The Call of Shaykh Muḥammad bin ‘Abdal-Wahhāb

The Call of Shaykh Muḥammad bin ‘Abdal-Wahhāb and the Three Sa‘ūdī States (1157H/1744-1343H/1925)
The Emergence of Modern Sa‘ūdī Arabia

The importance of the region that is recognised today as Saudi Arabia (with its neighbours) can hardly be underestimated, let alone overlooked by the rest of the world, not merely because of its geographical location…

In hardback


The importance of the region that is recognised today as Saudi Arabia (with its neighbours) can hardly be underestimated, let alone overlooked by the rest of the world, not merely because of its geographical location and religious significance to a large segment of the world’s population due to the location of Islam’s two holiest shrines in Makkah and al-Madinah,  and for economic and political reasons too, for it has the world’s largest known reserves of energy.

This book attempts to trace and explain the rise, fall – then rise and fall again – and rise of the Saudi polity in the Arabian Peninsula, and explores the role played throughout these events by Shaykh Muhammad bin Abdal-Wahhab and his ‘Call’ for religious and social reform. Not since the writings of Philby five decades ago has a book exploring the history of such a politically important and sensitive region, and in such a comprehensive and academic manner, appeared on the scene.

Supported by maps and illustrations, and written by an insider who has resided in the Kingdom for over four decades, the book is a fascinating eye-opener and historical reference, bringing almost all the known original indigenous Arabic and other source material into full purview.

Dimensions 22.8 × 15.2 cm





March 2012


Sultān Ghālib al-Qu‘aitī


Barzipan Publishing

5 reviews for The Call of Shaykh Muḥammad bin ‘Abdal-Wahhāb

  1. Ulrike Freitag, formerly Lecturer of Modern Middle Eastern History, SOAS, currently Professor of Middle Eastern History and Director, Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin

    “… it contains valuable information about the historical interest on the Gulf states and the wider region, illustrated with some rare photographs. The book is based on an impressive reading of the available sources and benefits from the author’s access to scholars, former statesmen and members of the families to whom this study relates. Highly readable, it will surely become an indispensable reference for anyone interested in the region’s history aiming to understand why Saudi Arabia has become what it is today.”

  2. John Carter

    “A comprehensive account of the history of what is certainly the most important reforming movement in the Islamic World is long overdue. This book will fill that gap and enable Western scholars to better comprehend a movement which has had a profound effect, not only on Islam itself, but also the secular and political history of the Middle East… Sultan Ghalib’s scrupulous research of both well-known sources [and] also several important new ones, describes these flows and counter flows with a most remarkable precision, following them as he does almost to the present day… Sultan Ghalib has produced the first really authoritative work in English on the actual historical facts about the emergence of the modern Saudi State.”

  3. HRH Prince Muhammad al-Faisal Al Sa’ud

    “This is an effort which has genuinely attempted to bridge gaps in knowledge about the region and to promote international understanding. [It] is a valuable scholarly addition to the paucity of material on the subejct and has come at a time when the need for such books of reliable scholarly validity seems to be rising by the day.”

  4. Lisa Kaaki

    Sultan Ghalib Al-Quaiti, the last Sultan of Hadramaut and a leading expert in Arabian history, has published a book which Prince Muhammad Al-Faisal in his preface considers “a valuable scholarly addition to the paucity of material on the subject in any language”. The Emergence of Modern Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly the most complete study available in English, to this day. It is set to become an indispensable handbook for anyone looking for reliable and unbiased information on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    The author has conducted an in-depth research into the growth and spread of the Reformist Movement from Najd and the unique history of the three Saudi states, based mainly on indigenous Arabic source material.

    The origin of the first Saudi state lies in the pact signed at Al-Dir’iyyah in 1744/45 between Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdal-Wahhab and Prince Muhammad bin Saud. They vowed to promote the Salafi Dawah or the Call of the Pious Predecessors.

    “In Najd and during his travels, what had struck Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdal-Wahhab and irked him repeatedly was, how distant Muslims had become from the pristine concepts and practices of early Islam (…) Hence, he called upon people to shun all innovated practices, superstitions, and blind imitation,” writes Sultan Ghalib.

    Responding to Bin Saud’s generous welcome, Bin Abdal-Wahhab told him:

    “I too give you tidings of honor and power. For whoever holds fast to and aids and abides by the words of this Formula of the Faith (There is no God save Allah) shall possess by its virtue the country and the people, as it is the Formula of (Divine) Unity, and the first and foremost toward which (all) Prophets from the first till the last of them have called (mankind).”

    The prosperity following Bin Abdal-Wahhab’s arrival was viewed as “manifest signs of the veracity of his Dawah”.

    During his successful rule, Muhammad bin Saud was known for his sense of justice and his legendary generosity. An astute and wise politician he repeatedly told his sons and brother: “Don’t explode the rock”, or in other words “let sleeping dogs lie”.

    Abdulaziz bin Muhammad succeeded his father in 1765. He reigned for thirty-eight years. He was modest, pious, kind and charitable. One day, upon seeing bags of riyals carried into the palace, he touched one with the tip of his sword and said that God had given him power over money and not the other way around.

    His son is known as Saud the Great. Under his eleven-year-long leadership, the first Saudi state expanded the most. His rule extended into Al-Ahsa, Al-Qatif, Qatar and Bahrain and Ras Al-Khaymah. However, the Turco-Egyptian forces — under the command of Muhammad Ali — were preparing to invade Najd.

    This was to be the toughest challenge Abdullah bin Saud would have to face. He succeeded his father in 1814. The harsh siege of Dir’iyyah he resisted bravely, but he was eventually defeated in 1818 when a number of people deserted and passed on key information to the enemy.

    After Ibrahim Pasha’s (Muhammad Ali’s son) punitive war, in Najd, the Da’wah came to a halt until Turki bin Abdullah came out from his hiding place. His reputation grew after he fought the ruler of Durma, chief Nasir al-Sayyari, on the roof of the town’s mosque and eventually killed him. His grandson, the future King Abdul-Aziz, would repeat a similar feat a few decades later when he conquered Riyadh.

    Turki bin Abdullah alone vowed to restore his family’s rule after it seemed to have been totally annihilated and founded the second Saudi state:

    “That he managed to do so anew, with the aid of little else but his wisdom, patience, foresight, fortitude, tenacity, and courage against tremendous challenges and odds, is a testimonial to the magnitude of his achievement in this regard, especially as he was not in line for assuming such a role and therefore could not be said to have received any formal training for it,” said Sultan Ghalib.

    Faisal bin Turki reigned between 1834-1838 and 1843-1865. During his rule, every two months, he read a message he had written about the importance of the Commendation of Virtue, and the Prevention of Vice. It is important to know that during this period, there was a dearth of contemporary written material about the history of Central Arabia. Consequently, the accounts written by travelers such as Sadleir, Wallin, Palgrave, Pelly, Burckhardt, the Blunts, and Burton are viewed as an important source of historical information.

    Faisal bin Turki passed away in 1865, leaving behind four sons, Abdullah, Muhammad, Saud and Abdal-Rahman, the father of the founder of the third Saudi state, King Abdul-Aziz. His death gave rise to a deep instability in part because the Al-Sauds ignored the wise advice of Muhammad bin Saud “not to explode the rock”.

    As the author remarks, “a major feature of warfare in Arabia involving tribes or tribal levies has always been the shifting nature of alliances and allegiances, which tended to sway in keeping with the changing alignment of their interests.”

    From a very early age, the future King Abdul-Aziz bin Abdal-Rahman bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad Ibn Saud was eager to re-conquer Riyadh from the hands of Muhammad Ibn Rashid. Aware that God can warn us about future events through dreams, King Abdul-Aziz liked to remember a powerful dream, which Muhammad Asad mentions in his classic book “The Road to Mecca”.

    The young Abdul-Aziz and Muhammad Ibn Rashid, both on horseback, unarmed, face each other in a brief encounter. Upon recognizing his enemy, Ibn Rashid, holding a shining lantern in his hand, gallops away, “but I raced after him, got hold of a corner of his cloak, and them of his arm, and then of the lantern, and I blew out the lantern. When I awoke, I knew with certainty, that I was destined to wrest the rule from the House of Ibn Rashid.”

    After his son’s successful conquest of Riyadh, Imam Abdal-Rahman, in a touching scene, announced his abdication in favor of his son. He did so, before the congregation, after the Friday Prayer in the city’s main mosque. He then presented his son with the Sword of Saud the Great, which has been passed down in the Saudi royal family from ruler to ruler “as an important quasi-official emblem of headship and sovereignty”.

    Although many countries equate Saudi Arabia’s strategic importance with its oil reserves, the author clearly shows that the nation and its rulers have drawn their eminence from being the home of Islam’s holiest sanctuaries.

    “This has been the case since long before oil was discovered in commercial quantities and it will continue to be so, long after the oil has run dry,” concludes Al-Quaiti.

  5. Arab News

    Arab News – May 18th 2012

    “Alsubeaei established a financial empire rooted in two incentives — utter devotion to God and his persistent resoluteness. The path before Alsubeaei and his generation of pioneers was neither streamed with rivers nor strewn with flowers. He achieved success before Saudi Arabia got the blessings of great wealth through the discovery of oil. A fervent patriot, he played a crucial role in helping shape the emerging Kingdom into a strong and modern state. The astonishing pace of change in Saudi Arabia during the 20th century forms a backdrop to the story of this extraordinary man.”
    “Huda Alsubeaei’s book is worth reading for all those who want to know more about Saudi Arabia’s history, culture and business environment.”

Add a review

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.