This accessible scholarly work traces the regional politics of the Shia in the Eastern Province of Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia since the nineteenth century. The first book in English on the topic, it casts new light on the survival strategies and political mobilization of the Shia community as it confronts the repressive machinery of the Saudi regime.
Analysis of both official and opposition Saudi divine politics is often monolithic, conjuring images of conservatism, radicalism, misogyny and resistance to democracy. Madawi Al-Rasheed challenges this stereotype as she examines a long tradition of engaging with modernism that gathered momentum with the Arab uprisings and incurred the wrath of both the regime and its Wahhabi supporters. With this nascent modernism, constructions of new divine politics, anchored in a rigorous reinterpretation of foundational Islamic texts and civil society activism are emerging in a context where authoritarian rule prefers its advocates to remain muted. The author challenges scholarly wisdom on Islamism in general and blurs the boundaries between secular and religious politics.
"Making sense of Saudi Arabia is crucially important today. The kingdom's western province contains the heart of Islam, and it is the United States' closest Arab ally and the largest producer of oil in the world. However, the country is undergoing rapid change: its aged leadership is ceding power to a new generation, and its society, dominated by young people, is restive. Saudi Arabia has long remained closed to foreign scholars, with a select few academics allowed into the kingdom over the past decade. This book presents the fruits of their research as well as those of the most prominent Saudi academics in the field. This volume focuses on different sectors of Saudi society and examines how the changes of the past few decades have affected each. It reflects new insights and provides the most up-to-date research on the country's social, cultural, economic and political dynamics"--