Ikhwan means "brotherhood" in Arabic, and is the specific name of several organizations:
1. The farming communities of militant
established in Saudi Arabia.
Muslim Brotherhood and several branches of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded by Hassan al Banna
in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood is a fundamentalist international organization whose goals are the conversion of
Muslim countries into states ruled by
Sha'aria law, the re-establishment of the
Caliphate and ultimately, world dominion.
Different factions of the Muslim Brotherhood believe this should be accomplished by violent means in the near term, or
by education and "preparation" of society and "democratic" takeover.
This article discusses the Ikhwan of Saudi Arabia. See
Muslim Brotherhood for detailed
information about that group.
The Ikhwan of Saudi Arabia were a
Wahhabi religious and
military brotherhood that figured prominently in the unification of the Arabian Peninsula under King Abdel Aziz Ibn
Sa'ud (1912-30); in modern Saudi Arabia they constitute the National Guard.
Ibn Sa'ud organized the Ikhwan in 1912 from Wahhabi Bedouin tribes. He intended to make them into a
reliable and stable source of an elite army corps. In order to break their traditional tribal allegiances and feuds, the
Ikhwan were settled in colonies known as hijrahs. These settlements, established around desert oases to promote
agricultural reclamation of the land, further forced the Bedouin to abandon their nomadic way of life. The hijrahs,
whose populations ranged from 10 to 10,000, offered tribesmen living quarters, mosques, schools, agricultural equipment
and instruction, and arms and ammunition. Religious teachers instructed them in Wahhabi fundamentalist theology.
In 1919, Saud and the Ikhwan began a campaign against the British-backed Hashemite kingdom of the Hejaz ruled by
Hussein, on the northwestern coast of Arabia; they defeated King Husein ibn 'Ali at Turabah, then conducted border raids
against his sons 'Abdallah of Transjordan and Feilsal of Iraq in 1921-22. The Ikhwan participated in conquering the
coastal province of Asir, just south of the Hejaz in 1920, and Ha`il, in the north of the Arabian peninsula, bordering
Transjordan and Iraq in 1921.
In 1924, Hussein was proclaimed
Caliph in Mecca. The Ikhwan declared that
this was 'heresy' and accused Hussein of obstructing their performance of the
Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). They then attacked
Transjordan, Iraq, and the Hejaz simultaneously, besieged at-Ta`if outside Mecca, and massacred several hundred of its
inhabitants. Mecca fell to the Ikhwan, and, with the subsequent surrenders in 1925 of Jeddah and Medina, they won all of
the Hejaz for Ibn Sa'ud.
However, a portion of the Ikhwan turned against Ibn Saud for introducing modern innovations as telephones,
automobiles, and the telegraph, and because he had sent his son to Egypt, a country of unbelievers. Ibn Sa'ud'
submitted the grievances for arbitration by the
Ulema (religious authorities). However, they
provoked an international incident in 1927 by destroying an Iraqi force that had violated a neutral zone established by
Great Britain and Ibn Sa'ud between Iraq and Arabia. The British bombed Najd in retaliation in 1928.
A congress convened by Ibn Sa'ud in October 1928 deposed Ibn Humayd, ad-Dawish, and Ibn Hithlayn, the leaders of the
revolt. A massacre of Najd merchants by Ibn Humayd in 1929, caused Ibn Sa'ud to confront the rebellious Ikhwan with
force. In a battle fought in March on the plain of as-Sabalah (near al-Artawiyah), Ibn Humayd was captured and ad-Dawish
seriously wounded. In May 1929 Ibn Hithlayn was murdered. In retribution the Ikhwan killed his murderer, Fahd, the son
of one of Ibn Sa'ud's governors, and commandeered the road between Ibn Sa'ud's capital, Riyadh, and the Persian Gulf.
The rebels suffered a setback in August at the hands of 'Abd al-'Aziz ibn Musa'id; their leader, 'Uzayyiz, ad-Dawish's
son, and hundreds of his followers were either killed in battle on the edge of an-Nafud desert or died of thirst in the
desert. Following defections, Ibn Sa'ud was able to surround the rebels and force them to surrender to the British in
Kuwait in January 1930. The Ikhwan leaders, ad-Dawish and Ibn Hithlayn's cousin Nayif, were subsequently imprisoned in
Those Ikhwan that had remained loyal to Ibn Sa'ud stayed on the hijrahs, continuing to receive government support,
and were still an influential religious force. They eventually became part of the Saudi Arabian National Guard.
Synonyms and alternate spellings: