The Call
Everyone talks about "Saudi money," but no one really knows what it is. Journalist Krithika Varagur, a longtime chronicler of religion and politics, tells the story of Saudi influence as it has never been told before, in a book reported across the breadth of the Muslim world, from Nigeria to Indonesia to Kosovo.The Call connects the dots on Saudi Arabia's campaign to propagate its brand of ultraconservative Islam worldwide after it became oil-rich in the 20th century. Varagur visits diverse outposts of its influence, from a Saudi university in Jakarta to a beleaguered Shi'a movement in Nigeria. She finds that the campaign has had remarkably broad and sometimes uniform effects, from the intolerance of religious minorities to the rise of powerful Saudi-educated clerics. The kingdom has spent billions of dollars on its da'wa, or call to Islam, at many points with the direct support of the United States. But what have been the lasting effects of Saudi influence today? And what really happened to their campaign in the 21st century, after oil revenues slumped and after their activities became increasingly subject to international scrutiny? Drawing upon dozens of interviews, government records, and historical research, The Call lays out what we really talk about when we talk about Saudi money.

The Call Details

TitleThe Call
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 21st, 2020
PublisherColumbia Global Reports
ISBN-139781733623766
Rating
GenreReligion, Nonfiction, Islam, Cultural, Asia, Africa, Writing, Journalism

The Call Review

  • Mikey B.
    January 1, 1970
    This book elucidates how Saudi Arabia has spread its version of Islam over the years. It focuses on three countries where it has been successful - Indonesia, Nigeria, and Kosovo.We are first presented with the Wahhabi/Salafism puritanical view of Islam that is expounded in Saudi Arabia. With the advent of petro-dollars after the Second World War this enabled the religious to proselytize across the world. The addiction (more so of the West) to Saudi oil gave means to spread “The Call” (dawa). Muc This book elucidates how Saudi Arabia has spread its version of Islam over the years. It focuses on three countries where it has been successful - Indonesia, Nigeria, and Kosovo.We are first presented with the Wahhabi/Salafism puritanical view of Islam that is expounded in Saudi Arabia. With the advent of petro-dollars after the Second World War this enabled the religious to proselytize across the world. The addiction (more so of the West) to Saudi oil gave means to spread “The Call” (dawa). Much like the various branches of Christianity, Saudi Arabia came to understand quickly what enabled this growth.Page 44 (my book)What did Saudi Arabia displace when it became a leader of the Muslim world, with Western support, in the 1980s? Arab nationalism, socialism, secularism, progressivism. Saudi Arabia bet on religion and political quietism instead of progressive Muslim organizing and thus reshuffled the religious landscape of the Muslim world. Saudi foreign policy helped sublimate the revolutionary anti-imperialist energies of the post-colonial world into religion… to project a pious empire around the world.Various groups in Saudi Arabia, starting in the 1960s, were set-up to proselytize - the Muslim World League, World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Islamic University of Medina, and many others, notably charitable foundations. The Quran and other theological texts were translated into several languages and distributed free by the thousands in mosques and Islamic centres around the world. So obviously there was a strong linguistic department at the religious universities. Promising students were recruited, sent to Saudi Arabia with all expenses paid to train to become Imams’, and then return to their native country.Because so many different groups are involved and interact results in mosques can be variegated – from innocuous to fundamentalist intolerance of other branches of Islam (notably Shia), a repressed and marginalized role for women (it should be noted that many mosques are sex-segregated) – to the recruitment of mujahideen (in the past Afghanistan, the Balkans, and most recently for ISIS in Syria and Iraq).Saudi Arabia's brand of Islam succeeded over nationalist and to some extent communist ambitions in many Third World countries. But now its influence is starting to wane due to diminished oil revenues; and after 9/11, funding came under much closer scrutiny and some of it dried up. As the author shows us in the 3 countries under examination Islam has taken a self-sustaining hold in these countries regardless of Saudi Arabia’s diminished input. Indeed, extreme groups like Boka Haram in Nigeria have rejected the Islam of Saudi Arabia as corrupted. Other Muslim groups in Indonesia have also become self-propagating and have become more puritanical over the years. The long Afghanistan conflict has created a unity and purpose among the faithful. Many returning foreign fighters returned to their homeland radicalized. Some of the Bali bombers had fought in Afghanistan.Page 29-30Salafism offers a powerful sense of community all around the world – taking part is a religious revival…Salafism tells you how to behave and what to do. “I had a lot of questions. And Salafis had a lot of answers.”This book gives us a view of Salafist Islam and how it has managed to spread itself across the globe by setting up charitable foundations with strings strongly attached to devotion to Islam. Money was dispensed to build mosques and it gave prestige to the faithful to become leaders in mosques. Due to the enormous wealth of Saudi Arabia religious donors became plentiful and harder to pin down as to what they were funding – as in terrorist groups. Names of these groups were changed frequently so as to camouflage their origins.We are provided with many insights on Saudi Arabia and how it has spread its religious brand to many different countries. The three countries show the different adaptations of Islam and why it has flourished.
    more
  • Team Golfwell
    January 1, 1970
    I found my knowledge of global affairs, and in particular religion and politics, was greatly expanded after reading this very intriguing book, “The Call: Inside the Global Saudi Religious Project” by a brilliant award-winning Harvard educated journalist, Krithika Varagur. In my opinion, her book is highly engrossing and loaded with a diversity of excellent research and innovative journalist reporting.The author explains her book “covers the six-decade history of the Saudi soft power campaign, fo I found my knowledge of global affairs, and in particular religion and politics, was greatly expanded after reading this very intriguing book, “The Call: Inside the Global Saudi Religious Project” by a brilliant award-winning Harvard educated journalist, Krithika Varagur. In my opinion, her book is highly engrossing and loaded with a diversity of excellent research and innovative journalist reporting.The author explains her book “covers the six-decade history of the Saudi soft power campaign, forged through personal relationships and billions of oil dollars, its initial goals and how it went awry and ended up fuelling terrorism, extremism, and intolerance.” If you want to know what is really going on in Saudi current affairs, and counterterrorism, extremism, the Middle East, and more, you will, as I did, find this comprehensive book extremely fascinating.The author, a Fulbright scholar at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, is not only highly intuitive but also very clear and precise in documenting and reporting on her personal interviews and discoveries on the world of Saudi money and how it is distributed and used to support Wahhabism, the official religion of Saudi Arabia. In my opinion, this is a comprehensive and captivating book and, focuses on how Saudi money is exactly spread in three major Islamic countries of Malaysia, Nigeria, and Kosovo to support the official religion of Saudi Arabia. I felt this author boldly and irrefutably reveals how Saudi money is spread through these countries by building Mosques, boarding schools, Universities, the establishment of charities, providing scholarships for people who have since become very influential and prominent, and other revealing ways.The author worked on this brilliant report over two years and not only provides an excellent history of Islam but a brilliant forecast of what to expect in the years ahead. She reveals in detail how Saudi Arabi was the major force in Islam and how that is changing in an old but new way in present-day to other countries such as Turkey,“As seen in Kosovo and the greater Balkans, Turkey is the major new global Islamic power to watch in the next decade, with its bid for cultural and economic influence along with the territories of the former Ottoman Empire, but also even in places where it has no major historical connection. In the last fifteen years, Turkey’s trade with African countries has grown six-fold to $17.5 billion. There are now over forty Turkish embassies in Africa. Turkey’s largest overseas military base is in Mogadishu, Somalia, where there is also a Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital. There is a direct flight from Istanbul to Kano. Throughout the Balkans and now in Africa, Turkey positions itself as a more liberal Sunni alternative to Saudi Salafism and Iranian Shiism. Turkey is a new player in terms of modern global dawa, but from another angle, it’s a return to form: it was the Ottomans, after all, who were the custodians of the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina for more than four hundred years.”All in all, I felt this book is excellent work and an excellent source of information and study and it is definitely not fake news in any way but a real hard and enlightening look at what is happening in the world today. Very well done and highly recommended!It was my pleasure to be given a complimentary copy of this book but that does not in any way influence this review.
    more
  • Anthony Angelozzi
    January 1, 1970
    The Call was an enlightening read on the history of Saudi influence on other countries.While I was aware of the relationship between The US and Saudi Arabia previously, this work highlighted the way in which Saudi Arabia has built its own sphere of influence using money and Islamic fundamentalism. Three locations are the focus of this book: Indonesia, Nigeria, and Kosovo. I did not have much knowledge about these locations prior to reading this book. The author skillfully described the cultures The Call was an enlightening read on the history of Saudi influence on other countries.While I was aware of the relationship between The US and Saudi Arabia previously, this work highlighted the way in which Saudi Arabia has built its own sphere of influence using money and Islamic fundamentalism. Three locations are the focus of this book: Indonesia, Nigeria, and Kosovo. I did not have much knowledge about these locations prior to reading this book. The author skillfully described the cultures of these places and the manner in which the Saudis have gained influence through aid and the spread of Islam. Learning the intricacies of these locations was my favorite part of the book.Disclosure: I was given a PDF of the book by the author
    more
  • Tucker
    January 1, 1970
    A deep-dive into recent Saudi economic and political history and the influence of the Salafi sect, a strict Sunni Muslim movement. For people who already know a bit about power struggles that tie to this region and who want to learn more about the nuances of relationships between groups, this is a good reference. It explains more about how we've collectively arrived at where we are today.
    more
  • Krithika Varagur
    January 1, 1970
Write a review