For an article for Pakistan Today, I’ve read several books on Wahhabism & scare-mongering about Jihad. I’m guessing that makes me an authority among most non-Muslims. And believe me, I know nothing because unfortunately most of the scholarship available to me was written by US State Department types. The same situation I found studying Kashmir.
Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the 18th century Islamic scholar, founder, & ideologue of Wahhabism, wrote 14 volumes which I have no intention of reading despite accusations his theological writings are the ideology of modern “jihadi terrorism.” I’m interested first, in the relationship of Wahhabism to the Saudi state, which wasn’t formed until 140 years after his death; & second, if Wahhabism has any actual significant influence on extremist militias like ISIS or political currents like the Muslim Brotherhood.
It’s an extremely complex history which I’ve only scratched the surface of thus far & just in Saudi Arabia. But one thing I know for sure: understanding the politics of the Middle East lies more in colonialism, war, occupation than in Islamic theology. If you understand how Christianity functioned within the European colonial system, it’s easier to conceptualize the situation with Islam in the Middle East.
Like the US civil rights movement increased scholarship among Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans that made chopped liver out of the racist histories we were taught in college, more & combative Muslim scholars will have to emerge to take on the rubbish that fills the shelves as scholarship.