Date Approved

4-29-2020

Embargo Period

4-30-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. History

Department

History

College

College of Humanities & Social Sciences

First Advisor

Blake, Corrine

Second Advisor

Gedacht, Joshua

Third Advisor

Ammar, Nawal

Keywords

Anti-Shiism, Modern History of Saudi Arabia, Sahwa, Salafism, Sururism, Wahhabism

Subject(s)

Saudi Arabia--History

Disciplines

Islamic World and Near East History

Abstract

The thesis examines the life and thought of Muhammad Surer Zayn al-Abidin, the Syrian ideologue and founder of an influential Islamist trend within the Sahwa (Awakening) movement in Saudi Arabia. In the highly politicalized Saudi Islamist scene of the early 1970s, Surur came up with a unique synthesis: an amalgam of the political awareness of the Muslim Brotherhood in seeking political reform and the implementation of an Islamic order and the religious thought of Wahhabis. Under the influence of Surer's ideas, a new group appeared, al-Sureriyya, which had a significant impact on Saudi Islamic activism, becoming the main group within it. Surer positioned himself and his followers as centrist Salafis. While rejecting the violent approach of the "hizb al-Ghulat"(radicals), Surer condemned "hizb al-Wulat"(loyalists), who called for total obedience to the rulers; he also wrote influential anti-Shi'i treatises. Analyzing the debates between Surer, who advocated non-violent political activism, and "hizb al-Wulat," who adopted a quietist posture, sheds light on the ongoing discussion about political engagement among Salafis. This thesis is mainly drawn from primary sources: Surer's own corpus of political and religious writings, journalistic work, and memoirs and a series of seven recorded television interviews with Surer as well as writings of other Salafis, especially his opponents.

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