BOOKS - Wahhabism and Political Islam

What is the theological basis of Islam? How does the Wahhabi doctrine differ from Sunni Islam?

In the book Wahhabism and the rise of the new Salafists: Theology, Power and Sunni Islam (I.B. Tauris, London-New York, 2018), Namira Nahouza takes as his starting point the trade blockade imposed on Qatar in June 2017 to guide the reader through a painstaking analysis of the various interpretations of Sunni Islam and the resulting political consequences from a historical and theological perspective.

Starting with the doctrinal debate on 'God's attributes' dating back to the Salafi period (from salaf, meaning predecessors) the author looks closely at its origins, between the 11th and 12th centuries, and the historic evolution of the Wahhabi movement, linking it with the Salafi movements and the Salafists and pointing out how Wahhabism is gradually establishing itself as the sole expression of Sunni Islam, thanks to the way it presents itself and its propaganda on Internet. This evaluation is crucial when reiterating the embraceable need, as the book stresses in its conclusions, to be aware of the different beliefs held within Sunni Islam seeing as, alongside the terrorist groups, there's a majority of scholars and believers who promote an interpretation of the Qur'an that is radically opposed to the extremist visions and the political exploitation of Islamic theology and its classical Islamic texts.

This article is also published in the July/August issue of eastwest.

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