Ikhwan

Ikhwan

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The Ikhwan was the Islamic religious militia which formed the main military force of the Arabian ruler Ibn Saud and played a key role in establishing him as ruler of most of the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

, in his new state of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. The Ikhwan were made up of Bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

 tribes. According to Wilfred Thesiger
Wilfred Thesiger
Sir Wilfred Patrick Thesiger, CBE, DSO, FRAS, FRGS was a British explorer and travel writer born in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.-Family:...

, this militant religious brotherhood declared that they were dedicated to the purification and the unification of Islam. This movement had aimed at breaking up the tribes and settling the Bedu around the wells and oases. They felt that the nomadic life was incompatible with strict conformity with Islam. Ibn Saud had risen to power on this movement. Later the Ikhwan rebelled when they accused Ibn Saud of religious laxity when he forbade them to raid into neighbouring states. After the conquest of the Hejaz
Hejaz
al-Hejaz, also Hijaz is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. Defined primarily by its western border on the Red Sea, it extends from Haql on the Gulf of Aqaba to Jizan. Its main city is Jeddah, but it is probably better known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina...

 in 1924 brought all of the current Saudi state under Ibn Saud's control, the monarch found himself in conflict with elements of the Ikhwan. He crushed their power at the Battle of Sabilla
Battle of Sabilla
The Battle of Sabilla was the main battle of the Ikhwan Revolt in northern Arabia between the rebellious Ikhwan forces and the army of Ibn Saud. It was the last major battle, where one side rode camels, as the Ikhwan emphasized radical conservatism, shunned technological modernization...

 in 1930, following which the militia was reorganised into the Saudi Arabian National Guard
Saudi Arabian National Guard
The Saudi Arabian National Guard is a separate military force of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is not part of the Saudi Arabian Defence Forces, due to its specific role as a counterbalance to the regular military. It serves both as defence force against external threats and as a security force...

.

Weaponry and combat style



The Ikhwan, being irregular tribesmen, relied mainly on traditional weapons such as lances and swords and sometimes old fashioned firearms. Usually, they attacked in the forms of raids which is a style Bedouins had always used in the deserts of Arabia. Those raiders traveled mainly on camels and some horses. Their savage raids on others in and around Najd
Najd
Najd or Nejd , literally Highland, is the central region of the Arabian Peninsula.-Boundaries :The Arabic word nejd literally means "upland" and was once applied to a variety of regions within the Arabian Peninsula...

 were merciless. Typically, every male captured was put to death by cutting his throat.

Raids



In August 1924, the Ikhwan militia traveled 1600 kilometres (994.2 mi) from Najd in modern day Saudi Arabia to attack Transjordan
Transjordan
The Emirate of Transjordan was a former Ottoman territory in the Southern Levant that was part of the British Mandate of Palestine...

 (now Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

), which was at that time under British protectorate. Just 15 kilometers off Amman
Amman
Amman is the capital of Jordan. It is the country's political, cultural and commercial centre and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The Greater Amman area has a population of 2,842,629 as of 2010. The population of Amman is expected to jump from 2.8 million to almost...

, the raiders were spotted by the British RAF, which in turn attacked the Ikhwan using airplanes. The Ikhwan army suffered heavy casualties. It is reported that out of the 1500 raiders, only 100 escaped.

Revolt and defeat



By 1926 the Ikhwan were becoming uncontrollable by the Ibn Saud authority. They attacked Ibn Saud for introducing such innovations as telephones, automobiles, and the telegraph and for sending his son to a country of unbelievers (Egypt). Despite Ibn Saud's attempts to mollify the Ikhwan by submitting their accusations to the religious scholars ('ulama
Ulama
-In Islam:* Ulema, also transliterated "ulama", a community of legal scholars of Islam and its laws . See:**Nahdlatul Ulama **Darul-uloom Nadwatul Ulama **Jamiatul Ulama Transvaal**Jamiat ul-Ulama -Other:...

'), they provoked an international incident by destroying an Iraqi force that had violated the Saudi–Iraqi neutral zone established by Great Britain and Ibn Sa'ud between Iraq and Arabia (1927–28); the British bombed Najd in retaliation. A congress convened by Ibn Saud in October 1928 deposed Ibn Humayd ad-Dawish, and Ibn Hithlayn, the leaders of the revolt. The Ikhwanis also raided Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

 in January 1928.

With the Ikhwan leadership defiant, Abd al Aziz took to the field to lead his army, which was now supported by four British aircraft (flown by British pilots) and a fleet of 200 military vehicles that symbolized the modernization that the Ikhwan abhorred. After being crushed at the Battle of Sabilla
Battle of Sabilla
The Battle of Sabilla was the main battle of the Ikhwan Revolt in northern Arabia between the rebellious Ikhwan forces and the army of Ibn Saud. It was the last major battle, where one side rode camels, as the Ikhwan emphasized radical conservatism, shunned technological modernization...

, and their rebel leaders killed, the Ikhwan were eliminated as an organized military force in early 1930. The remnants of the irregular Ikhwanis were incorporated into Ibn Saud's regular security forces.

See also

  • 'Utaybah
    'Utaybah
    Utaybah is a large Arab tribe of the Arabian Peninsula. As is the case with many other large tribal confederations in the region, the name Otaibah only appeared within the last few centuries. Otaibah's original territory was concentrated in the area around Taif, but in the 18th century, their...

  • Mutayr
    Mutayr
    Mutayr is one of the largest Sunni tribes of the Arabian Peninsula. The traditional leaders of Mutayr are the Doshan clan . The main branches of Mutayr today are Banu Abdullah, Al-'Olwa, and Braih....

  • Al-Ajman
  • Ibn Saud
  • House of Saud
    House of Saud
    The House of Saud , also called the Al Saud, is the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia and one of the wealthiest and most powerful dynasties in the world. The family holds thousands of members...

  • Wilfred Thesiger
    Wilfred Thesiger
    Sir Wilfred Patrick Thesiger, CBE, DSO, FRAS, FRGS was a British explorer and travel writer born in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.-Family:...