Fideism II

  • David Cowan


The underlying theology of Saudi Arabia is Wahhabism, which refers to the eighteenth-century teachings and doctrines introduced in the central Arabian region of Najd by religious reformer Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab (c.1702–91), which dates back to the middle of the eighteenth century. He was schooled in the Hanbali tradition and to a lesser extent in Sufism. As a scholar of the Hanbali school, he was greatly influenced by the earlier Hanbali scholar, Taqi al-Din ibn Taymiyya (b. 1263). Ibn Taymiyya preached unwavering adherence to the Hanbali view that the only true Islamic doctrine was based on two of the recognized sources of Islamic law, the Qur’an and the hadith (There are four recognized Sunni schools (s. madhhab, pl. madhhahib), Hanafi, Shafa‘i, Maliki and Hanbali, and three Shi‘a schools, Ja‘fari, Zaydi, and Isma’ili. See also: Delong-Bas argues that the hadith, in al-Wahhab’s view, were to be assessed according to their content, rather than the chain of transmission, which had become the way of scholars in examining them for authenticity. The aim was to reform Islam, which al-Wahhab believed had strayed from the strict demands and guidance of the Koran and Hadith, with Muslims incorporating un-Islamic sources and practices. Delong-Bas explains the reform aims of the era:

The desire of eighteenth-century reformers to embrace and study scripture directly was not simply a matter of religious purity or theological quibbling. These reformers were concerned not only by the fact that their fellow Muslims were not paying sufficient attention to Islamic values and ethical considerations but also by the fact that their fellow Muslims did not distinguish between the scriptures and their interpretations. In their experience, many Muslims of their time considered the scriptures and their interpretations to be equally authoritative. (Delong-Bas 2008, p. 11)


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Authors and Affiliations

  • David Cowan
    • 1
  1. 1.Boston CollegeBostonUSA

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