Discuss how Saudi Arabia came to adopt Islam as the source of its legal and political structure, and compare that to how Iran came to exist as an Islamic Republic in the late 1970s.

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In fact, Islam in Saudi Arabia comprises a larger element than the sole religion. In fact, historically the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was created as a monarchy. The starting date for understanding the Islamic context goes back to 1932 when Abdulaziz bin Abd al-Rahman Al Saud (Ibn Saud) was a key person in charge of the state functioning. In particular, it comprises an essential part of the Islamic identity which is also a key factor for understanding the culture in Saudi Arabia, too. The son of a monarch ruled until 2005 and managed to place Islam as the priority for state development in Saudi Arabia. Among the two pillars on which Saudi state is based, Islam occupies an extremely important role, given the scope of religious supporters.

Political culture in Saudi Arabia is dependent in Islam, too. All of the diplomatic visits are carried out with respect to Islam, and the ruler of the country thus gains a lot of respect from his counterparts.

However, there is an existent criticism towards the Islamic culture and what’s placed in where Wahhabi movement that emerged in the 18th century left a significant imprint. Therefore, there is no clear idea of what’s the heritage of movement in the overall performance in the country. Given the fact that women face a lot of restrictions in many respects in Saudi Arabia, one can certainly question whether they are sufficiently represented in all levels and what are the restrictions that they face on the daily basis. Thus, in comparison to Iran, there are a lot of similarities in the political culture as well as in the daily operations, too.

How is Hamas different or similar than other Islamist political movements and organizations?
In fact, while looking at the activities and ideas shared by Hamas, one can clearly note that there are certain similarities and differences in understanding Islam and the overall Islamic movement. Comparing to the rest of the political entities where Islam is central, Hamas share the ideas of fundamentalist interpretations of the movement, and by doing so, they discredit the religion of Islam as such.

In fact, the movement was founded much later than Islam emerged as the religion (as late as 1987). There are also close links to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood whose ideas are not as close as the general understanding of Islam. After 2006, when Hamas became dominant and gained a plurality in the Palestinian authority, the need to understand the community became even higher.

Yet, their existence discredits understanding of Islam as the religion of piece. On the contrary, they became engaged in the conflict with Israel which made them look even worse these days, given the scope of the conflicting understanding of Islam around the world.

Certainly, there are certain basic ideas to which Hamas refer as Islamist. They still perceive Mohammed as their God and Savior. Also, certain operational ideas and gender roles remain in accordance with the common perception of Islam. However, other than that there are too many aspects that make Hamas look different in the eyes of the rest of the world, and marks their activities as extremist. The critical idea that Islam is the key point for assessing the conflict makes them even more important in the overall understanding of the existing aspects and their operational activities. Thus, there are certainly more differences than similarities in what they preach.

    References
  • Ibrāhīm, Saʻd al-Dīn. Egypt’s Islamic Activism In The 1980S. 1988. Print.
  • Jahanbakhsh, Forough. Islam, Democracy And Religious Modernism In Iran, 1953-2000. Leiden: Brill, 2001. Print.
  • Akbarzadeh, Shahram. Routledge Handbook Of Political Islam. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2012. Print.
  • Pohl, Florian. Islamic Education And The Public Sphere. Münster: Waxmann, 2009. Print.