Tweeted Heresies: Saudi Islam in Transformation

ISBN : 9780190062583

Abdullah Hamidaddin
256 ページ
156 x 156 mm

In recent years, an internal debate has arisen in Saudi Arabia on the legitimacy of Saudi religion and the foundations of Islam. Sparked by concerns such as the absence of divine intervention in the Syrian civil war, the question of the Muslim monopoly on heaven, and politically subversive differentiations between "Saudi religion" and Islam, the challenge within Saudi Arabia to religious orthodoxy has never been greater. Tweeted Heresies explores the emergence of these patterns of non-belief and the responses to them from the Salafi-Wahhabi religious institutions. Previous studies have focused on formal institutions and their role in religious change. Abdullah Hamidaddin focuses on individuals who took advantage of social media during a period of relative freedom of expression to criticize religion and question the most fundamental aspects of Saudi society: its politics, religion, social justice, gender and sexual relations, and the future of the country. These individuals mounted a direct challenge to religious orthodoxy, whether through calls for religious reform or, even more provocatively, debates over concepts of deity, morality, and duty to Allah. For the foreseeable future criticism is limited to virtual spaces, and the conversation was especially active on Twitter. Tweeted Heresies examines a large body of tweets, as well as interviews with Saudis about how their understanding and critique of religion have developed over the course of their lives. The result is a uniquely revealing portrait of an otherwise hidden current of religious change that promises to ultimately transform Saudi society.


Public Space in Saudi Arabia
Non-physical Public Space: From Satellite TV to Twitter
Chapter 1: Criticizing Religion
Religion, Modernity, and the Secular Horizon
The 'Authenticity/Identity' Prism
Islam in Saudi Arabia
Religion and Society
Chapter 2: Ambivalent Religiosity
Ambivalent Religiosity?
Is Saudi Arabian Society 'Religious'?
Sin and the Ambivalence of Religion in Saudi Arabia
The Institutionalization of Sin
Modern Laws
International Scholarship Program
Celebration of National Day
Saudi Society and Sin
Conclusion: Religion as Solidarity
Chapter 3: Criticizing Religion on Twitter
Heresy on Twitter: General overview
Saudi Religion vs Islam
Dissonant Religiosity
The Exclusivist Nature of Saudi religion
Preoccupation with Women
The Authority of the Ulama
Criticism of Obligations and Prohibitions
Individual Religiosity
Questioning Religion
Atheism in Saudi Arabia
Conclusion: Contours of Criticizing Religion
Chapter 4: Religious Disengagements
First: The Childhood and Growing Up Phase
A. Religious Families Who Impose Religion on Their Children
B. Religious Families Who Do Not Impose Religion on Their Children
C. Non-Religious Families
Second: Turning Towards Religion
A. Individual Transformation
B. Transformation With Group Belonging
C. Disengagement From Religion
Chatper 5: Backlash: Takfir Campaigns
Orthodoxy and Heresy in Saudi Arabia
Brief History of Heresy Condemnations: Takfir
Accusations of Kufr
Takfir in Saudi Arabia: before 2012
Takfir Campaigns: 2012-2013
Takfir Petitions
Perfect Takfir
The Public and Takfir
The Ulama and Takfir
Chapter 6: Evolution of Saudi Religion
Twitter Hashtag Sources


Abdullah Hamidaddin is a researcher in Islam in contemporary Arab societies, with a focus on critical discourses on religion. He is also a writer and commentator on Middle Eastern societies, politics, and religion with a special focus on Saudi Arabia and Yemen. His books include Al-Kaynuna al-Mutanaghima (Harmonious Being), published in 2012, and Al-Zaydiyya (Zaydism), published in 2010. He has contributed scholarly research to books on Yemen, Islamic discourse, and jurisprudence.