sacrifice being chosen thousands of miles away meets the requirements? The answer is: You don’t.

When the Jewish people would offer sacrifice to the Lord, they had the understanding that the sacrifice was for atonement of sins – they were sinful and had to pay the penalty for sin. God allowed them to have a system of sacrifice that was offered on their behalf. Only one obscure Muslim Hadith mentions that you need to be present as you slaughter your sacrifice so that “Allah may forgive you as the first drop of blood comes out.” It is not certain what is being forgiven here – your latest sin, killing the animal or all your sins. The way most of my family looked at this was that it was simply one of the checklists that you need to do as a Muslim.

When I was a Muslim, I did not completely understand why we sacrificed a lamb (see post to explain that ritual) other than remembering Abraham’s obedience. I didn’t know what that lamb’s blood would do for me and what it meant for me, other than being obedient to Allah. There was no connection for me as to atonement or someone else taking on my sins. As far as I knew, I ALONE was responsible for doing good deeds to tip my scales towards the good on Judgment Day. It wasn’t until I met Christ Jesus and understood him shedding His blood willingly on the cross for my sins. I understood that day that only ONE is sinless (the Quran says also that only Jesus – Isa Ibn Maryam was sinless!). In the Bible, 1 Peter 1:18-20 says:

18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was known before the foundation of the world, but was revealed in the last times for your sake.…

As Muslims celebrate today and this weekend with parties and festivals, I want to ask Believers to pray for them to know the TRUE Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the sinless and spotless lamb of God. May every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Amen.