I was once asked on a radio program by a religious caller: “How far do you want Saudi women to progress?” I explained that I actually wanted them to regress — 1430 years.
At that time, Muslim women had more rights than they do today. They owned and managed businesses. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) as a young man worked for his future wife, the mega businesswoman Al-Saydah Khadija. Women joined the army as soldiers and nurses.
The Prophet (pbuh) consulted his wives on social, state and religious affairs. So did Caliph Omar, who changed his position on marriage dowry and admitted his mistake after a woman challenged him in public. As for driving, women rode their camels and horses, even in war.
The caller explained that it was a different era then. Our women need more time to reach that level, he argued.
I answered him by asking: “Do you mean after 14 centuries and 50 years of modern education, our women are less educated, trained and responsible? And if so, who is to blame? Our education system? Our upbringing? Our Islamic teaching?”