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Kadizadeli Ottoman Scholarship, Muhammad Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb, and the Rise of the Saudi State

Based on the teachings of Birgivi, and with clear influences from Ibn Taymiyya, the Kadızadeli movement worked to eradicate religious innovations, sometimes through the use of force.

From the 1630s to the 1680s the Kadızadeli movement dominated the political scene in the Ottoman capital of Istanbul, the latter part of this period coinciding with the Ottomans’ greatest expansion of their land empire. Based on the teachings of Birgivi, and with clear influences from Ibn Taymiyya, the Kadızadeli movement worked to eradicate religious innovations, sometimes through the use of force. However, the Ottoman defeat at Vienna in 1683 marked the political downfall of the Kadızadelis in Istanbul and elsewhere in Ottoman lands. Yet within 60 years the movement of Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb emerged in Najd with striking similarities. Both movements voiced strictures against religious innovations, particularly regarding seeking the intercession of the dead at grave sites, for which they accused their opponents of unbelief (kufr), and both were willing to use force if necessary to establish their opinions. This paper traces the historical and scholarly links between these two important movements, and includes a detailed examination of the scholarly credentials of Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb. This fuller contextualization should enable a clearer understanding of the religious climate in which Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb started his movement.

This paper aims to highlight historical and scholarly links between these two important reformist movements. The paper will begin by outlining the origins of the Kadızadeli movement, its development to take centre stage within Ottoman politics in Istanbul, and then its decline and withdrawal to areas within Syria. The early life and religious education of Muhammad ibn , Abd al-Wahh:b will then be covered, before highlighting his scholarly links to the Kadızadeli movement through his teachers. Importantly, by tracing the history of the Kadızadeli movement, the paper will go a considerable way to explaining the political and religious climate in which Muhammad ibn , Abd al-Wahh:b found himself.

Bibliographic Information

Title: Kadizadeli Ottoman Scholarship, Muhammad Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb, and the Rise of the Saudi State

Authors: James Muhammad Dawud Currie

Published in: Journal of Islamic Studies 26:3 (2015) pp. 265–288

 Language: English

Length: 23 pages

Pub. Date:  24 September 2015

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