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Beyond Sunni and ShiaThe Roots of Sectarianism in a Changing Middle East$
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Frederic Wehrey

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190876050

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190876050.001.0001

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The Kingdom and the Caliphate

The Kingdom and the Caliphate

Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State

(p.239) 10 The Kingdom and the Caliphate
Beyond Sunni and Shia

Cole Bunzel

Oxford University Press

Since late 2014 the Islamic State has declared war on Saudi Arabia and launched a series of terrorist attacks on Saudi soil intended to start an uprising. In a further attack on the Saudi kingdom, the self-declared caliphate has claimed to be the true representative of the severe form of Islam indigenous to Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism. These two very different versions of an Islamic state are at war over a shared religious heritage and territory. The Islamic State, which draws on the teachings of the Wahhabi school of Islam, finds inspiration in the example of the first Saudi-Wahhabi state (1744–1818), which engaged in expansionary jihad and cultivated a sectarian animus toward the Shia. The Islamic State’s rise has reignited a debate in Saudi Arabia over the intolerant and aggressive nature of Wahhabism. Liberals have called for a revisionist movement, as they describe it, to expunge certain doctrines from Wahhabism.In some ways the Islamic State’s claim to the Wahhabi heritage is not unfounded. The early Wahhabis advanced an exclusivist version of Sunni Islam that was universally seen as a heresy, founded a state that waged expansionary jihad against fellow Sunni Muslims, and killed Shia Muslims because they were seen as hopeless idolaters. The Islamic State has done the same on all three counts.

Keywords:   Saudi Arabia, Islamic State, Clerics, Wahhabism, Caliphate, Turki al-Binali, Tawhid, Shiism

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