Classical Wahhabism and Its Modern Revival

A seminar with Cole Bunzel, Yale University.

Free admission and open to all.

In this lecture, Cole Bunzel explores the history of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia and its contested legacy in jihadism and state-sponsored Salafism. Wahhabism began, in the mid-18th century, as a highly activist and exclusivist movement, one that sought to convert the nominal Islamic world to its version of the faith through coercive means, including violence. For the most part it persisted in this form until the early 20th century, when its more radical tendencies were curbed by the Saudi monarchy. Drawing on the speaker’s recent doctoral dissertation, the lecture challenges several common misconceptions about Wahhabism and explains the movement’s connection to the jihadi ideology of al-Qaida and the Islamic State.


Cole Bunzel is a postdoctoral research fellow in Islamic Law and Civilization at the Yale Law School, where his work focuses on the history of Wahhabism and the Jihadi Salafi movement in modern Islam. In 2017, he received the Porter Ogden Jacobus Fellowship, Princeton University’s top honor for graduate students. He is the editor of the blog Jihadica.


If you have any questions concerning the seminar, please contact our CIMS coordinator, Alexandra H. Koritzinsky, either by email:, or at: (+47) 957 21 103.

Published Oct. 9, 2018 1:17 PM - Last modified May 10, 2019 3:35 PM