The vast majority of Islamic terrorism is Sunni. How do the governments in Sunni Muslim societies tackle Islamic jihadism that threatens to overthrow existing Sunni governments which the jihadis label “apostates?” A fascinating example is what happened in Saudi Arabia when what the Saudis would call “Islamic extremist jihadis” took control of the holy mosque in Mecca in 1979.
The Saudis follow a strict version of Sunni Islam—Wahhabism—which was itself an 18th century Islamic Reform Movement based on the already most strictly applied school of Sunni Islam—the Hanbali school of Islamic jurisprudence, “the strictest of the strict.” But was it “strict enough?”
To ISIS and al-Qa’ida, the Saudi government, supported by the Saudi Wahhabi religious establishment, are apostates. They allow Western influences into the kingdom, allow non-Muslims to live and work on Islam’s most holy place on earth, and thus are serving the interests of the non-Muslims. They are therefore guilty of apostasy; the punishment for which in Islam is death. From ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and other extreme Muslim jihadi groups, the Saudis must be eliminated because they are Muslims.
How did these groups come into existence? In short, the Saudis themselves gave birth to them.
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