What is Wahhabism? Does ISIS emerge from Wahhabism?

The Western world, especially western mainstream media, mistakenly considers Wahhabism within the framework of Sunni beliefs. This mistaken belief is propagated through the acts of al-Qaida, the Taliban and now ISIS.

by Marwa Osman*

Let us be clear from the very beginning: the greatest threat to Islam originates from Wahhabism, a cancerous phenomenon that has been allowed to fester and propagate for several centuries.

In a monumental campaign to bulldoze the more moderate strains of Islam, and replace them with the Theo-fascist Saudi variety, Saudi Arabia's top cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh, has declared that Iran's leaders are not Muslims and regard Sunni Muslims as their enemy.

Before I go into details of what happened and why is it happening now, let me ask one question: who gave the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia the right to label people or nations as being Muslims or not? I will answer that: No One.

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia who takes his orders – even his religious fatwas- from the monarchs of Al Saud has outdone himself this time. After a wave of illogical and nonsensical fatwas throughout the years which tainted Islam and brought disgrace to Muslims all around the globe, the mufti has come to a point where he openly declared to own Islam by labelling others as non-Muslims. But is it really a surprising announcement made by an always controversial public figure in a Kingdom that has hijacked Islam and its scared sights?

The Mufti was not propagating a new Wahhabi venom. He rather was spreading the teachings of his cult to the world. For it was Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-91) who advocated this venom. Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab opposed Sufism and Shi’sm as heretical innovations (bid’a). Most dangerously, Ibn Abd al-Wahab called on Muslims to reject the scholarly exegesis developed over the centuries by successive madhahib (schools of jurisprudence). This call undermined the religious authority wielded by scholars in the Muslim world, and would ultimately enable generations of self-proclaimed religious experts to interpret scriptures at will to fit their own political or individual interests.

This is why the calls of the Saudi grand mufti are baseless especially when he claims that Iran regards Sunni Muslims as their enemy. The followers of Wahhabism claim that they are trying to purify Islam and see themselves as devotees of early Muslims and their practices. As such, it is a mistake to include Wahhabis within the framework of mainstream Sunni Islam, as their interpretation and methods differ significantly.

Today, a huge majority of Muslims around the world belong to the Sunni sect. Although Sunnis are divided into different sects within themselves, such as Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi'i, they are considered legitimate in Islamic law as their differences occur in their religious practice not beliefs. However, recently, a new cult called Wahhabi came into being and was pushed within Islam. This sect is a mixture of the heretical movement Mujassimah (Anthropomorphism – which is the belief that God is similar to humans), and the Khawarij sect. Since followers of Wahhabism claim that they are trying to purify Islam, they call themselves "Salafi," while naming others "Sufi." Based on the dictionary meaning, Salafi means "antecedents," which refers to the Muslims in the first century. However, the practices and beliefs of people following Wahhabism have nothing to do with the early Muslims. Therefore, Salafism is a misleading term for this community. The Western world, especially western mainstream media, mistakenly considers Wahhabism within the framework of Sunni beliefs. This mistaken belief is propagated through the acts of al-Qaida, the Taliban and now ISIS. There are people who do not realize the difference between Wahhabism and Sunni beliefs even among Sunnis.

The fundamentals of this cult are based on a 14th-century scholar named Ibn Taymiyyah who came from Harran, which is an ancient city located in southeastern Turkey. Ibn Taymiyyah, who once belonged to the Hanbali school of Sunni Islam, was put on trial in Damascus and Cairo and then sentenced due to his beliefs which were close to the Mujassimah (Anthropomorphism) sect, as well as due to some negative comments by some friends about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

In our lifetime, Wahhabism is the official sect of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Imams and Muslim judges belong to Wahhabism and they are guided by the views of Ibn Taymiyyah in their decisions. Since Ibn Taymiyyah used to belong to the Hanbali school of Sunni Islam, people tend to think that the Saudi Kingdom also belongs to this sect. However, the four sects of Ahl us-Sunnah are not accepted in the monarchy. Now, Wahhabism is spread through the press and education systems. For one is the Rabita al-alemi al-Islami (The Muslim World League) which is an international propaganda organization for Wahhabism. The organization which is directly funded by Al Saud opens Islamic centers all over the world and sends religious people to these places in order to spread Wahhabism. These types of organizations have been growing stronger every day and can now be found from the Balkans to the Caucasus, Africa to India. They especially target Muslim countries that do not have social or financial power which perceives this movement is a serious threat to the real Islam that is completely innocent from the acts, trends and fatwas of Al Saud and their Mufti.

Strict wahhabis like the rulers of Saudi Arabia believe that all those who don't practice their form of Islam are heathens and enemies. Critics who dare say that Wahhabism's rigidity has led it to misinterpret and distort Islam are considered Kafirs (infidels) and are punishable by death. The same death that took the lives of hundreds of Haj pilgrims last year in Mecca at the hands of Al Saud mercenaries with the blessings of the Grand Mufti. Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheik resorted to such outrageous comments because he couldn’t handle the truth portrayed inside the message of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei which was published on Monday September 5th criticizing Saudi Arabia over how it runs the haj after a crush last year killed hundreds of pilgrims. Sayyed Khamenei’s words struck a chord inside Al Saud’s brains when he exposed their heinous acts in "murdering" some of haj pilgrims, describing Saudi rulers as godless and irreligious.

Not only I agree and support the message of Ayatollah Khamenei, I would also like to add to it that the Saudi rulers are inhumane and have no self-respect for hiding the facts behind last year’s tragedy of the Haj pilgrims, for continuing to bombard the innocent people of Yemen for 18 months straight while imposing a deadly sea and land blockade against the country, for continuing to support, arm and fund Wahhabi terrorist all across the world and most importantly for hijacking the Muslim faith under the banner of the tyrants Al Saud. Al Saud and their Mufti should be held accountable for their odious acts in front of the entire world.