Awakening Islam

Awakening Islam

Stéphane Lacroix
Translated by George Holoch
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Harvard University Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2jbqg0
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  • Book Info
    Awakening Islam
    Book Description:

    With unprecedented access to a closed culture, Lacroix offers an account of Islamism in Saudi Arabia. Tracing the last half-century of the Sahwa, or “Islamic Awakening,” he explains the brand of Islam that gave birth to Osama bin Laden—one that has been exported, and dangerously misunderstood, around the world.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06107-1
    Subjects: Religion, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vii])
  3. [Map]
    (pp. [viii]-[viii])
  4. 1 Islamism in a Fragmented Society
    (pp. 1-36)

    Saudi Arabia has remained a persistent blind spot in studies of Islamism.¹ Although all writers agree that the religious influence of the strongly proselytizing Saudi kingdom is a key factor in the emergence and expansion of Islamist movements in the Middle East, there are very few who can describe with any precision the tenor and methods of that influence. The choice is often between caricature and outrageous oversimplification. Saudi Arabia is said to export a retrograde Islam, homogeneous and unchanged since the eighteenth century, when it was revived at the instigation of a preacher from central Arabia, Sheikh Muhammad bin...

  5. 2 The Development of the Sahwa
    (pp. 37-80)

    The 1960s and 1970s witnessed the development in Saudi Arabia of a vast social movement practicing a modern form of Islamic activism that until then had been absent from the country’s political landscape. This movement was called the Islamic Awakening (al-Sahwa al-Islamiyya), or simply the Sahwa. Relying on the state’s own institutions, it soon managed to gain a hold over an entire generation of young Saudis. At the same time, more highly structured networks were developed within the Sahwa. Taking advantage of an extremely favorable political climate, it soon became a central element of the Saudi social fabric.

    Although the...

  6. 3 Resistance to Sahwa Ascendancy
    (pp. 81-121)

    In the face of Sahwa control over some of society’s central institutions—particularly the educational system—and the movement’s growing visibility, pockets of resistance sprang up in the religious sphere. In the name of a regenerated Wahhabism freed from Muslim Brotherhood influence, students of Sheikh Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani formed a current known as Ahl al-Hadith and conducted a counteroffensive that soon took on the form of a violent challenge to the Saudi government with the 1979 takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, perpetrated by a radical Ahl al-Hadith faction. At the same time, the last upholders of the...

  7. 4 A Sacrificed Generation
    (pp. 122-150)

    In the mid-1980s the well-oiled mechanism to which the Saudi system owed its resilience began to experience malfunctions, due primarily to the economic recession brought about by a sudden drop in oil income. This occurred at the very time at which the first generation educated in the school system reorganized by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Sahwa generation, reached adulthood. This provoked Sahwi “uprisings” in various fields where Sahwis found themselves in subordinate positions and now had no hope of rising. To legitimate their action, they were led to transpose the interpretive frameworks they had learned from their Islamist socialization onto...

  8. 5 The Logic of the Insurrection
    (pp. 151-200)

    The mobilizations that sprang up in the religious and intellectual fields, echoing growing discontent in the social arena, were aimed primarily at denouncing a social order—transfigured into a moral order—that the Sahwis considered unjust. The responsibility for the existence of that order was at first attributed by some to mysterious “plots” hatched by “secularists” to seize control of the state. Initially the royal family was never directly attacked.

    Little by little, however, the rhetoric began to change. The royal family was transformed from the victim of those “groups that had confiscated the state” to the principal supporter of...

  9. 6 Anatomy of a Failure
    (pp. 201-237)

    At the very moment when Osama bin Laden in Sudan was hijacking the Sahwi protest and its symbols, the movement itself was running out of steam in Saudi Arabia. In Riyadh, as elsewhere in the Saudi kingdom, all indications were that the Sahwa insurrection was coming to an end. Most observers attributed this decline in the protest primarily to state repression.¹ However, that explanation is insufficient because the repression was carried out in a more complex and less effective way than commonly believed, and it came belatedly, at a time when the movement had already been considerably weakened.

    Although the...

  10. 7 The Islamists after the Insurrection
    (pp. 238-264)

    The year 1995 marked the end of the Sahwa insurrection. Unable to create a viable mobilization, fiercely opposed by some of the Sahwa’s historic rivals, and finally crushed by repression, the movement had fizzled out. Almost all the Sahwi leaders involved in the protest were behind bars, as were the hundreds of rejectionists and jihadis arrested during the same period or after the November 1995 attack. Most of them were released in slow stages starting in 1997.

    At the end of the 1990s the Islamist scene started reconstituting itself and quickly recovered its former central place in the Saudi social...

  11. Conclusion: The Lessons of the Insurrection
    (pp. 265-270)

    After having long acted as a pivotal element within a highly fragmented Saudi Islamist sphere, the Sahwa movement ended up imposing itself as an unavoidable frame of reference for all Islamists. Although the extraordinary diversity underlying Saudi Islamism has not disappeared, it is now broadly expressed in terms derived from the Sahwa’s language and legacy.

    Historically, the Sahwa represented a highly distinctive form of Islamism, particularly compared with its Middle Eastern counterparts. To begin with, it emerged as an imported Islamism. That is not to say that there is nothing Saudi in the Sahwa’s discourse. On the contrary, it has...

  12. Glossary
    (pp. 273-278)
  13. Note on Sources and Transliterations
    (pp. 279-280)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 281-344)
  15. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 345-346)
  16. Index
    (pp. 347-373)