The Al Saud of Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism: A Marriage of Convenience

I was a guest on Lorcán Owens podcast Machnamh to discuss Saudi Arabia’s role in inspiring Islamist thought and whether there is a movement within the kingdom to tackle this ideology. Have a listen!

Since 1932, with the consolidation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Al Saud family, after which the country is named, have espoused themselves as ‘Custodians of the Two Holy Mosques of Mecca and Medina’, a title that was previously held by the Hashemite monarchy, now the ruling family of Jordan.

Machnamh – Reflections by Lorcán Owens

What began as a small emirate in central Arabia in the 18th century was by the 1930s an absolute monarchy, whose legitimacy was defined not just by the sword, but by the crescent; by the sword through jihad, which brought the former Ottoman territories of the Hejaz under Saudi rule, but also by an alliance with the austere Wahhabi or Salafi movement, a revivalist, fundamentalist version of Islam that started in Arabia in the 18th century.

The discovery of oil was a turning point for the Arabian Peninsula and brought Saudi Arabia fabulous wealth which it used to fund missionary activity abroad. Since the 1970s, Saudi Arabia has been accused of spreading an intolerant and extreme version of Islam that is not only a deviation from the more moderate form of Sunni Islam practiced for centuries, but is also responsible for inspiring the ideology of Islamic State, Al Shabab, Tahrir Al Sham and Al Qaeda.

In this podcast, Lorcán Owens speak to Phil Gurski, a former Canadian spy and terrorism expert, to discuss Saudi Arabia’s role in inspiring Islamist thought and whether there is a movement within the kingdom to tackle this ideology.

Phil Gurski
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