Thoughts About Wahhabism: Why Did Some Try To
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By Sheikh Dr. Mohammad Ismail Al-Moqadem
The unchangeable law of Allah, where the people of falsehood are against the people of the right, continued, as they continue to distort them, raise doubts about them to hinder (men) from the path of Allah, and would seek to make it crooked.
Calls for reformation and renewal do not accept compromise, half measures or half solutions; it struggles against the corrupted beliefs. At the beginning, it might face a violent resistance from its opponents, as when it faces the conventional thoughts and tries to change it, it in fact defies its followers and those behind it, and this certainly provokes them. This is how it goes, and that is why the renewal Dawa by Shaykh al-Islam Muhammad bin Abdul Wahab (May Allah have mercy on him) confronted the absence of stubbornness and obstinacy shown by his opponents. In such case, this Dawa (the call) haven’t been faced only by weapons and mobilizing the armies, but it was also attacked by fanatic writers who tried to distort its image using slander and lies. There were many persons who rush to judge on the Sheikh, some of them may not even read what the Sheikh has written, but they read about him from his enemies. The policy has played a major role in this isseu, particularly the English foreign policy which monitors and controls the renaissance in the Muslim nation, and is trying to get rid of it before it achieves its results.
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The Ottoman Empire began its offensive attack on the Salafist Dawa because it violates its approach, and attacked some of its principles, such as supplication, and asking help from the dead, and other innovations and polytheism.
In addition to Rafida (Shiites) group that slandered the companions of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and some of the great figures of the Sunnis school, and they have engaged in some polytheismsand say that it is from the religion.
No one shall think that the controversial issues between the Wahhabis and their opponents belong to the Wahhabis alone; actually it is the belief of the pious predecessors that is based on the evidences from the Qur’an and Sunnah. Wahhabism has nothing except reviving, and renewing it, to remind the Muslims, and alert them to it, and to shake the dust of heresies from it.
I shall not prove this fact with hundreds of testimonies of Muslims who stand up for this Dawa, and acknowledged its great regenerative role, but I shall introduce the testimonies of Islam opponents who support it as the say goes:

(Good deeds are testified by foes * honor is what was seen by the enemy)
According to Encyclopedia Britannica:The Wahhabi movement is a name for an Islamic movement, and the Wahhabis follow the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH), and ignore everything else, the enemies of Wahhabism are the enemies of true Islam.
The Spanish Orientalist Ermanno said:All nonsense and lies relating to Wahhabism are not sound at all; Wahhabis want to return Islam to the age of the companions of Muhammad (PBUH).
The Orientalist Goldziher said in his book (Doctrine and Law):If we want to investigate the relationship between Sunni Islam and Wahhabi movement, we would find that:
Any person who set himself up to judge the Islamic events, should consider the Wahhabis as a supporters of the Islamic religion as set by the Prophet and his companions; as Wahhabism seek to return Islam as it earlier was.
The movement of renewal by the Shaykh al-Islam Muhammad bin Abdul Wahab was a positive psychological earthquake that revived the Islamic nation, awakened it, and returned it to youth.
What is striking about this renewal movement is that, its results and effects exceeded the space limits and spread across the world, and exceeded the time limits from the twelfth century to reach our present.
And despite the many thousand books that defend Wahhabism and its Imam, it still needs to be examined to extract its treasures.
Most studies done concerning this renewal movement were descriptive, and it was interested with the historical narration of facts and events, or refuting suspicions of the opponents in the traditional issues that consumed a lot of energy, and wasted a lot of time of those who were forced to deal with it, and it contains a great benefits given to the suspicions of the opponents to repel people from it.
Perhaps it is time to assign a group of qualified specialists to make an in-depth analytical study that shed light on the secret of the big success of this Dawa, and sail in the psychological depth of this man Imam Ibn Abd al-Wahhab and reveal his unique character.
While the ranks of the outstanding historical figures are determined by their effect in the human history, and their effects in this world, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, with this standard, has exceeded many peoples who have given this status.
The reasons which led to the success of this Dawa:
Perhaps the most important reasons for the success of the Dawa of Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Wahab are:
1 – It started from monotheism which is the main basis of all prophets’ calls, it agreed with the doctrine, and renounced all forms of polytheism and idolatry.
2 – It fully embodied the Sunni approach, and followed the past innovators footsteps, especially Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah. And it is well known that the Prophet (PBUH) linked between the re-empowerment of Islam, and abiding by this approach as he (PBUH) said:Then there will be a khilaafah upon the Prophetic methodology.
3 – The unique personality of Imam Ibn Abd al-Wahhab; The geniality of this personality perhaps lies in his dedication and impartiality, and his strong believe in his Dawa, his strong jealousy on the facts of monotheism, his patience on adversities, and his selflessness. Although he was the first to spread this Dawa, there was no impact to the ego and he never called for himself and didn’t seek to build personal glory, but he said:My Lord is Allâh (believes in His Oneness), and then stands firm (acts upon His Order), and] invites (men) to Allâh’s (Islâmic Monotheism), and does righteous deeds, and says: I am one of the Muslims..{Fusilat: 33}
4 – What remains from Imam are words, printed in modern style, yet you still feel his spirit in his vibrant, bright and smooth words, which when you read it, you will not find any affectation, mannerism, or extravagance, and when you read it, you feel that you are not dealing with just ink or paper, but you feel you are dealing with a living person addresses the soul, his words effect penetrates into the depth of your feeling as if a brilliant embers gives light and thermal energy which motivate you to abandon silence, and fuel your heart.
Imam Ibn Abd al-Wahhab has compiled many great works, and wrote many books with many benefits.
5 – One of the most powerful reasons for the success of the renewal Dawa is the time at which it evolved, which saw the greatest intellectual, political and social transformations in the Arabian Peninsula at that time, when monotheism and power were cohered, Quran and Sultan were standing by each other, and the power of belief and the religion are merged in the power of authority and the State represented in Imam Muhammad bin Abdul Wahab, and Imam Muhammad bin Saud, when they vowed a commitment to compile the huge and vibrant book that is full of faith and piety in one of the most beautiful scenes of the days of Islam in recent times.
It was a historical turning point, about which Philip Hitti says in (History of the Arabs) book:The history of the Arabian Peninsula begins in the mid-twelfth century AH, when unitarian movement appeared in the Arabian Peninsula, and when the power of religion participated in government”
Backgrounds of Wahhabism term:
Wahhabism is a political term aims to put people off from Dawa and its people. It is a religious movement or a branch of Islam, and it was developed by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab from Najd. Ibn Abdul Al-Wahhab advocated purging Islam of what he considered to be impurities and innovations. Wahhabism is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia.Wahhabism claims to adhere to the correct understanding of the general Islamic doctrine of Tawhid, the Uniqueness and Unity of God, shared by the majority of Islamic sects, but uniquely interpreted by Abdul Al-Wahhab who was influenced by the writings of Ibn Taymiyya and questioned classical interpretations of Islam, claiming to rely on the Qur’an and the Hadith.
Imam Shafi’i said:

(If being in love with the family of Muhammad is Rafidah *then let all the creatures say that I’m Rafidi)
Sheikh Mullah Umran bin Radwan, indicated that there is nothing wrong with the terminology, and he replied to those who describes the monotheism people as Wahhabism, and said:

If it is said that Ahmed followers are Wahhabi * Then I acknowledge that I’m Wahhabi
I believe that there is no a partner with Allah * And my Lord is the only provider
There is no hope in any spell or idol * nor any grave has any reason
I have never hold any amulet * or ring, cowries or canine tooth
For hope to benefit me or push away a misfortune * God Alone who benefits and pushes misfortune

Allah have treated them with the opposite of what they intended by dispraising the Wahhabi, as this title, became the name of the followers of the Book and Sunnah, adherence to evidence and Salafi doctrine, fighting heresies and superstitions, and the promotion of virtue and prevention of Vice.
In this context, Sheikh Abdul Rahman Suleiman Ruweished says:The (Wahhabism) term intended to define the owners of the Salafist idea that was not common among the Salafis themselves, as most of them were afraid to call the ideology of ??Salafism with it”.
Many people may refrain from describing the Salafis by this description, considering it as a aggressive description was intended to confuse ideas, and to release more fogs to obstruct the Dawa march, and to conceal its real objectives.
Over time, the deceptive attempts failed to play its destructive role, and the title turned gradually to a title that does not provoke any feelings, or contains any meanings of abuse, and became just a definition to the followers of the ??Salafism ideology and the Dawa of Sheikh Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, it became a common and popular among Eastern and Western writers and historians.
And there is nothing to justify the abandonment of using that term, as common definition, or an expression used in the right context to refer to the intended intellectual content, which is:Abiding by the Holy Quran and Sunnah, fighting polytheism manifestations, and the deviations that entered within the Salafi ideology, with the need to live under a just Islamic leadership judge with Islamic law and committed to apply its approach, and to make citizens comply with it sometimes with leniency and sometimes with force.
The Wahhabi Dawa experienced several risks, but the most dangerous of it was the false propaganda and media weapon, represented by the literature and pamphlets, which attacked the Wahhabism brutally and ignored all Islamic and ethical standards, as well as scientific integrity.
Fortunately, Allah has blessed the knowledge and the Dawa of Shaykh al-Islam as He did with his sons, his descendants and his students. From them there were a major scholars used to defend monotheism call with efficiency and professionalism, generation after generation. And they managed to compose many books to refute the false propaganda with scientific manner, that forced the Turkish historian Jawdat Basha (an opponent of the Salafi da’wa) to admit the weakness and shallowness of the argument of those who compose many books against Wahhabism compared to the writings of its scholars, and he said:The reply to the Wahhabism requires a wide culture, big knowledge of the religious, social, and political conditions of the Arab, awareness with the religion sciences, and to be widely informed about the philosophical movements, and the ability to debate and persuade, and those who responded to the Wahhabism miss all these things, and all their responses are fraught with absurd and nonsense…They provide a mean to make fun of them and their responses.
Historical mistake about Wahhabism that needs to be corrected:
Some devious people have fabricated facts about Wahhabism to the extent that they attributed it to the Ibadi, a group emerged in North Africa and was known as Wahhabism in relation to Abd al-Wahhab Ibn Abd al-Rahman ibn Rustam Alkhariji, who negated the Islamic laws, abolished pilgrimage and entered into wars against his opponents. He died in (190 AH) or (197 AH) in Tahert city, North Africa. El-Ouenchericy said in his book (The Standard 168/11) that Allakhmy was asked about the ruling of performing prayer in a mosque built by Wahhabis ?
He replied:This is a misguided infidel group. The mosque should be destroyed and members of this group should be expelled from Muslim lands.
The Hypocrites went so happy with this fatwa and kept spreading it and those similar to it, though the period between the death of Shaykh al-Islam Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab (1206 AH), and the death of Abdul Wahab bin Rustam is more than 1000 years, between him and Allakhmy is (728) years and between him and El-Ouenchericy is (292) years.
The anti-wahabi media campaigns shaped the mind of the elite and the common people in profound way, making them feel deep hostility towards Sheikh Ibn Abd Alwahab and his Dawa, at a time in which the sheikh’s rivals were having an effective media means and a military power. Branding with wahabisim was enough charge to suppress Salafists in that time, not only in the Arab but throughout the Muslim world.
India as an example:
Alsayed Sediq Hassan Alguenuggi Bukhari (1307 AH) remained in power for fourteen years through which he spread justice and knowledge. However, he was deposed from power out of anti –sunnah informers who told lies against him to the British government that he calls for jihad and spreads Wahhabism.
Another example is Imam Nazir Hussain bin Jawad Ali bin Alsayed Ahmed Shah Dahlawi (1320 AH, 1902). It was the man who renewed the Sunnah in the Indian subcontinent and suffered a lot to spread monotheism and the Prophetic Sunnah. In 1864, he was charged with Wahhabism and sent to prison in Rawalpindi for a year. When he travelled in 1300 AH to the pilgrimage, the talebearers went to the pasha in Mecca accusing him with being Wahhabi and Matzlai that allows the lard and marring with aunt, giving pasha a book entitled:(collection of evidences on bringing out Wahhabi from mosques), however the pasha realized the fact and greatly honoured him.
Persecution and oppression went so bad to the extent that whoever raised his hands in prayer or said Amen loudly, he suffered harm since he was branded as Wahhabi.
Here’s an amazing story happened in India:
A virtuous professorin India used to receive his students and gives them lessons of Qur`an interpretation and Haidth. He used to begin his lessons with praising God, praying for the Messenger and cursing Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab and his group, asking God to cleanse the earth of their wickedness and sins.
One of the students was from Najd. But it was impossible for him to defend Ibn Abdawahab in that atmosphere in which the Ottoman Empire, the colonialism and people of false doctrines were all working hard to distort the image of Wahabisim.
One day, the student decided to correct the professor’s view and get him back to the right path by telling him the fact about Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Wahhab and his Salafi Dawa. He removed the cover of the (Monotheism) book and gave it to his professorto read.
The professor read it and appreciated it so much. He also described it is as one of the most useful books he has ever read. Then, the student told his professor about the author of this book that he criticizes him every day.
The professor asked God forgiveness for what he used to say about Ibn abdawhab and his Dawa. This professor became one of the most people who defended Ibn Abd Awahab and his Dawa.
Egyptians and the Wahhabis:Mohamed Ali Pasha sent the first Egyptian scholarship to France. It was composed of forty young people from Turkey and Egypt and increased in number later. When its members went back to Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha relied on them and replaced the foreigners with them. His sons followed the same way after him, paying due concern to Egypt which became their own country. His grandson, Ismail bin Ibrahim used to say:My country doesn’t belong to Africa, but it is a part of Europe.
Non of Muhammad Ali`s successors changed that policy except Toson-Known as “Abbas Pasha I- the son of Muhammad Ali`s eldest son who assumed power after the death of Ibrahim Pasha.
Abbas was raised upon religious and Eastern teachings. He was known for his aversion to France that he stopped sending scholarships to it. Thus, he became a target for the arrows of the Europeans in general (particularly France, which knew how much he disliked it).
Brockelmann says about him:He was a fanatic Muslim who despised the European culture and accused him with being a tyrant. But in fact, he was a devout and pious man.
This is indicated by two things:
Firstly, when Abbas the Governor of Egypt during the ruling of his Grandfather Muhammad Ali, he managed to get the Wahhabis sons of Bin Saud out of the prison after they had been imprisoned by Muhammad Ali in the Citadel. The soldiers could not tell Muhammad Ali about that for three days as they were afraid of him. In return, Muhammad Ali did nothing because he trusted Abbas. From that moment on, Abbas became a close friend to Faisal bin Saud.
There is no doubt that the spread of Wahabi imams in Egypt served Dawa a lot and people were told about its fact , especially that Wahhabis were knowledge students who joined Azhar for studying and teaching.
Secondly:Abbas I was the only son of Muhammad Ali who used to go to mosques during Ramadan to listen to lessons and sermons. During his period in power, no one was allowed to walk in the streets at the time of prayer; otherwise he could be whipped by Turkish soldiers . With the exception of Abbas, all sons of Mohammed Ali adopted the policy of Muhammad Ali in imitating the West.
The attitude of some scholars of Al -Azhar:
It was decided for six scholars from Al Azhar to join the first military expedition of Muhammad Ali to the Arabian Peninsula under the leadership of Toson Pasha. But they lagged behind in Al sharqia for different excuses, where they were required to argue with the Wahabi scholars of monotheism in front of people before fighting to embarrass them. But Al-Azhar scholars realized that they were in no disagreement with the Wahabi Scholars since Wahabis were calling for nothing but the truth and it was difficult to bring proof against them from the Quran and Sunnah.
At the same time it was not expected from Al-Azhar scholars to go with the expedition and then join the Saudi scholars there, leaving their families and children in Egypt at the mercy of the tyrant Pasha. Moreover, they in general, were not warriors or martyrdom seekers.
The attitude of Jabarti, the Egyptian historian:
Abdul Rahman Jabarti, one of the famous scholars of Al-Azhar, was interested in following the news of Wahhabi movement.
When he read some Wahhabi publications brought by pilgrims from Hijaz, he found them calling for nothing but pure monotheism and Sunnahwhile rejecting polytheism and heresy, supporting their opinions by proofs from the Qur’an and Sunnah. he commented:
“If this is what they are calling for, then our call is the same, i.e. monotheism. It is the same call of other scholars that they elaborated it in their books including: Ibn al-Qayyim in his book (Ighaathat Allahfan), Alhafez Almoqrezi (Tajrid Altawheed), and Imam Sanusi in (Sharh Alkobra) and (Sharh Alhekam) to Ibn Aqayem, and the book of (Gama Al-fadael Wa Qam Alrazael), and book of (Masayed Alshaytan), and many other books.”
Jabarti was one of the most admirers of Wahabis, as he defended them in his speeches and his writings. He did not fear of Sultan Mohammed Ali Pasha who ruled Egypt and considered wahabis as his enemies.
Algabrti continued to explicitly show sympathy with the Wahhabi Dawa. This situation cost him his life and that of his son.
Professor Mohammed Galal Keshk Says:I can assure that the writings of Jabarti about Wahhabism was the main reason for his suffering he had at the hands of pasha to the extent that his son was assassinated, his writings were stopped and he himself was died in mysterious circumstances.” Zarkali mentioned in his writing on the biography of Jabarti:After His son was killed, he kept shedding tears until he went blind and then died in mysterious circumstances.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Al haseensaid:Their deep hatred to this blessed Dawa made them kill the son of the Egyptian historian Abdel Rahman Jabarti who was very enthusiastic about this Dawa. He and his son were killed out of jabrti sympathy with the Wahhabis; at the behest of Muhammad Ali governor of Egypt who and his sons fought this Dawa”
The attitude of Sheikh Muhammad Rasheed Rida:
Like the public, Sheikh Rashid did not know about the Dawa of Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab when he was in Levant except rumours and lies told against it. He didn’t realize the truth until he came Egypt and read the history of Jabarti. The Dawa of Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab was transferred to Egypt through the sheikh`s sons and grandsons. A big number of Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab`s family came to Egypt and studied at Al-Azhar. Their study at Alazhar along with their writings and discussions with people helped spreading this Dawa in Egypt.
Abdul-Rahman bin Hassan bin Mohammed bin Abdul Wahhab” had been one of Jabarti students for eight years in Egypt before going back home in the year of (1241 AH). He left his son Abdul Latif for thirty years at Al-Azhar.
This makes it clear that the Dawa of Sheikh Mohammed has reached Egypt very early, where Sheikh Rashid Rida realized the truth about it; but what did he know about it?
Sheikh Rashid says:“There is no century where heresies and novelties are spread, except you find pious scholars who renew the religion for this nation through Dawa, education, good role models. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Wahhab Najdi was one of those scholars. He called for pure monotheism, denouncing heresies and sins and establishing the abandoned Islamic laws.
No fair person even if he disagrees with Sheikh Rashid Rida can deny that he is the father of Salafi in Egypt and that salafis are grateful for and beholden to him. His leading role in the dissemination of the Salafi heritage cannot be forgotten nor do his defence about the Salafi doctrine and its leading figures including Sheikh-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab in his magazine (Al Manar).
Rashid Rida began defending the Dawa of Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Wahab in (1320 AH, 1903). It corresponded the year in which celebrations were held in Egypt to mark the anniversary of Muhammad Ali family ruling in Egypt and Mosques were decorated with lights. Rashid strongly criticized such act saying:The mosques are the houses of God and shouldn’t be decorated to celebrate the anniversary of the dictator kings and princes. He talked about the disadvantages of the policy of Muhammad Ali, including his fight against the Wahhabis and killing them; however they were religious reformers in the Arabian Peninsula, the cradle of Islam and its homeland.
Rashid also said:This is a correct overview about the history of the religious reformer in the twelfth century, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. It was agreed by the histiorians of the west and east that the impact of this man was similar to that of Islam at it beginnings. If he hadn’t face obstacles, he would have managed to regain glory of Islam. The most important obstacles he had included:Resistance of the Ottoman Empire to him and the fight of Mohammed Ali Pasha against Wahhabis to destroy their power, in addition to Britain- the enemy of the east, particularly the Islamic nation.
Prince Shakib Arslan said:Rashid Rida confronted anti- Najd scholar’s propaganda. Fabrications and lies were told about them after the conquest of Ta`if. He distributed thousands copies of the message (Sunni gift and masterpiece of Najd) and published articles in defence of them and in response their opponents. Sheikh Al-Azhar appreciated his efforts telling him in front of many scholars:May Allah reward you for your efforts in correcting the image Wahhabism
The enemies of the Salafi da’wah still promoting these books that are full of lies and frau. Godsays:” Have they (the people of the past) transmitted this saying to these (Quraish pagans)? Nay, they are themselves a people transgressing beyond bounds (in disbelief)!}”[Adh-Dhariyat:??53) but no wonder since the enemies of the right path are similar in all ages.
However, we believe that God always supports believers against people of lies and falsehood whose allegations come to nothing.

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