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The Saudi Ulema and the Shi'a of Saudi Arabia

From: Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies
Volume 5, Issue 4, Autumn 2012
pp. 403-422 | 10.1353/isl.2012.0066



The Sunni ulema (clerics) of Saudi Arabia have been known for their anti-Shi'a rhetoric since the establishment of the first Saudi state under the patronage of Shaykh Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab. To this day, they shape attitudes towards the Shi'a and influence how the Shi'a are perceived within the kingdom. Although it is well known that the ulema address the Shi'a in negative terms, there is a gap in the literature discussing the nature of the polemics directed at the Shi'a. This article examines the attitudes of the Saudi ulema towards the Saudi Shi'a in political and social terms through the analysis of fatawa, sermons, lectures, and publications issued by the Saudi religious authorities.

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