Political Science

Has the saudi government successful in regulating islamic discourse

Saudi government has a clear understanding of the political, social as well as economic reforms that are necessary if the kingdom will be successful in competition against other stated in the globalized 21st century. However, the royal family which holds the powers is unwilling to dilute the inherent powers by way of reforms. The ruling class took an initiative of strengthening their ties with the clergy that would support it against the revolts that are led by the youth against the government (Giddens, 2003).

The Saudi government encountered internal struggles that led to terrorist attack. The first shock and shame was associated with the role played by Saudi government in 9/11 attacks that resulted to deaths of numerous people. This was closely followed by the al Qaeda insurgence whose consequences were trauma to the kingdom and deaths of numerous people.

These events have been painful to the government to a point of questioning the role played by the Western Wahhabi Islamic section in the creation of ideologies attributed to the Qaeda whose consequences are anarchic violence.  After a series of tardy and implicit admission that majority of the extreme views that were held by Wahhabi had played a vital role in fostering Islamist militancy, the government was forced to take the option of initiating a sequence of initiates whose main intention was to terminate the ideas associated with Islamic militancy. These initiatives incorporated domestic campaign for promotion of ‘moderate’ Islam. The Saudi government has a complex struggle to address that relates to the mechanisms of sustaining the political legitimacy that is under a strong influence of the alliance between the religious establishment that is theologically ultraconservative and the government. The perceptions of the religious establishment of the government is that democracy is un-Islamic which has culminated to the tumultuous landscape of 9/11 attack that was a creation of the Arab Spring (Hashem, 2006).

The attacks of 9/11 received swift condemnations from the government officials as well as religious leaders in Saudi. But for the Al Qaeda insurgency, they could hardly acknowledge that this was an action in the wrong direction because of their dogmatic and literalist perception of the Islam that considered the non-Muslims as well as the non-Wahhabi as being inferior and this was the driving force behind the doctrine of their terror movement (Sajoo, 2004).

The events that were associated with the 9/11 attack had some significant implications on the revivalist movement in as far as its perception was concerned. The Islamic faction Wahhabiyyah turned into a religious discourse that was highly contested in its home ground of Saudi Arabia. The official Saudi discourse has maintained a denial of its existence. The religious discourse associated with the Wahhabi was confirmed by the Saudi ulama intellectuals as being in existence and a debate about the Wahhabi movement was ongoing (Wright, 2001). The public domain had bben making frantic efforts towards reforming the religious discourse although the name of the discourse was kept secret and the teachings associated with the Wahhabi ulama being treated in a similar manner. Great measures have been taken concerning the debate in the public domain but it has continued to prosper in print media outside Saudi together with discussion boards in the internet. A slight glimpse of the debate sometimes erupts in the public domain in Saudi but active measures have been taken by the state and official religious establishment in controlling the debate (Murphy, 2010).

The action of the Saudi government in changing Saudi religious discourse had significant implication to the booming buildings, media, mosques as well as banks. Religion plays a pivotal role in the lives of people and equally shapes their political and socioeconomic relationships. Majority of the legislations governing Saudi state are tailored on the basis of Islam and majority of the aspects of live including the booming buildings, media, mosques as well as banks are governed by the financial as well as political systems of the country (Sajoo, 2004).The national identity of an individual plays a vital role in the participation of an individual in nation building. The concept of shared land explains the participation of an individual in nation building based on the notion of will (Wright, 2001).The sense of belonging promotes the status of the person from merely benefiting from the resources of the state to being a rightful citizen. This concept of national identity therefore has significant implications on the participation of the people in booming buildings, operating bank accounts, mosques as well as the way that the media portrays the.

The government of Saudi has also taken some initiatives in reforming the entire education system as a step towards changing of religious discourse. The initial education system that was loaded with Wahhabi Islamic discourse is under transformation to engage more of the class time to science subjects and mathematics. The reform also includes revising religious text books by removing most of the passages that criticized the non-Muslims (Sajoo, 2004). The challenge faced in this development however, is the slow pace of implementation of these reforms. This pace is attributed by the stiff headwinds that the government receives from the conservatives in their efforts of objecting the government efforts in ‘westernizing’ the education system and causing a blow to religious studies. The girls could not be allowed to participate in sports activities because this action received much opposition from the religious conservatives. Even with the introduction of the new textbooks in these schools, the attitudes of most of the teachers who retained the conservative notion could not change. Majority of the teachers were restricted from performing their duties and entering the classrooms due to their extremists notions and still a significant number of them were jailed (Wright, 2001).

The success of Saudi government regulating Islamic discourse was not a silver plate gift and more efforts were needed in this regard. Quite a good number of Al Qaeda operatives as well as sympathizers who had been incarcerated in the course of insurgency had to undergo some programs of rehabilitation. The government also took the initiatives in the implementation of programs for re-educating the prisoners. The programs offered in the prisoners were ministered by the government clerics with the intention of promoting a version of the Wahhabism that was more tolerant and moderate. The government also took the initiatives of designing yet another program that served the purpose of re-integrating detainees from Guantanamo in the Saudi community and this initiative was associated with significant success although a 20 percent recidivist rate was recorded.


Giddens, A., (2003). The Progressive Manifesto: New Ideas for the Centre-Left. Polity. p. 183.

Hashem, M., (2006). “Contemporary Islamic Activism: The Shades of Praxis.” Sociology of  Religion 67.123-41.

Murphy, C., (2010). “Cleric’s support for men and women mingling in public sparks furor in Saudi   Arabia”. The Christian Science Monitor.

Sajoo, A., (2004). Muslim Ethics: Emerging Vistas. London, UK: Institute for Small Studies.

Wright, R., (2001). Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam. Simon & Schuster