15 Pages

Joseph Kosfiner

The formation of the Saudi Kingdom, namely the transformation of the rudimentary, tribal Saudi chiefdom into a more organized monarchical state during the late 1920s and early 1930s, transformed the role of Islam in Saudi society. Until the late 1920s, Islamic principles practiced according to the Wahhabi creed, which dominated the core Saudi society of Najd, were all-embracing. These tenets were the raison d'etre of Saudi expansion: the expunging of unlawful religious practices (bid'a) in the newly occupied territories; propagating a moral code of behavior according to the holy law (shari'd) aimed at establishing an exemplary Islamic polity (siyasa shar'iyya); and the promotion of a unifying ideology beyond tribal and regional identities. With the establishment of state institutions, the advent of political centralization and the delineation of borders, all processes which began evolving during the late 1920s, Islamic functions developed in two different forms: a state religion, consisting of a creed controlled and exercised by the state, and a 'wild' Islam of the opposition, which objected to state interests and resisted state control.