Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab

Pages: 160
Subject: Biography, Religion
Series: Makers of the Muslim World
Imprint: Oneworld Academic

Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab

Michael Crawford

A biography on the founder of the Wahhabi movement and first Saudi state
Hardback
9781780745893 (1 Dec 2014)
RRP £30.00 / US$40.00

The Book

Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792) aroused great controversy in his lifetime. More than two centuries after his death he still elicits strong views. For some he is the model of a pious religious activist who fought to establish a regime of Islamic godliness in the least promising of environments. For others, especially Muslims associated with mystic orders or who belong to the Shi‘i branch of Islam, he is a hate figure. Few would contest that he shaped the Muslim world.

For over two hundred and fifty years the Wahhabi religious movement has rested on the twin pillars of a clear, compelling credo and an indissoluble alliance with temporal power in Arabia. Absolutist, uncompromising theology and political and religious ambition combined to make it the dominant force there, turning its champions, the Al Sa‘ud clan, from petty rulers of a middle-sized settlement with a talent for balancing interests, into the guardians of Islam's Holy Places, disposing of the earth's greatest identified oil reserves. This thought-provoking and incisive biography, which charts the relationship between religious doctrine, political power and events on the ground, is ideal for readers interested in uncovering the life and convictions of the man who founded the Wahhabi movement and a dynastic alliance between his clerical descendants and Saudi princes that has lasted to the present day.

 

CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION

 

1 THE WAHHABI PHENOMENON

Contested Origins

Divisive Sect or New Orthodoxy?

Backward-Looking or Ahead of Its Time?

Religious Universalism and Political Particularism

Sources of a Controversial History

 

2 AGITATOR FOR GOD

Scion of a Small Town Culture

Regional Travel and Early Influences

Response to an Ecumenical Challenge?

Narrow Window on the Wider Islamic World

Relaunching the Campaign for Godliness

The al-‘Uyayna Years

 

3 GUIDE OF THE COMMUNITY

Alliance with the Al Sa‘ud of al-Dir‘iyya

Overturning the Status Quo

The Battle for Najd

Later Career

Personality

 

4 CHAMPION OF TRUE BELIEF

Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab's Writings

Assertion of Orthodoxy

Oneness of God

Tawhid in Action

Friends, Enemies, and the Fifth Column

A Community Apart

 

5 IDEOLOGUE OF STRUGGLE

Excommunication (Takfir)

Secondary Takfir and Emigration (Hijra)

Jihad

 

6 SCOURGE OF POLYTHEISTS

Sunni Clerical Opponents

The Bedouin

Customary Law

Takfir of the Bedouin

Tribalism and the Bedouin

Holy Men, Cults, and Sufis

The Shi‘a

 

7 THE REGIME OF GODLINESS AND THE POLITICAL ORDER

Explaining the Genesis of Wahhabism

Social and Economic Trends

State Formation and the Regime of Godliness

Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong

Government and the Political Order

Obedience to the Ruler

Princes and Clerics

Imamate

Administration of Justice

Social Justice

Conclusion

 

8 WAHHABISM, SAUDI STATES, AND FOREIGN POWERS

Saudi Expansion and Conquest of the Holy Cities

Spreading the Word

Destruction of al-Dir‘iyya

Wahhabi View of the Ottomans

Saudis and Christian Powers

The Second Saudi State's Uneven Career

Civil War and Collapse of the Second Saudi State

Restoration and Renewal

The Ikhwan and Internal Dissidence

Senior Clerics Become Officials

The Nasserist Challenge and the Saudi Bid for Islamic Leadership

 

9 WAHHABISM AND RELIGIOUS RADICALISM IN SAUDI ARABIA

The Trauma of Juhayman

The "Awakening”

Jihadism

 

10 IBN ‘ABD AL-WAHHAB'S LEGACY

 

Bibliography

Further Reading

Index

Additional Information

Subject Biography, Religion
Series Makers of the Muslim World
Pages 160
Imprint Oneworld Academic

 

About the Author

Michael Crawford is an independent consultant and writer on the Middle East. He served the British government in London and overseas, including in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen and Pakistan, from 1981 to 2009. He previously gained a First in Jurisprudence and an M.Phil in modern Middle Eastern studies from Oxford. He was called to the Bar in 1978.

Reviews

‘Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab used to be one of the most misunderstood Muslim clerics, and it is thanks to Michael Crawford's thorough and convincing arguments that we ought to see him in a different light… For a short book like this, it contains a surprising variety of historical and theological angles on the man, his time, influence and legacy reflecting on his core doctrines as well as his reception in present time.'

- Dr Sebastian Maisel, Der Islam

‘A timely contribution…provides a careful examination of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb that has the merit of being both useful to students and intriguing to specialists. Let it be clear that Crawford did not write a mere synthesis of the existing literature. For all its readability, the book is grounded in primary sources and frequently sheds light on issues that previous studies either ignored or treated unsatisfactorily… Crawford does a great service to the field by providing a fine-grained yet concise and accessible analysis of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb and his impact on Arabian history. His book is bound to become the standard introductory text on the subject.'

- Henri Lauzière, Northwestern University, Journal of Near Eastern Studies

‘Timely and authoritative‘ 

- Journal of Arabian Studies

'Michael Crawford has described with clarity a complex theology and the intricate story of its alliance with a temporal power. The author and Oneworld Publications deserve our thanks.'

- Asian Affairs Journal