Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab

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

Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab

Michael Crawford

A biography on the founder of the Wahhabi movement and first Saudi state
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.

Additional Information

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


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.


‘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