Petro-Islam usually refers to the extremist and fundamentalist interpretation of Sunni Islam—sometimes called "Wahhabism"—favored by the conservative oil-exporting Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Its name derives from source of the funding—petroleum exports—that spread it through the Muslim world following the Yom Kippur War.[1][2] The term is sometimes called "pejorative"[3] or a "nickname".[1] According to Sandra Mackey the term was coined by Fouad Ajami.[4][5] It has been used by French political scientist Gilles Kepel,[6] Bangladeshi religious scholar Imtiyaz Ahmed,[7] and Egyptian philosopher Fouad Zakariyya,[8] among others.

Usage and definitions

The use of the term to refer to "Wahhabism" (the dominant interpretation of Islam in Saudi Arabia) is widespread but not universal. Variations on, or different uses of, the term include:

  • Use of resources by Saudi Arabia "to project itself as a major player in the Muslim world". The distribution of large sums of money from public and private sources in Saudi Arabia to advance Wahhabi doctrines and pursue the Saudi Arabian foreign policy.[9]
  • Attempts by the Saudi rulers to use both Islam and its wealth to win the loyalty of the Muslim world.[8][10]
  • Diplomatic, political and economic—as well as religious—policies promoted by Saudi Arabia.[11]
  • The type of Islam favored by petroleum-exporting Muslim-majority countries, particularly the other Gulf monarchies (United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, etc.)—not just Saudi Arabia.[12]
  • A "hugely successful" enterprise made up of a "colossal ensemble" of media and other cultural organs that has broken the "secularist and nationalist" monopoly of the state on culture, media and, "to a lesser extent", education; and is supported by both Islamists and socially conservative business "elements", who opposed the Arab nationalist ideologies of Nasserism and Baathism.[13]
  • More conservative Islamic cultural practices (separation of the sexes, hijab or more complete hijab) brought back (to Egypt) from Gulf oil states by migrant workers.[14]
  • A term used by secularists, particularly in Egypt, to refer to efforts to require the enforcement of sharia (Islamic law).[15]
  • Islamic interpretation that is "anti-woman, anti-intellectual, anti-progress, and anti-science ... largely funded by the Saudis and Kuwaitis".[16]


Madhhab Map2
Oil revenues by oil exporting country
Petroleum products revenue in billions of dollars per annum for five major Muslim petroleum exporting countries. Saudi Arabian production
Years were chosen to shown revenue for before (1973) and after (1974) the October 1973 War, after the Iranian Revolution (1980), and during the market turnaround in 1986.[17] Iran and Iraq are excluded because their revenue fluctuated due to the revolution and the war between them.[18]

One scholar who spelled out the idea of petro-Islam in some detail is Gilles Kepel.[19][20] According to Kepel, prior to the 1973 oil embargo, religion throughout the Muslim world was "dominated by national or local traditions rooted in the piety of the common people." Clerics looked to their different schools of fiqh (the four Sunni Madhhabs: Hanafi in the Turkish zones of South Asia, Maliki in Africa, Shafi'i in Southeast Asia, plus Shi'a Ja'fari, and "held Saudi inspired puritanism" (using another school of fiqh, Hanbali) in "great suspicion on account of its sectarian character," according to Gilles Kepel. [21]

While the 1973 War (also called the Yom Kippur War) was started by Egypt and Syria to take back land won by Israel in 1967, the "real victors" of the war were the Arab "oil-exporting countries", (according to Gilles Kepel), whose embargo against Israel's western allies stopped Israel's counter offensive.[22]

The embargo's political success enhanced the prestige of the embargo-ers and the reduction in the global supply of oil sent oil prices soaring (from US$3 per barrel to nearly $12[23]) and with them, oil exporter revenues. This put Muslim oil exporting states in a "clear position of dominance within the Muslim world". The most dominant was Saudi Arabia, the largest exporter by far (see bar chart).[24][22]

Saudi Arabians viewed their oil wealth not as an accident of geology or history, but connected to religion—a blessing by God of them, to "be solemnly acknowledged and lived up to" with pious behavior.[3] [25][26]

With its new wealth the rulers of Saudi Arabia sought to replace nationalist movements in the Muslim world with Islam, to bring Islam "to the forefront of the international scene", and to unify Islam worldwide under the "single creed" of Wahhabism, paying particular attention to Muslims who had immigrated to the West (a "special target")."[21]

Influence of "Petro-dollars"

According to scholar Gilles Kepel, (who devoted a chapter of his book Jihad to the subject -- "Building Petro-Islam on the Ruins of Arab Nationalism"),[6] in the years immediately after the 1973 War, `petro-Islam` was a "sort of nickname" for a "constituency" of Wahhabi preachers and Muslim intellectuals who promoted "strict implementation of the sharia [Islamic law] in the political, moral and cultural spheres".[1]

In the coming decades, Saudi Arabia's interpretation of Islam became influential (according to Kepel) through

  • the spread of Wahhabi religious doctrines via Saudi charities; an
  • increased migration of Muslims to work in Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states; and
  • a shift in the balance of power among Muslim states toward the oil-producing countries.[6]

Author Sandra Mackey describes the use of petrodollars on facilities for the hajj—for example leveling hill peaks to make room for tents, providing electricity for tents and cooling pilgrims with ice and air conditioning—as part of "Petro-Islam", which she describes as a way of building the Muslim faithful's loyalty toward the Saudi government.[10][27]

Religious funding

The Saudi ministry for religious affairs printed and distributed millions of Qurans free of charge, along with doctrinal texts that followed the Wahhabi interpretation. In mosques throughout the world "from the African plains to the rice paddies of Indonesia and the Muslim immigrant high-rise housing projects of European cities, the same books could be found", paid for by Saudi Arabian government.[28]

Imtiyaz Ahmed, a religious scholar and professor of International Relations at University of Dhaka sees changes in religious practices in Bangladesh as linked to Saudi Arabia's efforts to promote Wahhabism through the financial help it provides countries like Bangladesh.[7] The Mawlid, the celebration of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday and formerly "an integral part of Bangladeshi culture" is no longer popular, while black burqas for women are much more so.[29] The discount on the price of oil imports Bangladesh receives doesn't "come free", according to Ahmed. "Saudi Arabia is giving oil, Saudi Arabia would definitely want that some of their ideas to come with oil."


Pakistan's Faisal Mosque, a gift from Saudi Arabia's King Faisal[30]

More than 1,500 mosques were built around the world from 1975 to 2000 paid for by Saudi public funds. The Saudi-headquartered and financed Muslim World League played a pioneering role in supporting Islamic associations, mosques, and investment plans for the future. It opened offices in "every area of the world where Muslims lived."[28] The process of financing mosques usually involved presenting a local office of the Muslim World League with evidence of the need for a mosque/Islamic center to obtain the offices 'recommendation' (tazkiya) to "a generous donor within the kingdom or one of the emirates".[31]

Saudi-financed mosques were generally built using marble 'international style' design and green neon lighting, in a break with most local Islamic architectural traditions, but following Wahhabi ones.[32]

Islamic banking

One mechanism for the redistribution of (some) oil revenues from Saudi Arabia and other Muslim oil-exporters, to the poorer Muslim nations of African and Asia, was the Islamic Development Bank. Headquartered in Saudi Arabia, it opened for business in 1975. Its lenders and borrowers were member states of Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and it strengthened "Islamic cohesion" between them. [33]

Saudi Arabians also helped establish Islamic banks with private investors and depositors. DMI (Dar al-Mal al-Islami: the House of Islamic Finance), founded in 1981 by Prince Mohammed bin Faisal Al Saud,[34] and the Al Baraka group, established in 1982 by Sheik Saleh Abdullah Kamel (a Saudi billionaire), were both transnational holding companies.[35]


By 1975, over one million workers—from unskilled country people to experienced professors from Sudan, Pakistan, India, Southeast Asia, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria—had moved the Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states to work and returned after a few years with savings. A majority of these workers were Arab and most were Muslim. Ten years later the number had increased to 5.15 million and Arabs were no longer in the majority. 43% (mostly Muslims) came from the South Asia. In one country, Pakistan, in a single year, (1983),[36]

"the money sent home by Gulf emigrants amounted to $3 billion, compared with a total of $735 million given to the nation in foreign aid. .... The underpaid petty functionary of yore could now drive back to his hometown at the wheel of a foreign car, build himself a house in a residential suburb, and settle down to invest his savings or engage in trade.... he owed nothing to his home state, where he could never have earned enough to afford such luxuries." [36]

Muslims who had moved to Saudi Arabia, or other "oil-rich monarchies of the peninsula" to work, often returned to their poor home country following religious practice more intensely, particularly practices of Wahhabi Muslims. Having "grown rich in this Wahhabi milieu" it was not surprising that the returning Muslims believed there was a connection between that milieu and "their material prosperity", and that on return they followed religious practices more intensely and that those practices followed Wahhabi tenants.[37] Kepel gives examples of migrant workers returning home with new affluence, asking to be addressed by servants as "hajja" rather than "Madame" (the old bourgeois custom).[32] Another imitation of Saudi Arabia adopted by affluent migrant workers was increased segregation of the sexes, including shopping areas.[32][38]

State leadership

In the 1950s and 1960s Gamal Abdul-Nasser, the leading exponent of Arab nationalism and the president of the Arab world's largest country had great prestige and popularity.

However, in 1967 Nasser led the Six-Day War against Israel which ended not in the elimination of Israel but in the decisive defeat of the Arab forces[39] and loss of a substantial chunk of Egyptian territory. This defeat, combined with the economic stagnation from which Egypt suffered, were contrasted with the perceived victory of the October 1973 war whose pious battle cry of Allahu Akbar replaced `Land! Sea! Air!` slogan of the 1967 war,[39][40] and with the enormous wealth of the resolutely non-nationalist Saudi Arabia.

This changed "the balance of power among Muslim states" toward Saudi Arabia and other oil-exporting countries. gaining as Egypt lost influence. The oil-exporters emphasized "religious commonality" among Arabs, Turks, Africans, and Asians, and downplayed "differences of language, ethnicity, and nationality." [41] The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation—whose permanent Secretariat is located in Jeddah in Western Saudi Arabia—was founded after the 1967 war.


At least one observer—The New Yorker magazine's investigative journalist Seymour Hersh—has suggested that petro-Islam is being spread by those whose motivations are less than earnest/pious.[42] Petro-Islam funding following the Gulf War, according to Hersh, "amounts to protection money" from the Saudi regime "to fundamentalist groups that wish to overthrow it."[43]

Egyptian existentialist Fouad Zakariyya has accused purveyors of Petro-Islam as having as their objective the protection of the oil wealth and "social relations" of the "tribal societies that possess the lion's share of this wealth", at the expense of the long term development of the region and the majority of its people.[44] He further states that it is a "brand of Islam" that bills itself as "pure" but rather than being the Islam of the early Muslims has "never" been "seen before in history".[8]

Authors who criticize the "thesis" of Petro-Islam itself—that petrodollars have had a significant effect on Muslim beliefs and practices—include Joel Beinin and Joe Stork. They argue that in Egypt, Sudan and Jordan, "Islamic movements have demonstrated a high level of autonomy from their original patrons." The strength and growth of Muslim Brotherhood, and other forces of conservative political Islam in Egypt can be explained (Beinin and Stork believe), by internal forces—the historical strength of the Muslim Brotherhood, sympathy for the "martyred" Sayyid Qutb, anger with the "autocratic tendencies" and failed promises of prosperity of the Sadat government.[45]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Kepel, Gilles (2006). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B. Tauris. p. 51. Well before the full emergence of Islamism in the 1970s, a growing constituency nicknamed `petro-Islam` included Wahhabi ulemas and Islamist intellectuals and promoted strict implementation of the sharia in the political, moral and cultural spheres; this proto-movement had few social concerns and even fewer revolutionary ones.
  3. ^ a b Ayubi, Nazih N. (1995). Over-stating the Arab State: Politics and Society in the Middle East. I.B.Tauris. p. 232. The ideology of such regimes has been pejoratively labelled by some `petro-Islam.` This is mainly the ideology of Saudi Arabia but it is also echoed to one degree or another in most of the smaller Gulf countries. Petro-Islam proceeds from the premise that it is not merely an accident that oil is concentrated in the thinly populated Arabian countries rather than in the densely populated Nile Valley or the Fertile Crescent, and that this apparent irony of fate is indeed a grace and a blessing from God (ni'ma; baraka) that should be solemnly acknowledged and lived up to.
  4. ^ Mackey, Sandra (2002) [1987]. The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom. W.W.Norton. p. 327.
  5. ^ Ajami, Fouad (7 January 2007). "With Us or Against Us". New York Times. before Petro-Islam and the Wahhabis blew in with new money and a new interpretation of the faith. The madrassas had not yet played havoc with the educational system.
  6. ^ a b c Kepel, Gilles (2006). "Building Petro-Islam on the Ruins of Arab Nationalism". Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B. Tauris. p. 73.
  7. ^ a b "'Petro-Islam' on the rise in Bangladesh". DW. 2011-06-20. Retrieved 23 March 2014. "Many women have started wearing black Middle Eastern burqas, as it makes them feel 'safer'. [according to Imtiyaz Ahmed, a religious scholar and professor of International Relations at Dhaka University]
  8. ^ a b c Abu-Rabi?, Ibrahim M. (1996). Intellectual Origins of Islamic Resurgence in the Modern Arab World. NY: SUNY Press. p. 48. [quoting Fouad Zakariyya ("a secular democratic thinker")]`A specific type of Islam has been gathering momentum of late, and the appropriate name that applies to it is `Petro-Islam.` The first and last goal of `Petro-Islam` has been to protect the petroleum wealth or, more correctly, the types of social relations underlying those [tribal] societies that possess the lion's share of this wealth. It is common knowledge that the principle of the `few dominating the largest portion of this wealth` permeates the social structure [of the Gulf region]. ... these petro-Islamites are exploiting the religious sensitivities of the masses for the purpose of `spreading a unique brand of Islam never seen before in history; the Islam of the veil, beard, and the Jilbab; the Islam that permits the stoppage of work during prayers' time, and prohibits women from driving automobiles.`
  9. ^ Hussain, Hamid (September 2004). "Politicization of Islam or Islamization of Politics: Saudi Arabian Experiment". Defense Journal of Pakistan. 8 (2): 104. Saudis have used their resources; mainly cash to project itself as a major player in Muslim world. Fouad Ajami has named this phenomenon `Petro-Islam`. Large sums of money from public and private sources were distributed all around the globe to advance the muwwahhidin doctrine and pursue the country's foreign policy
  10. ^ a b Mackey, Sandra (2002) [1987]. The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom. W.W.Norton. p. 327. The House of Saud believed that by coupling its image as the champion of Islam with its vast financial resources, petro-Islam could mobilize the approximately six hundred million Moslem faithful worldwide to defend Saudi Arabia against the real and perceived threats to its security and its rulers. Consequently, a whole panoply of devices was adopted to tie Islamic peoples to the fortunes of Saudi Arabia. The House of Saud has embraced the hajj ... as a major symbol of the kingdom's commitment to the Islamic world. ... These `guest of God` are the beneficiaries of the enormous sums of money and effort that Saudi Arabia expends on polishing it image among the faithful. ... brought in heavy earth-moving equipment to level millions of square meters of hill peaks to accommodate pilgrims' tents, which were then equipped with electricity. One year the ministry had copious amounts of costly ice carted from Mecca to wherever the white-robed hajjis were performing their religious rites.
  11. ^ GWERTZMaAN, BERNARD (Oct 23, 1977). "Saudi Arabia, Mideast Power Broker". New York Times. ... the United States will again be underscoring the importance it attaches to Saudi Arabia's role as a power broker in the Middle East, the driving force that one Egyptian writer calls `Petro-Islam.` ... astute behind-the-scenes diplomatic activity has made Saudi Arabia a kind of fledgling power, not only in the Middle East, but further afield.
  12. ^ Al-Azm, Sadiq. "The Fight over the Meaning of Islam". 14.09.2009. Retrieved 26 March 2014. ... "official state Islam". The most prominent form of this kind of Islam at present is the "petro-Islam" of countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, fully funded and supported all over the world by abundant petro-dollars.
  13. ^ ʻAẓmah, ʻAzīz (1993). Islams and Modernities. Verso. p. 32. Islamic discourse ... started in the 1950s and 1960s, as a local Arab purveyance of the Truman Doctrine, and was sustained initially by Egyptian and Syrian Islamists -- both earnest ones, and socially conservative, pro-Saudi business and other elements opposed to Nasserism and Baathism. This was indeed the first great cultural and ideological enterprise of Petro-Islam, along with ideas of pan-Islamism as a force counterbalancing Arab nationalism, and Islamic authenticity combating `alien` ideologies.
    The Petro-Islamic enterprises has been hugely successful, especially with the substantial influx of the Arab intelligentsia to the relatively backward countries of the Arabian Peninsula, and the colossal ensemble of mediatic and other cultural organs that Petro-Islam has built up, and with which, most importantly, it has broken the secularist and nationalist cultural, mediatic and, to a lesser extent, the educational monopoly of the modern Arab state.
  14. ^ Sengers, Gerda (2002). Women and Demons: Cultic Healing in Islamic Egypt. Brill. p. 240. Migration can also have other consequences for the lives of women. In the oil states there is much stricter segregation and a much stricter code of moral behaviour than in Egypt. Many men who return to Egypt want to keep to the attitudes to women than hold sway in the oil states, and require their wives to take on the veil, give up their work outside the home and start to live a stricter `Islamic life`. In Egypt this is mockingly called `petro-Islam`.
  15. ^ Monshipouri, Mahmood (2009). Muslims in Global Politics: Identities, Interests, and Human Rights. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 86. The shari'a has been the primary target of attacks by the secularists [in Egypt]. Some of them deny its relevance to today's mundane affairs; others reject its divine origins; and still others argue that it can be interpreted in many different ways. A popular theory among secularists in Egypt, Azzam Tamimi writes, is that `Shari'a -- as understood by Islamic scholars and Islamic movements -- is alien to Egyptian society and is the product of Saudi influence on migrant Egyptian society.` Some experts have even referred to it as `petro-Islam` imported from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
  16. ^ (quoted in Lifting the Veil: The World of Muslim Women)Goodwin, Jan (1994). Price of Honour: Muslim Women Lift the Veil of Silence on the Islamic World. Warner Books. Very few Muslim countries have given women their full rights, and both Islamic law and the message of Islam have been violated. But today, petro-Islam with its vast amounts of money is letting loose on the Islamic world a wave of fundamentalism. The movement, largely funded by the Saudis and Kuwaitis, is pushing a doctrine that is anti-women, anti-intellectual, anti-progress, and anti-science.
  17. ^ Ian Skeet, OPEC: Twenty-Five Years of Prices and Politics (Cambridge: University Press, 1988)
  18. ^ Kepel, Gilles (2003). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B.Tauris. p. 75.
  19. ^ quoted in a number of sources
  20. ^ Books quoting Kepel on Petro-Islam include A Choice of Enemies: America Confronts the Middle East By Sir Lawrence Freedman; Life among the Anthros and Other Essays By Clifford Geertz;
  21. ^ a b Kepel, Gilles (2003). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B.Tauris. p. 70. Prior to 1973, Islam was everywhere dominated by national or local traditions rooted in the piety of the common people, with clerics from the different schools of Sunni religious law established in all major regions of the Muslim world (Hanafite in the Turkish zones of South Asia, Malakite in Africa, Shafeite in Southeast Asia), along with their Shiite counterparts. This motley establishment held Saudi inspired puritanism in great suspicion on account of its sectarian character. But after 1973, the oil-rich Wahhabites found themselves in a different economic position, being able to mount a wide-ranging campaign of proselytizing among the Sunnis. (The Shiites, whom the Sunnis considered heretics, remained outside the movement.) The objective was to bring Islam to the forefront of the international scene, to substitute it for the various discredited nationalist movements, and to refine the multitude of voices within the religion down to the single creed of the masters of Mecca. The Saudis' zeal now embraced the entire world ... [and in the West] immigrant Muslim populations were their special target."
  22. ^ a b Kepel, Gilles (2003). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B.Tauris. p. 69. "The war of October 1973 was started by Egypt with the aim of avenging the humiliation of 1967 and restoring the lost legitimacy of the two states' ... [Egypt and Syria] emerged with a symbolic victory ... [but] the real victors in this war were the oil-exporting countries, above all Saudi Arabia. In addition to the embargo's political success, it had reduced the world supply of oil and sent the price per barrel soaring. In the aftermath of the war, the oil states abruptly found themselves with revenues gigantic enough to assure them a clear position of dominance within the Muslim world.
  23. ^ "The price of oil – in context". CBC News. Archived from the original on June 9, 2007. Retrieved May 29, 2007.
  24. ^ Kepel, Gilles (2006). "Building Petro-Islam on the Ruins of Arab Nationalism". Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B. Tauris. pp. 61–2. "the financial clout of Saudi Arabia ... had been amply demonstrated during the oil embargo against the United States, following the Arab-Israeli war of 1973. This show of international power, along with the nation's astronomical increase in wealth, allowed Saudi Arabia's puritanical, conservative Wahhabite faction to attain a preeminent position of strength in the global expression of Islam. Saudi Arabia's impact on Muslims throughout the world was less visible than that of Khomeini's Iran, but the effect was deeper and more enduring. The kingdom seized the initiative from progressive nationalism, which had dominated the 1960s, it reorganized the religious landscape by promoting those associations and ulemas who followed its lead, and then, by injecting substantial amounts of money into Islamic interests of all sorts, it won over many more converts. Above all, the Saudis raised a new standard -- the virtuous Islamic civilization -- as a foil for the corrupting influence of the West ...
  25. ^ Kepel, Gilles (2006). "Building Petro-Islam on the Ruins of Arab Nationalism". Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B. Tauris. p. 70. The propagation of the faith was not the only issue for the leaders in Riyadh. Religious obedience on the part of the Saudi population became the key to winning government subsidies, the kingdom's justification for its financial pre-eminence, and the best way to allay envy among impoverished co-religionists in Africa and Asia. By becoming the managers of a huge empire of charity and good works, the Saudi government sought to legitimize a prosperity it claimed was manna from heaven, blessing the peninsula where the Prophet Mohammed had received his Revelation. Thus, an otherwise fragile Saudi monarchy buttressed its power by projecting its obedient and charitable dimension internationally.
  26. ^ Gilles Kepel and Nazih N. Ayubi both use the term Petro-Islam, but others subscribe to this view as well, example: Sayeed, Khalid B. (1995). Western Dominance and Political Islam: Challenge and Response. SUNY Press. p. 95.
  27. ^ Kepel describes Saudi control of the two holy cities as "an essential instrument of hegemony over Islam". Kepel, Gilles (2003). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B.Tauris. p. 75.
  28. ^ a b Kepel, Gilles (2006). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B. Tauris. p. 72. founded in 1962 as a counterweight to Nasser's propaganda, opened new offices in every area of the world where Muslims lived. The league played a pioneering role in supporting Islamic associations, mosques, and investment plans for the future. In addition, the Saudi ministry for religious affairs printed and distributed millions of Korans free of charge, along with Wahhabite doctrinal texts, among the world's mosques, from the African plains to the rice paddies of Indonesia and the Muslim immigrant high-rise housing projects of European cities. For the first time in fourteen centuries, the same books .... could be found from one end of the Umma to the other... hewed to the same doctrinal line and excluded other currents of thought that had formerly been part of a more pluralistic Islam.
  29. ^ "'Petro-Islam' on the rise in Bangladesh". DW. 2011-06-20. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  30. ^ "Shah Faisal Mosque". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  31. ^ Kepel, Gilles (2006). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B. Tauris. p. 73. Tapping the financial circuits of the Gulf to finance a mosque usually began with private initiative. An adhoc association would prepare a dossier to justify a given investment, usually citing the need felt by locals for a spiritual center. They would then seek a `recommendation` (tazkiya) from the local office of the Muslim World League to a generous donor within the kingdom or one of the emirates. This procedure was much criticised over the years ... The Saudi leadership's hope was that these new mosques would produce new sympathizers for the Wahhabite persuasion.
  32. ^ a b c Kepel, Gilles (2006). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B. Tauris. p. 72. For many of those returning from the El Dorado of oil, social ascent went hand in hand with an intensification of religious practice. In contrast to the bourgeois ladies of the preceding generation, who like to hear their servants address them as Madame .... her maid would call her hajja ... mosques, which were built in what was called the Pakistani `international style`, gleaming with marble and green neon lighting. This break with the local Islamic architectural traditions illustrates how Wahhabite doctrine achieved an international dimension in Muslim cities. A civic culture focused on reproducing ways of life that prevailed in the Gulf also surfaced in the form of shopping centers for veiled women, which imitated the malls of Saudi Arabia, where American-style consumerism co-existed with mandatory segregation of the sexes.
  33. ^ Kepel, Gilles (2006). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B. Tauris. p. 79. This first sphere [of Islamic banking] supplied a mechanism for the partial redistribution of oil revenues among the member states of OIC by way of the Islamic Development Bank, which opened for business in 1975. This strengthened Islamic cohesion -- and increased dependence -- between the poorer member nations of African and Asia, and the wealthy oil-exporting countries.
  34. ^ son of the assassinated King Faisal
  35. ^ Kepel, Gilles (2006). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B. Tauris. p. 79.
  36. ^ a b Kepel, Gilles (2003). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B.Tauris. pp. 70–1. Around 1975, young men with college degrees, along with experienced professors, artisans and country people, began to move en masse from the Sudan, Pakistan, India, Southeast Asia, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria to the Gulf states. These states harbored 1.2 million immigrants in 1975, of whom 60.5% were Arabs; this increased to 5.15 million by 1985, with 30.1% being Arabs and 43% (mostly Muslims) coming from the Indian subcontinent. ... In Pakistan in 1983, the money sent home by Gulf emigrants amounted to $3 billion, compared with a total of $735 million given to the nation in foreign aid. .... The underpaid petty functionary of yore could now drive back to his hometown at the wheel of a foreign car, build himself a house in a residential suburb, and settle down to invest his savings or engage in trade.... he owed nothing to his home state, where he could never have earned enough to afford such luxuries.
  37. ^ Kepel, Gilles (2006). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B. Tauris. p. 71.
  38. ^ examples include residential areas built to "house members of the devoutly Islamic business class who have returned from the Gulf", in Medinet Nasr district of Cairo; and Al Salam Shopping Centers Li-l Mouhaggabat that specialized in "providing shopping facilities for veiled women." (Kepel, Jihad, 2002, 385)
  39. ^ a b Kepel, Gilles (2003). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B.Tauris. p. 63. [Arab "nationalists split into two fiercely opposed camps: progressives, led by Nasser's Egypt, Baathist Syria, and Iraq, versus the conservatives, led by the monarchies of Jordan and the Arabian peninsula. ...[in] the Six Day War of June 1967. ... It was the progressives, and above all Nasser, who had started the war and been most seriously humiliated militarily. [It] ... marked a major symbolic rupture.... Later on, conservative Saudis would call 1967 a form of divine punishment for forgetting religion. They would contrast that war, in which Egyptian soldiers went into battle shouting `Land! Sea! Air!` with the struggle of 1973, in which the same soldiers cried `Allah Akhbar!` and were consequently more successful. However it was interpreted, the 1967 defeat seriously undermined the ideological edifice of nationalism and created a vacuum to be filled a few years later by Qutb's Islamist philosophy, which until then had been confined to small circles of Muslim Brothers, prisoners, ..."
  40. ^ Wright, Sacred Rage, (p.64-7)
  41. ^ Kepel, Gilles (2006). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B. Tauris. p. 73. ... a shift in the balance of power among Muslim states toward the oil-producing countries. Under Saudi influence, the notion of a worldwide `Islamic domain of shared meaning` transcending the nationalist divisions among Arabs, Turks, Africans, and Asians was created. All Muslims were offered a new identity that emphasized their religious commonality while downplaying differences of language, ethnicity, and nationality.
  42. ^ (writing in the New Yorker magazine and quoted by Indian lawyer Menaka Guruswamy, in an article in The Hindu newspaper which in turn was quoted by BBC Monitoring South Asia)
  43. ^ Guruswamy, Menaka (December 5, 2008). "Financing terror: the Lashkar and beyond". The Hindu. Retrieved 31 March 2014. [Menaka Guruswamy, in an article "Financing Terror: the Lashkar and Beyond", published by Indian newspaper The Hindu, and quoted by BBC Monitoring South Asia [London] 05 Dec 2008.] According to The New Yorker's investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, the Saudi regime is "increasingly corrupt, alienated from the country's religious rank and file, and so weakened and frightened that it has brokered its future by channeling hundreds of millions of dollars in what amounts to protection money to fundamentalist groups that wish to overthrow it." This is a practice that has been referred to as "Petro-Islam."
  44. ^ (note: link has been messed with to prevent blocking) Zaidi, Syed Manzar Abbas (Spring 2010). "Tribalism, Islamism, Leadership and the Assabiyyas". Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies. 9 (25): 133-154 (145-6). Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  45. ^ Joel Beinin, Joe Stork, eds. (1997). Political Islam: Essays from Middle East Report. I.B.Tauris. p. 9.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
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Buddhist feminism is a movement that seeks to improve the religious, legal, and social status of women within Buddhism. It is an aspect of feminist theology which seeks to advance and understand the equality of men and women morally, socially, spiritually, and in leadership from a Buddhist perspective. The Buddhist feminist Rita Gross describes Buddhist feminism as "the radical practice of the co-humanity of women and men."

Christian libertarianism

Christian libertarianism is the synthesis of Christian beliefs concerning free will, human nature, and God-given inalienable rights with libertarian political philosophy.

As with other libertarians, what is prohibited by law is limited to various forms of assault, theft, and fraud. Other actions that are forbidden by Christianity can only be disciplined by the church, or in the case of children and teens, one's parents or guardian. Likewise, beliefs such as "love your neighbor as yourself" are not imposed on others.


Clericalism is the application of the formal, church-based, leadership or opinion of ordained clergy in matters of either the church or broader political and sociocultural import.

Confessionalism (politics)

Confessionalism (Arabic: محاصصة طائفية‎ muḥāṣaṣah ṭā’ifīyah) is a system of government that is a de jure mix of religion and politics. It typically entails distributing political and institutional power proportionally among confessional communities.

Engaged Spirituality

Engaged spirituality refers to religious or spiritual people who actively engage in the world in order to transform it in positive ways while finding nurturance, inspiration and guidance in their spiritual beliefs and practices. The term was inspired by engaged Buddhism, a concept and set of values developed by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Engaged spirituality encompasses people committed to social change from all the major faith traditions as well as people who refer to themselves as "spiritual but not religious". It has numerous iterations in practice yet common themes unite the many forms it takes. For some in the Catholic tradition, liberation theology guides their form of engaged spirituality.

Halachic state

Halachic state (Hebrew: מדינת הלכה‎, Medinat ha-Halakha) is the idea of a Jewish state governed by Halakha, Jewish religious law.

Islam in Saudi Arabia

Islam is the state religion of Saudi Arabia. The connection between Islam and Saudi Arabia (or at least the western Hejaz region of the country) is uniquely strong. The kingdom, which sometimes is called the "home of Islam", is the location of the cities of Mecca and Medina, where Muhammad, the messenger of the Islamic faith, lived and died, and attracts millions of Muslim Hajj pilgrims annually, and thousands of clerics and students who come from across the Muslim world to study. The official title of the King of Saudi Arabia is "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques"—the two being Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina—which are considered the holiest in Islam.In the 18th century, a pact between Islamic preacher Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and a regional emir, Muhammad bin Saud, brought a fiercely puritanical strain of Sunni Islam first to the Najd region and then to the Arabian Peninsula. Referred to by supporters as "Salafism" and by others as "Wahhabism", this interpretation of Islam became the state religion and interpretation of Islam espoused by Muhammad bin Saud and his successors (the Al Saud family), who eventually created the modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. The Saudi government has spent tens of billions of dollars of its petroleum export revenue throughout the Islamic world and elsewhere on building mosques, publishing books, giving scholarships and fellowships, hosting international Islamic organisations, and promoting its form of Islam, sometimes referred to as "petro-Islam".Whether Salafis/Wahhabis are a majority in Saudi Arabia is disputed, with one estimate putting their number at only 22.9% of the native population (concentrated in Najd). The Wahhabi mission has been dominant in Najd for two hundred years, but in most other parts of the country—Hejaz, the Eastern Province, Najran—it has dominated only since 1913-1925. Most of the 15 to 20 million Saudi citizens are Sunni Muslims, while the eastern regions are populated mostly by Twelver Shia, and there are Zaydi Shia in the southern regions. According to a number of sources, only a minority of Saudis consider themselves Wahhabis, although according to other sources, the Wahhabi affiliation is up to 40%, making it a very dominant minority, at the very least using a native population of 17 million based on "2008-9 estimates". In addition, the next largest affiliation is with Salafism, which encompasses all of the central principles of Wahhabism, with a number of minor additional accepted principles differentiating the two.Proselytizing by non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia, including the distribution of non-Muslim religious materials (such as the Bible), is illegal.

Islamic monarchy

Islamic monarchies are a type of Islamic state which are monarchies. Historically known by various names, such as Mamlakah ("Kingdom"), Caliphate, Sultanate, or Emirate, current Islamic monarchies include:

Kingdom of Morocco

Kingdom of Bahrain

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Sultanate of Oman

Monarchies of Malaysia

Nation of Brunei, Abode of Peace

State of Kuwait

State of Qatar

United Arab Emirates

Islamic revival

Islamic revival (Arabic: تجديد‎ tajdīd, lit., "regeneration, renewal"; also الصحوة الإسلامية aṣ-Ṣaḥwah l-ʾIslāmiyyah, "Islamic awakening") refers to a revival of the Islamic religion.

Within the Islamic tradition, tajdid has been an important religious concept, which has manifested itself throughout Islamic history in periodic calls for a renewed commitment to the fundamental principles of Islam and reconstruction of society in accordance with the Quran and the traditions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (hadith). The concept of tajdid has played a prominent role in contemporary Islamic revival.In academic literature, "Islamic revival" is an umbrella term encompassing "a wide variety of movements, some intolerant and exclusivist, some pluralistic; some favorable to science, some anti-scientific; some primarily devotional, and some primarily political; some democratic, some authoritarian; some pacific, some violent".Since the 1970s, a worldwide Islamic revival has emerged, owing in large part to popular disappointment with the secular nation states and Westernized ruling elites, which had dominated the Muslim world during the preceding decades, and which were increasingly seen as authoritarian, ineffective and lacking cultural authenticity. It is also motivated by a desire to "restore Islam to ascendancy in a world that has turned away from God". The revival has been accompanied by growth of various reformist-political movements inspired by Islam (also called Islamist), and by "re-Islamisation" of society from above and below, with manifestations ranging from sharia-based legal reforms to greater piety and growing adoption of Islamic culture (such as increased attendance at Hajj) among the Muslim public.

Among immigrants in non-Muslim countries, it includes a feeling of a "growing universalistic Islamic identity" or transnational Islam, brought on by easier communications, media and travel. The revival has also been accompanied by an increased influence of fundamentalist preachers and terrorist attacks carried out by some radical Islamist groups on a global scale.Preachers and scholars who have been described as revivalists or mujaddideen, by differing sects and groups, in the history of Islam include Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ibn Taymiyyah, Shah Waliullah, Ahmad Sirhindi, Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, and Muhammad Ahmad. In the 20th century, figures such as Hassan al-Banna, Malcolm X, and Ruhollah Khomeini, have been described as such, and academics often use the terms "Islamist" and "Islamic revivalist" interchangeably. Contemporary revivalist currents include Islamic liberalism, which seeks to reconcile Islamic beliefs with modern values; neo-Sufism, which cultivates Muslim spirituality; and neo-fundamentalism, which stresses obedience to Islamic law and ritual observance.


Nichirenism (日蓮主義, Nichirenshugi) is the nationalistic interpretation of the teachings of Nichiren. The most well known representatives of this form of Nichiren Buddhism are Nissho Inoue and Tanaka Chigaku, who construed Nichiren's teachings according to the notion of Kokutai. It was especially Chigaku who “made innovative use of print media to disseminate his message” and is therefore regarded to have influenced Nichiren based Japanese new religions in terms of methods of propagation.


Petrocurrency, is a neologism used with three distinct meanings, often confused:

Dollars paid to oil producing nations (Petrodollar or Petrodollar recycling) A term invented in the 1970s meaning Trading surpluses of oil-producing nations.

Currencies of oil-producing nations which tend to rise in value against other currencies when the price of oil rises (and fall when it falls).

Pricing of oil in US Dollars: Currencies used as a unit of account to price oil in the international market.

Political science of religion

The political science of religion (also referred to as politicology of religion or politology of religion) is one of the youngest disciplines in the political sciences that deals with a study of influence that religion has on politics and vice versa with a focus on the relationship between the subjects (actors) in politics in the narrow sense: government, political parties, pressure groups, and religious communities. It was established in the last decades of the twentieth century.

Reclaiming (Neopaganism)

Reclaiming is a modern witchcraft tradition, aiming to combine the Goddess movement with feminism and political activism (in the peace and anti-nuclear movements). Reclaiming was founded in 1979, in the context of the Reclaiming Collective (1978–1997), by two Neopagan women of Jewish descent, Starhawk and Diane Baker, in order to explore and develop feminist Neopagan emancipatory rituals.Today, the organization focuses on progressive social, political, environmental and economic activism. Guided by a shared, "Principles of Unity, a document that lists the core values of the tradition: personal authority, inclusivity, social and environmental justice and a recognition of intersectionality".

Religious anti-Zionism

While anti-Zionism usually utilizes ethnic and political arguments against the existence or policies of the state of Israel, anti-Zionism has also been expressed within religious contexts which have, at times, colluded and collided with the ethnopolitical arguments over Israel's legitimacy. Outside of the liberal and socialist fields of anti-Zionist currents, the religious (and often ethnoreligious) arguments tend to predominate as the driving ideological power within the incumbent movements and organizations, and usually target the Israeli state's relationship with Judaism.

Religious police

Religious police is the police force responsible for the enforcement of religious norms and associated religious laws.

While most police enforcing religious norms in the modern world are Islamic and found in Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia or Iran, some are not (for example in Vietnam, the religious security police monitor “extremist” religious groups, detaining and interrogating suspected Dega Protestants or Ha Mon Catholics).

Religious socialism

Religious socialism is any form of socialism based on religious values. Members of several major religions have found that their beliefs about human society fit with socialist principles and ideas. As a result, religious socialist movements have developed within these religions. Such movements include:

Buddhist socialism

Christian socialism

Hindu socialism

Islamic socialism

Jewish socialism

Revisionist Maximalism

Revisionist Maximalism was a short-lived movement and Jewish fascist ideology which was part of the Brit HaBirionim faction of the Zionist Revisionist Movement (ZRM) created by Abba Ahimeir.

Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism

Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism is a political ideology which combines a focus upon Sinhalese culture and ethnicity with an emphasis upon Theravada Buddhism, which is the majority belief system of most of the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. It mostly originated in reaction to the colonisation of Sri Lanka by the British Empire and became increasingly assertive in the years following the independence of the country.

World Agudath Israel

World Agudath Israel (Hebrew: אגודת ישראל), usually known as the Aguda, was established in the early twentieth century as the political arm of Ashkenazi Torah Judaism. It succeeded Agudas Shlumei Emunei Yisroel (Union of Faithful Jewry) in 1912. Its base of support was located in Eastern Europe before the Second World War but, due to the revival of the Hasidic movement, it included Orthodox Jews throughout Europe.

Islam topics

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