Meaning of IKHWAN in English


(Arabic: Brethren), in Arabia, members of a religious and military brotherhood that figured prominently in the unification of the Arabian Peninsula under Ibn Sa'ud (191230); in modern Saudi Arabia they constitute the National Guard. Ibn Sa'ud began organizing the Ikhwan in 1912 with hopes of making them 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. Most important, religious teachers were brought in to instruct the Bedouin in the fundamentalist precepts of Islam taught by the religious reformer Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab in the 19th century. As a result the Ikhwan became archtraditionalists. By 1918 they were ready to enter Ibn Sa'ud's elite army. In 1919 the Ikhwan began a campaign against the Hashimid kingdom of the Hejaz on the northwestern coast of Arabia; they defeated King Husayn ibn 'Ali at Turabah (1919), then conducted border raids against his sons 'Abd Allah of Transjordan and Faysal of Iraq (192122). In 1924, when Husayn was proclaimed caliph in Mecca, the Ikhwan labelled the act heretical and accused Husayn of obstructing their performance of the pilgrimage to Mecca. They then moved against 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 (1925) of Jiddah and Medina, they won all of the Hejaz for Ibn Sa'ud. The Ikhwan were also instrumental in securing the provinces of Asir, just south of the Hejaz on the coast (1920), and Ha'il, in the north of the peninsula, along the borders of Transjordan and Iraq (1921). By 1926 the Ikhwan were becoming uncontrollable. They attacked Ibn Sa'ud for introducing such innovations as telephones, automobiles, and the telegraph and for sending his son to a country of unbelievers (Egypt). Despite Ibn Sa'ud's attempts to mollify the Ikhwan by submitting their accusations to the religious scholars ('ulama'), they provoked an international incident by destroying an Iraqi force that had violated a neutral zone established by Great Britain and Ibn Sa'ud between Iraq and Arabia (192728); the British bombed Najd in retaliation. 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, however, forced Ibn Sa'ud to confront the rebellious Ikhwan militarily, and, in a major battle fought in March on the plain of as-Sabalah (near al-Artawiyah), Ibn Humayd was captured and ad-Dawish seriously wounded. Then 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 soldiers were either killed in battle on the edge of an-Nafud desert or died of thirst in the desert. Shortly afterward, an important Ikhwan faction defected, and 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 Riyadh. Not all of the Ikhwan had revolted. Those 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 were eventually absorbed into the Saudi Arabian National Guard.

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