November 21, 2004

Curious George: Wahabi ain't horseradish I'm starting to do research on fundementalist Islam, and haven't been able to find two things that would help me

I've tried google-fu, but I can only find exerpts of the tapes and can't seem to find anything more than a cursory glance toward Wahabism (almost all in screeds against it, some of them quite interesting and written by Muslims, but I'd like some more). Any help, you terrorist-loving monkeys? (The ultimate goal is to look at the similarities and differences between Al Qaeda's guerrilla war against us and the Chiapas Zapatistas

  • Good places to start: Tariq Ali's 'The Clash of Fundamentalisms', which is an excellent overview of Islamic fundamentalist movements such as Wahhabism; and Edward W. Said's Covering Islam, which is a brilliant examination of Islamic terrorism and the media (if you can filter out Said's not-so-occasional flashes of incandescent rage...) In any case, js, keep us posted on your progress..
  • You might also search for articles about the history of the Saudi Arabian government. If I recall correctly, Wahhabism started gaining prominence only after the House of Saud gave them haven in Saudi Arabia and control over religion in the country, in return for leaving the House and their government alone to rule.
  • Karen Armstrong has done a bit around this; Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Todays World touches on how Wahabism fits into the history of Islam, and I can reccomend it highly. I haven't read her Islam: A Short History, but I'd recommend it highly. One thing that intrigued me is that the Wahabist splinter started founded upon ijtihad, the principle of independent reasoning and the notion that Muslims are free to interpret (or re-interpret) the law for their times.
  • I should clarify: I'd recommend anything by Armstrong, rather than Islam: A Short History in particular. Her stuff is generally very good.
  • Let us know if you find any "Peace" in this religion, ok? /thoolou
  • Pfft, there is no peace in this religion. Duh.
  • Um. Unless I missed the joke, both of those last two comments showed an amazing lack of understanding of Islam. One of the links that I found that was a screed against Wahabism (or Wahhabism) was from an Imam railing against it specifically because it subverts the universal love message that is central to Islam (in this case, central to Sunni Islam traditions). And certainly, Sufi traditions are about nothing but transcendent love. Nal: The House of Saud are Wahabists. Wahabism predated Saudi Arabia by about 200 years (Nadji lived until about 1735). And from what I understand, Bin Laden is a follower of a weird splinter from Wahabism, which I'd like to find out more about and understand that he alludes to fully in his videotapes, which is why I was looking for the full transcripts (there's little in the BBC/Al Jazeera ones).
  • js, old joke, pre-archive crash. One of the more, erm, colorful Mofite personalities did a FPP to that effect. Needless to say it caused some fallout.
  • Sorry, js. Didn't think before commenting. I've had that a lot lately.
  • Far as I understand it and remember the research, which isn't far, Wahhabi began as a cult of personality (and it's modern, mid 19C or so), which took hold in Saudi Arabia because the House of Saud paid off the Wahhabi imams and gave them control of religious education, in order to keep them from generating dissent and protest within the Saudi kingdom.
  • who posted that? I can't remember. P.S. I'll find my db archive
  • goofyfoot: You're conflating different things. The alliance between the Wahhabis and the house of Saud (or Al Saud, where Al has a long a and is not the definite article, so don't write it "al-Saud"!) goes back to the late 18th century and was a relationship very useful to both parties: the Wahhabis got armed backing to spread their ideas and the rulers got religious justification. (This is not at all uncommon in history; see Christianity in Byzantium and the Habsburg and Russian empires, Zoroastrianism in ancient Persia, &c &c.) The "keep them from generating dissent" part is strictly twentieth-century, when dissent (as opposed to tribal unrest and dynastic squabbles) became an issue. By the way, here's a Google cache of the missing "Had it with the talk of 'Religion of Peace...'" thread -- fun for one and all!
  • For instance, you'll learn how to post ♥ there.