The history of the Wahhabis' close, loyal alliance with the ancestors of the present Saudi royal family has been recounted in fascinating, and persuasive detail by David Commins. His conclusion is no less startling as it is important, that Wahhabi hegemony over regional religious culture is in jeopardy; its credibility debased, possibly no longer able to buttress the Saudi dynasty's legitimacy. Whatever their future, the story of the Wahhabis has been told with authority and clarity by Commins in this absorbing book. - David Waines, Professor of Islamic Studies, Lancaster University ‘David Commins’ careful, comprehensive and erudite account of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia could not have come at a more opportune time. After so many tendentious and uninformed treatments of the subject in recent years, it is a pleasure to read a real historian’s account, based upon original Arabic sources. Everyone involved in the public debate about Saudi Arabia’s role in the Muslim world should read this book.’ —F. GREGORY GAUSE, UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT ‘David Commins’ work makes major contributions toward understanding the historical development of Wahhabism, particularly in the 19th century. His analysis of 19th century Wahhabi thought demonstrates the interplay between religion and politics during this critical time, setting the stage for the 20th century founding of the contemporary Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.’ —NATANA J. DELONG-BAS, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY, AUTHOR OF WAHHABI ISLAM: FROM REVIVAL AND REFORM TO GLOBAL JIHAD (I.B.TAURIS)
Author: Michael Farquhar
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Release Date: 2016-11-16
Genre: Social Science
The Islamic University of Medina was established by the Saudi state in 1961 to provide religious instruction primarily to foreign students. Students would come to Medina for religious education and were then expected to act as missionaries, promoting an understanding of Islam in line with the core tenets of Wahhabism. By the early 2000s, more than 11,000 young men from across the globe had graduated from the Islamic University. Circuits of Faith offers the first examination of the Islamic University and considers the efforts undertaken by Saudi actors and institutions to exert religious influence far beyond the kingdom's borders. Michael Farquhar draws on Arabic sources, including biographical materials, memoirs, syllabi, and back issues of the Islamic University journal, as well as interviews with former staff and students, to explore the institution's history and faculty, the content and style of instruction, and the trajectories and experiences of its students. Countering typical assumptions, Farquhar argues that the project undertaken through the Islamic University amounts to something more complex than just the one-way "export" of Wahhabism. Through transnational networks of students and faculty, this Saudi state-funded religious mission also relies upon, and has in turn been influenced by, far-reaching circulations of persons and ideas.
Wahhabism, a peculiar interpretation of Islamic doctrine and practice that first arose in mid-eighteenth century Arabia, is sometimes regarded as simply an extreme or uncompromising form of Sunni Islam. This is incorrect, for at the very outset the movement was stigmatized as aberrant by the leading Sunni scholars of the day, because it rejected many of the traditional beliefs and practices of Sunni Islam and declared permissible warfare against all Muslims that disputed Wahhabi teachings. Nor can Wahhabism be regarded as a movement of "purification" or "renewal," as the source of the genuinely revivalist movements that were underway at the time. Not until Saudi oil money was placed at the disposal of its propagandists did Wahhabism find an echo outside the Arabian Peninsula. The author discusses the rise of Wahhabism at the hands of Muhammad b.'Abd al-Wahhab, a native of Najd in the eastern part of the Arabian peninsula, the doctrines he elaborated to serve as the basis of the Wahhabi sect, and the alliance he concluded with the Saudi family, then rulers of the principality of al-Dir'iya. An early result of this union was a creeping conquest of the Arabian Peninsula, misnamed as jihad; it culminated in the sacking of Taif and the occupation of Mecca in 1803. This first Wahhabi occupation was short-lived but Wahhabism triumphed anew with the foundation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1925. Among the extensions of Wahhabism beyond Arabia must be accounted the perverse and brutal regime of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Author: David Commins
Release Date: 2015-05-12
David Commins challenges the stereotype of Saudi Arabia as a country immune to change by highlighting the ways that urbanization, education, and consumerism have exerted pressure on the religious establishment.
Author: George Rentz
Publisher: Arabian Pub Limited
Release Date: 2004
Current troubles in the Middle East have focused much international attention on Saudi Arabia. However, little has been published in English on the background to its culture and its roots in the First Saudi State that arose in 18th-century central Arabia. The Islamic reform movement that gave it its sense of mission, and the life and thought of Shaikh Muhammad b. â??Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792), the teacher who inspired it, have been similarly neglected. Often referred to outside Arabia as Wahhabism, the Shaikhâ??s teachings have been a fundamental influence on the lives of Saudi Arabians and their government ever since his death in 1792. His ideas continue to inspire his many followers, both inside the Kingdom and abroad, and a knowledge of his life and thought is vital to a proper understanding of both Saudi Arabia and the Arab world of today. Students of Saudi Arabian history have long recognized George S Rentzâ??s thesis on the Shaikhâ??s life and the origins of the First Saudi State as a work of pioneering scholarship. Despite this, since its acceptance in 1947 by the University of California, it has never before now been published. Closely basing his account on the local Najdi chroniclers who were contemporary with many of the events they describe, Rentz pieces together the life and thought of the thinker who, using as his guide orthodox Hanbalite doctrine, set out to purify Islam as he saw it practised around him, and to direct Muslims back to the original fountainhead of their faith. In the process Rentz tells the colourful story of the creation of the First Saudi State (1745â??1818) with its capital at al-Dirâ??iyah, near present-day Riyadh.
Author: Simon Ross Valentine
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2015-01-09
Genre: Political Science
Wahhabism is an Islamic reform movement found mainly in Saudi Arabia. Closely linked to the Saudi monarchy, it enforces a strict code of morality and conduct monitored by mutawa (religious police), and governs every facet of Saudi life according to its own strict interpretation of Shariah, including gender segregation. Wahhabism also prohibits the practice of any other faith (even other forms of Islam) in Saudi Arabia, which is also the only country that forbids women from driving. But what exactly is Wahhabism? This question had long occupied Valentine, so he lived in the Kingdom for three years, familiarizing himself with its distinct interpretation of Islam. His book defines Wahhabism and Wahhabi beliefs and considers the life and teaching of Muham-mad ibn Abd'al Wahhab and the later expansion of his sect. Also discussed are the rejection of later developments in Islam such as bid'ah; harmful innovations, among them celebrating the prophet's birthday and visiting the tombs of saints; the destruction of holy sites due to the fear of idolatry; Wahhabi law, which imposes the death sentence for crimes as archaic as witch- craft and sorcery, and the connection of Wahhabism with militant Islam globally. Drawing on interviews with Saudis from all walks of life, including members of the feared mutawa, this book appraises of one of the most significant movements in contemporary Islam.
Author: Toby Craig Jones
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Release Date: 2011-03-15
This is an environmental and political history of Saudi Arabia, revealing the power of the environment to shape and influence the political state. Jones traces the modernization of the Saudi state and its rich oil reserves that were developed with the help of U.S. expertise and a technocratic elite who managed not only the vast oil reserves and water supplies but also the growth of political institutions. From the time oil was discovered in the 1930s, its control has been at the center of Saudi political authority and of the modern state. In addition the state quickly learned to exploit access to water as a means of controlling the population. Jones demonstrates the power of the Saudi environment to influence its modern political institutions and ideologies over the last eighty years. It is a fascinating story that helps explain not only how the Saudi state was transformed but also how the U.S. was inextricably involved in its technological and political modernization from the beginning.
Author: Natana J. DeLong-Bas
Release Date: 2007
Featuring a study of Wahhabism's founder, Muhammad Ibn al-Wahhab, this book aims to reveal Muhammad Ibn al-Wahhab, as the voice of reform, advocating an Islamic society in which Muslims, Christians and Jews co-existed and cooperated. It also presents his vision of jihad as strictly limited to self-defence of the Muslim community.
In The Siege of Mecca, acclaimed journalist Yaroslav Trofimov pulls back the curtain on a thrilling, pivotal, and overlooked episode of modern history, examining its repercussions on the Middle East and the world. On November 20, 1979, worldwide attention was focused on Tehran, where the Iranian hostage crisis was entering its third week. That same morning, gunmen stunned the world by seizing the Grand Mosque in Mecca, creating a siege that trapped 100,000 people and lasted two weeks, inflaming Muslim rage against the United States and causing hundreds of deaths. But in the days before CNN and Al Jazeera, the press barely took notice. Trofimov interviews for the first time scores of direct participants in the siege, and draws upon hundreds of newly declassified documents. With the pacing, detail, and suspense of a real-life thriller, The Siege of Mecca reveals the long-lasting aftereffects of the uprising and its influence on the world today.
Followers of Muhammad b. ’Abd al-Wahhab, often considered to be Islam’s Martin Luther, shaped the political and religious identity of the Saudi state while also enabling the significant worldwide expansion of Salafist Islam. Studies of the movement he inspired, however, have often been limited by scholars’ insufficient access to key sources within Saudi Arabia. Nabil Mouline was granted rare interviews and admittance to important Saudi archives in preparation for this groundbreaking book, the first in-depth study of the Wahhabi religious movement from its founding to the modern day. Gleaning information from both written and oral sources and employing a multidisciplinary approach that combines history, sociology, and Islamic studies, Mouline presents a new reading of this movement that transcends the usual resort to polemics.
Saudi Arabia is generally and justifiably viewed as a country with the fewest democratic institutions and the weakest traditions of pluralism in the world. It is therefore surprising to learn that at least in one corner of the Saudi world, there is a plurality voices. Jörg Matthias Determann brings this element to light by analysing an important field of cultural activity in Saudi Arabia: historical writing. By exploring the emergence of a plurality of historical narratives in the absence of formal political pluralism, Determann seeks to paint a more nuanced picture of Saudi Arabia than has previously been drawn. Since the 1920s local, tribal, Shi‘i and dynastic histories have contributed to a growing plurality of narratives, diverging from and contesting the histories which focus on the royal family. Instead, they have emphasized the communities’ historical independence from the House of Saud or asserting the communities’ importance in Saudi national history. In addition to this, during the 1970s, distinct social and economic histories began to be developed, new narratives which have described important historical events evolving from wider social and economic factors rather than resulting from the actions of individual rulers or communities. Paradoxically, this happened because of the expansion of the Saudi state, including state-provision of mass education. A variety of previously illiterate and relatively poor sections of Saudi society, including former Bedouin, were thus empowered to produce histories which, while conformist for the most part, also provided a vehicle for dissenting voices. Furthermore, Determann argues that this proliferation of alternative histories is also due to globalizing processes, such as the spread of the internet. It is through this phenomenon that narrative plurality has been facilitated, by putting Saudi historians in contact with different ideologies, methodologies and source material from abroad. In challenging the widely-held perception of Saudi Arabia as an irredeemably closed and monolithic society, Historiography in Saudi Arabia provides a deeper understanding of modern Arab historiography, the Saudi state, and education and scholarship in the Middle East.
Author: Thomas Hegghammer
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Release Date: 2010-04-01
Genre: Political Science
Saudi Arabia, homeland of Osama bin Laden and many 9/11 hijackers, is widely considered to be the heartland of radical Islamism. For decades, the conservative and oil-rich kingdom contributed recruits, ideologues and money to jihadi groups worldwide. Yet Islamism within Saudi Arabia itself remains poorly understood. Why has Saudi Arabia produced so many militants? Has the Saudi government supported violent groups? How strong is al-Qaida's foothold in the kingdom and does it threaten the regime? Why did Bin Laden not launch a campaign there until 2003? This 2010 book presents the first ever history of Saudi jihadism based on extensive fieldwork in the kingdom and primary sources in Arabic. It offers a powerful explanation for the rise of Islamist militancy in Saudi Arabia and sheds crucial new light on the history of the global jihadist movement.
Author: Charles Allen
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Release Date: 2009-03-05
What are the roots of today’s militant fundamentalism in the Muslim world? In this insightful and wide-ranging history, Charles Allen finds an answer in an eighteenth-century reform movement of Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab and his followers-the Wahhabi-who sought the restoration of Islamic purity and declared violent jihad on all who opposed them. The Wahhabi teaching spread rapidly-first throughout the Arabian Peninsula, then to the Indian subcontinent, where a more militant expression of Wahhabism flourished. The ranks of today’s Taliban and al-Qaeda are filled with young men trained in Wahhabi theology. God’s Terrorists sheds much-needed light on the origins of modern terrorism and shows how this dangerous ideology lives on today.