Wahhabism

Wahhabism

Overview
Wahhabism is a religious movement
Sociological classifications of religious movements
Sociologists have proposed various classifications of religious movements. The most widely used classification in the sociology of religion is the church-sect typology. The typology states that churches, ecclesia, denominations and sects form a continuum with decreasing influence on society...

 or a branch
Islamic schools and branches
Muslims are basically divided in two major factions, Sunnis and Shias, that are further divided into various Schools of Jurisprudence and orders of Imamate. All other movements within such as Salafi, Modernists, the Mystical Sufi Orders, Deobandi and Barelvi are either Sunni or Shia or both...

 of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. It was developed by an 18th century Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 theologian (Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab) (1703–1792) from Najd
Najd
Najd or Nejd , literally Highland, is the central region of the Arabian Peninsula.-Boundaries :The Arabic word nejd literally means "upland" and was once applied to a variety of regions within the Arabian Peninsula...

, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. Ibn Abdul Al-Wahhab advocated purging Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 of what he considered to be impurities and innovations. Wahhabism is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

.

Wahhabism claims to adhere to the correct understanding of the general Islamic doctrine of Tawhid
Tawhid
Tawhid is the concept of monotheism in Islam. It is the religion's most fundamental concept and holds God is one and unique ....

, the Uniqueness and Unity of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

, shared by the majority of Islamic sects, but uniquely interpreted by Abdul Al-Wahhab .
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Encyclopedia
Wahhabism is a religious movement
Sociological classifications of religious movements
Sociologists have proposed various classifications of religious movements. The most widely used classification in the sociology of religion is the church-sect typology. The typology states that churches, ecclesia, denominations and sects form a continuum with decreasing influence on society...

 or a branch
Islamic schools and branches
Muslims are basically divided in two major factions, Sunnis and Shias, that are further divided into various Schools of Jurisprudence and orders of Imamate. All other movements within such as Salafi, Modernists, the Mystical Sufi Orders, Deobandi and Barelvi are either Sunni or Shia or both...

 of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. It was developed by an 18th century Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 theologian (Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab) (1703–1792) from Najd
Najd
Najd or Nejd , literally Highland, is the central region of the Arabian Peninsula.-Boundaries :The Arabic word nejd literally means "upland" and was once applied to a variety of regions within the Arabian Peninsula...

, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. Ibn Abdul Al-Wahhab advocated purging Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 of what he considered to be impurities and innovations. Wahhabism is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

.

Wahhabism claims to adhere to the correct understanding of the general Islamic doctrine of Tawhid
Tawhid
Tawhid is the concept of monotheism in Islam. It is the religion's most fundamental concept and holds God is one and unique ....

, the Uniqueness and Unity of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

, shared by the majority of Islamic sects, but uniquely interpreted by Abdul Al-Wahhab . Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab was influenced by the writings of Ibn Taymiyya and questioned classical interpretations of Islam, claiming to rely on the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 and the Hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

. He attacked a "perceived moral decline and political weakness" in the Arabian Peninsula
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

 and condemned what he perceived as idolatry
Idolatry
Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honour and regard to created forms other than God. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although...

, the popular cult of saints, and shrine and tomb visitation.

The terms Wahhabi and Salafi
Salafi
A Salafi come from Sunni Islam is a follower of an Islamic movement, Salafiyyah, that is supposed to take the Salaf who lived during the patristic period of early Islam as model examples...

(as well as ahl al-hadith, people of hadith) are often used interchangeably, but Wahhabi has also been called "a particular orientation within Salafism", an orientation some consider ultra-conservative and heretical.

According to Riadh Sidaoui, habitual use of the term Wahhabism is scientifically false, and it should substitute the concept of Saudi Wahhabism ; Indeed, it is an Islamic doctrine which is based on the historical alliance between the political and financial power represented by Ibn Saud and the religious authority represented by Abdul Al-Wahhab, the doctrine continues to exist to this day thanks to this alliance, the financing of several religious channels and the formation of several sheikh
Sheikh
Not to be confused with sikhSheikh — also spelled Sheik or Shaikh, or transliterated as Shaykh — is an honorific in the Arabic language that literally means "elder" and carries the meaning "leader and/or governor"...

s.

Mohammad Hayya Al-Sindhi


Mohammad Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab's teacher Abdallah ibn Ibrahim ibn Sayf introduced the relatively young man to Mohammad Hayya Al-Sindhi
Mohammad Hayya Al-Sindhi
Imam Mohammad Hayyat ibn Ibraaheem al-Sindi امام الشيخ محمد حياة بن ابراهيم السندي ): was a prominent Muslim scholar in Medina in the eighteen-century....

 in Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

 and recommended him as a student. Mohammad Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab and al-Sindi became very close and Mohammad Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab stayed with him for some time. Scholars have described Muhammad Hayya as having an important influence on Mohammad Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, encouraging him to denounce rigid imitation of classical commentaries and to utilize informed individual analysis (ijtihad
Ijtihad
Ijtihad is the making of a decision in Islamic law by personal effort , independently of any school of jurisprudence . as opposed to taqlid, copying or obeying without question....

). Muhammad Hayya also taught Mohammad Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab to reject popular religious practices associated with wali
Wali
Walī , is an Arabic word meaning "custodian", "protector", "sponsor", or authority as denoted by its definition "crown". "Wali" is someone who has "Walayah" over somebody else. For example, in Fiqh the father is wali of his children. In Islam, the phrase ولي الله walīyu 'llāh...

s and their tombs that resembles later Wahhabi teachings. Muhammad Hayya and his milieu are important for understanding the origins of at least the Wahhabi revivalist impulse.

Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab


Mohammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab studied in Basra
Basra
Basra is the capital of Basra Governorate, in southern Iraq near Kuwait and Iran. It had an estimated population of two million as of 2009...

 (now in southern Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

) and is reported to have developed his ideas there. He is reported to have studied in Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

 and Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

 while there to perform Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

 before returning to his home town of 'Uyayna
'Uyayna
Al-'Uyayna is a village in central Saudi Arabia, located some 30 km northwest of the Saudi capital Riyadh. Al-Uyayna was the birthplace of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, whose followers are known as the Salafis. Today, Uyayna is a small village and forms together with its neighbor al-Jubayla the...

 in 1740.

After his return to 'Uyayna, ibn Abd-al-Wahhab began to attract followers, including the ruler of the town, Uthman ibn Mu'ammar. With Ibn Mu'ammar's support, ibn Abd-al-Wahhab began to implement some of his ideas such as leveling the grave of Zayd ibn al-Khattab
Zayd ibn al-Khattab
Zayd ibn al-Khattab was a sahaba of Muhammad and the brother of the second Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, also known as Omar the Great.In the battle against Musaylimah, Zayd ibn al-Khattab called out to the forces:...

, one of the Sahaba
Sahaba
In Islam, the ' were the companions, disciples, scribes and family of the Islamic prophet...

 (companions) of the Muslim Prophet
Prophets of Islam
Muslims identify the Prophets of Islam as those humans chosen by God and given revelation to deliver to mankind. Muslims believe that every prophet was given a belief to worship God and their respective followers believed it as well...

 Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

, and ordering that an adulteress be stoned to death. These actions were disapproved of by Sulaiman ibn Muhammad ibn Ghurayr of the tribe of Bani Khalid
Bani Khalid
.'Bani Khalid'. is an Arab tribal confederation of eastern and central Arabia. The tribe dominated the eastern region of modern-day Saudi Arabia from 1670 to 1793, and again under the auspices of the Ottoman Empire for a brief period in the early 19th century...

, the chief of Al-Hasa
Al-Hasa
Al-Ahsa is the largest governorate in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, named after Al-Ahsa oasis. The name Al-Ahsa is also given to the biggest city in the region, Hofuf. In classic Arabic, Ahsa means the sound of water underground. It has one of the largest oases in the world with Date Palms of...

 and Qatif
Qatif
Qatif or Al-Qatif is a governorate and urban area located in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. It extends from Ras Tanura and Jubail in the north to Dammam in the south, and from the Persian Gulf in the east to King Fahd International Airport in the west...

, who held substantial influence in Nejd and ibn Abd-al-Wahhab was expelled from 'Uyayna.

Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab was invited to settle in neighboring Diriyah
Diriyah
Al-Diriyah is a town in Saudi Arabia located on the northwestern outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Diriyah was the original home of the Saudi royal family, and served as the capital of the first Saudi dynasty from 1744 to 1818...

 by its ruler Muhammad ibn Saud in 1740 (1157 AH
Islamic calendar
The Hijri calendar , also known as the Muslim calendar or Islamic calendar , is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to date events in many Muslim countries , and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper day on which to celebrate Islamic...

), two of whose brothers had been students of Ibn Abdal-Wahhab. Upon arriving in Diriyya, a pact was made between Ibn Saud and Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, by which Ibn Saud pledged to implement and enforce Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab's teachings, while Ibn Saud and his family
House of Saud
The House of Saud , also called the Al Saud, is the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia and one of the wealthiest and most powerful dynasties in the world. The family holds thousands of members...

 would remain the temporal "leaders" of the movement.

Saudi sponsorship



Beginning in the last years of the 18th century Ibn Saud and his heirs would spend the next 140 years mounting various military campaigns to seize control of Arabia and its outlying regions, before being attacked and defeated by Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 forces.

The Saudi government established the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice
Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Saudi Arabia)
The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice or HAIA is the Saudi Arabian government bureaucracy employing "religious police" or mutaween to...

, a state religious police unit, to enforce Wahhabi rules of behaviour.

Beliefs


The Wahhabi subscribe to the primary doctrine of the uniqueness and unity of God (Tawhid
Tawhid
Tawhid is the concept of monotheism in Islam. It is the religion's most fundamental concept and holds God is one and unique ....

). The first aspect is believing in God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

's Lordship that He alone is the believer's lord (Rabb
Rabb
Rabb is an Arabic word meaning Lord, Sustainer, Cherisher, Master, which in Islamic context refers to Allah. In the Qur'an, Rabb is one of the usual Names of God....

). The second aspect is that once one affirms the existence of God and His Lordship, one must worship Him and Him alone.

Wahhabi theology treats the Quran and Hadith as the only fundamental and authoritative texts. Commentaries and "the examples of the early Muslim community (Ummah
Ummah
Ummah is an Arabic word meaning "community" or "nation." It is commonly used to mean either the collective nation of states, or the whole Arab world...

) and the four Rightly Guided Caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

s (AD 632-661)" are used to support these texts but are not considered independently authoritative.

Ibn Abd al-Wahhab further explains in his book Kitab al-Tawhid (which draws on material from the Quran and the narrations of the prophet) that worship in Islam includes conventional acts of worship such as the five daily prayers; fasting; Dua
Dua
In the terminology of Islam, Duʿāʾ Plural: Dow'āt literally meaning invocation, is an act of supplication. The term is derived from an Arabic word meaning to 'call out' or to 'summon', and Muslims regard this as a profound act of worship. This is when Muslim people from all over connect with God...

 (supplication); Istia'dha (seeking protection or refuge); Ist'ana (seeking help), and Istigatha (seeking benefits). Therefore, making dua to anyone or anything other than Allah, or seeking supernatural help and protection that is only befitting of a divine being from something other than Allah are acts of "shirk" and contradict Tawhid. Ibn Abd al-Wahhab further explains that Prophet Muhammad during his lifetime tried his utmost to identify and repudiate all actions that violated these principles.

The most important of these commentaries are those by Ibn Abd al-Wahhab in particular his book Kitab al-Tawhid, and the works of Ibn Taymiyyah. Ibn Abd al-Wahhab was a follower of Ahmad ibn Hanbal
Ahmad ibn Hanbal
Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal Abu `Abd Allah al-Shaybani was an important Muslim scholar and theologian. He is considered the founder of the Hanbali school of fiqh...

's school of fiqh
Fiqh
Fiqh is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is an expansion of the code of conduct expounded in the Quran, often supplemented by tradition and implemented by the rulings and interpretations of Islamic jurists....

 (Islamic jurisprudence) like most in Nejd at the time, but "was opposed to any of the schools (Madh'hab) being taken as an absolute and unquestioned authority". Therefore, he condemned taqlid
Taqlid
Taqlid or taklid is an Arabic term in Islamic legal terminology connoting "imitation", that is; following the decisions of a religious authority without necessarily examining the scriptural basis or reasoning of that decision, such as accepting and following the verdict of scholars of...

, or blind adherence, at the scholarly level. Although Wahhabis are associated with the Hanbali
Hanbali
The Hanbali school is one the schools of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam. The jurisprudence school traces back to Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal but was institutionalized by his students. Hanbali jurisprudence is considered very strict and conservative, especially regarding questions of dogma...

 school, early disputes did not center on fiqh and the belief that Wahhabism was borne of Hanbali thought has been called a "myth".

Condemnation of "Priests" and other religious leaders


Wahhabism denounces the practice of blind adherence to the interpretations of scholars, and of practices passed on within the family or tribe. Ibn Al-Wahhab brought a new interpretation of many verses, which he used to support his idea that the majority of Muslims, and the scholars of the Ottoman Empire
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

, and what was at the time consensus opinion amongst scholars.
His idea was that what he perceived to be blind deference to religious authority obstructs this direct connection with the Qur'an and Sunnah, leading him to deprecate the importance of leaders such as the scholars
Ulama
-In Islam:* Ulema, also transliterated "ulama", a community of legal scholars of Islam and its laws . See:**Nahdlatul Ulama **Darul-uloom Nadwatul Ulama **Jamiatul Ulama Transvaal**Jamiat ul-Ulama -Other:...

 and mufti's
Mufti
A mufti is a Sunni Islamic scholar who is an interpreter or expounder of Islamic law . In religious administrative terms, a mufti is roughly equivalent to a deacon to a Sunni population...

 of the age. When arguing for his positions, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab would use translations and interpretation of the verses (known as ayat in Arabic) of the Qur'an that were contrary to the consensus amongst the scholars of the age, and positions against which there had been consensus for centuries. This methodology is considered extremely controversial, and erroneous by most scholars.

Fiqh


The Wahhabis/Salafis consider themselves to be 'non-imitators' or 'not attached to tradition', and therefore answerable to no school of law at all, observing instead what they would call the practice of early Islam. However, to do so does correspond to the ideal aimed at by Ibn Hanbal, and thus they can be said to be of his 'school'.

Naming controversy: Wahhabism and Salafism


Ibn Abd-Al-Wahab's aversion to the elevation of scholars and other individuals helps explain the preference of so-called "Wahhabi's" for the term "Salafist". Among those who criticize the use of the term "Wahhabi" is social scientist Quintan Wiktorowicz. In a footnote of his report, Anatomy of the Salafi Movement, he wrote:

Opponents of Salafism frequently affix the "Wahhabi" designator to denote foreign influence. It is intended to signify followers of Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab and is most frequently used in countries where Salafis are a small minority of the Muslim community but have made recent inroads in "converting" the local population to the movement ideology. ... The Salafi movement itself, however, never uses this term. In fact, one would be hard pressed to find individuals who refer to themselves as Wahhabis or organizations that use "Wahhabi" in their title or refer to their ideology in this manner (unless they are speaking to a Western audience that is unfamiliar with Islamic terminology, and even then usage is limited and often appears as "Salafi/Wahhabi").


Other observers describe the term as "originally used derogatorily by opponents", but now commonplace and used even "by some Najdi scholars of the movement".

Criticism by other Muslims


Amongst the first ones to oppose this new trend within Islam, as introduced by Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, were his father Abd al-Wahhab, his brother Salman Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who was an Islamic scholar, and a qadi (judge in an Islamic court), who wrote a book in refutation of his brothers' new teachings, called: "The Final Word from the Qur'an, the Hadith, and the Sayings of the Scholars Concerning the School of Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab"),
also known as:
"Al-Sawa`iq al-Ilahiyya fi Madhhab al-Wahhabiyya" ("The Divine Thunderbolts Concerning the Wahhabi School").
In "The Refutation of Wahhabism in Arabic Sources, 1745–1932", Hamadi Redissi provides original references to the description of Wahhabis as a divisive sect (firqa) and outliers (Kharijites
Kharijites
Kharijites is a general term embracing various Muslims who, while initially supporting the authority of the final Rashidun Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib, the son-in-law and cousin of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, then later rejected his leadership...

) in communications between Ottomans and Egyptian Khedive Muhammad Ali. Redissi details refutations of Wahhabis by scholars (mufti
Mufti
A mufti is a Sunni Islamic scholar who is an interpreter or expounder of Islamic law . In religious administrative terms, a mufti is roughly equivalent to a deacon to a Sunni population...

s); among them Ahmed Barakat Tandatawin, who in 1743 describes Wahhabism as ignorance (Jahala).

In 1801 and 1802, the Saudi Wahhabis under Abdul Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn Saud attacked and captured the holy muslim cities of Karbala
Karbala
Karbala is a city in Iraq, located about southwest of Baghdad. Karbala is the capital of Karbala Governorate, and has an estimated population of 572,300 people ....

 and Najaf
Najaf
Najaf is a city in Iraq about 160 km south of Baghdad. Its estimated population in 2008 is 560,000 people. It is the capital of Najaf Governorate...

 in Iraq, massacred parts of the muslim population and destroyed the tombs of Husayn ibn Ali
Husayn ibn Ali
Hussein ibn ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib ‎ was the son of ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and Fātimah Zahrā...

, the grandson of Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

, and son of Ali
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

 (Ali bin Abu Talib), the son-in-law of Muhammad. (see: Saudi sponsorship mentioned previously) In 1803 and 1804 the Saudis captured Makkah and Medina and destroyed historical monuments and various holy Muslim sites and shrines, such as the shrine built over the tomb of Fatimah
Fatimah
Fatimah was a daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad from his first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid. She is regarded by Muslims as an exemplar for men and women. She remained at her father's side through the difficulties suffered by him at the hands of the Quraysh of Mecca...

, the daughter of Muhammad, and even intended to destroy the grave of Muhammad himself as idolatrous. In 1998 the Saudis bulldozed and poured gasoline over the grave of Aminah bint Wahb
Aminah bint Wahb
Aminah bint Wahb was the mother of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.-Biography According to Islamic History:The daughter of Wahb ibn 'Abd Manaf ibn Zuhrah ibn Kilab ibn Murrah, Aminah was born in Mecca. She was a member of the Banu Zuhrah clan in the tribe of Quraysh who were descendants of Ibrahim ...

, the mother of Prophet Muhammad, causing resentment throughout the Muslim world.

Some Muslims, such as one of the most renowned Sunni scholar of Islam, Dr. Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Buti
Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Buti
Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Buti born in Jilka, Turkey is a prominent Syrian professor and Islamic scholar specializing in Islamic theology and Islamic law. He has authored of numerous books, some of which have been translated to English....

  as well as Islamic Supreme Council of America
Islamic Supreme Council of America
The Islamic Supreme Council of America is a Muslim religious organization in the United States.The ISCA strives to integrate traditional scholarship in resolving contemporary issues affecting the maintenance of Islamic beliefs in a modern, secular society...

, and Abdul Hadi Palazzi
Abdul Hadi Palazzi
Abdul Hadi Palazzi , legally named Massimo Palazzi, is the secretary general of the Italian Muslim Assembly, and the Khalifah for Europe of the Qadiri Sufi Order....

 classify Wahhabbism as extremist and heretical mainly based on Wahhabbism's rejection of traditional Sunni
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 scholars and interpretation as followed by 96% of the world's Muslim population.

Wahabbism is intensely opposed by Hui
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

 Muslims in China, by the Hanafi
Hanafi
The Hanafi school is one of the four Madhhab in jurisprudence within Sunni Islam. The Hanafi madhhab is named after the Persian scholar Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit , a Tabi‘i whose legal views were preserved primarily by his two most important disciples, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani...

 Sunni
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 Gedimu and Sufi Khafiya and Jahriyya
Jahriyya
Jahriyya is a Sufi order in China that once existed in Persia and the Turkish World. Founded by Hadrat Abu Yaqub Yusuf Hamdani, it was brought to China in the 1760s by Ma Mingxin...

. The Yihewani (Ikhwan) Chinese sect, which is fundamentalist and was founded by Ma Wanfu
Ma Wanfu
Ma Wanfu was a Dongxiang-Imam of the village Guoyuan in Hezhou...

 who was originally inspired by the Wahhabis, reacted with hostility to Ma Debao and Ma Zhengqing, who attempted to introduce Wahhabism/Salafism as the main form of Islam. They were branded as traitors, and Wahhabi teachings were deemed as heresy by the Yihewani leaders. Ma Debao established a Salafi/Wahhabi order, called the Sailaifengye (Salafi) menhuan in Lanzhou
Lanzhou
Lanzhou is the capital and largest city of Gansu Province in Northwest China. A prefecture-level city, it is a key regional transportation hub, allowing areas further west to maintain railroad connections to the eastern half of the country....

 and Linxia, separate from other Muslim sects in China. Salafis have a reputation for radicalism among the Hanafi Sunni Gedimu and Yihewani. Sunni Muslim Hui avoid Salafis, including family members. The number of Salafis in China is so insignificant that they are not included in classifications of Muslim sects in China.

The Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 Sufi muslim general Ma Bufang
Ma Bufang
Ma Bufang was a prominent Muslim Ma clique warlord in China during the Republic of China era, ruling the northwestern province of Qinghai. His rank was Lieutenant-general...

, who backed the Yihewani (Ikhwan) Muslims, persecuted the Salafi/Wahhabis. The Yihewani forced the Salafis into hiding. They were not allowed to move or worship openly. The Yihewani had become secular and Chinese nationalist, and they considered the Salafis to be "Heterodox" (xie jiao), and people who followed foreigner's teachings (wai dao). After the Communist revolution the Salafis were allowed to worship openly until a 1958 crackdown on all religious practice.

The Deobandi
Deobandi
Deobandi is a movement of Sunni Islam. The movement began at Darul Uloom Deoband in Deoband, India, where its foundation was laid on 30 May 1866.-History:...

 Alim Abd al-Hafiz al-Makki has argued that Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab viewed sufism
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

 in a positive light comparing it to the sciences of tafseer, hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

, and fiqh
Fiqh
Fiqh is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is an expansion of the code of conduct expounded in the Quran, often supplemented by tradition and implemented by the rulings and interpretations of Islamic jurists....

.

As proof,the Shaykh also cites a letter in which Abd-al-Wahhab writes

We do not negate the way of the Sufis and the purification of the inner self
Tazkiah
Tazkiah is an Arabic-Islamic term referring to the process of transforming the nafs from its deplorable state of ego-centeredness through various psycho spiritual stages towards the level of purity and submission to the will of Allah.Tazkiah does not limit itself to...

 from the vices of those sins connected to the heart and the limbs as long as the individual firmly adheres to the rules of Shari‘ah and the correct and observed way. However, we will not take it on ourselves to allegorically interpret (ta’wil) his speech and his actions. We only place our reliance on, seek help from, beseech aid from and place our confidence in all our dealings in Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 Most High. He is enough for us, the best trustee, the best mawla and the best helper. May Allah send peace on our master Muhammad, his family
Ahl al-Bayt
Ahl al-Bayt is an Arabic phrase literally meaning People of the House, or family of the House. The phrase "ahl al-bayt" was used in Arabia before the advent of Islam to refer to one's clan, and would be adopted by the ruling family of a tribe. Within the Islamic tradition, the term refers to the...

 and companions
Sahaba
In Islam, the ' were the companions, disciples, scribes and family of the Islamic prophet...


Wahhabism in the United States


A study conducted by the NGO
Non-governmental organization
A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

 Freedom House
Freedom House
Freedom House is an international non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C. that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights...

 found Wahhabi publications in mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

s in the United States. These publications included statements that Muslims should not only "always oppose" infidels "in every way", but "hate them for their religion ... for Allah's sake", that democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 "is responsible for all the horrible wars of the 20th century", and that Shia and certain Sunni Muslims were infidels
Apostasy in Islam
Apostasy in Islam is commonly defined in Islam as the rejection in word or deed of one's former religion by a person who was previously a follower of Islam...

.

The Saudi government issued a response to this report, stating: "[It has] worked diligently during the last five years to overhaul its education system [but] [o]verhauling an educational system is a massive undertaking... As with previous reports, Freedom House continues to exhibit a disregard for presenting an accurate picture of the reality that exists in Saudi Arabia."

A review of the study by Institute for Social Policy and Understanding
Institute for Social Policy and Understanding
The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding is an independent, nonpartisan think tank and research organization committed to conducting objective, empirical research and offering expert policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States. These issues include U.S....

 (ISPU) complained the study cited documents from only a few mosques, arguing most mosques in the U.S. are not under Wahhabi influence. ISPU comments on the study were not entirely negative however, and concluded:

Militant and political Islam


What connection, if any, there is between Wahhabism and Jihadi Salafis
Salafism jihadism
Salafist jihadism is a jihadist movement among Salafi Muslims. The term was coined by scholar Gilles Kepel to describe Salafi who became interested in violent jihad during the mid-1990s...

 is disputed.
Natana De Long-Bas, senior research assistant
Research assistant
A research assistant is a researcher employed, often on a temporary contract, by a university or a research institute, for the purpose of assisting in academic research...

 at the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding
Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding
The Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding was founded in 1993 at Georgetown University in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., United States. Following a $20 million gift from Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal in 2005 the center was renamed the Prince Alwaleed Bin-Talal Center for Muslim-Christian...

 at Georgetown University
Georgetown University
Georgetown University is a private, Jesuit, research university whose main campus is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States...

, argues:
Noah Feldman
Noah Feldman
Noah Feldman is an American author and professor of law at Harvard Law School.-Education and career:Feldman grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, where he attended the Maimonides School....

 distinguishes between what he calls the "deeply conservative" Wahhabis and what he calls the "followers of political Islam in the 1980s and 1990s," such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad and later Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 leader Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian physician, Islamic theologian and current leader of al-Qaeda. He was previously the second and last "emir" of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, having succeeded Abbud al-Zumar in the latter role when Egyptian authorities sentenced al-Zumar to life...

. While Saudi Wahhabis were "the largest funders of local Muslim Brotherhood
Muslim Brotherhood
The Society of the Muslim Brothers is the world's oldest and one of the largest Islamist parties, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna and by the late 1940s had an...

 chapters and other hard-line Islamists
Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

" during this time, they opposed jihadi resistance to Muslim governments and assassination of Muslim leaders because of their belief that "the decision to wage jihad lay with the ruler, not the individual believer".

Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong
Karen Armstrong FRSL , is a British author and commentator who is the author of twelve books on comparative religion. A former Roman Catholic nun, she went from a conservative to a more liberal and mystical faith...

, former US "emissary" to Islam, states that Osama bin Laden, like most extremists, followed the ideology of Sayyid Qutb
Sayyid Qutb
Sayyid Qutb was an Egyptian author, educator, Islamist theorist, poet, and the leading member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and '60s....

, not "Wahhabism".

Destruction of Islam's early historical sites


The Wahhabi teachings disapprove of veneration of the historical sites associated with early Islam, on the grounds that only God should be worshipped and that veneration of sites associated with mortals leads to idolatry. Many buildings associated with early Islam, including mazaar, mausoleum
Mausoleum
A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or persons. A monument without the interment is a cenotaph. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the...

s and other artifacts have been destroyed in Saudi Arabia by Wahhabis from early 19th century through the present day. This practice has proved controversial and has received considerable criticism from Sunni and Shia Muslims and in the non-Muslim world.

International influence and propagation


According to observers such as Gilles Kepel
Gilles Kepel
Gilles Kepel is a French political scientist, specialist of the Islam and contemporary Arab world. He is Professor at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris and member of the Institut Universitaire de France....

, Wahhabism gained considerable influence in the Islamic world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

 following a tripling in the price of oil in the mid-1970s and the progressive takeover of Saudi Aramco
Saudi Aramco
Saudi Aramco , officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, is the national oil company of Saudi Arabia.Saudi Aramco is the world's largest and most valuable privately-held company, with estimates of its value in 2011 to be $7 trillion USD.Saudi Aramco has both the largest proven crude oil reserves,...

 in the 1974-1980 period. The Saudi government began to spend tens of billions of dollars throughout the Islamic world to promote Wahhabism, which was sometimes referred to as "petro-Islam". According to the documentary called The Qur'an aired in the UK, presenter Antony Thomas suggested the figure may be "upward of $100 billion".

Its largess funded an estimated "90% of the expenses of the entire faith", throughout the Muslim world, according to journalist Dawood al-Shirian. The funds supported children's madrasas
Madrasah
Madrasah is the Arabic word for any type of educational institution, whether secular or religious...

, high-level scholarship, mosque construction ("more than 1500 mosques were built from Saudi public funds over the last 50 years") were paid for.) and operation and many other activities. It rewarded journalists and academics, who followed it and built satellite campuses around Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 for Al Azhar
Al-Azhar University
Al-Azhar University is an educational institute in Cairo, Egypt. Founded in 970~972 as a madrasa, it is the chief centre of Arabic literature and Islamic learning in the world. It is the oldest degree-granting university in Egypt. In 1961 non-religious subjects were added to its curriculum.It is...

, the oldest and most influential Islamic university.

This financial power has done much to overwhelm less strict local interpretations of Islam, according to observers like Dawood al-Shirian and Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew, GCMG, CH is a Singaporean statesman. He was the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore, governing for three decades...

, and has caused the Saudi interpretation to be perceived as the correct interpretation in many Muslims' minds.

The Saudis have spent at least $87 billion propagating Wahhabism abroad during the past two decades, and the scale of financing is believed to have increased in the past two years. The bulk of this funding goes towards the construction and operating expenses of mosques, madrasas, and other religious institutions that preach Wahhabism. It also supports imam training; mass media and publishing outlets; distribution of textbooks and other literature; and endowments to universities (in exchange for influence over the appointment of Islamic scholars). Some of the hundreds of thousands of non-Saudis who live in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf have been influenced by Wahhabism and preach Wahhabism in their home country upon their return. Agencies controlled by the Kingdom's Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Da'wah
Dawah
Da‘wah or Dawah usually denotes the preaching of Islam. Da‘wah literally means "issuing a summons" or "making an invitation", being the active participle of a verb meaning variously "to summon" or "to invite"...

 and Guidance are responsible for outreach to non-Muslim residents and are converting hundreds of non-Muslims into Islam every year.

Explanation for influence


Khaled Abou El Fadl attributed the appeal of Wahhabism to some Muslims as stemming from
  • Arab nationalism
    Arab nationalism
    Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

    , which followed the Wahhabi attack on the Ottoman Empire;
  • Reformism, which followed a return to Salaf
    Salaf
    A Salaf is an early Muslim of the first three generations of proponents of the religion.-First generation:* See: List of SahabaThe Salaf are the first generation of Muslims, which included Muhammad's companions and followers at the time....

     
  • Control of Mecca and Medina, which gave Wahhabis great influence on Muslim culture and thinking;
  • Oil, which after 1975 allowed Wahhabis to promote their interpretations of Islam using billions from oil export revenue.

Further reading

  • Imran N Hosein 'The Caliphate, the Hejaz and the Saudi-Wahhabi Nation-State'
  • Algar, Hamid, Wahhabism : A Critical Essay, Islamic Publications International, ISBN 1-889999-13-X
  • Delong-Bas, Natana J., Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-516991-3
  • Holden, David
    David Holden
    David Holden was a writer, journalist, and broadcaster, best known as a journalist specialising in Middle-Eastern affairs, who was murdered in Cairo....

     and Johns, Richard, The House of Saud, Pan, 1982, ISBN 0-330-26834-1
  • Al-Rasheed, Madawi
    Madawi Al-Rasheed
    Madawi Al-Rasheed is a Saudi-Arabian-born professor of social anthropology at the department of Theology and Religious Studies in King's College London since 1994. She gives occasional lectures in the United States, Europe and the Middle East....

    , A History of Saudi Arabia, Cambridge University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-521-64412-7
  • De Gaury, Gerald and Stark, Freya
    Freya Stark
    Dame Freya Madeline Stark, Mrs. Perowne, DBE was a British explorer and travel writer. She wrote more than two dozen books on her travels, which were mainly in Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan....

    , Arabia Phoenix, Kegan Paul International Limited, ISBN 0-7103-0677-6, ISBN 9780710306777
  • Oliver, Haneef James, The 'Wahhabi' Myth: Dispelling Prevalent Fallacies and the Fictitious Link with Bin Laden, T.R.O.I.D. Publications, February 2004, ISBN 0-9689058-5-4
  • Quist, B. Wayne and Drake, David F., Winning the War on Terror: A Triumph of American Values, iUniverse, 2005, ISBN 0595672728


  • Saint-Prot, Charles
    Charles Saint-Prot
    Charles Saint-Prot is a French geopolitician and writer. He is a historian specializing in international relations and geopolitics, in particular, questions of the Middle East and the Islamic world...

    . Islam. L'avenir de la tradition entre révolution et occidentalisation (Islam. The Future of Tradition between Revolution and Westernization). Paris: Le Rocher, 2008.

External links


Critical