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Islam in Saudi Arabia

Islam in Saudi Arabia
David Dean Commins

  • Paperback | In Stock | £12.99

  • Hardback | In Stock | £59.00

Description

The common image of Saudi Arabia portrays a country where religious rules dictate every detail of daily life: where women may not drive; where unrelated men and women may not interact; where the latter veil their faces; and where banks, restaurants and cafes have dual facilities: one for families, another for men. Yet life in the kingdom, contrary to perception, is not so clear cut as simply obeying dogma. David Commins challenges the stereotype of a country immune to change by highlighting the ways that urbanization, education, consumerism, global communications and technological innovation have exerted pressure against rules issued by the religious establishment. He places the Wahhabi movement in the wider context of Islamic history, showing how state-appointed clerics built on dynastic backing to fashion a model society of Sharia observance and moral virtue. But beneath a surface appearance of obedience to Islamic authority he detects currents that reflect Arabia's heritage of diversity (where Shi'i and Sufi tendencies survive in the face of discrimination) and the effects of its exposure to Western mores.

Author Info

David Commins is Professor of History at Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA. A specialist in modern Islamic thought, his publications include The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia, The Gulf States: A Modern History (both published by I.B.Tauris) and Islamic Reform: Politics and Social Change in Late Ottoman Syria.

Review

‘In the popular imagination, Saudi Arabia is a monolithic and static relic from an earlier age, wedded to a reactionary interpretation of Islam and led by an authoritarian monarchy whose alliance with a retrograde religious establishment has assured its survival. David Commins challenges this view by tracing the origins and evolution of the Saudi state from its eighteenth century roots through the present day. For Commins, Saudi Arabia’s contemporary social and political order is the product of dynamic historical and ongoing struggles, both internal (pitting dynasts against religious traditionalists, Wahhabi true believers against non-Wahhabis and their more liberal Wahhabi allies, and an old guard against a younger generation habituated to a world of social media, cable television, and consumerism) and external (including threats from imperial powers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Arab nationalists in the 1950s-60s, Saddam’s Iraq in the 1990s, and, currently, Iran and al-Qaeda). Commins tracks the Al Saud’s efforts to balance and overcome these challenges, in the process creating a system whose defining characteristics are contradiction and ambiguity. An eye-opening account, clearly written, subtly argued.’
James L Gelvin, Professor of History, UCLA, author of The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know and The Modern Middle East: A History

Islam in Saudi Arabia provides a learned and in-depth view of the role that religion plays in the Kingdom's politics and social dynamics. This very readable book is based on a close reading of primary sources and extensive fieldwork, as well as an intimate knowledge of Saudi society. Commins superbly explains Wahhabism’s influence on domestic and international policies, and how this particular interpretation of Islam – through the government, scholars and religious activists - affects the status of women and religious minorities. This is a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand the influence that religion has on this opaque society and how it is deployed by different actors for achieving their respective goals.’ 
Bernard Haykel, Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University, co-editor of Saudi Arabia in Transition

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd.
Series: Islam in Series

Paperback
ISBN: 9781848858015
Publication Date: 28 Feb 2015
Number of Pages: 192
Height: 216
Width: 134
Illustrations: 4 bw integrated illustrations

Hardback
ISBN: 9781848858008
Publication Date: 28 Feb 2015
Number of Pages: 192
Height: 216
Width: 134
Illustrations: 4 bw integrated illustrations

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