Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad

Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad (Arabic: ترکي بن عبدالله بن محمد) (1755–1834) was the founder of the Second Saudi State and ruled in Najd from 1823–1834[1] following administration by the Ottoman Empire. His descendants would dominate both the Second and Third Saudi states.

Turki bin Abdallah bin Muhammad Al Saud
تركي بن عبد الله بن محمد آل سعود
Emir of Nejd
Reign1819–1820 (first time)
1824–1834 (second time)
PredecessorAbdullah bin Saud
Muhammad Ali of Egypt
SuccessorMushari ibn Abd al-Rahman ibn Mushari
Died1834 (aged 7879)
Riyadh, Emirate of Nejd
Full name
Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Saud ibn Muhammad ibn Muqrin Al-Maridi Al-Adui
DynastyHouse of Saud
FatherAbdullah bin Muhammad bin Saud ibn Muhammad ibn Muqrin Al-Maridi Al-Adui
ReligionSunni Islam (Wahhabi)

Family Background

Turki’s father was Abdullah bin Muhammad, who was himself the son of Muhammad bin Saud (founder of the First Saudi State) and the younger brother of Abdul-Aziz.[2] This made Turki the first cousin once removed of Abdullah bin Saud, the latter being both Abdul-Aziz's grandson and the last ruling imam of the First State.[3][4]


Turki fought in the defense of Diriyah against the Egyptians and escaped when this city was seized by Ibrahim Pasha in 1818, marking the end of the First Saudi State [5] He spent the next two years in hiding due to the ensuing persecution of the Al Saud, with Abdullah bin Saud being sent to İstanbul to be executed by the Turks.[3] Turki briefly collaborated with Mohammad bin Mushari bin Muammar (Ibn Muammar), an Arab client of Muhammad Ali, who aspired to rule Najd himself.[1] However, when Mushari bin Saud-the last imam’s brother- escaped from Egyptian captivity to reassert Saudi rule, Turki joined him and was appointed governor of Riyadh.[6] Ibn Muammar quickly crushed the revolt, however, and imprisoned Mushari. Turki retaliated by capturing Ibn Muammar and his son (also named Mushari). An attempt to exchange both men for Mushari bin Saud before the latter was returned to Egyptian custody failed, resulting in the execution of Ibn Muammar and his son. Turki was then forced back into hiding. By this time, many senior members of the House of Saud had been killed, exiled, or imprisoned, leaving Turki as one of the few within the family willing and able to assume leadership.[1][7]


In 1823, Turki reemerged to form an alliance with Sawaid, the ruler of Jalajil in Sudair, and had soon established himself in Irqah. He made further incursions into Najd, in which he seized major settlements such as Durma and Manfuhah in order to isolate Riyadh and its Egyptian garrison.[8] By August 1824, Riyadh itself came under siege and fell a few months later; Turki designated it as the new Saudi capital as Diriyah had been devastated and largely depopulated by the Egyptians during their occupation.[9] Though he had succeeded in reestablishing a viable Saudi polity, Turki chose to remain a nominal vassal of the Ottomans due to what had happened to Abdullah bin Saud.[3]

This in no way inhibited his attempts over the next several years to consolidate his hold in Najd, with Kharj, Qasim, and Jabal Shammar all having submitted to Saudi rule by 1828 despite clashes with the local Bedouin.[10][11] With Hejaz and the Red Sea remaining in Egyptian hands, further expansion was directed eastwards. The conquest of the Eastern Province was achieved in 1830, in response to a Bedouin invasion from this region led by the Banu Khalid.[12] Efforts to extend Saudi influence along the Persian Gulf littoral, however, met with mixed success. The mere threat of invasion was enough to subdue Oman in 1833 yet Bahrain revolted in the same year (having agreed to pay tribute three years prior), a situation that remained unresolved at the time of Turki’s death.


In spite of his success in returning the House of Saud to power, Turki could not avoid falling victim to familial intrigue. On May 9, 1834, as the imam was leaving the mosque, he was ambushed and slain by three assassins working for his cousin (and fellow member of the House of Saud) Mushari bin Abdul Rahman.[13] It was Mushari who then emerged “with an unsheathed sword”,[1] insisting that he, and not Faisal (who was away on campaign against Bahrain), was the new imam. Faisal, however, quickly learned of his father's assassination and hurried back to Riyadh. He reached this city by the end of May, defeating and executing Mushari within a matter of weeks. Yet this was only a partial victory as it would take almost a decade of fighting against other would-be usurpers before Faisal succeeded in establishing his authority as Turki’s successor.


The Second Saudi State would endure until 1891.

In addition, Turki was the progenitor of four branches of the House of Saud:

  • The Al Faisal- through his son and successor Faisal; this is the branch to which the present line of Saudi monarchs belongs. According to the Library of Congress, it contained several thousand male descendants of Turki by the late twentieth century.[14]
  • The Al Turki[15]- through his youngest son Abdullah Bin Turki.
  • The Al Jiluwi- through his son Jiluwi, born while Turki was in exile.[5] His mother was Huwaydiya bint Ghaydan bin Jazi Al Shamir.[16]
  • The Saud Al-Kabir- through Faisal's son Saud [15] Saud's mother was Dashisha bint Rakan bin Mandil.[17]

The Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque is named in his honour.


  1. Vassiliev 2013
  2. Winder 1965, p. 60.
  3. Smyth, William (1993). "Historical Setting". In Metz, Helen Chapin (ed.). Saudi Arabia: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. pp. 1–44. ISBN 978-0844407913.
  4. Winder 1965, p. 279
  5. Winder 1965, p. 52.
  6. Winder 1965, p. 64.
  7. Winder 1965, pp. 54-55
  8. Winder 1965, pp. 60-63
  9. Winder 1965, p. 64
  10. Winder 1965, pp. 64-65
  11. Winder 1965, pp. 68-69
  12. Winder 1965, pp. 75-78
  13. Winder, 1965, p. 94
  14. Hooglund, Eric (1993). "Government and Politics". In Metz, Helen Chapin (ed.). Saudi Arabia: A Country Study (Fifth ed.). Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. pp. 189–228. ISBN 978-0844407913.
  15. Kechichian 2001, pp. 33–34.
  16. "Royal Family Directory". www.datarabia.com. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  17. "Royal Family Directory". www.datarabia.com. Retrieved 19 December 2016.


Preceded by
New Creation
Imam of the Second Saudi State
Succeeded by
Muhammad Ali of Egypt
Preceded by
Muhammad Ali of Egypt
Imam of the Second Saudi State
Succeeded by
Mushari ibn Abd al-Rahman ibn Mushari
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