Reclaiming Saudi Salafism: The Saudi Religious Circles and the Threat of ISIS

Raihan Ismail

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The Syrian civil war prompted a new wave of religious discourse in Saudi Arabia as the Saudi government and its clerics expressed support for the Sunni protesters in Syria. The issues of jihad and Sunni groups fighting in Syria received significant clerical attention; the Saudi ʿulamāʾ of various political persuasions, including �activists� and �quietists�, commented on the events in Syria. Following the rise of ISIS as the war progressed, the ʿulamāʾ became themselves the subject of scrutiny for allegedly providing the foundations for extremism in Syria. Both the rhetoric of the clerics, as well as Saudi Salafi religious traditions more broadly, came under immense attack domestically and internationally. This article examines how the Saudi clerics dealt with these criticisms. It analyses the rhetoric and actions of the clerics in relation to ISIS�s brand of Salafism, both theologically and politically. It finds that the Saudi ʿulamāʾ of various political persuasions are contesting claims to Salafism, resulting in heated debates and attempts to reconstruct Saudi religious traditions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)164-181
    JournalJournal of Arabian Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    Dive into the research topics of 'Reclaiming Saudi Salafism: The Saudi Religious Circles and the Threat of ISIS'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this