[P4881] Rethinking Wahhabism in the Gulf

Created by Alexandre Caeiro
Sunday, 11/19/17 10:30am


Scholarship on contemporary Islam in the Arabian Gulf has tended to focus either on state institutions such as the Senior Council of 'Ulama (Mouline 2014), the Permanent Committee for Research and Ifta' (Al-Atawneh 2010) and the Islamic university of Medina (Farquhar 2017), or on organized Islamic movements including Salafism (Meijer 2009), the Muslim Brotherhood (Lacroix 2011; Lahoud-Tatar 2011), and jihadi groups (Hegghammer 2010). These studies have been recently complemented by research on new Muslim intellectuals (Al-Rasheed 2015), on gender dynamics (Al-Rasheed 2013), and on conversion (Ahmad 2017), adding new layers to our understanding of Islamic practice in the region.

The manifestations of Islam in the Gulf cannot however be reduced to these important dimensions. In the increasingly multicultural societies of the region and in the context of various modernizing state projects, media, migration and globalization have highly diversified modes of understanding and practicing religion. Even within state institutions committed to the dissemination of official Wahhabi doctrine, the personnel responsible for the design and implementation of religious policies often come from a variety of national backgrounds, uphold different visions of the role of religion in public life, and embody a more diverse set of sensibilities than the qualifier "Wahhabi" can capture.

This panel thus invites scholars to rethink Wahhabism in the Gulf by exploring dimensions of religious practice that have remained largely under-researched. Qatar provides the geographic focus of the panel. We do not assume that Qatar is necessarily representative of all Gulf States. Nevertheless, we consider that developments in this country speak to broader transformations in the religious landscapes of the region. Drawing on insights from the emerging anthropology of the Gulf, but re-orienting them towards a more nuanced study of religiosity, papers in this panel address two interconnected questions: How do various state institutions (ministries, Islamic centers, official media) seek to shape the religious beliefs and practices of local Muslim communities, and how do in turn various Muslim groups (including Indonesians imams, Shi'i minorities, and Western converts) deal with the opportunities and constraints of the Qatari context?

Contributors share a commitment to ethnography in their exploration of these questions. Taken as a whole, the papers enable a more subtle and complex understanding of the kind of Islam that is propagated within state institutions in the Gulf, and how the experiences of diverse Muslim communities shape and are shaped by evolving state projects.


Hamad Bin Khalifa University





Alexandre Caeiro

(Hamad Bin Khalifa University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Organizer;

Attiya Ahmad

(George Washington University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Ady Candra

(Hamad bin Khalifa University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Anna Lukjanowicz

(Hamad Bin Khalifa University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Paulino R. Robles Gil

(Hamad Bin Khalifa University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Bothaina Aldosari

(HBKU - Qatar University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;