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A Wahhabi Ethic in Saudi Arabia

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Power, Authority, and Religion in a Muslim Society

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This paper incorporates Weberian insights about religion, power, and bureaucratic authority to discuss a Wahhabi ethic in Saudi Arabia. The discussion considers similarities and differences between Saudi Wahhabism and this-worldly Protestantism, focusing on how religious idea systems contributed to the transformation of social, political, and economic institutions in their respective societies. A parallel is drawn between Calvinist Protestantism in the West and Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia. Just as Calvinist Protestantism encouraged its adherents to structure their lives in accord with their religious beliefs, Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia aimed to bring society back to God and God back to society through the enforcement of Divine law (Sharia). The paper presents a discussion of the rise of the Saud family and the propagation of religious teachings, which served to legitimate the power and authority of the Saud monarchy.

Affiliations: 1: Grand Valley State University, USA,


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