The Political Context of Early Wahhabi Discourse of Takfir

Tarik K. Firro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This article compares the takfiri discourse (accusing people of being infidels) of the first and second generation of Wahhabi scholars with that of Muhammad Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab, the founder of the Wahhabiyya. The article shows that these scholars had revised Ibn 'Abd Wahhab's position toward infidelity; a position which had been adopted by many Wahhabi scholars until the beginning of the nineteenth century. In their revision, they put an end to the ambivalent position toward takfir, emphasizing that warfare was the suitable means of interacting with religious and political opponents. To justify their approach, they reinterpreted not only the writings of the founder of Wahhabiyya but also those of Ibn Taymiyya and other Hanbali scholars. Their takfiri discourse remained alive among large segments of the masses and religious scholars in Sa'udi Arabia until today, though some Sa'udi kings and princes sometimes denounced it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)770-789
Number of pages20
JournalMiddle Eastern Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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