Saudi Arabia 1979 - Transforming Religion in Saudi Arabia as a Revision of the Past
Since the assassination of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, more critics in the West have come to question whether Saudi Arabia is indeed undergoing reform. Since the Crown Prince, Muhammad Bin Salman, put religion at the center of his reform program, framed as a return to Religious Moderation, others have questioned the very relevance of religion in the current transformations in the country. In this presentation, it is argued that religion is both undergoing a transformative process in Saudi Arabia, and it is crucial to the legitimacy of these policies. In order to identify this transformation, its modality and significance not only for the country, but also for the region and even Muslim communities in the West, it is necessary to look at contemporary developments with an eye in the history of the kingdom since 1979.
Besnik Sinani is a doctoral fellow at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, Free University of Berlin. His research focuses on the study of Sufism in contemporary Saudi Arabia, where he has worked and later conducted research for over five years. He has previously written about Islam in the Balkans and about the Ba ‘Alawi Sufi order and their networks in the Arab Gulf.
The talk will be held in English; a whispering translation to German will be available. The event is co-organized by Alsharq e.V. and Bildungswerk Berlin der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.