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World of Faith and FreedomWhy International Religious Liberty Is Vital to American National Security$
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Thomas F. Farr

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195179958

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195179958.001.0001

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Seeking the Heart of Islam

Seeking the Heart of Islam

(p.217) 8 Seeking the Heart of Islam
World of Faith and Freedom

Thomas F. Farr (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter 8 is woven around the author's trip to Saudi Arabia six months prior to 9/11. There are two faces of Saudi Arabia: Mecca, the birthplace of Islam and the prophet Mohammed, and Riyadh in the Nadj region, the home of Mohammed bin Abd al-Wahhab and the birthplace of Osama Bin Laden. The chapter explores the tensions between the two kingdoms, and the connections between Islam and Islamist extremism, especially as manifested in Saudi understandings of jihad and tawhid. It traces the pernicious Wahhabi public theology from its origins in the 13th century to its ideological covenant with the House of Saud. The author's experiences with Saudi officials, religious minorities in the kingdom, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and the State Department lead him to conclude that Wahhabism will remain a source of terrorism, and a threat to U.S. national security, until the Saudis contain or destroy it via political reform grounded in religious freedom.

Keywords:   Islam, Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, Mecca, Wahhabism, Osama Bin Laden, extremism, terrorism, jihad, tawhid, U.S. IRF Commission

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