Chapter 2
Muhammad ibn Sa'ud

V ERY little is known about the political and military developments of the first two decades of Muhammad's reign. They were nevertheless a period of supreme significance in the history of Arabia: a period during which the dominant factor was not the alarums and excursions of kings and captains, but the incubation of an idea, a Logos as it were, which was to be at once the inspiration and the war-cry of generations to come, even to the present day, when we begin to see the flesh wilting under the long strain put upon the spirit by a voice crying in the wilderness.

Muhammad ibn 'Abdul-Wahhab was born at 'Ayaina in 1703: the son of 'Abdullah ibn Mu'ammar's Qadhi, whose father was a noted ecclesiastic, the Shaikh Sulaiman ibn 'Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Râshid ibn Barîd ibn Mushrif ibn 'Umar ibn Ma'dhâr ibn Idris ibn Zâkhir ibn Muhammad ibn 'Alawi ibn Wuhîb. The authenticated pedigree of the future founder of the Wahhabi movement thus goes back for sixteen generations, or roughly five centuries, and some of his forbears may well have known or heard the preaching of the famous Unitarian Ibn Taimiya, who was the main source of Muhammad ibn 'Abdul-Wahhab's inspiration.

The grandfather, Shaikh Sulaiman, had died in harness as Qadhi of 'Ayaina as far back as in 1668. He inherited the ecclesiastical tastes and traditions of his family, and had imbibed the elements of theology and jurisprudence from his own grandfather Muhammad ibn Ahmad: passing them on in due course to his sons 'Abdul-Wahhab and Ibrahim. He had accompanied 'Abdullah II ibn Mu'ammar on his expedition against al-Bir in 1661, when as we have seen, he played a notable part in negotiating peace. And he must have been quite a remarkable personality, if the tale is true that he, having laboriously prepared and completed a treatise on a certain theological point (Iqnâ'), deliberately tore it up on being told of the existence of a treatise on the same subject by Shaikh Mansur al Bahuti, who died in 1642, and was

-33-

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Saudi Arabia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Foreword xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Barony of Dar'iya 8
  • Chapter 2 - Muhammad ibn Sa'ud 33
  • Chapter 3 - 'Abdul-'Aziz I ibn Sa'ud 60
  • Chapter 4 - Sa'ud II ibn Sa'ud 101
  • Chapter 5 - 'Abdullah I ibn Sa'ud 128
  • Chapter 6 - Turki ibn Sa'ud 147
  • Chapter 7 - Faisal ibn Sa'ud 169
  • Chapter 8 - 'Abdullah II and Sa'ud III abna Sa'ud 218
  • Chapter 9 - 'Abdul-'Aziz II ibn Sa'ud 237
  • Chapter 10 - Expansion and Consolidation 265
  • Chapter 11 - Arabia Felix 292
  • Index 361
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