This is part two of a two part post detailing my weekend in Riyadh. If you want to read part one click here.
As soon as I saw them, I immediately recognized them as motawah. They have long beards, short dishdashas, and the face of a bastard with an angry snarl that never quite goes away. And as soon as I realized they were motawa I just knew they were coming for us.
People ask if I was scared, and I have to say no, I wasn’t scared… But I was annoyed. Because I KNOW they ain’t gonna do shit. And I knew why they stopped us.
They pulled my fiance aside and asked what he was doing walking with me. He said that I am his fiance, and we are trying to get married, but the laws here are dumb. He also said that his sister was with us, so it’s not like we are alone. In Islam you are allowed to spend some time with your fiance to get to know them, as long as you are supervised. As I stated in my previous post, we have never been alone. His family is aware we are together, as I stay in his house with his family. And my family knows we are together, as he called my parents to ask permission to marry them.
Because we were walking beside each other, the motawa stopped us. And they started with him. They asked to see his iqama, took him to what they though was outside of earshot, and started interrogating him. Then they came to ask me for my ID. But I hate these dudes, so I’m NOT going to make their job easy when they stop me for doing something HALAL. So, I give them my ID… but not my Iqama.
I pull out my beautiful passport, with USA stamped all over it. I wanted to annoy them and let them know I am so serious at the same time. And it worked. He was definitely annoyed that I didn’t give my iqama.
But here’s the thing- they think they can hold onto your iqama. They cannot hold onto you passport.
I didn’t even want to give up my passport, so I asked them “Why are you taking my passport? Why do you need to see it?” He shot me a nasty look, so I mean mugged harder, “Why do you need it. I don’t know you guys, I don’t want you taking my passport for no reason. You don’t need it.”
Finally one of the dudes spoke up, “It’s fine. You’ll get it back.”
They interrogated my fiance for a while longer, and harassed his sister, telling her this was her responsibility and blah blah blah no one cares what they say. They are bullies.
And one of these bullies wasn’t entirely sure what to do since technically we weren’t doing anything wrong, so he called his supervisor. The supervisor asked some questions like what I was wearing and where I was from. When he discovered I was from USA, he said “She’s an American? You’d better let her go.” And just like that, it was over, my passport was returned, and they realized what we knew all along- they can’t do shit.
Yeah, it’s annoying to be stopped by them. but what upsets me the most is how they treated my fiance. He is an amazingly kind and warm individual. He has endless patience and understanding, and is incredibly educated. He knows Islam very well, as does his whole family, and he is a great, faithful, practicing Muslim. And the motawa accused him of the opposite. He wore jeans and a tee, and they said he doesn’t represent Islam well because of his style. They said if he wants to represent Islam he should wear a thobe.
So, basically, it’s okay to walk with a girl you aren’t married to, as long as you wear a thobe so people know you are a muslim while you’re walking with a girl you aren’t married to, even though the motawa looks down on that? Really?
The motawa also told him to tell me NOT to take photos. So, what do I do? The exact opposite. I snapchat their photo. No fux given.
We laughed about it, but it was a genuine “that was funny laugh.” It was more of a “are they for real?” laugh. We weren’t in trouble, but it definitely put a damper on the whole evening. And I can tell it made my fiance annoyed. And seeing him in anything except a good mood kind of hurts.
But we resumed the evening as if nothing had happened. We tried to go shopping for wedding bands, but everything was closed. We went to get some food, because that’s what people do here. But before we got food, he gave me the best surprise. Since I came to this country I have been complaining that there isn’t a Sephora and how terrible my skin looks, so he took me to a Sephora. And I put myself in debt.
When we got home, we told his family what had happened. Their first reaction was to laugh because it was so ridiculous. Then their laughter turned to concern, because they were worried that people will think that this is what Islam is about. They assured me the motawah is NOT a true representation of Islam, but I know that already. I think a lot of people know that.
His mother laughed and joked about how if I was also black this never would have happened, we could have walked on without being noticed. She laughed about it but it kind of made me sad, because she is right. People here really hate the thought of a black person being with anyone else who isn’t black. And it’s a disgusting mindset to have. Allah did not create us different, we are all created the same. Our beloved prophet (PBUH) even said the same thing in his last sermon:
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.” -Prophet Muhammad
So basically everyone who thinks that there should be some racial divide in Islam has it totally wrong. Choose your spouse based on their deen, not their appearance. And that’s exactly what I am doing.
When I got home, I told my coworker about what had happened. She is black, and she wasn’t surprised. She even had a story of her own to tell me! Apparently she met a white Saudi lady who was married to a Nigerian. The Saudi asked her if they could sit with her, so the motawa would think that they were friends and would be less likely to harass her. She is MARRIED to a Nigerian and the motawa still harass her for it. And it is so disgusting to harass people for doing a halal thing.
So, I’ll close this post by reminding the motawa that Allah doesn’t love people based on RACE but on PIETY.
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well-acquainted. (The Noble Quran, 49:13)”