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Contesting the Saudi State
Islamic Voices from a New Generation


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Part of Cambridge Middle East Studies

  • Date Published: November 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521858366

£ 32.00

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About the Authors
  • The terms Wahhabi or Salafi are seen as interchangeable and frequently misunderstood by outsiders. However, as Madawi al-Rasheed explains in a fascinating exploration of Saudi Arabia in the twenty-first century, even Saudis do not agree on their meaning. Under the influence of mass education, printing, new communication technology, and global media, they are forming their own conclusions and debating religion and politics in traditional and novel venues, often violating official taboos and the conservative values of the Saudi society. Drawing on classical religious sources, contemporary readings and interviews, Al-Rasheed presents an ethnography of consent and contest, exploring the fluidity of the boundaries between the religious and political. Bridging the gap between text and context, the author also examines how states and citizens manipulate religious discourse for purely political ends, and how this manipulation generates unpredictable reactions whose control escapes those who initiated them.

    • A groundbreaking analysis of religious and political debate in Saudi Arabia after 9/11
    • Explains the rise of a radical Islamist movement in Saudi Arabia
    • Considers Bin Laden's legacy and Saudi attitudes towards its 'favourite son'
    Read more


    • Contesting the Saudi State has been listed by American Choice magazine as one of the outstanding academic books of 2007.

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is an extraordinarily interesting and highly nuanced book, a welcome relief from the conventional journalistic banalities about 'Islam' and 'Saudi Arabia' which substitute for proper analysis in the media, or even on some of the lower foothills of academia.' Peter Sluglett, University of Utah, Salt Lake City

    '… the book is essential reading to understand the medley of tensions buzzing away in a society that remains so opaque to outsiders. A hundred years ago the Raj was able to shape our conceptual vocabulary and succeeded in associating Wahhabism with malevolence. Today we have a better understanding of hegemonic discourses and can be wary of the traps.' Salaam

    '… even when her book deals with relatively worn ground, the perspective she takes allows new insights. … Contesting the Saudi State succeeds admirably, and deserves the widest possible readership.'

    '… it is a thought-provoking effort, which will interest all those who want to study the role of Saudi Arabia in the regional or international context.' Ather Zaidi, Islamic Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2006
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521858366
    • length: 334 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.62kg
    • contains: 1 map
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Consenting subjects: official Wahhabi religio-political discourse
    2. Re-enchanting politics: Sahwis from contestation to co-optation
    3. Struggling for the way of God abroad: from localism to transnationalism
    4. Struggling for the way of God at home: the politics and poetics of jihad
    5. Debating Salafis: Lewis Atiyat Allah and the jihad obligation
    6. Searching for the unmediated word of God

  • Author

    Madawi Al-Rasheed, University of London
    Madawi Al-Rasheed is Professor of Social Anthropology at King's College, University of London. Her publications include Politics in an Arabian Oasis (1991); A History of Saudi Arabia (2002); (with R. Vitalis) Counter Narratives: History, Contemporary Politics, and Society in Saudi Arabia and Yemen (2004); and Transnational Connections and the Arab Gulf (2005).


    • Contesting the Saudi State has been listed by American Choice magazine as one of the outstanding academic books of 2007.

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