publish siteEurasia ReviewAnalytical report, in which he talked about the efforts of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in defining Islam, noting that those efforts are limited to submission to an authoritarian ruler to ensure the regime’s survival in power.
The site stated that Saudi and Emirati efforts are very much involved in mobilizing religious soft power to support their domestic and foreign policies.
The site considered that Saudi and Emirati efforts to define “moderate” Islam as more socially liberal while submitting to an authoritarian ruler are an attempt to ensure the survival of the regime and enhance aspirations to lead the Islamic world as much as an attempt to ward off challenges rooted in the diverse branches of the conservative religious trend.
Saudi and UAE efforts to mobilize religious soft power
And an analysis of the site stated: “Saudi and Emirati efforts to mobilize religious soft power have a lot in common, even though the kingdom and the UAE base their campaign on different forms of Islam historically.”
Moreover, the two Gulf countries are rivals in the battle for the soul of Islam, a struggle to determine the threads or threads that will dominate the religion in the 21st century.
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The battle is gaining added importance at a time when adversaries in the Middle East are trying to calm regional tensions by managing rather than resolving their own conflicts and disputes.
Efforts focus more on soft power competition rather than confronting hard power, which often includes proxies.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are spreading “moderate” Islam against the backdrop of important social reforms in recent years that call for absolute obedience to the ruler and relegate clerics to the rank of ruling clerics.
The reforms include Saudi Arabia lifting the ban on women driving, enhancing professional and personal opportunities for women, reducing the powers of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, and the introduction of Western-style entertainment.
UAE allows unmarried couples to cohabit!
The United Arab Emirates last November allowed unmarried couples to cohabit, eased restrictions on alcohol use and criminalized “honour killings”, a widely criticized tribal custom that allows a male relative to kill a woman accused of insulting her family.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE compete in the Islamic world with Turkish and Iranian Islamic sects, which are dominated by nationalism.
The Gulf states’ moderation of religious practices rather than Islamic religion and jurisprudence is also challenged by some doctrines of Wahhabism, the ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam upon which Saudi Arabia was founded.
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“Wahhabism has broken into three broad groups since the early 1990s: a left developed a civil rights discourse, and a center holding official positions in the state (called ‘sultan scholars’ or rulers’ clerics) who offered some resistance.
“To reduce their powers in the social, legal, and media spheres, and to the Wahhabi right sympathetic to al-Qaeda’s jihadist discourse and its focus on foreign policy matters,” said researcher Andrew Hammond.
While Turkey and Iran pose a geopolitical threat, the autocratic monarchy is fundamentally threatened by the religious challenge posed by what Mr. Hammond calls the Wahhabi left and the Wahhabi right as well as the Indonesian NU, the only non-state player in the battle for the spirit of Islam, which calls for reform Islamic jurisprudence and unconditionally supports it in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The arrest of religious scholars
The arrests that took place in recent years of Saudi scholars and preachers such as Safar al-Hawali, Salman al-Awda, Suleiman al-Dawish, and Hassan al-Maliki suggest the extent of the repression.
Hammond implicitly identifies with Nahdlatul Ulama, and says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reforms amount to “discrediting Wahhabism, not getting rid of it.”
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Since the crown prince took office, he has radically curtailed the investment of tens of billions of dollars in spreading religious conservatism around the world, most effectively in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Bin Salman has also sought to balance Wahhabism with extreme Saudi nationalism and remove the harsh social edges of the kingdom’s hard-line interpretation of religion. The subjugation of the clergy, and the imprisonment of followers of the Wahhabi left and the far right, brought an end to the 73-year power-sharing agreement between the ruling Al Saud family and the clerics.
The left has embraced notions of a constitutional order rather than an absolute monarchy, has called for political liberalization and civil rights, and in some cases has supported the popular Arab revolutions of 2011 that toppled four Arab autocrats.
It could join the Wahhabi left in challenging conservative Gulf monarchies and, at the same time, be challenged by Nahdlatul Ulama once the group expands its activities to target the grassroots of the Muslim world outside of Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority country as well as its first democracy. . In its first reach to grassroots elsewhere, Nahdlatul Ulama is expected to launch an Arabic-language website before the end of the year targeting the Arab world.
Nahdlatul Ulama’s concept of a humanistic Islam that espouses principles of tolerance, pluralism, gender equality, secularism and human rights as defined in the Universal Declaration goes well beyond the proposals made by Mr. Hammond’s Wahhabi left, and may be best described as more liberal rather than an ideological left wing of an ultra-conservative movement on the principle.
Contrasted with the concept of Islam
The Indonesian community’s concept of Islam contrasts starkly with the Saudi and Emirati concept of authoritarian religious moderation that does not include religious or jurisprudential reform but uses “ruler clerics” to legitimize religiously the repressive rule under which protests, political parties, and petitions to the government take place. Forbidden and watched thought.
“The state has strengthened the Wahhabi centrist by neutralizing the Wahhabi right and left, both of which posed a threat to the authority and legitimacy of the state… As for the civil rights innovations of the Wahhabi left of return, it is precisely this discourse that Mr. Hammond said “the state wants to shut down,” referring to a man imprisoned debt.
The track record of advocates of autocratic religious moderation is fickle at best. While the UAE has established a largely religiously tolerant society, neither Saudi Arabia nor Egypt, which does not have enough to fight a soft power battle in the Muslim world but seeks to present itself as the champion of religious tolerance, can make a similar claim.
Prince Mohammed met with Jewish and evangelical leaders in the presence of Mohammed Al-Issa, head of the Muslim World League, who has long been a major way to promote Saudi extremist religious conservatism, and does not miss an opportunity these days to express his solidarity with other religious groups. However, non-Muslims are still prohibited in the kingdom from worshiping in public or building their own houses of worship.