The Clerics of Islam


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Religious Authority and Political Power in Saudi Arabia

Nabil Mouline; Translated by Ethan S. Rundell

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Followers of Muhammad b. ’Abd al-Wahhab, often considered to be Islam’s Martin Luther, shaped the political and religious identity of the Saudi state while also enabling the significant worldwide expansion of Salafist Islam. Studies of the movement he inspired, however, have often been limited by scholars’ insufficient access to key sources within Saudi Arabia. Nabil Mouline was granted rare interviews and admittance to important Saudi archives in preparation for this groundbreaking book, the first in-depth study of the Wahhabi religious movement from its founding to the modern day. Gleaning information from both written and oral sources and employing a multidisciplinary approach that combines history, sociology, and Islamic studies, Mouline presents a new reading of this movement that transcends the usual resort to polemics.

Nabil Mouline is a senior researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). Ethan S. Rundell is the translator of numerous books, including Debordering Korea: Material and Immaterial Legacies of the Sunshine Era (2013) and Investigating Srebrenica: Institutions, Facts, Responsibilities (2012).

“Mouline is a remarkable scholar of the Muslim world, an erudite Arabist, a well-read scholar of Islamic literature, and a sound social scientist. This book has a wide potential readership in English, due to its breakthrough character.”—Gilles Kepel, author of Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam

“Nabil Mouline offers the most sophisticated analysis to date of the religious sphere in Saudi Arabia.  In particular, he details the rise and history of the religious establishment and its complex relationship with the political authority in Riyadh. The Clerics of Islam represents an original, vivid and nuanced reading of Wahhabism because its author has carefully read the primary sources and met with many of the kingdom’s leading clerics.  It is a must read for anyone wishing to understand the nexus between religion and power in modern Arabia.”—Bernard Haykel, Princeton University

“Based on rich primary sources and field research, this book unearths data thus far not accessible to Western researchers. The topic is relevant not only for specialists of Saudi Arabia, but for everyone with an interest in politics and religion, and the politics of religious actors and institutions in particular.”— Steffen Hertog, London School of Economics
ISBN: 9780300178906
Publication Date: November 25, 2014
344 pages, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4
20 b/w illus.