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Contesting the Saudi State


  • 1 map
  • Page extent: 334 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.62 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 320.9538
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: DS215 .A385 2007
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Saudi Arabia--Intellectual life--20th century
    • Saudi Arabia--Intellectual life--21st century
    • Dissenters--Saudi Arabia
    • Political culture--Saudi Arabia
    • Islam and politics--Saudi Arabia

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521858366 | ISBN-10: 0521858364)

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$47.95 (G)

The terms Wahhabi or Salafi are seen as interchangeable and frequently misunderstood by outsiders. However, as Madawi al-Rasheed explains in a fascinating exploration of Saudi Arabia in the twenty-first century, even Saudis do not agree on their meaning. Under the influence of mass education, printing, new communication technology, and global media, they are forming their own conclusions and debating religion and politics in traditional and novel venues, often violating official taboos and the conservative values of the Saudi society. Drawing on classical religious sources, contemporary readings and interviews, Al-Rasheed presents an ethnography of consent and contest, exploring the fluidity of the boundaries between the religious and political. Bridging the gap between text and context, the author also examines how states and citizens manipulate religious discourse for purely political ends, and how this manipulation generates unpredictable reactions whose control escapes those who initiated them.


Glossary; Maps; Introduction; 1. Consenting subjects: official Wahhabi religio-political discourse; 2. Re-enchanting politics: Sahwis from contestation to co-optation; 3. Struggling for the way of God abroad: from localism to transnationalism; 4. Struggling for the way of God at home: the politics and poetics of jihad; 5. Debating Salafis: Lewis Atiyat Allah and the jihad obligation; 6. Searching for the unmediated word of God; Conclusion; Notes; Bibliography; Index.

Prize Winner

Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2007


"The book is richly documented and tis understanding of the power shifts underlying idiological change is subtle. The material presented is crucial to understand political opposition in Saudi Arabia, and almost none of it has been documented before." - Steffen Hertog, Princeton University and Durham University

2007 Outstanding Academic Title -- Choice Magazine

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