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The Spread of Wahhabism 12, May 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia, Yemen.
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Here’s a link to a fascinating post by US Professor Brian Ulrich on his excellent blog Brian’s Coffeehouse. He quotes from a book on tribal order in Yemen on the odd reasons that lie behind the spread of Wahhabism in what one might assume to be areas where it would not penetrate.

One of the remarkable features of the Sunni-Wahhabi movement was that it flourished in the birthplace and heartlands of Zaydi-Shi’ism. This was largely because it tapped a hitherto dormant resentment of key tenets of Zaydi doctrine still manifest there – especially the sayyid claim to religious authority and social superiority on the grounds of religious descent, which Wahhabis felt contravened Islamic ideals by promoting inequality.

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The most public and active converts to Wahhabism in Razih were shibab (young men -ed.) from some qabili and most ‘butcher’ families (lower states -ed.). These young men, who were struggling to find work and marriage payments, and were traditionally subordinate to their elders and ‘betters,’ were attracted to Islah (which they equated with Wahhabism) by its welfare program, and to Wahhabism by its egalitarianism. They credited their education for their conversion. In contrast to their mostly illiterate fathers, who had depended on religious specialists for guidance, they had attended the first secondary schools (which opened in Razih in the 1980s), and had studied the Sunni texts then flooding Yemen and formed their own opinions…