Wahhabism is the dominant and official faith of Saudi Arabia and the reigning Saud family, the founders of the state. It is an austere form of Islam that insists on a literal interpretation of the Koran. Strict Wahhabis believe that all those who don't practice their form of Islam are heathens and enemies.
The urban planning has political and economic ends and it is also motivated by the religious ideology of Wahhabi Islam. While the Saudi Kingdom exalts the grandiosity of the new buildings, it is silent over the extensive demolition. This includes the ongoing expansion of the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, whose spaces have taken over entire areas of the city (at the end of the project there will be capacity for 1.6 million people), and of Mecca’s Al-Haram Mosque, where pilgrims gather to pray around the Kaaba.
The works are part of a $20bn expansion plan begun in 2011, which will mark the definitive disappearance of what remains of Mecca’s Ottoman historic centre.
This obliteration has been happening for decades but the public outcries have been few and far between, limited to rare reports in the UK and US press. Up-to-date photographs are impossible to find since they are carefully censored. Those responsible for the disappearance of an entire universal cultural are not the fanatical terrorists of Isil, who in Syria and Iraq are proudly broadcasting their murders and destruction of ancient treasures to the international media, but the Saudi Arabian government. Quietly, an official programme for the dissolution of the country’s own cultural heritage has been authorised and planned by the state authorities.
|[hide]Part of a series on:|
Sab'u Masajid, Saudi Arabia
|[hide]Part of a series on:|
Definitions and etymology
- "a corpus of doctrines", and "a set of attitudes and behavior, derived from the teachings of a particularly severe religious reformist who lived in central Arabia in the mid-eighteenth century" (Gilles Kepel)
- "pure Islam" (David Commins, paraphrasing supporters' definition), that does not deviate from Sharia law in any way and should be called Islam and not Wahhabism. (King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the King of the Saudi Arabia)
- "a misguided creed that fosters intolerance, promotes simplistic theology, and restricts Islam's capacity for adaption to diverse and shifting circumstances" (David Commins, paraphrasing opponents' definition)
- "a conservative reform movement ... the creed upon which the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded, and [which] has influenced Islamic movements worldwide" (Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim world)
- "a sect dominant in Saudi Arabia and Qatar" with footholds in "India, Africa, and elsewhere", with a "steadfastly fundamentalist interpretation of Islam in the tradition of Ibn Hanbal" (Cyril Glasse)
- an "eighteenth-century reformist/revivalist movement for sociomoral reconstruction of society", "founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab" (Oxford Dictionary of Islam).
- originally a "literal revivification" of Islamic principles that ignored the spiritual side of Islam, that "rose on the wings of enthusiasm апd longing and then sank down into the lowlands of pharisaic self-righteousness" after gaining power and losing its "longing and humility" (Muhammad Asad)
- "a political trend" within Islam that "has been adopted for power-sharing purposes", but cannot be called a sect because "It has no special practices, nor special rites, and no special interpretation of religion that differ from the main body of Sunni Islam" (Abdallah Al Obeid, the former dean of the Islamic University of Medina and member of the Saudi Consultative Council)
- "the true salafist movement". Starting out as a theological reform movement, it had "the goal of calling (da'wa) people to restore the 'real' meaning of tawhid (oneness of God or monotheism) and to disregard and deconstruct 'traditional' disciplines and practices that evolved in Islamic history such as theology and jurisprudence and the traditions of visiting tombs and shrines of venerated individuals." (Ahmad Moussalli)
- a term used by opponents of Salafism in hopes of besmirching that movement by suggesting foreign influence and "conjuring up images of Saudi Arabia". The term 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 Salafism. (Quintan Wiktorowicz)
- a blanket term used inaccurately to refer to "any Islamic movement that has an apparent tendency toward misogyny, militantism, extremism, or strict and literal interpretation of the Quran and hadith" (Natana J. DeLong-Bas)
Naming controversy: Wahhabis, Muwahhidun, and Salafis
Wahhabis and Salafis
- above all disdain for all developments subsequent to al-Salaf al-Salih (the first two or three generations of Islam),
- the rejection of Sufism, and
- the abandonment of consistent adherence to one of the four or five Sunni Madhhabs (schools of fiqh).
- a reliance on attempts at persuasion rather than coercion in order to rally other Muslims to their cause; and
- an informed awareness of the political and socio-economic crises confronting the Muslim world.
Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab
Alliance with the House of Saud
Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud
Connection with the outside
Petroleum export era
"Erosion" of Wahhabism
Grand Mosque seizure
1990 Gulf War
Memoirs of Mr. Hempher
Commanding right and forbidding wrong
|[hide]Part of a series on Islam|
|Including: 1 Ahmadiyya, Qutbism & |
2 Alawites, Assassins, Druzes & Qizilbash
3 Azariqa, Ajardi, Haruriyyah, Najdat & Sufriyyah
4 Alevism, Bektashi Order & Qalandariyya
Loyalty and disassociation
- Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792) was the founder of the Wahhabi movement.
- Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1752–1826) was the head of Wahhabism after his father retired from public life in 1773. After the fall of the first Saudi emirate, Abd Allah went into exile in Cairo where he died.
- Sulayman ibn Abd Allah (1780–1818) was a grandson of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and author of an influential treatise that restricted travel to and residing in land of idolaters (i.e. land outside of the Wahhabi area).
- Abd al-Rahman ibn Hasan (1780–1869) was head of the religious estate in the second Saudi emirate.
- Abd al-Latif ibn Abd al-Rahman (1810–1876) Head of religious estate in 1860 and early 1870s.
- Abd Allah ibn Abd al-Latif Al ash-Sheikh (1848–1921) was the head of religious estate during period of Rashidi rule and the early years of King Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud.
- Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Al ash-Sheikh (1893–1969) was the head of Wahhabism in mid twentieth century. He has been said to have "dominated the Wahhabi religious estate and enjoyed unrivaled religious authority."
- Ghaliyya al-Wahhabiyya was a female military leader who defended Mecca against recapture by Ottoman forces.
- Abdul Aziz Bin Baz (1910–1999), has been called "the most prominent proponent" of Wahhabism during his time.
- Muhammad ibn al-Uthaymeen (1925–2001), another "giant". According to David Dean Commins, no one "has emerged" with the same "degree of authority in the Saudi religious establishment" since their deaths.
International influence and propagation
Explanation for influence
- Arab nationalism, which followed the Wahhabi attack on the Ottoman Empire
- Reformism, which followed a return to Salaf (as-Salaf aṣ-Ṣāliḥ);
- Destruction of the Hejaz Khilafa in 1925;
- 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.
Militant and political Islam
Criticism and controversy
Criticism by other Muslims
- That it is not so much strict and uncompromising as aberrant, going beyond the bounds of Islam in its restricted definition of tawhid (monotheism), and much too willing to takfir (declare non-Muslim and subject to execution) Muslims it found in violation of Islam (in the second Wahhabi-Saudi jihad/conquest of the Arabian peninsula, an estimated 400,000 were killed or wounded according to some estimates);
- That bin Saud's agreement to wage jihad to spread Ibn Abdul Wahhab's teachings had more to do with traditional Najd practice of raiding – "instinctive fight for survival and appetite for lucre" – than with religion;
- That it has no connection to other Islamic revival movements;
- That unlike other revivalists, its founder Abd ul-Wahhab showed little scholarship – writing little and making even less commentary;
- That its contention that ziyara (visiting tombs of Muhammad, his family members, descendants, companions, or Sufi saints) and tawassul (intercession), violate tauhid al-'ibada (directing all worship to God alone) has no basis in tradition, in consensus or in hadith, and that even if it did, it would not be grounds for excluding practitioners of ziyara and tawassul from Islam;
- That historically Wahhabis have had a suspicious willingness to ally itself with non-Muslim powers (specifically America and Britain), and in particular to ignore the encroachments into Muslim territory of a non-Muslim imperial power (the British) while waging jihad and weakening the Muslim Caliphate of the Ottomans; and
- That Wahhabi strictness in matters of hijab and separation of the sexes has led not to a more pious and virtuous Saudi Arabia, but to a society showing a very un-Islamic lack of respect towards women.