Wahhabi Islam From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad

Paperback | August 15, 2008

byNatana DeLong-Bas

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Until September 11, 2001 few Westerners had ever heard of "Wahhabism." Now most of us recognize the word as describing an austere and puritanical type of Islam, mentioned frequently in connection with Osama bin Laden and Saudi Arabia and often named as the inspiration behind the 9/11 terrorattacks. The word "Wahhabi" stems from the name of the founder of this system of thought, Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1702-1791), companion and religious adviser to Muhammad Ibn Saud, founder of the House of Saud. In this book Natana DeLong-Bas offers an in-depth study of the written works ofal-Wahhab. She focuses on four areas: theology, legal theory, proselytizing through education and jihad, and law on women. Through a close reading of al-Wahhab's texts she demonstrates that many aspects of 20th- and 21st-century Wahhabi extremism do not have their origins in his writings. Examplesof this extremism include the emphasis on jihad, martyrdom and militancy, and misogyny. The strict division of the world into dar al-Islam and dar al-kufr, according to which only Wahhabi adherents are considered to be true Muslims and all others are non-Muslims who must be fought, is entirelyabsent from al-Wahhab's work. Instead, argues DeLong-Bas, all of these themes were only added to Wahhabi teachings in the 19th century following armed engagement with the Ottoman Empire. DeLong-Bas's study fills an enormous gap in the literature about Wahhabism by returning to the original writingsof the founder of the movement. She debunks the common journalistic portrayal of Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab as an illiterate, rural bumpkin with no scholarly formation. Her revisionist reading of al-Wahhab's thought will be controversial but impossible to ignore. The book will be essential readingfor students and scholars of Islam as well as for those interested in the background of this dangerous modern ideology.

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Until September 11, 2001 few Westerners had ever heard of "Wahhabism." Now most of us recognize the word as describing an austere and puritanical type of Islam, mentioned frequently in connection with Osama bin Laden and Saudi Arabia and often named as the inspiration behind the 9/11 terrorattacks. The word "Wahhabi" stems from the nam...

Natana J. DeLong-Bas is senior research assistant at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. She is the author of Notable Muslims: A Biographical Dictionary (2004) and co-author of Women in Muslim Family Law revised edition, with John L. Esposito (2001). She has served as editor for and contributor to T...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 6.1 × 9.02 × 1.18 inPublished:August 15, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195333012

ISBN - 13:9780195333015

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"After the events of September 11, 2001 Wahhabi Islam became the focus of world attention. Disturbing questions were raised about its role within long-time U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, about its influence on Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, and about its spread throughout the Muslim world and exportto Europe and America. Natana DeLong-Bas has written a groundbreaking book that sets the standard for understanding the thought of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and its connection to the global jihad signaled by the 9/11 attacks. Her findings with respect to his teachings on issues of violence, holywar, women, religious tolerance, and reform fly in the face of past scholarship and of the militants who preach and practice a theology of hate in the name of Wahhabism. Wahhabi Islam is must reading for policymakers, scholars, the media, and the general public." --John L. Esposito, author of UnholyWar: Terror in the Name of Islam and What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam