The First Saudi State

The Establishment Of A Legacy

The First Saudi State was established in 1744. This period was marked by the conquest domination of neighboring regions with religious zeal. The First Saudi State included most of the territory of the modern-day Kingdom. Islamic Scholars, such as Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab and his descendants, are thought to have played a significant role in Saudi rule over this period. The rulers referred to themselves during this period as the Muwahhidun or Ahl al-Tawhid.

Rulership of the Al Saud during first state passed from father to son without incident. The first imam, Muhammad ibn Saud was later succeeded by his eldest son Abdulaziz in 1765. In 1802, Abdulaziz led a legion of ten thousand Muslim warriors into an attack on the Shi’ite holy city, Karbala. This region is now southern Iraq and where Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad is buried. Led by Abdulaziz, the Muslim warriors slaughtered more than two thousand people, these victims included women and children. The soldiers raided the city, demolishing the massive golden dome above Hussein’s tomb.

The attack on Karbala convinced the Ottomans and the Egyptians that the Saudis were a threat to regional peace. Abdulaziz was assassinated in 1803, believed by some to have been a Shi’ite seeking revenge over the destruction of the Shi’ite holy city. Abdul-Aziz was later succeeded by his son, the formidable Saud. Under his rule the Saudi state reached its greatest extent. By the time Saud died, his son Abdullah had to contend with an Ottoman-Egyptian invasion. They sought to retake lost Ottoman territory. The mainly Egyptian force succeeded defeating Abdullah’s forces, taking over the city of Diriyyah in 1818. Abdullah was taken prisoner and was soon beheaded. This execution by the Ottomans put an end to the First Saudi State.