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The concept of al-walāʾ wa-l-barāʾ (loyalty to Islam, Muslims, and God and disavowal of everything else) has developed in various ways in Wahhabi discourse since the 19th century. This can partly be ascribed to the civil war that caused the collapse of the second Saudi state (1824–91) and the lessons that both quietist and radical Wahhabi scholars have drawn from that episode. In this article, I contend that Wahhabi contestations of al-walāʾ wa-l-barāʾ can be divided into two distinct trends—one social and the other political—and that both show the enduring legacy of the second Saudi state, which can still be discerned in Wahhabi scholarly writings on the subject of al-walāʾ wa-l-barāʾ today.

Corresponding author
Joas Wagemakers is a Lecturer in the Department of Islam and Arabic at Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands; e-mail:
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R. Bayly Winder , Saudi Arabia in the Nineteenth Century (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1965)

Joas Wagemakers , “Defining the Enemy: Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi's Radical Reading of Surat al-Mumtahana,” Die Welt des Islams 48 (2008): 353–58

Joas Wagemakers , “A Purist Jihadi-Salafi: The Ideology of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 36 (2009): 281–97

Thomas Hegghammer and Stéphane Lacroix , “Rejectionist Islamism in Saudi Arabia: The Story of Juhayman al-ʿUtaybi Revisited,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 39 (2007): 103–22

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Thomas Hegghammer , “Terrorist Recruitment and Radicalisation in Saudi Arabia,” Middle East Policy 13 (2006): 3960

Bruce Riedel and Bilal Y. Saab , “Al-Qaeda's Third Front: Saudi Arabia,” Washington Quarterly 31 (2008), 3346

Roel Meijer , “Yūsuf al-ʿUyairī and the Making of a Revolutionary Salafi Praxis,” Die Welt des Islams 47 (2007): 422–59

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International Journal of Middle East Studies
  • ISSN: 0020-7438
  • EISSN: 1471-6380
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-middle-east-studies
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