I shocked a muttawa today

Went to the dentist today, on the elevator going up, I asked the heavily covered mute woman next to me which floor is the dentist’s and her 30ish husband picked up on the fact that I’m Saudi from my dialect. He immediately asked me if I was Saudi:

“أنت سعودية؟”

I said yes as he looked so shocked and tried to stare me into shame while repeating this won’t do.

ما يصير, ما يصير””

I told him me being uncovered is not haram. He predictably said “oh yes it is”. So I said in an intentionally dismissive way that he has no argument:

والله ما عندك سالفة

This infuriated him so much that as he was leaving the elevator he kept looking back and shouting at me:

“إلا عندي سالفة, إلا عندي سالفة”

I half expected him to be waiting for me outside the clinic (and secretly wished he would be). But he wasn’t. I think what got to him was that he was expecting me to meekly say something like “”جزاك الله خير or even for me to take a corner of my hijab and cover my face with it in fear and shame. I guess I surprised him.


Filed under Eman, Fun

57 responses to “I shocked a muttawa today

  1. Dawud Israel

    Wowzers, strange story. Muslims don’t really consider the “reality” of something, but look at it with superficiality…thinking we can fear people into something, and shove it down there throats. Really, I think Muslims are just scared nowadays of losing Islam altogether and act this way, but really it endangers the spirit of mercy in Islam. I look at salah now and think it will be a dead tradition soon…

    Anyways, I’m new here but why is hijab such an issue where you live?

  2. Naif

    You have no respect! Even if you weren’t conservative you at least should be respectful to people.

    BTW, don’t think you over the Mutawa(which I don’t agree with sometimes).. but you showed your sickness!


    • Philip De Groot

      Naif -please explain what you mean by sickness.

    • Hesham

      In what way did she display disrespect?

      That man in the elevator was a typical (unfortunately) Saudi. He couldn’t contemplate that there are other views in this world that are correct and differ with his.

      All the power to you Eman.

    • Where does your fear come from? What are you and the gentleman in the elevator afraid of? The radical or fundemental or extreme of any religion are always so fearful. And men of this variety are most always especially afraid of women, of femininity. Covering one’s face is NOT required In Islam. Full Stop. So why the fear? Why the accusation of sickness? There is sickness is this brief tale of indepedence and fear and hope and anger, but it does not come from the narrator, this much I know to be true.

    • SB

      The person who showed ‘disrespect’ was the man who verbally attacked a woman he didn’t even know simply for showing her face in public and having her own opinions. Unless, Naif, you think that women shouldn’t have a personhood of their own…

  3. good for u! people like that are on the rise in Egypt too; we have to stand up to them

  4. Q

    Good for you. Don’t let anyone else define your faith for you.

  5. 🙂
    Good job, my wife gets that sometimes, she handles it the same way…

  6. Tamador

    Loool! Proud of ya 😉
    I wish i was there to watch.. would’ve made my day :p

  7. I bet his wife felt totally uncomfortable. Weird…what’s the point of shouting at you anyway?

  8. Chiara

    How incredibly unIslamic of him!

    Well done.

  9. you really put him in the corner, and he deserves what he gets. good for you 🙂

  10. Muhammad

    ‘I asked the heavily covered mute woman next to

    That’s quite an essentialist statement. Similar to saying ‘scantily dressed bimbo’.

    • saudiwoman

      I wrote that because there was no one in the elevator except her, her husband and I and she would not respond to the question I was addressing to her, hence mute. And heavily covered is something she would probably would be proud of.

  11. sunil

    One day one Muttawa threatened my wife for not covering her
    head with scarf at a shopping mall in Hasa

  12. Yay! Good for you!

    Naif, and why does it not cross your mind that the man was very disrespectful to Saudi woman? If covering up to the tee were really required by Allah it is between her and her God, and he again has no reason to be disrespectful.
    Why should a disrespectful shouting man be given respect? He had no call looking at her anyway, let alone being rude to her.
    Get your religion right before you attack other people in such a disrespectful manner.

  13. Reeshiez

    Good for you!! Your story made me smile because I see myself reacting in the same way too! The more us women stand up for ourselves the more these idiots will realize that they can’t tell us what to do.

  14. please respond

    “A person I generally disagree with but here she kind of makes sense: Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s opinion piece in the CSM”

    I saw this on your twitter, and I read that article. are you for real? what exactly did you find in that article that actually made sense. why is that everything you write is a contradiction.

  15. Hi there …
    Standing up for your right to believe in the way you should wear your Hijab is admirable and may be required sometimes.

    However, I was a little bit disappointed by the way you ‘intentionally dismissed’ the guy. Your whole post is about respect; how he did not respect you and respect your choices. I really wish you completed that ‘standing up’ for your right incident by showing more respect for his beliefs and the way he would like to live his life.

    I am not sure you were right and he was wrong or vice versa; you both were dealing with a similar issue but looking at it from two different angles!

    • Saad–while I usually enjoy your comments, and your interview elsewhere, I think on this one you are being overly optimistic.

      Unfortunately with this type of aggressive and rigid person the only thing they respect is your showing a reciprocal amount of “chutzpah”, if I may. Showing respect for yourself by not cowering, and affirming your Islamic knowledge in this case, would be the only possible response.

      It may have infuriated him, and there is a risk of increased aggression on his part, but being ashamed and cowed, or appearing so would only make him respect you less (bullies may enjoy the triumph momentarily but they usually wish their targets had put up more of a fight), and worse, make you respect yourself less.

      I realize that is not what you are suggesting, but in fact any response that is not as tough back would have appeared that way to such a person.
      Also, there is a risk of him feeling empowered to be even more abusive, as bullies aren’t usually satisfied, the way a normal person would be, with having brought about the change that was the excuse for their bullying, eg even if she had covered her face, he most likely would have added on to his “corrections”.

      Although I have never experienced the exact scenario described, I do have a lot of experience with adult bullies (as a psychiatrist), and I am confident Eman handled it the best way possible.

    • SB

      You say she’s ‘dealing with an issue’- well, why should she have to deal with it? Why shouldn’t she be dismissive of this rude man? It’s HIS issue, not hers.

      Put yourself in her shoes and imagine this: I meet you in an elevator and react with shock, disgust and anger at your choice of spectacles. Now, do you see the situation as the pair of us ‘dealing with an issue’, or do you see it as me being rude and insulting about something that has nothing to do with me? I suspect the latter.

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  17. coolred38

    You should have blown him a kiss as the elevator doors closed. 🙂

  18. Sparky

    I shock people everyday. Keep up the good work Saudi Woman 🙂

  19. janet

    if not covering whole body and face is not islamic, then why mutawas do not scold non-saudi women who are there for hajj and umra?
    i guess fearing of loosing a good bussiness loosen their eeman. what a shame.

  20. Immaturely Mature

    I hate how he made up his mind attacked you like that!
    That’s definitely something that won’t do in Islam.

  21. Malak Al Hindi

    I would’ve done the same thing, good for you 😀

  22. Mai

    It’s amazing how far the double standard goes. No problem for an outsider, but because you are Saudi you don’t have the same religious “rules.” It’s funny…I never read that special Quran and those unique ahadith that are just for Saudi women, LOL.

    Sadly, many of the same people will travel outside the Kingdom and not only let their wives uncover their faces, but also their hair and bodies too.

    Oh well, yet another person who needs to worry about themselves and learn some of our beloved Prophet’s beautiful manners.

    • dana

      that troubled me the most out of this whole incident, first thing the guy asks is are you saudi? as if saudi have some “elitist” religion and all other barefoot non saudis are “excused” for following a lesser version.

      The man deserved what came to him. you did right be standing up for your right. offcourse there are differences of opinion on this matter and moreover for him to insinuate that only saudis are suppose to cover their face is indeed very racist….

  23. In the first place, since you were addressing the black clad woman and not the man, it seems to me that it was improper for this man to have spoken to you at all according to Islam, isn’t this correct?
    And I am confused – if you were wearing the hijab, what was his problem anyway? Everything that I have read and been told says that women are not at all required to veil.
    He was totally out of line and I’m so glad you stood up to him. You go girl!!!

  24. Abu Rumaisa

    Hanbali, Maliki & Shafi’i madhabs do classify the niqab as fard. Hanafi classify it as wajib (fard being more obligatory than wajib). There are scholars out there who do not classify it as obligatory but we should note that they are a minority.

    If our position is to follow minority opinions then sadly we are heading towards trouble.

  25. sameera

    Why do these people who call themselves salafis feel they have the right to be rude to others? If they truely were following the Salaf they would change people’s minds with beautiful manners but instead all they do is repulse others with their ignorant behaviour.

  26. LooooL.. I can imagine him shouting.. LoooL..

    I loved your reaction,,

    Oh I always face these people..

    Once, a woman sent me her little daughter, the girl said: Mama says cover your face,, I said: Say to your Mama: None of Your Business!!
    And once I said to a woman : Well, if it was “haram”, then I am the one who will be punished, not you!

    • Abu Rumaisa

      While it’s true that if one commits a sin, then the sinner will get punished and not me, u or the girl’s mama… only the sinner. But what perplexes me is the care-free attitude towards getting punished? The punishments in this world are much more lenient than the ones in the hereafter and we can’t tolerate the ones in this world, so how will be able to take the punishments in the hereafter.

      Sister, no one is perfect and everyone commits sins. The right choice would be to ask Allah for forgiveness & amend our ways rather be arrogant & proud about the sins we commit. Arrogance & pride will only bring us down, not help us.

      As far as “None of your Business!” & ” To each his own” are concerned:

      امر بالمعروف و نهى عن المنكر
      “Amr bil Ma’ruf wa Nahy an alMunkar”

      • I’m afraid that you’re mixing things up. Since covering the face is a disputable issue in Shari’a law, why are you speaking like someone who knows for sure that it’s a must & indisputable?

  27. I would have done the same though I’m not a woman. LOL .. I mean if he says “ليش ما تطلق اللحية ,, إنت كذا وكذا” 🙂

    In short, no, muttawwahs are expressing an aggressive & ignorant behavoir towards people, so why on earth should people respect such a way of thinking?

  28. sameera

    To Abu Rumaisa :

    Since all four schools of thought are based on what the Prophet (pbuh)did or said the question of following the majority or minority shouldn’t arise as long as whats being followed is correct.


  29. Saad

    Mutawwas show the worst display of Islam. They run after you like krazy if you are in a mall and have long hair (for males). They talk to you disrespectfully if you are an asian, and they treat you as a lost cattle from a herd. They pull you neck chains even if they are not gold or silver. They give a harsh and animal like haircut to you if you are walkin on streets with long hair!
    Let Mutawwas learn to respect first, then do anything elsE!!!

    • Abu Abdullah

      Just a correction,
      “They talk to you disrespectfully if you are an asian, and they treat you as a lost cattle from a herd.”

      I am a Asian and so far i have been treated well by the hai’a (muttawa) rather than a typical saudi 🙂

  30. They also have really ugly beards so should not allowed to evaluate other people’s fashion sense

  31. Abu Abdullah

    Though i have “some” respect for the muttawa because of what they have done in some cases like helping “GIRLS” who are being black mailed and “NAILING THE BLACK MAILING GUYS” which every one usually conveniently forgets for some reason, examples of them NAILING THE GUYS AND SAVING THE WOMEN are:





    However having said that i must agree that Haram and Halal are defined and selectively applied and i enjoyed reading Saudi Jeans blog on Muttawas


    Also when I read that Terri from Black Chick in Saudi was stopped by the muttawa but let go when they came to know she was an American, goes on to show how scared they are of the Americans.

    What i don’t agree is this selective application of rules by the muttawa’s to a person. They either apply the rules to all or just stop doing their job.

  32. Saad


    If you are talking of minorities, than yes, even i have some examples. They should learn to respect and talk! if I have long hair (which i really do have), and they follow me in order to arrest me, I will for sure try to escape from them, as though I am a criminal! Instead, if they tell me the reasons and their views to let me understand what they want, wont that be a nicer solution and leave me alone once they have explained everything? or chasing me, who they cannot chase in their this life!

    IF m wearing a silver chain, its no haram! no prohibition for that, in Islam. But still, they dont like it, so they wana rip it off! what is this kind of attitude leads to? are we living in 60s that we are being tortured by these bunch of guys who are keeping beard and thinking as though they are the most religious people? they ever wondered what our religion told about respecting people!!!

    They are adapting only those things, which make them feel like a dictator! ruler! and they forget all the love lessons which OUR religion mostly emphasized on!

  33. @Abu Abudullah: While I appreciate you letting me know you referenced my blog, I do think your reference is misleading. You’ve made this type of statement before on my blog about Americans being treated differently, almost with contempt. And, if we are…I have no control over that. You state they let me go once they realized I was American. They didn’t “let me go”…they never held me. They stopped me because they saw a woman, who’s black and a man, who’s white and that didn’t match up in their eyes. To state I was let off, is to imply that I did something wrong; which is not the case. I was in abaya. I don’t cover my hair, because I’m not Muslim, and I was walking with my husband. The last time I checked…that wasn’t against the law, Islamic or otherwise.

  34. Abu Abdullah

    First of all the contempt I express is at the Saudis being racist not at you or any one else for that matter , in this regard.

    I still stand by my statement that it was a smooth transition for you just because you are a american, if you had been an non-muslim Asian they would have asked you to cover your hair just as the way they do it to other “low class” nationalities here. Yes thats a fact!!!

    And in this post i was only pointing the racism out just as the way you mentioned in your comment to “deep” in the same post on your blog (http://blackchickinsaudi.blogspot.com/2009/01/inter-racial-profiling.html?showComment=1231922760000#c2128024593725689083)

    So bottom line if you are a American/Westerner the people here are b*tt kissers to over look anything, and its not your fault either.

  35. @ Abu Abdullah…you stated “Black Chick in Saudi was stopped by the muttawa but let go when they came to know she was an American”. If they were going to “give us a break” why stop us to begin with? My white husband is OBVIOUSLY a Westerner.

    I suggest you get over the Saudi’s and their attitude…it’s pointless. The only thing that changes here is your attitude, because nothing else will.

  36. Haroon Rauf

    wow…cooolll!!! u rock! 🙂

  37. Please forgive your brother Naif as he grew up in an environment of saudi male self preservation by still continuing to propagate the wrong advocacy inculcated by their father’s father passed to them that saudi women would follow the strict adherence of covering everything including your life to public and submit yourself without question. It’s high time now my dear sister that you have to flex those muscles and stand up to what YOU believe in, that is, NO to this harassment and prejudice…STAND strong and be UNITED YOU are a WOMAN that is EQUAL to you male counterpart… HAPPY are those who stand to what they believe at …

  38. I am ready to help you, set questions. Together we can find the decision.

  39. Islam cannot be implemented be force, that’s wrong. However if you are not practicing it and feeling proud and still you call yourself Muslim, then don’t be proud.

  40. Bilal Ashraf

    Stupid Muttawas !! Barbarians belonging to the Stone Age….. This happens only in Saudi, the land cursed by God….no wonder it’s a friggin desert !!!

  41. Muslims must come to grips with both the Shunner and the Shunned. Establishment of Fundamentalist Orthodoxy, should not deter from Republican Societal Responsibilities with specific regards to Principle of Tolerance. The Sectarian backbiting must end, if a Just, Islamic Republic is to cross the threshold into the Twenty first Century.

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