Saudi Arabia, the custodian of the birthplace of Islam, has a constitution that embodies the religious values and teachings prescribed by the religious text – Quran – and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
One has to be more careful about Muslim laws after touching down in the kingdom where it is down to the individual to interpret the laws in the absence of official written constitution and thus, people often find themselves in legal troubles and are unable to sort out the dos and do not.
Sometimes, mere suspicion of a person having committed an act that is considered to be ‘haram’ – something that is forbidden by Islamic law – leads to a ruling against him.
Let’s have a look at some of the things that are banned in Saudi Arabia, though there is a comprehensive list of things that might lead a person to offend.
Worshiping any religion other than Islam
Saudi Arabia is home to the religion’s most sacred mosques – Masjid al-Haram in Makkah, the destination of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, and Masjid an-Nabawi in Madina, burial site of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
Thus, practicing any other religion other than Islam in public is not permitted, and there is no separate place for other religions in the entire country. If a Muslim abandon the faith and converts from Islam then faces the death penalty.
Taking pictures of government buildings, military installations and royal palaces is strictly banned in Saudi Arabia. Even one has to ask the permission of local people – Saudi Arabian men before snapping their pictures. One should strictly avoid photographing women.
Watching obscene videos on your smart phones, tablet or computer can land you in serious trouble if you are in Saudi Arabia, where even illustrations of scantily dressed women, is prohibited.
On mere suspicion customs officials can scan your phone for any pictures they deem to be vulgar and inappropriate and then confiscate your device.
Eating, drinking or smoking in public during Ramazan
In Saudi Arabia, like many other predominantly Muslim countries, it is also strictly prohibited to eat, drink or smoke in public during day light in the month of Ramazan.
Since pork is declared ‘haram’ by Islamic law, its import is banned in the Muslim country. Thus, one will be hard pushed to find eatables like sausages, bacon and black budding that make up most of English breakfast in the kingdom.
Going to cinema
If you are craving to watch the latest James Bond movie, you actually have to leave the country to satisfy this desire. Since cinema is thought to a place where men and woman mingle unchecked is prohibited in Saudi Arabia for they could lead to immoral relations beyond the realm of marriage.
Learning a musical instrument at school
Music lessons are forbidden in public forums, if one wants to learn, it has to be done underground.
Going to the gym if you are a woman
If you are worried about your fitness as a woman and want to do exercise to stay slander, then you will have to run up and down stairs in your house, since woman are not permitted to go to the gym in the kingdom. Private gyms for women were permitted to operate until recently when police closed them down.
Driving: Only men can drive
Since women are not permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia, if you are a woman and want to go somewhere, you will have to get a driver. It’s considered that it may cause women to leave their houses more often then they need to, which is deemed uncouth in the culture.
Having a drink on the flight en route to Saudi Arabia
One will surely land himself into hot waters for being under the influence of alcohol on the plane en route to Saudi Arabia.
Punishment for drinking, possessing or trading alcohol is severe in the kingdom. If you are travelling to SA, you have to avoid drinking alcohol.
The article originally appeared in the Mirror UK