Title

Wahhabism

Document Type

Encyclopedia Entry

Publication Date

2011

Department

History

Language

English

Publication Title

The Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Political, Social, and Military History

Abstract

A Muslim religious reform movement that appeared in central Arabia in the 1740s. The term "Wahhabi" was coined by foes of the reform movement in reference to the movement's founder, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1702–1792). Wahhabism derives its influence from its association with the Saudi dynasty. The unique feature of Wahhabism as a religious doctrine is its view of other Muslims as unbelievers, which makes them legitimate targets of Muslim holy war, or jihad. This view provided justification for the Saudi dynasty's military expansion in much of Arabia. In the modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism is the official religious doctrine propagated in mosques and schools. When it comes to Saudi policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict, however, Wahhabism is subordinate to government calculations of the national interest.

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