Saudi royalty sanctions official Wahhabi discourse for obvious political reasons. This religious discourse is responsible for closing channels of political debate and delaying the emergence of calls for political reform and participation in the country. Together with state repression, this discourse enforces interpretations of religious texts that call upon pious Muslims to consent to political authority and show ultimate obedience to rulers. This discourse also prohibits any public criticism of rulers and criminalises (in a religious and political sense) discussion of their policies. Dominant Saudi religious interpretations create “consenting subjects” rather than free citizens who engage in public affairs. I will demonstrate that official Wahhabi discourse is responsible for mystifying the world under the guise of religion. Official Saudi religious scholars consolidate a specific religious discourse to ensure the emergence of an acquiescent society. This discourse facilitates regime efforts to domesticate and discipline the population without resorting to excessive use of force, a practise that other Arab regimes have mastered under the umbrella of the modern state. The role of religious discourse is often ignored in academic research, in particular political science perspectives, on Saudi Arabia. This research usually privileges the influence of oil revenues within the framework of the rentier state as a mechanism consolidating the tradition of political acquiescence. Yet the sum total of religious interpretations that are propagated by a large religious bureaucracy are equally important as factors contributing to this acquiescence that the population exhibited throughout the twentieth century. There is no doubt that the redistributive state that transforms oil revenues into services and consequently loyalty owes its survival to the intersection of politics and the economy. However, there are subtle ways that veil relations between rulers and ruled and mystify this relationship. Wahhabi religio-political discourse offers a mystifying umbrella.
Posted by Main at 09:03 AM. Filed under: News And Views •