Saudi Arabia: Who polices the religious police?

Susie of Arabia writes about the Muttawa, or religious police, in Saudi Arabia and asks: “Who exactly is in charge of policing the Mutawwa here and how much are they getting away with beyond their authority? I know they are only human and they make mistakes, but many of their mistakes are HUGE and only serve to further tarnish the image that much of the rest of the world has that Islam is radical and dangerous.”


  • tenderheart

    This is a fascinating subject. As a matter of fact, I prayed on this one this week. I asked the Lord to limit their power. I don’t see why they should be allowed to terrorize the population. They should be exercising their function (power) on holy soil/ grounds. That is all. They should not be pulling vehicles over, and running all over the community seeking out infractions! The fact that they exist sends out a message… Here is that message, as far as I am concerned: citizens of this great nation cannot be trusted to practice their faith on their own!! This force seems to be doing more harm that good. Living one’s faith should be a tremendous joy, not a chore, or something which results in an arrest after a shortcoming. All citizens of Arabia should be entrusted with the responsibility of caring for their souls purity. They know what is expected of them (unless they are babies/ still learning the faith). This force should be posted outside Mosques, at cemetaries during burials, and religious celebrations.
    I can’t imagine someone even wanting to be part of this force. I mean who wants to be hated by their countrymen?
    There actions speak for themselves. I also think that if someone should show more compassion/ love/ and mercy to others, it should really be these people, for they are the ambassadors of God. When infractions arise, I am sure God sees all, and He will deal with the issue by speaking to the hearts of the people involved. Always remember that the image you reflect to society (that of all Arab nations) is crucial to sowing seeds of love in the world. When something divides, it isn’t right. I have asked God to make this right for Saudi Arabians, so that they will know the freedom of loving their God, and the trust that goes along with it. All my best.

  • Yaseen

    I live is Saudi Arabia and I am a Indian Expat, I have had some incident with muttawa and they are as below.

    Let me cite a few examples:

    1. One of my friend was once smoking on the road, a muttawa came to him and politely quoted the Quraan and Hadeeth and advised him to quit smoking, but he did not stop him. He became so emotional that he almost cried.

    2. Once me and my mother went to Al Madinah, we got separated and my mom lost her way. And remember my mom at that time was not wearing a Face Veil. My mom was so scared, because she does not know arabic, as well she was a stranger in Madinah. She began to cry, a Muttawa came to her to ask what is the problem. Luckily my mom had the Hotel Visit card, she showed him the card and in some sign language or some how she said she was lost. The Muttawa, called some one on this mobile, a Police jeep with Lady escorts came and they brought my mom to the Hotel.

    3. This Ramadan which went by, I was in Makkah Holy Masjid, a Police man during crowd control, pushed me which made me get angry. I naturally started shouting, and a verbal fight almost started between me and the cop (which mean i may have been arrested) Some Senior Muttawa saw the commotion, came and enquired what is the problem, on me explaining the problem, he told the cop to be more polite, and he also took me asided and instructed me not to shout in the Masjid as it is haraam. And the matter was solved then and their, if alone i had continued my tirade there was a great chance the cop could have arrested me, but i was saved by this Muttawa.

    I agree there may have been some incidents attributed to some over zealous muttaween, but they don’t represent everyone.

    I don’t know whether this writer “tender heart” is a muslim or not, but Allah has enforced Salaah and Few religious obligations on people, and it is a must that muslims follow these. But some people like to stay away and enforcement is required in that case. If you have a problem living in Saudi Arabia, the world is big enough for you. I have nothing more to add or respond…

  • olegonzo

    The Interior Ministry polices the Haya. Problem is that the head of the Interior Ministry (Prince Naif) is a big fat mutawwa ass himself. The ministry hasn’t even enforced it’s “rule” issued last year that Haya agents cannot engage in vehicular pursuit of “immoral” people.

  • jyoung

    In Resopnse to Yaseen,

    While these are your experiences and they are totally and completely valid as well as your opinion, I have my own regarding the matter which hopefully you will respect as an opinion not an attack.

    Yes, Saudi Arabia is just a small place with respect to all the other inhabitable places on earth. But what about those who are forced to live in Saudi Arabia for various reasons ranging from personal,monetary or just not being able to get an exit visa.

    Secondly, Isn’t religion supposed to be a choice? To have faith in something, you have to first make the choice to follow that faith. Therfore, it is the individuals responsibility, not the Religious police to enforce mans right to chose their faith.

    Lastly, when laws are written down and agreed upon, shouldn’t an authoritative body such as the Muttawa
    follow them and be punished for breaking them? I’m pretty sure that is a consistent virtue amongst all societies and most religions.

    They should not be vehicles of enforcement, but of guidance.

  • Yaseen Ahmed

    Well I agree with jyoung that the abuse of a section of the expats need to be stopped. It is much reprehensible. I sincerely wish it to stop and it has none of my support.

    And about the Religion of the country, one must understand that Saudi Arabia has been declared as a Islamic State, similar to Vatican declaring itself as a Christian State. And hence the rules of a Islamic State are applicable here. And as per the Islamic Law, all muslims must be enforced to pray and follow the Islamic regulations.

    All of us know that even in Vatican City, Mosques are not allowed to be built vice versa here in Saudi Arabia as well. Yes some of this rules may not please non-muslims, but you must understand that all countries have the right to enforce regulations, and the non-muslim expats well knew of these rules before landing here.

  • mohammed

    as salam alikum,
    respected police of saudi , we r much worried parents of our daughters , my daughters r studying in jubail international indian school, but they r not safe in this school, bus service r not good all boys and girls r sitting in same but and there is no women escort with them in bus, drivers r not good conductors r not good we request u to take action and please we want our girls to be safe.sir we request u to arrange busses for girls and boys seprate in school bus and private bus also r not safe, sir please please please take action soon.
    thankking u.

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