Thirteen years ago the novel ‘Girls of Riyadh’ by writer Rajaa AlSanea was first published, causing a wave of controversy, perhaps if the book was released in 2018 it
wouldn’t have caused the buzz it did back in 2005. Although the novel can’t be treated as an accurate autobiography as the writer herself admits that she has changed many of the events that took place while telling the story of her friends. However, throughout the pages she highlighted a very interesting categorization about men types, when I first read this part, on page 76 (from the English version) to be exact, I thought to myself, how it fits some of the guys out there. So here you go what AlSanea had to say about men types:
- The Extremely Religious Type
- He was once wild but he turns religious.
- He fears wilderness so he becomes religious.
- The Moderate Type
- A strictly religious man who differs from the first group in the way he treats women: tenderly and without interference. This type can marry a relatively liberal woman as long as he is confident of her love and certain of her morals.
- The Seculars. This man believes that Islam is built on five and no more than five basic and compulsory beliefs. He only attends the assigned five prayers and fasts only during Ramadan.
- The Wild or Escapee Type
- Gradual escapee. Someone in this group may have grown up in a very strict religious atmosphere and ‘escaped’ in a religious and moral sense. [..] this type might pretend to belong to the religious group to prevent any social embarrassment.
- Liberal Upbringing This type has been brought up in an extremely liberal home to the point of atheism in his religious beliefs and the absence of any kind of bulwark against ‘bad behavior’.
I find Asanea’s classifications of men to be very revealing, despite the fact I don’t like labeling people, as each individual is a mixture of thoughts and ways she or he chose to take in life, however, the reason I am discussing this is to emphasise my idea I am trying to explain where sometimes the best way to do so is by classification.
Now, I would like to add and comment on some the categories AlSanea discussed. First, its worth to mention along with the religious category, those who chose to be religious either due to the environment they grew up with so they are continuing what they already learned as young kids, and there are also those who returned to religion after it was non-fundamental in their lives to the extent of atheism perhaps after a hard event in their lives that struck them, both can have made the choice to be religious although they have reached at this decision through different journies..
Regarding the escapee type, I want to highlight that today there is a generation of young men (also women) born somewhere in the nineties, they have grown to express their opinions and unafraid to reflect their true thoughts and ideas about religion and tradition, so you won’t find them pretending to belong to any religious group to prevent social embarrassment, on the other side, there is also those that chose to stress on their identity as faithful Muslims.
So, how all this affects us, I am not at all advocating a celibate life trashing men and asking you to do so as well, we need to find our match in order to, as the Arab proverb says (complement our faith). Looking back at a previous article where I talked about how men and women meet in our world, either under the girl’s family supervision or she can be simply going out on dates (some might be surprised to know that some girls do date in the Middle East). In this article, however, I would like to highlight the issue of, while you’re in pursuit of Mr. Right and getting to know guys in order to find the one you want to spend your life with and marry, take notice of those who are there for the sake of fun accompanied with a belief “If she went out with me, she will go out with someone else, so she is no good”, this type has no respect for those who go out on a date although he reflects a very “Iam Mr. Cool” kind of look nevertheless he enjoys going out with you and others, but he immediately labels you as untrustworthy, so it’s worth to be alert from such type and know he does not want to be with you.
Now, there are those who date you, your relationship may advance and get a bit serious, you might be investing in this relationship and hoping it goes much further and you’d be waiting when he will ask if he and his parents can make a visit to pop up an official proposal, your dreams of a fairytale may come to an end as he knew from the start (but he does not confess to you) that you will not get his family’s approval because you might not have the same level of religiosity his family has or your tribal lineage is not inline with what his family desires for him.
The third type, are those you end up marrying then as it turns out he has some demands he wishes you comply with, wearing hijab or living next to his family are few examples, you have to be clear and know what works for you and what does not, after all, he might not stress on the issue when you are getting to know one another, assured that you will comply after you are married, but it’s better you dig into these matters and know for sure what you want. I am not getting to the religious ruling of the obligation of wearing hijab, the controversy regarding the topic might make my article misinterpreted and taken away from the main issue I am trying to discuss.
The fourth type, are those who will not marry a girl unless she is chosen by his mother, again Momy’s approval is of great importance, I might seem a bit critical towards my fellow females whom we only differ in our age group, but let’s get real, how many married women out there who are SUFFERING and I mean the word suffering with all the pain it holds because their mother-in-laws make their lives a living hell, a hidden war, more often of hidden words and non-verbal gestures take place. I ask, is this what marriage is about? Why should anyone bear such emotional torture on the hands of another human being, for this reason I say, if you feel your future mother-in-law is not fond of you, you have to decide, to either grow a thick skin and decide to put up with it, and develop through the years tactics and techniques to hold off the aggression you might receive, or simply just walk away from this guy, say in a calm voice “Sorry we are not meant for each other” and walk away early on before tying the knot.