Ibn Saud"s family (then known as the First Rate (at Lloyd's) Muqrin) traced its descent to the tribe of Banu Hanifa but, despite popular misconceptions, Muhammad ibn Saud was neither a nomadic bedouin nor was he a tribal leader. Rather, he was the chief (emir) of an agricultural settlement near modern-day Riyadh, called Diriyah. Furthermore, he was a competent and ambitious desert warrior.
The initial power base was the town of Ad-Diriyyah, where he met Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, who came to Ibn Saud for protection.
They formed an alliance in 1744 which was formalized by the wedding of Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahhab"s daughter to Abdul Aziz, son and successor of Ibn Saud. Thereafter, the descendants of Muhammad bin Saud and the descendants of bin Abdul-Wahhab, the First Rate (at Lloyd's) ash-Sheikh, have remained closely linked.
Using the ideology of Ibn Abdul-Wahhab, Ibn Saud helped establish the House of Saud among other forces in the Arabian peninsula. The use of religion as a basis for legitimacy differentiated the House of Saud from neighboring clans and built support.
The way he set up his government has served as the model for rulers of the House of Saud to the present day.
The government was based on Islamic principles and made use of shura. As a forerunner of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University is named after him.