Wahhabism refers to an austere 18th-century reform movement arising in the central Arabian oasis settlement of Najd. Through ties to the rising Saudi monarchy, Wahhabi adherents established their doctrine in Arabia and built networks of affiliated Muslims in Europe, the Americas, the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, and elsewhere. Although Wahhabi stances are rejected by substantial numbers of the Muslim public, Wahhabism continues as a prominent strand of thought into the 21st century.

Muhammad b. Abd al-Wahhab (1703-92), the movement's figurehead, came from a clerical family and was educated in a mainstream school of Sunni Muslim thought; however, in his preaching, he favored more antagonistic positions over recognized doctrines. For instance, Abd al-Wahhab preached that the majority of Muslims globally had neglected primary religious duties and could ...

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