chapter  4
47 Pages

Education

This chapter aims to examine the process of socialization of the Wahhabi regime of truth and its challenges, through both pedagogic action and the educational mechanisms that were constructed after the formation of the Saudi nation-state. In order to scrutinize modern Saudi education effectively, it is necessary to provide a historical context. This can help us to analyse the historical continuity of the use of education for the dissemination of the religio-political perspectives of the Saudi-Wahhabi alliance, which developed between the Saudi state and Wahhabism. Of course, within the first and second Saudi emirates, education lacked structure and was a highly irregular and unsystematized activity. Nonetheless, the notion that education was a vehicle that existed to spread and solidify Wahhabi perspectives took root. Before the declaration of the kingdom in 1932, the Saudi-Wahhabi alliance

was prone both to continuous conflict and to friction.1 Accordingly, the intellectual basis of Wahhabism was influenced by conflict and ideological confrontation. The polemical nature of Wahhabi education in these periods of conflict reached on into the modern era. As part of the organization of the nation-state, education started to be more systematic, with a defined scope and clear objectives; and the discovery of oil shifted the political economy and paved the way for the further institutionalization and bureaucratization of various sectors, including education. In this light, a more complex educational infrastructure emerged in order to

accommodate the socio-political particularities of the new polity. From the early stages of building the educational infrastructure, the ulama played an active role in creating a single subjective national vision from the base to the peak of Saudi society, which accorded with the religio-political mandate of the Saudi-Wahhabi alliance. In this light, a modern educational mechanism was built so that the Wahhabi mission for the management of the official truth in Saudi Arabia could be continued. It became an instrument for ideologically cleansing ‘innovations’ and spreading the ‘true’ teaching of Islam. Thus, education was used as a powerful instrument of social control to standardize the collective consciousness in accordance with the Saudi-Wahhabi narrative.