Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Commission of Ex-Thieves and Drug Addicts Should Be Abolished

I found this interesting and surprising article, it's an interview with a prominent Saudi Sheikh who criticizes the Saudi religious police, aka muttawa, check it out:

Report by Sattam al-Ruwayli, from Riyadh: 
“Saudi Cleric: The Past of Some Members of the Commission Is thieving and Addiction”

"Well-Known Saudi Islamic cleric Abd-al-Muhsin al-Obaikan has stressed, in a sensational interview with Saudi local station Radio UFM, that some members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice were either drug addicts, thieves, or something similar in their past. Al-Obaikan adds that after they abandon their past, they come under the influence of a strong religious sentiment, and adhere to the teachings of religion, and to the prevention of vice.

Al-Obaikan, who is an adviser to the Saudi Royal Court, explains: “Some people want to remove vices in the way they themselves want, and not by the shari`ah way, which was drawn up for us by the Prophet, God`s prayer and peace be upon him.”

Al-Obaikan stresses: “There is a difference between the exposure of sin, and spying on people by arresting the culprit. God Almighty says, `And spy not on each other [Sura Al-Hujurat, from Verse 12],` and He does not exempt anyone from this order. The Prophet, God`s prayer and peace be upon him, said: `Negotiate the punishments among yourselves, because if the issue comes to me, the punishment is mandatory.`”

Al-Obaikan criticizes severely the members of the commission who stop the car driver to ask him of what proves that the woman with him is his wife; he describes this behaviour as “contradicting the shari`ah texts.”

Al-Obaikan, who is the only licensed mufti outside the official religious institution in Saudi Arabia, adds that there is a hadith saying: “Help those who err to stand up after they stumbled, because the person who is not a professional criminal, if he commits a sin and hides, we ought to shelter him before his issue reaches the Sultan.”

The General Chairmanship of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is considered an independent government organization affiliated to the Saudi Council of Ministers, and some media organs call it, the “religious police”.

In his interview, Al-Obaikan praises this “great organization,” as he describes it. He says that the leaders in the kingdom have not established this organization for any reason other than the acquiescence to the order of God and the Order of the Prophet, and out of commitment to the implementation of the shari`ah rulings on all affairs. Al-Obaikan describes the dysfunction in this organization as similar to any dysfunction in other government organizations, and says that it ought to be rectified.

Al-Obaikan explains that the solution lies in intensive training courses before the individual undertakes field work, so that it would be explained to him through the Shari`ah texts how to deal with vices. Al-Obaikan points out that some individuals start field work before they join the training courses.

Al-Obaikan says: “Once, I was in a market, and some enthusiasts went to advise an individual. The adviser was raising his voice, and I said to him: Brother, take the man aside and talk to him, but to raise your voice, and embarrass him in front of the people, this is unacceptable, and your advice in this way is unacceptable.” Al-Obaikan continues: “The system of promotion of virtue and prevention of vice does not endorse some practices.”

Al-Obaikan adds: “There are many people who aim for what is good, but do not reach their target. Therefore, we ought to draw up strong boundaries so that these people do not deviate from the organized shari`ah boundaries in field work.”

Call to abolishment of commission

Within the context of his talk about the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Shaykh Al-Obaikan proposes that the commission should be abolished and replaced by “Al-Hisbah [guarding against religious infringements] Ministry,” which should be delegated to perform other duties, such as collecting alms, and monitoring the prices.

Al-Obaikan justifies this by saying: “The commission should not be called with this name, because the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice is not the exclusive duty of one person and not the other.” He continues: “God Almighty says: `Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah [Sura Al Imran, from Verse 110].` Therefore, this is the duty of every Muslim according to his ability, capability, and guardianship, and is not at all the exclusive duty of an organization.”

Al-Obaikan stresses that this ministry should not be restricted to alerting people to perform prayers, or to improvising and hunting down some criminals; he says: “I would like them to undertake at least some of the missions mentioned by the scholars, such as monitoring the markets, because the work of these members is field work.”

Al-Obaikan says: “Their name is long (the General Chairmanship of the Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah), and the plaque is not sufficient. We ought to say: `this is Muhtasib` and the organization should be called Hisbah, because if you say `member of the commission`, there are many commissions.”

Al-Obaikan adds: “I propose that we change the name to become the name known in the books of the scholars and to turn this organization into a ministry to be calls `Ministry of Al-Hisbah.` If we want to make it a ministry, then its statutes ought to be revised, and it should be given powers and duties including collecting alms, and monitoring the prices.”

Al-Obaikan stresses that correcting the vice by hand is up to “those authorized who have been given the power by the guardian.” He says that describing the members as “Muhtasibs” is more correct, because they are working for the sake of God, and every Muslim is supposed to promote virtue and prohibit vice according to his abilities.

With regard to his proposal of a Ministry of Al-Hisbah, Al-Obaikan adds that he would like to participate in drawing up the Al-Hisbah system with the jurists and scholars of the promotion of virtue and prohibition of vice; moreover the organization ought to be consolidated by qualified employees so that the ministry can perform its duties at the required level.

It is well known that the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is an official Saudi organization commissioned to implement the Al-Hisbah system, which is inspired by Islamic shari`ah, according to the Saudi religious viewpoint.

Abd-al-Muhsin al-Obaikan is well known for issuing fatwas that aroused a great deal of controversy in the Saudi society, especially with other ulema, such as allowing a woman to travel without a Mahrem [unmarriageable companion], allowing insurance, and other issues that have been considered to be axiomatic to some Saudi clerics."

Source: Elaph website, London, in Arabic 26 Aug 11

For once I agree wholeheartedly with a Saudi Sheikh. Change the name CPVPV and their job description! Train the muttawa before you let them on the loose to terrorize people and monitor them, especially the criminals! 


Sadiya Merchant said...

uhh ok. to b very frank wid u, i dint understand anything :(

Sari said...

What? Drug addicts and thieves? That is unbelievable! How could that be legal to let them roam the streets?
I don't understand the logic.The cleric is right in every observation but I doubt his suggestions will pass. Why would they want to loose their power and give up this macho name :p

Ric Gene Watson Purdue said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chick Flick Journal said...

Wow I'm socked!

Layla said...

Sadiya-what did you not understand exactly?Of what the cleric was talking about in general or something else?

Layla said...

Sari-true, I also highly doubt they would want to part with their name and be "lowered" to just giving alms and checking prices..that would be just too good to be true.

Layla said...

CFJ-it is..I am most shocked that this cleric is tackling the issue!

Anonymous said...

"some members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice were either drug addicts, thieves, or something similar in their past"
...who cares what ppl were in their past at least now they are doing something good with their lives..that should be between them and Allah..and plus we shouldn't be exposing others faults and wrong-doings especially when they were in the past.
We should remember that these men who are involved in CPVPV have either a bachelor or more at uni but never-the-less have been educated in this field..its not a job everyone can take and they are paid directly by the government as any other government job...yes maybe more practical work needs to be done but they are NOT just any old criminals picked off the street.

A said...

when you get arrested and sent to prison in saudi arabia, in some circumstances like drug offences, you can have half your sentence pardoned if you memorize the quran. while this may seem like a good idea, their incentive for memorizing the quran comes from decreasing their prison sentence, and not from the heart. which is why these mutawwa people lack so much compassion for other humans and have such dirty black hearts. i hope they have a good answer for God in the afterlife, because this isn't the way you enforce islam. if anything, it shifts people further away from their religion.

i personally am glad to have left the saudi arabia, away from all teh hypocrisy i feel closer to islam than i ever was.