Sectarianism and Violence in 11th-c. North Africa: The Anti-Ismaili Massacre of 1016

In Summer 407 AH/1016 AD, a wave of mass violence targeting Isma’ili Shi’i Muslims swept over Ifrīqiyah, a province of the Fatimid caliphate ruled by the Zirid dynasty and consisting of the territories of modern-day Tunisia, western Libya and eastern Algeria. Following their move to Egypt in the late 10th century, the Fatimid caliphs had appointed the Zirids, a dynasty of Sanhaja Berbers, as their governors and deputies in North Africa. Despite occasional outbreaks of violence, for much of the late 10th century there had been a delicate, albeit uneasy, coexistence between the various Muslim communities in Ifrīqiyah (Isma’ili Shi’is, Hanafis, Malikis, and Ibadis). The massacres of 1016 were therefore a cataclysmic set of events that shattered this heterogeneous society.

 

map-of-the-fatimid-caliphate

(Fatimid caliphate at its greatest extent)

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The Commemoration of the Martyrdom of al-Husayn b. Ali (d. 680) in al-Andalus

Despite over three centuries of Umayyad political rule in al-Andalus, during which pro-Alid sentiments were discouraged and (at times) outlawed, with ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib and his descendants sometimes being ritually cursed from the pulpits of the mosques, the Family of the Prophet (the Ahl al-Bayt)—which includes ‘Alī and his sons al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥusayn—remained an important focal point for popular religious devotion among Andalusi Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula. Putting aside the various pro-Alid and even Shī‘ī-inspired political movements in early medieval al-Andalus (about which I will write at a later date), much of the scholarly culture in al-Andalus within the fields of history, hadith, theology, mysticism and Qur’anic interpretation shared much in common with the broader Sunni world in considering ‘Alī (and his sons) one of the preeminent personalities of Islam whose proximity to the Prophet Muhammad and whose service to the faith deemed him worthy of major respect. Although Umayyad attempts to fabricate traditions and hadith favoring their family while condemning (or, at least, marginalizing) the Alids met with some success, it seems clear that the vast majority of Sunni scholars in al-Andalus maintained a considerable degree of respect for the Ahl al-Bayt. There were, of course, exceptions to this, such as the famous tenth-century, pro-Umayyad litterateur Ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi (d. 940) excluding the names of ‘Alī and al-Ḥasan from the name of legitimate caliphs, listing Mu‘āwiyah b. Abī Sufyān as the fourth caliph instead; interestingly, he was strongly condemned for his doing so by several contemporaries, including none other than Mundhir b. Sa’īd al-Ballūṭī (d. 966), the chief judge of Córdoba under ‘Abd al-Raḥmān III (r. 912–961). Continue reading

Ahmad Sirhindī, Akbari Universalism and Islamic Orthodoxy in 16th/17th c. Mughal India

The historical experience of Islam and Muslims in the Indian subcontinent spans nearly fourteen centuries. Throughout its long existence, Islam in India was shaped by various Arab, Persian, Turkic, Mongol, and indigenous dynasties, all of which inevitably influenced the religion as practiced and understood by its adherents in the Indian environment. Although dynastic military power and political dominance certainly played a significant role in the consolidation of Islam in India and provided the context in which the institutions, literature, and architecture of Islam in South Asia developed, any attempt to identify a distinctly Indian Islam must take into consideration the social context and the role of Islamic scholars and mystics in the medieval and early modern period. Although each phase of Islamic history in South Asia is important in its own right, it is the Mughal period (1526–1858) that witnessed the maturation of the social, political, and religious institutions of Muslims in the Indian subcontinent. As a non-specialist in the history of Islam in South Asia, this piece is an attempt to think about trends occurring during the Mughal period, specifically during the years 1570–1620, within the broader context of early modern Islamic history.

Specifically, this post seeks to highlight the role of Shaykh Aḥmad Sirhindī (d. 1624), popularly known as Mujaddid-i Alf-i Thānī, the Renewer of the Second Millennium, as an oppositional ‘ālim (religious scholar) during the reigns of the Mughal emperors Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Akbar (r. 1556–1605) and Nūr al-Dīn Muḥammad Jahāngīr (r. 1605–1627). I argue that the environment of religious universalism in Mughal India, a concept rooted in the relativity of religious truth and the sulḥ-i kul (universal peace), nurtured by Akbār, prompted Sirhindī (and other ‘ulamā’) to aggressively undertake a program of radical reform to reverse these trends. For Sirhindī, a universalist environment, in which un-Islamic beliefs and practices were tolerated beyond the boundaries laid down by the sharī‘ah (Islamic law), and a situation in which the status of Muslims as a dominant community was diluted by laws which challenged the supremacy of Islam, was unacceptable and posed a direct threat to the sanctity of Islam and the preservation of the Muslim community in the Indian subcontinent. In addition to actively opposing Akbar’s universalist policies and the public manifestation of Hinduism (as well as the spread of Sikhism), Sirhindī was also deeply concerned with the rising power and influence of Shī‘ī Muslims and Shī‘ism in general within the Mughal court. For Sirhindī, the decline of the sharī‘ah’s dominance and the prominence of heresy and unbelief were closely linked, and represented the dire predicament in which Islamic “orthodoxy” found itself in Mughal India. “Orthodoxy,” an extremely loaded and problematic term to be sure, refers here to Sunni orthodoxy, defined as the legal-theological notion that the beliefs, practices and institutions of Sunni Islam provided the only legitimate basis for the social, religious, and political order and needed to be upheld by those in positions of authority. It is utilized here in order to refer specifically to those Sunni ‘ulamā’, such as Sirhindī, who believed that adherence to the sharī‘ah constituted the basic pillar of social and political legitimacy. In this context, it is important to remember that all schools of Islamic thought understood themselves, in some sense, as being the most Islamically authentic and orthodox form of the faith. This post is thus an exploration of this process of the definition, construction and defense of orthodoxy on the part of one Sunni scholar in late 16th and 17th-century Mughal India who viewed the integrity of the sharī‘ah (the very cornerstone of the legitimate order as far as he was concerned) being seriously threatened by the universalist atmosphere in the Mughal realm.

It is worth exploring this broader environment of universalism during the reigns of Akbar and Jahāngīr by highlighting the role of Shī‘ī Muslims in Mughal political, religious, and social life and by assessing Sirhindī’s reaction to this phenomenon. As such, I will be interpreting Sirhindīs stance vis-à-vis Shī‘ism within the larger context of his critique of the general religious atmosphere in late sixteenth-century and early seventeenth-century Mughal India. I argue that Sirhindī’s anti- Shī‘ī writings should not be understood as a mere reproduction of Sunnī polemics against Shī‘ism from the Nile to Oxus region, in the same vein as Ibn Taymiyyah’s Minhāj al-Sunnah or Ibn Ḥajar al-Haythamī’s al-Ṣawā‘iq al-Muḥriqah, but rather as one manifestation of his broader program of opposition to Akbarī universalism and an affirmation of (Sunni) orthodoxy within a distinctly Mughal Indian universalist environment.[1] In this post, I will not include an in-depth analysis or translation of the text itself, but rather will seek to explore the broader contextual framework within which I think Sirhindī’s Radd-i Rawāfiẓ (‘The Epistle on the Refutation of the Rejectionists/Shī‘a’) can best be understood.[2]
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Wisdom from Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (d. 835)

Muhammad b. ‘Alī al-Jawād al-Husaynī (d. 835), considered the ninth Imām by the Twelver Shi’i tradition, was a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad and was one of the most important Alid figures during his time. His mother, al-Khayzaran (also known as Sabika), was of Nubian or East African origin and was an important figure in her own right, with many Muslims considering her among the most virtuous and knowledgeable women of her era. Muhammad al-Jawād undertook the responsibility of the Imamate while only 8 years old and died at the young age of 25. Although he lived in turbulent times and despite his youth, he played an important role—religiously and intellectually—as the leader of the Husaynid Shi‘i community. In addition to being revered as the Imām of the Age by Twelver Shi’is, he is also highly respected and revered by Sunnis as a religious scholar and one of the most prominent leaders of the Ahl al-Bayt in his time. He died in 835—possibly poisoned on the orders of the Abbasid caliph—and was buried in Baghdad next to his grandfather Mūsa al-Kāẓim (d. 799), where his shrine remains an important place of visitation for the faithful. Among the many pieces of wisdom that have been ascribed to him is the following:

“Modesty is the ornament of poverty, thanksgiving is the ornament of affluence and wealth. Patience and endurance are the ornaments of calamities and distress. Humility is the ornament of lineage, and eloquence is the ornament of speech. Committing to memory is the ornament of [hadith] narration, and bowing the shoulders is the ornament of knowledge. Decency and good morale is the ornament of the intellect, and a smiling face is the ornament of munificence and generosity. Not boasting of doing favors is the ornament of good deeds, and humility is the ornament of service. Spending less is the ornament of contentment, and abandoning the meaningless and unnecessary things is the ornament of abstention and fear of God.”

العفاف زينة الفقر، والشكر زينة الغنى، والصّبر زينة البلاء والتواضع زينة الحسب، والفصاحة زينة الكلام، والحفظ زينة الرواية، وخفض الجناح زينة العلم، وحسن الأدب زينة العقل، وبسط الوجه زينة الكرم، وترك المنّ زينة المعروف، والخشوع زينة الصلاة، وترك ما لا يعني زينة الورع

[Narrated in Kashf al-Ghummah fī Ma‘rifat al-A’immah (Volume 3, p. 139 in the Beirut 1985 edition) by Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī b. ‘Isa al-Irbilī (d. 692/1293) and al-Fuṣūl al-Muhimmah fī Ma‘rifat al-A’immah (p. 261 in the 1988 Beirut edition) by Nūr al-Dīn ‘Alī b. Muḥammad (d. 885/1451), known as Ibn al-Sabbāgh]

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ImageFor further reading on this fascinating figure:

Shaykh al-Mufid, Kitab al-Irshad: The Book of Guidance into the Lives of the Twelve Imams (2007)

Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi, The Life of Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (2001), which can be read here: http://maaref-foundation.com/english/library/pro_ahl/imam09_jawad/the_life_of_imam_jawad/index.htm

Last Will and Testament of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 661)

The 21st of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar marks the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib (r. 656–661), the fourth rightly-guided caliph in the Sunni tradition and the first divinely-guided Imam of the Age and Successor of the Prophet in the Shi’i tradition. Like the two preceding caliphs, ‘Umar b. al-Khaṭṭāb (r. 634–644) and ‘Uthmān b. ‘Affān (r. 644–656), Imam ‘Alī was killed by an assassin’s blade. In this case, the assassin, ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Muljam (d. 661), was a member of the Kharijite sect whose grievances against ‘Alī were colored by his own theology as well as the fact that his father, brothers and fellow Kharijites had been killed at the Battle of Nahrawan (658) by the caliph’s army. As a result, Ibn Muljam took it upon himself to assassinate the caliph, which he did by striking Imam ‘Alī with a poisoned blade to the back of the head while he was leading dawn prayers in the Great Mosque of Kufa. The caliph died of his injuries two days later. The following is his last will and testament (addressed to his two eldest sons, al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥusayn) as preserved in Nahj al-Balāghah, Imam ‘Alī’s collection of letters, sermons and decrees that was compiled by al-Sharīf al-Raḍī (d. 1015) in the 10th century.

https://walayah110.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/94816.jpg(Great Mosque of Kufa)

Translation

I advise you to fear God, and not to pursue this vicious world even though it may try to entice you. Do not seek it though it may seek you and do not grieve over and long for things which this world refuses you. Always speak the truth, and work constantly for the eternal reward and blessings of God. Be an enemy of tyrants and oppressors and be a friend and support of those who are oppressed. To you, to my other children, to my relatives and to all who receive these words of mine, I advise to fear God and to be pious, to have fair and honest dealings with one another and improve mutual relations because I have heard your grandfather, the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family) often say: “To remove mutual enmity, ill-feeling and hatred among people is better than all the prayers and fasting of many years.”

Fear God when the question of helpless orphans arises. You should not let them be full some time and hungry some other times. So long as you are there to guard and protect them, they should not be ruined or lost. Fear God with respect to your neighbors, for your prophet constantly enjoined us to be good to the neighbor, so much so that we thought that he may even decree that they had the right to inherit from us. Fear God in respect of the Holy Qur’an, lest others should excel and surpass you in following its tenets and in acting according to its orders. Fear God so far as prayers are concerned because prayers are the pillars of your religion.

Fear God in the matter of His House (Ka’bah). Let it not be deserted because if it is deserted, you (the Muslims) will be troubled with chastisement. Fear God in the matter of struggle in the path of God with your properties, lives, and tongues. Develop mutual liking, friendship and love and help one another. Take care that you do not spurn and treat one another badly and unsympathetically. Exhort people to do good and abstain them from evil, otherwise the vicious and the wicked will be your overlord and if you willingly allow such persons to be your rulers then your prayers will not be heard by God. O sons of ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib: Let there be no retaliation for the act of my murder, except against the individual who committed the act. Do not seek vengeance against the community of Muslims under the slogan “The Commander of the Faithful has been murdered” nor inflict any harm on anyone, save my murderer. If I should die because of his strike against me, then strike him with a sword a single time, as he did to me. Do not mutilate or torture the man, for I have heard the Prophet of God (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family) say: “Never mutilate or torture any living being, even if it be a vicious dog.”

[“Letter 47,” Nahj al-Balāghah (Beirut: al-Maktabah al-‘Asriyyah, 2009), pp. 361–362]

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Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328) and the Question of Takfir (“Excommunication”)

Taqī al-Dīn Abūl ‘Abbās Ahmad ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), the famous Damascene theologian and Ḥanbalī jurist, is perhaps one of the most controversial intellectual figures in Islamic history.The following is a short excerpt from his fatwa that can be found in the compendium Majmu’ al-Fatawa (Majmu’ al-Fatawa, 3: 282-288) as well as other collections of his epistles. The actual section is far more comprehensive, but the sections I translated below provide an idea about his ruling with regard to the issue of takfir as reflected in his later teachings. Takfir refers to the declaration by one individual or group of Muslims that another individual or group of Muslims are no longer believers, but apostates from the faith. It differs from the concept of excommunication or anathematization in a medieval Christian context only in the sense that Islam (arguably) recognizes no official ecclesiastical hierarchy or body that can enforce such a declaration, although in some cases the political authorities took this role upon themselves.

Although there are numerous indications in Ibn Taymiyya’s earlier writings that he did engage in and promote a discourse of takfir, this particular epistle makes it abundantly clear that towards the end of his career he strongly sought to disassociate himself from such sentiments. It is not entirely clear why he did so. Perhaps he came to perceive such a discourse as a major threat to the social, religious and political fabric of the Islamic world. Alternatively, it could be that as he came under increasing repression by the Mamluk authorities–facing strong accusations of heresy–he recognized the immense and dangerous implications of takfir as a tool of state oppression. His change of heart can also be seen as the result of his own intellectual and theological evolution. While the underlying reasons for this discernible shift in his writings remain obscure, it is nonetheless clear that Ibn Taymīyya was committed to a strongly anti-takfir position during the last few years of his life. As his student, Shams al-Din al-Dhahabi (d. 1348) reported: “Towards the end of his life, our teacher Ibn Taymiyya would state : ‘I do not deem anyone from among the Muslims to be an unbeliever.’” (Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’) Continue reading

Nader Shah Afshar (r. 1736-1747): A Short Overview of the Career of an 18th-Century Iranian Conqueror

Perhaps one of the most significant rulers of Iran in the post-Safavid period was Nāder Shah Afshar (r. 1736-1747). Although most students of Islamic history are somewhat familiar with the Safavid rulers (1501-1722) or the later Qajar sovereigns (1785-1925), Nāder Shah and the Afsharid dynasty that he founded are usually less well known. In this short piece, I want to provide a very short outline of Nāder Shah’s career. I also wanted to shed some light on his coinage, which I personally find to be one of the most interesting aspects of his rule since it emphasizes the concept of universal sovereignty while excluding any explicitly sectarian (Sunni or Shi’ite) identification. In a future post, I will look in a bit more depth at his religious policies–which have remained largely misunderstood–and connect them with this concept of universal sovereignty.

Nāder Shāh, an Afsharid Turcoman, attempted to realize a grandiose imperial vision, modeled upon that of Tīmūr (r. 1370–1405), of a Turkic empire extending across the Iranian plateau. As part of his attempts to realize this broader objective he adopted a strategy of engaging with various modes of legitimacy—Sunni, Shi’i, Turkic, and Iranian—in conjunction with major military expansion. However, despite some important military and political successes, by the end of his reign his strained relations with the Iranian populace—as a result of his harsh fiscal policies and violent repression of dissent—erupted into major rebellions across his empire, which he attempted to quell with increasing brutality before he was assassinated in 1747.

Nāder Afshar, born around 1688, was born into the Qirqlū clan of the Afshār Turcoman tribe, which was one of the original Kizilbāsh oymāqs (tribal groupings) that had helped bring the Safavids to power in the early sixteenth century. Following the devolution of the Safavid polity, which culminated in the Afghan invasions and the occupation of Isfahan in 1722, Nāder became involved in the power struggles that took place around Mashhad in northeastern Iran.

https://i2.wp.com/wps.ablongman.com/wps/media/objects/419/429222/illustrations/WALL5295326.gif

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Isma’il ibn Ali al-Razi (d. 1054) on Umar b. al-Khattab’s Honoring of al-Hasan b. Ali and al-Husayn b. Ali

The following tradition is taken from an eleventh-century work by the Persian Muslim scholar Ismā‘īl ibn ‘Alī ibn al-Ḥasan al-Rāzī (d. 445/1054) entitled Kitāb al-Muwāfaqa bayn Ahl al-Bayt wa-l Ṣaḥaba. Ismā‘īl ibn ‘Alī al-Rāzī was an eleventh-century scholar who had studied theology/hadith in Damascus (with ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Naṣr al-Tamīmī), Baghdad (with Abī Ṭāher al-Mukhalaṣ), Mecca (with both Aḥmad ibn Ibrahīm ibn Firās and Abū Muḥammad ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn ‘Umar ibn al-Naḥās), and Rayy (with ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad ibn Fadalah). According to later scholars, he was inclined to the Mu’tazalite (rationalist) doctrine. He was also very well-versed (and wrote books on) Prophetic tradition (hadith), jurisprudence, and-according to the later Islamic scholar al-Dhahabī (d. 1348), he studied and taught Hanafi, Shafi’i, and Zaydi law.

This work was famously edited and commented upon by the famous Iranian Islamic scholar and exegete, Abū al-Qāsim al-Zamakhsharī (d. 1144). This tradition reveals the status of Ahl al-Bayt within Islam and shows how deeply rooted it is within the religious tradition. Moreover, this particular narration is important because it sheds light on the policy of the second caliph, ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, with regard to the ‘atā’ (military stipend) and how it was based on the notion of sābiqa (precedence within Islam based on relatedness/closeness to the Prophet).  The translation is my own and is based on pp. 144–148 of the Mukhtaṣar Kitāb al-Muwāfaqa bayn Ahl al-Bayt wa-l Ṣaḥaba (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 1999).  Continue reading

The Expulsion of Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi (d. 1148) from Seville

One of the little-known historians of the late medieval Islamic West is undoubtedly Ismā‘īl ibn al-Aḥmar (d. 1407). He was a a member of the reigning Andalusī Nasrid dynasty in Granada who spent most of his life in Fez and the Marinid realm, due to his branch of the family’s loss of political influence following the rise to power of the Nasrid emir Yūsuf I (r. 1333–1354). He was an important scholar, court secretary, poet and historian in Fez and many of his works have survived, including the Buyūtāt Fās al-Kubrā (a short history of the various noble families and famous scholars of Fez), a section of which is translated below. At some point in the future, I will be writing a lot more on the fourteenth-century Islamic West and Ibn al-Aḥmar in particular, so for now let me turn to the specific passage presented below.

This short, translated passage is particularly interesting for a number of reasons. The figure of Abū Bakr ibn al-‘Arabī (d. 1148)–not to be confused with the later Muhyiddīn ibn ‘Arabī (d.1240)–who was a student of Abū Hāmid al-Ghazalī (d. 1111) and one of the most preeminent jurists of the Maliki school, was a very illustrious and important personality in the Islamic West, despite some of his more polarizing and controversial pro-Umayyad and anti-Alid views of early Islamic history. It is interesting how the text seeks to connect Ibn al-‘Arabī’s particular religio-historical perspective of the civil wars in early Islam with his tribal lineage’s traditional support for the Umayyads, both in the Levant and al-Andalus, suggesting that pro-Umayyad allegiance continued in some cases long after the fall of the dynasty in 1031. Among the most notable sections of the passage is the way that Ibn al-Ahmar seeks to convince his readers that the propagation of anti-Alid perspectives and crossing certain red lines surrounding the topic of the martyrdom of al-Ḥusayn b. ‘Alī at Karbala was enough to lead to a major riot in Almohad Seville, probably the most significant political and cultural center in 12th-century al-Andalus. Moreover, it shows the ability of religious scholars, especially the newly-constituted class of Almohad ṭalaba, to mobilize the general populace by appealing to their pro-Alid religious sentiment. In fact, one could read Ibn al-Ahmar’s narrative as a reflection upon the attempts of the Almohads to supplant former Almoravid officials (represented by Ibn al-‘Arabi) and replace them with their own candidates (hence the reference to the ṭalaba).

This passage demonstrates that even in the fourteenth-century, two centuries after Ibn al-‘Arabī’s death, debate around Ibn al-‘Arabī—and particularly his most controversial work, al-‘Awāṣim min al-Qawāṣim—continued to rage fiercely, so much so that at one point a Marinid sultan even considered demolishing his tomb. However, as Ibn al-Ahmar argues, Ibn al-‘Arabī’s expulsion from Seville may have had as much to do with his supposedly ineffective administration and failure to gain the support of the populace as it did with a certain scholar’s utilization of key passages of al-‘Awāṣim min al-Qawāṣim to rile a mob up against him. It is important to recall that Ibn al-Ahmar’s narrative provides only one version of the events that transpired in 1147-1148 in Seville, with other narratives (written between 1148 and 1400) providing a (very) different view of events. In any case, I deemed this worth translating precisely because it adds a perspective on events that is largely unknown to most scholars and students of medieval al-Andalus and North Africa.

In general terms, this particular narrative of events could best be understood as the heightened pro-Alid sentiment of 14th-century Morocco being projected back in time to 12th-century Seville, with Ibn al-‘Arabī being cast as the antagonist within this narrative. While there is ample evidence that Ibn al-‘Arabī was opposed by a large number of Seville’s populace, had his house surrounded, books burnt and was forced to flee the city, it is less clear whether this was caused specifically by his anti-Alid and pro-Umayyad statements in the ‘Awāṣim min al-Qawāṣim. According to the Syrian historian al-Dhahabī (d. 1348), the opposition against Ibn al-‘Arabī was precipitated by certain, highly unpopular unilateral decisions taken by the qadi (specifically the decision to raise funds by confiscating animal skins), which his political opponents capitalized upon in order to turn the populace against him. It is most certainly possible that certain statements in the ‘Awāṣim min al-Qawāṣim played an important role in mobilizing the populace against him, but to my knowledge Ibn al-Ahmar is the only source to stress this explicitly. The value of the passage translated below largely lies in its providing some insight into Ibn al-‘Arabī’s legacy in a specific place (Marinid Fez) at a particular moment in time (late 14th century) rather than in providing accurate details about the series of events that led Ibn al-‘Arabī to leave his hometown of Seville for North Africa in the late 1140s.

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Review of “Wahhabi Islam”

The following is my review of Wahhabi Islam (http://www.amazon.com/Wahhabi-Islam-Revival-Reform-ebook/dp/B000V2KING/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1280628186&sr=8-2)

Natana J. DeLong-Bas’ “Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad” (Oxford University Press, 2004) is a self-described controversial book which has received rave reviews from critics, who have labeled the book “meticulously-researched,” “comprehensive and original,” and “path-breaking.” Utilizing the original writings of Muḥammad ibn Abd al-Wahhāb and his biographers, rendering them accessible to a broad audience through their translation into English for the first time, DeLong-Bas seeks to challenge the dominant scholarly interpretation of the founder of the Wahhabi movement and his legacy in the Muslim world. In this brief review, I will attempt to reconstruct her major arguments, analyze her methodology, and problematize many of her conclusions. Continue reading