Monday, September 1, 2014

Islamic State's Wahhabi Roots 1

"People didn't notice, or noticed but did not want to mention [it] for obvious reasons: but a few days ago ISIS explained their practice, on Twitter, of destroying [the] tombs of prophets. They said that Muhammad ibn 'Abdul-Wahhab had done that. How many times do we have to tell you that the inspiration for these fanatics comes from the ideology of the regime you most like in the Middle East... after Israel." (Inspiration of ISIS, The Angry Arab News Service, 31/7/14)

So who is Muhammad ibn 'Abdul-Wahhab? The following notes are taken from As'ad Abukhalil's The Battle for Saudi Arabia: Royalty, Fundamentalism, & Global Power (2004)

"Wahhabiyyah, or Wahhabism, refers to the doctrine founded by Muhammad ibn 'Abdul-Wahhab (1703-92). The followers of the founder are known as Wahhabis... It is debatable whether the movement should be considered a reform movement. Some may look at it as a regressive movement in that it fights reforms in the name of fighting 'innovations'. Members of the movement do not call themselves Wahhabis, they simply call themselves Muslims, or muwahhidun [literally, unifiers, but it refers to those who insist on the unification of the worship of Allah] or Ahl (Community of) At-Tawhid." (p 52)

Abdul-Wahhab was born in the Arabian province of Najd. "His father... was a local judge belonging to the Hanbalite school of jurisprudence [one of the 4 Sunni schools of jurisprudence, the known as the strictest and most conservative, in a region not renowned for religious scholarship..." (p 53)

"In Medina, a center of great learning before it fell under the control of the anti-intellectual clerics of Wahhabiyah, he was introduced to the works of Ibn Taymiyyah (A.D.1263-1328), who influenced him a great deal... Ibn Taymiyyah was also a man of the sword: he fought the Crusaders and others in his lifetime, and observed that the foundation of religion is 'Qur'an and sword'... Today, Ibn Taymiyyah's thought and practice can be seen as a key philosophical predecessor of contemporary Islamic fundamentalism... His most important contribution to present-day militant ideologies, like those of Al-Qa'idah, is his belief that misguided Muslims - those who do not abide by (his interpretation of) Shari'ah (the body of Islamic laws) - should be fought as if they were infidels." (p 54-5)

Abdul-Wahhab "struck a firm alliance [with Prince Muhammad Bin Sa'ud, ruler of the town of Dir'iyyah] that remains at the core of the Saudi state to this very day: the alliance between the House of Sa'ud and the House of Ash-Shaykh [as the contemporary descendants of 'Abdul-Wahhab are known]. 'Abdul-Wahhab settled and began a campaign of jihad. Jihad means holy struggle in general, but here it refers to the holy war that the two men led in Arabia. Their war continued into the last century until the Saudi kingdom was founded." (p 58)

"The ideas of 'Abdul-Wahhab can be summarized by reference to tawhid, which had at least 3 meanings for him: the first refers to the exclusive quality of lordship of the world to Allah; the second refers to the exclusive association of the divine names and attributes with Allah only... and the third refers to the concentration of worship in God alone... But 'Abdul-Wahhab applied everything dogmatically, and any disagreements that he had with any other Muslims he easily and casually attributed to Satan... This explains the zeal with which 'Abdul-Wahhab, with the aid of the Sauds, went about waging wars, in the name of jihad, against Muslims in Arabia and beyond. For him, war against Muslims who were in error was not only permissible, it was 'obligatory'. Muslims who did not accept his doctrine were no longer to be considered Muslims but rather mushrikun [polytheists]." (pp 60-1)

"The alliance between the Sauds and 'Abdul-Wahhab has produced a politically quiescent and conservative school of political thought that urges obedience to the rulers, within a Wahhabi doctrine. 'Abdul-Wahhab forbade revolt against the rulers, regardless of the policies and conduct of those rulers... This has been the most useful element of Wahhabism for the House of Saud..." (pp 61-2)

To be continued...

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