The Islamic Civil Rights Movement in Saudi Arabia
Author(s): Peter Enz-Harlass
Reviewed by: Christopher Anzalone
Reviewed by: Christopher Anzalone, George Mason University, Virginia, USA
Published by – New York: I.B. Tauris, 2022, 260pp. ISBN: 9780755647163.
Broadening the scholarly study of the concept of “jihad,” a key part of Islamic thought, Peaceful Jihad: The Islamic Civil Rights Movement in Saudi Arabia examines the invocation of “al-jihād fī sabīl Allāh” (“striving in the path/for the sake of God”) as a form of peaceful civil protest for human rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Peter Enz-Harlass works as an Austrian civil servant in the country’s defence ministry and has a PhD in oriental studies. The book is based on his doctoral dissertation and is a valuable addition to the academic literature on jihad in Islamic thought and intellectual history. Enz-Harlass’ research is based on extensive use of primary and secondary sources in Arabic, English, French, German, and Norwegian.
The book provides an in-depth history and analysis of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association, referred to in the text by its Arabic acronym “HASM,” an organization founded in 2009 and active until it was officially dissolved by the Saudi state in 2013 after the arrest and imprisonment of many of its members for “sedition.” Started by a group of Saudi non-clerical intellectuals and activists, HASM reinterpreted the concept of “jihad” to argue that striving for civil reforms through civil society action was both Islamically permissible and even a religious obligation. HASM was neither an “extremist” organization, as claimed by the