An interview with a muttawa trainer

dean Khalid interviewed by newspaper

In Al Madina newspaper yesterday there was an interview with the dean of the high institute of the prevention of vice and promotion of virtue (PVPV), Khalid Al Shammrani, PhD. This is the guy who teaches muttawas how to do it professionally and let me tell you it is not pretty. The institute was established in 2004 in order to assist in countering the bad behavior of the PVPVs in dealing with people. It’s where a muttawa can get a one year postgraduate diploma in telling people how to live their lives. Dean Khalid put it beautifully when he was asked about what they train muttawas to do, he said a muttawa is trained to handle “the person of sin” as a doctor handles a patient; sometimes a doctor has to be tough on his patient to ensure healing and so does a muttawa with a person of sin has to resort to Islamically sanctioned means to heal sin and then have the offender reprimanded by the courts.

 In the interview published yesterday, dean Khalid expressed his frustration with the ministry of labour because they have been trying to provide jobs for Saudi women. He stated that this is not an area for the ministry to delve in and that it is unacceptable. He moved on to say that the gap that is growing between the people and the PVPV is artificially created by the media. He accused the media of purposely misleading public opinion by giving the PVPV bad publicity and not being objective in its reporting. He backs this up with a claim that opinion polls show that Saudis want the PVPV. Dean Khalid believes that all this demand for more rights and jobs for women is due to western influence. He also announced the founding of a new charity and organization for the study of the importance of the PVPV in Islam and to modernize the PVPV so that it is better able to face today’s kinds of sins. And so on and so forth.

In all his interviews he calls what the PVPV is doing accountability and the muttawas are the ones who make sure that people are accountable for their “sins”. What first caught my attention was of course his take on employing women and I am not alone on this because the newspaper put it as the headline of the article. So the ministry of labour has infringed its area by attempting to encourage the employment of Saudi women and the PVPV are here to put Al Qosaibi in his place and rescue women back to poverty and objectification. I bet that dean Khalid thought that the headline was going to be about the new organization.

Even though I live it, I am constantly shocked by how these muttawas dismiss women as infant-like and not deserving of the most basic rights. But above all I hate Saudi women for lying down and taking it, myself included.


Filed under Culture, Fatwas, Gender Apartheid, unemployment

11 responses to “An interview with a muttawa trainer

  1. Simple Saudi

    Will it ever end?

    I wish they would spend the money in proper education and proper teaching methods rather than in enforcing methods…

    Its like how to proper educate your children, beating them with a stick when they get an answer wrong is not the right way!

    Its sad to say that the PVPV are ironically a force which drives people away from religion rather than call them to it.

    But also on the other hand they have been of benefit to the community (yes i said it) in things like countering drug and prostitution rings. However they do take thier jobs too far! and alot of the things they bother people about are DEABTED religious rulings (i.e. how much a woman should cover up, etc…)

  2. Rasputin

    Well, in this current age and time, we have people telling adults how to live their lives. Yes i agree with simple saudi’s views about coercion and how people would just rebel with what is forced down their throats. Why don’t they focus their energies on helping the poor, stop the menace of begging and drugs? They surely can help people become better citizens.

  3. Thank you for sharing this article. They don’t realise that the future of this country truly depends on the woman, whether they are as professionals or as mothers. Do they not have mothers? I know I personally give credit to my mother for my achievements in life, the education I have, the woman I am today!

    They should focus on real issues, rather then woman working.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Um Maryam


    I have visited your country twice now in two years, for about 6 weeks in total. During that time I went out to look for these religious police and when I met them I tried to be as difficult as possible (not rude) but quite insistent and asked lots of questions etc. I also found them at the Haram in Makkah and our Prophet’s mosque (PBUH) in Medinah.

    On all occasions (at the Granda Mall, in Souk al Owais etc…) I found their manners impeccable. They were unfailingly polite and helpful. I felt that even if I had asked them for money they would have given it to me.

    In Makkah I saw an elderly pakistani woman praying in front of one of the doors and blocking the exit. One of these police was begging her to move, very nicely. In the middle of her prayer she stopped swore at him in the vilest manner and spat on his face. He just calmly implored her to move. It was an impressive display of self control.

    I also saw three of these police enter the kingdom center. The center’s security guards went into a panic. There were some women who also started to hyperventilate. There was one woman who was walking around in an abya wearing a white bowler hat (she looked ridiculous). they quite nicely advised her that it would be more appropriate if she took it off. She became hysterical.

    Waleed bin talal’s establishments tend to attract a certain kind of woman

    My experience is the exact opposite of what you have described.

    On the contrary, rather than your religious police, the only people who I find ridiculous are a particular class of saudi woman. One sees them at the Kingdom center or the Faisalyah, aimlessly wandering around, caked in makeup.

    They way they wear their abyas, would make a western prostitute blush, I’m not sure why they are so shallow, perhaps its lack of education, or its the inbreeding, or perhaps its the free money from the govenrment that has lead to this dysfunctional social pathology.

    Whatever it is , I don’t see much commentry about it on your website.

    A scotoma perhaps?

    • zaynah

      The women in Muslim societies have adapted. Adaptation is survival. In some cases survival means doing something—anything creative. Make-up is an artistic pursuit. It is also a way to fill up many otherwise emty hours. Men do not actually like makeup on women and it is never perceived by them attractive or sexy. Ever. Its afalse beleif that men are attracted to make-up. They don’t want to touch it.
      Makeup is to get attention to pull the eye so you will look. After that its up to human innitiative. Prostitution is about money and exchange for action. Appearance does not mean actualy anything by itself . There are beleifs -mostly untrue about cosmetics and their effects. One does not “rival a prostitute” by wearing an abaya in any way whatsoever. That rivalry happens when the nation is reduced to rubble by a nasty war and children are starving . It goes with war and poverty not rich ladies on a leisurely stroll. You don’t become a prostitute with makeup either. Money has to be on the table and the money always comes from men. Coercion has to be there too. When coercion is present you can be sure that woman is not wearing any makeup at all. She is not spending hundreds on cosmetics. In fact her situation is about no power. Make-up scares men. They perceive celebrity, prestige , wealth from it. This is probably an excellent deterrant for the sorts of men who will prey on the helpless,powerless and poor woman who often as not is not wearing any makeup, nailpolish or any other symbols of wealth and the idle life.
      Fear poverty more than you fear the heavily made up woman. The day will come when the money wasted on this merchandise will be sorely missed. The sin of it is the waste of billions that might have been used for building orphan homes farms and hospitals. Instead it was malls . Men did this. Blame them.

  5. Wow, I can’t even begin to imagine how incredibly frustrating and heart-breaking that must be for you and other Saudi women. Stay strong!

  6. Nadia

    You are not lying down and taking it.

    You frustration rings out loud and clear. If more women spoke out, perhaps the status quo would be changed. Some aspects of saudi society are unfathomable, even to people from Arab and Muslim countries. I will never see the logic behind preventing women from driving to prevent the sexes from mingling but allowing the same women to be driven by strangers, nor the fact that men sell underwear to women because women can’t work in shops! I live in London and even women here would rather not have to ask a man for a different sized bra or a bigger thong!

    The situations you describe sound intolerable to me. I can’t understand these women who support the restrictions placed upon them. They are the biggest stone around the neck of Saudi society.

    Keep speaking out.

  7. My Dear Saudi Woman –
    Please do not place yourself in the same category as the thousands of Saudi women who just accept their boring useless lives as they are and have no opinion about anything, other than what color and style of dress they should wear to the next boring wedding they attend.
    One of my biggest problems, aside from the obvious lack of rights and freedoms for women, with this country is that I feel a person’s religion should be felt in the heart and not forced upon me by religious police. To me, that does not allow the religion to be observed and believed on its own merits. On the contrary, it’s a huge turn-off for me. The ultra religious faction here is so against the Western ways that it continues to cut off its own nose to spite its face. There is nothing in Islam that says women should not work or drive cars. Denying women these basic rights only serves to make this country appear backward and oppressive – not that Saudi Arabia really cares about its image to the rest of the world.

  8. I happened upon your blog, and am so glad to have found your fresh and vibrant voice in the desert! Change is a four-letter word to the PVPV and they are willing to put their full resources – and then some -behind any effort they see as encouraging and enabling change. Since we all know that women are the true agents of change in every society, it’s only natural they target us. The more women push for change, the harder the PVPV will push back until they are made impotent. (socially of course lol)

    I’ve added you to my blogroll. Thanks again for an insightful blog.

  9. Brooke AKA Ummbadier

    Um Maryam-
    Are you familiar with the term “Ugly American?” This kind of behavior earns us the title: “During that time I went out to look for these religious police and when I met them I tried to be as difficult as possible (not rude) but quite insistent and asked lots of questions etc.”
    Love and Peace,

  10. Pingback: Saudi disillusionment with the religious establishment « Mohammed Abbasi

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s