Islam / Orientations / Wahhabism /
Religious police of modern Saudi Arabia; within the Islamic orientation of Wahhabism, since the 18th century in Najd, an elite of self-proclaimed specialists on Islamic rituals.
In recent decades, the term is used loosely for organizations actively intervening in community life, mosques and with families and individuals to make them act according to what they consider the regulations of Islam. The term has in many societies been used for pious Muslims in general.
In plural it is transliterated Mutawwa'in, a term that often is used instead of the singular form. There is no general rule to say which of the two forms is the better, but Mutawwa'a appears to be the form used back in the 18th century.
Part of Wahhabism
Mutawwa'a emerged as an important group in 18th century, as part of Wahhabism and the emergence of the earliest form of a Saudi state. They were an elite of self-proclaimed specialists on Islamic rituals, acted as agents of the religious message of Wahhabism. Their part in creating stability and a fragile unity among the new lands under the Saudi ruler was of vital importance.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Mutawwa'a became involved in more formal education, being highly active in the formation and organization of the Ikhwan since 1912.
Saudi Arabia; CPVPV
In Saudi Arabia, the mutawwa'a is largely associated with the government-funded and promoted institution known as The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices, the CPVPV. The CPVPV largely has its focus on dress codes, interaction between unmarried or unrelated men and women, the closing during prayer time. Effectively it also guards against the consumption of alcohol, pork and certain types of media considered immoral.
The CPVPV has wide authorities, can flog in public and arrest individuals. On March 11, 2002 the CPVPV gained much international attention when overseeing that girls did not escape a burning school in Mecca without proper dress and in company of a guardian; 15 died and 50 were severely injured from this. In August 2008, the CPVPV secured the burning of a woman having converted to Christianity, after her father had her tongue cut out.