Book Review: The Cradle of Islam

(Weekly Standard) Claudia Winkler - Mai Yamani's new book about Saudi Arabia, Cradle of Islam: The Hijaz and the Quest for an Arabian Identity, is the story of a subtle resistance that has developed to the oppressive uniformity that the House of Saud seeks to impose on the country. Rather than a challenge to the Saudi princes' political power, this quiet defiance takes a cultural form. Yamani calls it Hijazification: a reassertion of regional identity by the elite families of the cosmopolitan western province known as the Hijaz. The sophisticated elites of the Hijaz, with their schools and libraries and foreign embassies and their Sufi-influenced Islam, looked down on the illiterate nomads of the Najd, home to the al-Saud family, whose alliance with Wahhabism goes back to the 18th century.

2005-01-14 00:00:00

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