By Nauman Sadiq, New Age Islam
29 July 2014
The Pakistani military establishment is rightfully blamed for creating the Taliban; but the phenomena of religious extremism and terrorism is not limited to Pakistan; this conflagration has engulfed the whole of Islamic world from Iraq and Syria to Algeria and Indonesia and even the Muslim minorities in China, Thailand and Philippines. Pakistani establishment does not have access to all these regions, thus, aside from local actors; some regional and global actors are also responsible for creating the menace of Islamic extremism and terrorism. A more holistic understanding of the problem will identify three actors responsible for creating this menace: Pakistani military establishment; Saudi and Gulf petro-monarchies and last but not the least, the Western support for the Afghan Jihad in the context of the Cold War.
A recent EU parliament report also identified the Wahhabi-Salafi roots of Global Terrorism; a laudable report which ironically or rather expectedly doesn’t even makes a passing reference to the role of Western powers in sponsoring Islamic terrorism during the 80s. Plausible deniability in waging proxy wars is a clever Machiavellian tactic in realpolitik but it is a form of “denial” which is always a part of the problem and never a part of the solution. Truth is a sine qua non in any Truth and Reconciliation approach. But this write-up is about the role of Saudi Arabia as the proverbial Caliph of Islam in promoting extremism and terrorism in the Muslim Ummah or Commonwealth; the role of Western powers in creating this hoax, I have already discussed in my blog post: Terrorism as pretext for intervention.
Social selection plays the same role in the social sciences which the natural selection plays in the biological sciences: it selects the traits, norms and values which are most beneficial to the host culture. Seen from this angle, social diversity is a desirable quality for social progress; because when diverse customs and value-systems compete with each other, the culture retains the beneficial customs and values and discards the deleterious customs and values. A decentralized and unorganized religion, like Sufism, engenders diverse strains of beliefs and thoughts which compete with one another in gaining social acceptance and currency. A heavily centralized and tightly organized religion, on the other hand, depends more on authority and dogma, than value and utility. A centralized religion is also more ossified and less adaptive compared to a decentralized religion.
When we look at religious extremism and the consequent militancy and terrorism, in Pakistan in particular and the Islamic world in general, it is not a natural evolution of religion, some deleterious mutation have occurred somewhere which has infected the whole of Islamic world. Most Pakistani political scientists blame the Pakistani military establishment for a deliberate promotion of religious extremism to create a Jihadi narrative which suits the institutional interests and strategic objectives of the Pakistani military. There is no denying this obvious fact but it is only one factor in a multi-factorial equation. Like I said earlier, the phenomena of religious extremism is not limited to Pakistan, the whole of Islamic world from Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria to Indonesia, Malaysia and even the Muslim minorities of Thailand, China and Philippines are witnessing this phenomena.
In my opinion, the real culprit for the rise of religious extremism and terrorism in the Islamic world is Saudi Arabia. The Aal-e-Saud (descendants of Saud) has no hereditary claim to the Throne of Mecca since they are not the descendants of the prophet, nor even from the Quresh (there is a throne of Mecca which I’ll explain later). They were the most primitive marauding nomadic tribesmen of Najd who defeated the Sharifs of Mecca violently after the collapse of the Ottomans in the First World War. Their title to the throne of Saudi Arabia is only de facto, not de jure, since neither do they have a hereditary claim nor do they hold elections to ascertain the will of the Saudi people. Thus they are the illegitimate rulers of Saudi Arabia and they feel insecure because of their illegitimacy; which explains their heavy-handed tactics is dealing with any kind of dissent, opposition or movement for reform.
The phenomena of religious extremism all over the Islamic world are directly linked to the Wahabi-Salafi madrasas which are sponsored by the Saudi and Gulf petrodollars. These madrasas attract children from the poorest backgrounds in the third world Islamic countries because they offer the kind of incentives and facilities which even the government-sponsored public schools cannot provide: free boarding and lodging, no tuition fee at all, and free of cost books and even stationery. Aside from madrasas, another factor that promotes Wahabi-Salafi ideology in the Islamic world is the ritual of Hajj and Umrah (pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina). Every year millions of Muslim men and women travel from all over the Islamic world to perform the ritual and wash their sins. When they return to their native countries, after spending a month or two in Saudi Arabia, along with clean hearts and souls, dates and Zamzam, they also bring along the tales of Saudi hospitality and their true puritanical version of Islam, which some, especially the rural-tribal folks, find attractive.
Authority plays an important role in any thought system; the educated people accept the authority of the specialists in their respective fields of specialty; the lay folks accept the authority of the theologians and clerics in the interpretation of religion and scriptures. Aside from authority certain other factors also play a part in the individuals’ psyche: loyalty, purity or the concept of sacred, and originality and authenticity as in a concept of being close to an ideal authentic model. Just like the modern naturalists who prefer organic food and natural habits and lifestyles; because of their belief in the goodness of nature, or their disillusionment from the man-made fuss; the religious folks prefer a true version of Islam which is closer to the putative authentic Islam as practiced in Mecca and Medina: the Gold Standard of Petro-Islam.
Yet another factor which contributes to the rise of Salafism throughout the Islamic world is the immigrants’ factor. Millions of Muslim men, women and families from the third world Islamic countries live and work in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait and Oman. Some of them permanently reside there but mostly they work on temporary work permits. Just like the pilgrims, when they come back to their native villages and towns, they bring along an Ox-bridge degree and an attractive English accent. Not literally but figuratively. Spending time in Arab countries entitles one to pass authoritative judgments on religious matters; and having a cursory understanding of the language of Quran makes you an equivalent of a Qazi (judge) among the illiterate village people. And they just reproduce the customs and attitudes of the Arabs as an authentic version of Islam to their compatriots.
The Shia Muslims have their Imams and Marjahs (religious authorities) but it is generally believed about the Sunni Islam that it discourages the authority of the clergy. In this sense, Sunni Islam is closer to Protestantism, theoretically, because it promotes an individual and personal interpretation of scriptures and religion. It might be true about the Hanafis and other educated schools of thought in Islam; but on a popular level, the House of Saud plays the same role in Islam that the Pope plays in Catholicism. By virtue of their physical possession of the holy places of Islam – Mecca and Medina – they are the ex officio Caliphs of Islam. The title of the Saudi King, Khadim-ul-Harmain-al-Sharifain (Servant of the House of God), makes him a vice-regent of God on Earth. And the title of the Caliph of Islam is not limited to a nation-state; he wields enormous influence and clout throughout the Commonwealth of Islam: the Muslim Ummah.
Now, when we hear slogan like “No democracy, just Islam” on the streets of third world Islamic countries, one wonders what kind of an imbecile would forgo his right to choose his ruler through a democratic process? It is partly due to the fact that the masses often conflate democracy with liberalism; without realizing that democracy is only a political process of choosing one’s representatives and legislators through an election process; while liberalism is a cultural mindset which may or may not be suitable in a native third world society depending on its existing level of social progress in an evolutionary perspective; which prefers a bottom-up, gradual and incremental changes over a top-down, sudden and radical approach. But one feels dumbfounded when even some educated Muslims argue that democracy is un-Islamic and an ideal Islamic system of governance is a Caliphate. Such an ideal Caliphate could be some Umayyad/Abbasid model that they conjure up in their heads; but in practice the only beneficiaries of such an anti-democratic approach are the illegitimate tyrants of the Arab World who claim to be the Caliphs of Islam albeit indirectly and in a nuanced manner: the Servants of the House of God and the Keepers of the Holy places of Islam.
The illegitimate, hence insecure, tyrants adopt different strategies to maintain their hold on power. They heed to the pragmatic advice of Machiavelli: “Invent enemies and then slay them in order to control your subjects.” The virulently anti-Shia rhetoric of the Salafis and Takfiris is such a Machiavellian approach. They cannot construct a positive narrative which can specify their achievements; that’s why they construct a negative narrative that casts the Evil Other in a negative light.
The Sunni-Shia conflict is essentially a political and economic conflict which is presented to the lay Muslim in a veneer of religiosity. Saudi Arabia produces 10 to 15 million barrels of oil per day (equivalent to 15 to 20 % of the global oil production) it can single-handedly bring down the oil price to $ 50 per barrel and it can also single-handedly raise the oil price to $ 200 per barrel, a nightmare for the global industrialized economies. 90 % of the Saudi oil installations are situated along the Persian Gulf; but this sparsely populated region comprises the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia which has a Shia majority. Any separatist tendency in this Achilles heel is met with sternest possible reaction. Saudi Arabia sent its own battalions to help Bahraini regime quell the Shia rebellion in the Shia-majority Bahrain; which is also geographically very close to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
Al-Qaeda inspired terrorism is a threat to the Western countries; but the Islamic countries are encountering a much bigger threat of inter-sectarian terrorism. For centuries the Sunni and Shia Muslims lived peacefully side by side; but now certain vested interests are provoking inter-sectarian strife to distract attention away from the popular movements for democracy throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The ultimate goal of the Arab Spring is to overthrow the illegitimate House of Saud and this tide will not subside until its objective is achieved. There are ebbs and flows in any grass-roots political and social movement; it ebbed in Egypt but it will rise again to flood the whole of MENA region. What’s unfortunate is the fact, that the so-called champions of democracy can’t even lend a moral support, let alone the material support; because their interests always outweigh their principles and ideals.
Islam is regarded as the fastest growing religion of the 20th and 21st centuries. There are two factors responsible for this Islamic-resurgence phenomena: one, Islam is a practical religion, it does not demands from its followers to give up worldly pleasures but only to regulate them; two, Islam as a religion and ideology has the world’s richest financiers.
After the 1973 collective Arab oil embargo against the West, the price of oil quadrupled; the Arabs sheikhs now have so much money that they don’t know where to spend it. This is the reason why we see an exponential growth in Islamic charities and madrasas all over the world and especially in the Islamic world. Although the Arab sheikhs of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and some emirates of UAE excluding Dubai (which isn’t liberal per se but morally depraved) generally sponsor the Wahabi-Salafi brand of Islam but the difference between numerous sects of Sunni Islam are more nominal than substantive. The charities and madrasas belonging to all the Sunni sects get generous funding from the Gulf states as well as the private donors.
Therefore the genie of petro-Islamic extremism cannot be contained until and unless the financial pipeline is cut off. And to do that we need to promote the moderate democratic forces in the Arab world even if they are ostensibly Islamic. The moderate democratic Islamism is different from the monarcho-theocratic Islamism because the latter is an illegitimate and hence an insecure regime; to maintain its hold on power it needs subterfuges and external rivals to keep the oppositional internal threats to its survival under check. Like Machiavelli famously said: “Invent enemies and then slay them in order to control your subjects.”
Takfirism (labeling others as infidels) and Jihadism are a manifestation of this Machiavellian trend. In the nutshell, Islam is only a religion, just like any other religion, no need to elevate it to an ‘exceptional’ status; but it’s the petro-Islamic extremism and the consequent Takfirism and Jihadism phenomena which is like a collision of the continental tectonic plates which has engulfed the whole of Islamic world from the Middle East and North Africa to Bangladesh and Indonesia and even the Muslim minorities in China, Thailand and Philippines.
Nauman Sadiq, is an Islamabad-based attorney.
So Naseer Saheb Observer, you do not know what Salafism/Wahhabis, is and who is a Salafi/Wahhabi. But perhaps you know that Wahhabism is Saudi Arabia's official ideology. In fact the kingdom was created with the blessings of and in an alliance with the founder of Wahhabism, Mohammad ibn Abdul Wahhab.
You can start learning with the following Wikipedia page and there are many more I can send you links or contents of. In fact New Age Islam has plenty of material on Salafism/Wahhabism, as this has become a scourge of the present day world, so naturally we cover it in great detail and also discuss it in our comments section. But let us start you education with the following Wikipedia page:
Wahhabism (Arabic: وهابية, Wahhābiyyah) is a radical religious movement or offshoot branch of Islam  variously described as "orthodox", "ultraconservative", "austere", "fundamentalist", "puritanical" (or "puritan"), an Islamic "reform movement" to restore "pure monotheistic worship", or an "extremist movement". It aspires to return to the earliest fundamental Islamic sources of the Quran and Hadith with different interpretation from mainstreamIslam, inspired by the teachings of medieval theologian Ibn Taymiyyah and early jurist Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
The majority of the world's Wahhabis are from Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.22.9% of all Saudis are Wahhabis (concentrated in Najd). 46.87% of Qatarisand 44.8% of Emiratis are Wahhabis. 5.7% of Bahrainis are Wahhabis and 2.17% of Kuwaitis are Wahhabis.
A number of terrorist organizations adhering to the Wahhabi movement include al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and, more recently, ISIS. The radical takfiri beliefs of Wahhabism enables its followers to label non-Wahhabi and mainstream Muslims as apostates along with non-Muslims, thus paving the way for their bloodshed. In July 2013, European Parliament identified the Wahhabi movement as the source of global terrorism and a threat to traditional and diverseMuslim cultures of the whole world. Many buildings associated with early Islam, including mazaars, mausoleums, and other artifacts, have been destroyed in Saudi Arabia by Wahhabis from the early 19th century through the present day.
Initially, Wahhabism was a revivalist movement instigated by an eighteenth centurytheologian, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792) from Najd, Saudi Arabia, who was opposed by his own father and brother for his non-traditional interpretation of Islam. He attacked a "perceived moral decline and political weakness" in the Arabian Peninsula and condemned what he perceived as idolatry, the popular cult of saints, and shrine and tomb visitation, advocating a purging of the widespread practices byMuslims that he considered impurities and innovations in Islam. He eventually convinced the local Amir, Uthman ibn Mu'ammar, to help him in his struggle. The movement gained unchallenged precedence in most of the Arabian Peninsula through an alliance between Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and the House of Muhammad ibn Saud, which provided political and financial power for the religious revival represented by Ibn Abd al-Wahhab. The alliance created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where Mohammed bin Abd Al-Wahhab's teachings are state-sponsored and the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia.
The terms Wahhabi and Salafi and ahl al-hadith (people of hadith) are often used interchangeably, but Wahhabism has also been called "a particular orientation within Salafism", considered ultra-conservative and which rejects traditional Islamic legal scholarship as unnecessary innovation. Salafism, on the other hand, has been termed as the hybridation between the teachings of Ibn Abdul-Wahhab and others which have taken place since the 1960s.
According to Saudi writer Abdul Aziz Qassim, it was the Ottomans who "first labelled Abdul Wahhab's school of Islam in Saudi Arabia as Wahhabism". The British also adopted it and expanded its use in the Middle East. In the US the term "Wahhabi" was used in the 1950s to refer to "puritan Muslims", according to Life magazine.
Wahhabis do not like—or at least did not like—the term. Ibn Abd-Al-Wahab's was averse to the elevation of scholars and other individuals, including using a person's name to label an Islamic school. According to Robert Lacey "the Wahhabis have always disliked the name customarily given to them" and preferred to be called Muwahhidun. English translation of that term, "Unitarians," however causes confusion with the Christian denomination (Unitarian Universalism) and other terms have not caught on. Like the ChristianQuakers then, Wahhabis have "remained known by the name first assigned to them by their detractors."
According to social scientist Quintan Wiktorowicz, "Wahhabi" has also been used by its opponents "to denote foreign influence", particularly in countries where they are "a small minority of the Muslim community, but have made recent inroads in "converting" the local population to the movement ideology".
According to Saudi author Abdul Aziz Qassim, the name Wahhabis prefer is "the reform or Salafi movement of the Sheikh". Wiktorowicz also urges use of the term Salafi, maintaining
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").
However, authors at Global Security and Library of Congress state the term is now commonplace and used even by Wahhabi scholars in the Najd, often called the "heartland" of Wahhabism.
American scholar Christopher M. Blanchard distinguishes between the two by using Wahhabism to refer to "a conservative Islamic creed centered in and emanating from Saudi Arabia," and Salafiyya to refer to "a more general puritanical Islamic movement that has developed independently at various times and in various places in the Islamic world."
As a religious revivalist movement that works to bring Muslims back from what it believes are foreign accretions that have corrupted Islam, and believes that Islam is a complete way of life and so has prescriptions for all aspects of life, Wahhabism is quite strict in what it considers Islamic behavior.
While other Muslims might urge abstinence from alcohol, modest dress, and salat prayer, for Wahhabis prayer "that is punctual, ritually correct, and communally performed not only is urged but publicly required of men." Not only is wine forbidden, but so are "all intoxicating drinks and other stimulants, including tobacco." Not only is modest dress prescribed, but the type of clothing that should be worn, especially by women (a black abaya, covering all but the eyes and hands) is specified.
Practices that have been forbidden by Wahhabi preachers include performing or listening to music, dancing, fortune telling, amulets, television programs (unless religious), smoking, playing backgammon, chess, or cards, drawing human or animal figures, acting in a play or writing fiction (both are considered forms of lying), dissecting cadavers (even in criminal investigations and for the purposes of medical research). Common Muslim practices Wahhabis believe are contrary to Islam include listening to music in praise of Muhammad, praying to God while visiting tombs (including the tomb of Muhammad), celebrating mawlid (birthday of the Prophet) building of minarets or use of ornamentation on or in mosques. The driving of motor vehicles by women is allowed in most countries but Wahhabi-dominated Saudi Arabia.
Following the preaching and practice of Abdul Wahhab that coercion should be used to enforce following of sharia, anofficial committee has been empowered to "Command the Good and Forbid the Evil" (the so-called "religious police") in Saudi Arabia—the one country founded with the help of Wahhabi warriors and whose scholars and pious dominate many aspects of the Kingdom's life. Committee "field officers" enforce strict closing of shops at prayer time, segregation of the sexes, prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcohol, driving of motor vehicles by women, and other social restrictions.
Wahhabism emphasizes "Thaqafah Islamiyyah" or Islamic culture and the importance of avoiding non-Islamic cultural practices no matter how innocent they may appear, on the grounds that the Sunna forbids imitating non-Muslims Foreign practices sometimes punished and sometimes simply condemned by Wahhabi preachers as unIslamic, include celebrating foreign days such as Valentine's Day or Mothers Day. shaving, cutting or trimming of beards, giving of flowers, standing up in honor of someone, celebrating birthdays (including the Prophet's), keeping or petting dogs.
Wahhabism puts great store in behavior and appearance, robes for men long enough to cover the ankle are considered an example of unseemly pride, although not forbidden.
Like many conservative Muslims, Wahhabis believe that the different physiological structures and biological functions of the different genders mean that each sex is assigned a different role to play in the family. As a consequence Wahhabis believe Islam forbids wives' traveling or working outside the home at any particular job without their husband's permission—permission which may be revoked at any time.  As mentioned before, Wahhabism also forbids the driving of motor vehicles by women.
Despite this strictness, senior Wahhabi scholars of Islam in the Saudi kingdom have made notable exceptions in ruling on what is haram. Foreign non-Muslim troops are forbidden except when the king needed them to confront Saddam Hussein in 1990; gender mixing of men and women is forbidden, and fraternization with non-Muslims is discouraged, but not at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Movie theaters and driving by women are forbidden except at the ARAMCO compound in eastern Saudi, populated by workers for the company that provides almost all the government's revenue.
And more general rules of what is permissible have changed over time. After vigorous debate religious authorities allowed the use of paper money (in 1951), the abolition of slavery (in 1962), education of females (1964), and use of television (1965).
Mohammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab studied in Basra and is reported to have developed his ideas there. He is reported to have studied in Mecca and Medina while there to perform Hajj before returning to his home town of'Uyayna in 1740.
In 'Uyayna, he began to attract followers—including the ruler of the town, Uthman ibn Mu'ammar—and carry out some of his religious reforms including the leveling the grave of Zayd ibn al-Khattab (one of the Sahaba (companions) of theMuslim Prophet Muhammad), and the ordering of an adulteress be stoned to death. These actions were disapproved of by Sulaiman ibn Muhammad ibn Ghurayr of the tribe of Bani Khalid, the chief of Al-Hasa and Qatif, 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 by its ruler Muhammad ibn Saud in 1740 (1157 AH), 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 would remain the temporal "leaders" of the movement.
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.
One of their most famous and controversial attacks was on Karbala in 1802 (1217 AH). There, according to a Wahhabi chronicler `Uthman b. `Abdullah b. Bishr:
[Wahhabis] scaled the walls, entered the city ... and killed the majority of its people in the markets and in their homes. [They] destroyed the dome placed over the grave of al-Husayn [and took] whatever they found inside the dome and its surroundings ... the grille surrounding the tomb which was encrusted with emeralds, rubies, and other jewels ... different types of property, weapons, clothing, carpets, gold, silver, precious copies of the Qur'an."
In 1818 they were defeated by Ottoman forces. However they eventually seized control of Hijaz and the Arabian peninsula after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, safeguarding their vision of Islam and in the process foundingSaudi Arabia as a nation based around the tenets of Islam as preached by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.
The Saudi government established the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, a state religious police unit, to enforce religiously conservative rules of behaviour.
According to some observers, as of the late 1990s and first decade of 2000, a split has developed in the Wahhabi/Salafi movement between those who support obedience to the House of Saud on the one hand, and those who focus on jihad (Salafist jihadists) against the US and (what they believe are) other enemies of Islam, supporting a removal of the House of Saud.
Memoirs of Mr. Hempher, The British Spy to the Middle East (also known as Confessions of a British Spy) is a forged document purporting to be the account by an 18th-century British agent, Hempher, of his instrumental role in founding Wahhabism, as part of a conspiracy to corrupt Islam. It first appeared in 1888, in Turkish, in the five-volume Mir'at al-Haramayn of Ayyub Sabri Pasha. It has been described as "an Anglophobic variation on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. It has been widely translated and disseminated, and still enjoys some currency in Iraq,and elsewhere.
The Wahhabi subscribe to Sunni Islam (though some people dispute that a Wahhabi is a Sunni). and the primary doctrine of the uniqueness and unity of God (Tawhid); the first aspect of which is belief in Allah and His Lordship, that He alone is the believer's lord, or Rabb; the second being that once one affirms the oneness of worship to Allah and Allah alone; the third being the belief and affirmation of Allah's Names and Attributes.
Wahhabi theology is very precise in its creed or Aqeedah where the Quran and Hadith are the only fundamental and authoritative texts taken with the understanding of the Salaf. Commentaries and "the examples of the early Muslim community (Ummah) and the four Rightly Guided Caliphs (AD 632–661)" known as Athar narrations are used to support these texts, hence the name of the school of theology given as Athari, but are not considered independently authoritative.
Ibn Abd al-Wahhab further explains in his book Kitab al-Tawhid, which draws directly 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 (supplication); Istia'dha (seeking protection or refuge); Ist'ana (seeking help), and Istigatha to Allah (seeking benefits and calling upon Allah alone). Therefore, making du'a or calling upon anyone or anything other than God, or seeking supernatural help and protection that is only befitting of a divine being from something other than Allah alone are acts of "shirk" and contradict the tenets of Tawhid.[page needed] Ibn Abd al-Wahhab further explains that Muhammad during his lifetime tried his utmost to identify and repudiate all actions that violated these principles.[page needed]
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's school of fiqh(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".[page needed]
However Ibn Abd al-Wahhab did not totally condemn taqlid, or blind adherence, only at scholarly level in the face of a clear evidence or proof from a hadeeth or Qur'anic text. Although Wahhabis are associated with the Hanbalischool, early disputes did not center on fiqh.
According to ibn Abdal-Wahhab there are three objectives for Islamic government and society: "to believe in Allah, enjoin good behavior, and forbid wrongdoing." This doctrine has been sustained by Wahhabis since his death in missionary literature, sermons, fatwa rulings, and explications of religious doctrine. According to Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahhab's teachings, a Muslim must present a bayah, or oath of allegiance, to a Muslim ruler during his lifetime to ensure his redemption after death. The ruler, conversely, is owed unquestioned allegiance from his people so long as he leads the community according to the laws of God. Wahhabis have traditionally given their allegiance to the House of Saud, but a movement of "Salafi jihadis" has developed among those who believe Al Saud has abandoned the laws of God. Wahhabis are similar to Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood in their belief in Islamic dominion over politics and government and the importance of dawah (proselytizing or preaching of Islam) not just towards non-Muslims but towards erroring Muslims. However Wahhabi preachers are conservative and do not deal with concepts such as social justice, anticolonialism, or economic equality, expounded upon by Islamist Muslims.
Wahhabism denounces the practice of total blind adherence to the interpretations of scholars, at a scholarly level, and of practices passed on within the family or tribe. Ibn Abd al-Wahhab was dedicated to champion these principles and combat what was seen as the stagnation of Islamic scholarship which the majority of Muslims had seemingly fully adhered to without question, through taqlid of the established Ottoman clergy at the time.
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 and full authority of leaders at the time, such as thescholars and muftis 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 was considered extremely controversial at the time, in opposition to established clergy of the era, and was refuted as being erroneous by a number of scholars. However the Wahhabi movement saw itself as championing the re-opening of ijtihad, being intellectual pursuit of scholarly work clarifying opinions in the face of new evidence being a newly proven sound or sahih hadeeth, a discovered historical early ijma (scholarly consensus from the early Muslims) or a suitable analogy, qiyas, based on historical records; in contrast to the witnessed saturation of Islamic jurisprudence that no longer considered ijtihad to be a viable alternative to total scholarly taqlid, being total submission to previous scholarly opinion regardless of unquestionable proof that contradicts this.
A popular misconception associated with the movement of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab is the condemnation of the legal schools of jurisprudence, however documentation of a letter correspondence by Ibn Abd al-Wahhab recorded by his son Abdallah refutes this accusation.
And also we are upon the madhhab of Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal in the matters of jurisprudence, and we do not show rejection to the one who made taqleed of one of the four Imaams as opposed to those besides them... And we do not deserve the status of absolute ijtihaad and there is none amongst us who lays claim to it, except that in some of the issues (of jurisprudence), when a plain, clear text from the Book, or a Sunnah unabrogated, unspecified and uncontradicted by what is stronger than it, and by which one of the four Imaams have spoken, we take it and we leave our madhhab ... And we do not investigate (scrutinize) anyone in his madhhab, nor do we find fault with him except when we come across a plain, clear text which opposes the madhhab of one of the four Imaams and it is a matter through which an open and apparent symbol... Thus, there is no contradiction between (this and) not making the claim of independent ijtihaad, because a group from the scholars from the four madhhabs are preceded choosing certain preferred opinions in certain matters, who, whilst making taqleed of the founders of the madhhab (in general), opposed the madhhab (in those matters).
And also we are upon the madhhab of Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal in the matters of jurisprudence, and we do not show rejection to the one who made taqleed of one of the four Imaams as opposed to those besides them... And we do not deserve the status of absolute ijtihaad and there is none amongst us who lays claim to it, except that in some of the issues (of jurisprudence), when a plain, clear text from the Book, or a Sunnah unabrogated, unspecified and uncontradicted by what is stronger than it, and by which one of the four Imaams have spoken, we take it and we leave our madhhab ... And we do not investigate (scrutinize) anyone in his madhhab, nor do we find fault with him except when we come across a plain, clear text which opposes the madhhab of one of the four Imaams and it is a matter through which an open and apparent symbol
... Thus, there is no contradiction between (this and) not making the claim of independent ijtihaad, because a group from the scholars from the four madhhabs are preceded choosing certain preferred opinions in certain matters, who, whilst making taqleed of the founders of the madhhab (in general), opposed the madhhab (in those matters).
This was seen as a revival of the tradition recorded whereby the early students of the scholars of the Madh'habs would leave their teacher's position in light of a newly found evidence once the hadeeth had been collected.
"... and this is not contradictory to the lack of the claim to ijtihaad. For it has been that a group of the imaams of the four madhaahib had their own particular views regarding certain matters that were in opposition to their madhhab, whose founder they followed." 
However some modern day adherents to wahhabism 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' however only a scholar would be capable of this level of ijtihad and most Salafi scholars warn against this for the uneducated laymen.
Adherents to the Wahhabi movement take their theological viewpoint with an aspiration to assimilate with the beliefs of the early Muslims, being the first three generations otherwise known as the Salaf. This theology was taken from exegesis of the Quran and statements of the early Muslims and later codified by a number of scholars, the most well known being the 13th century Syrian scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, into what is now known as the Athari theological creed. This was upheld by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in his various works on theology.
And it is that we accept the aayaat and ahaadeeth of the Attributes upon their apparent meanings, and we leave their true meanings, while believing in their realities, to Allaah ta'aalaa. For Maalik, one of the greatest of the 'ulamaa' of the Salaf, when asked about al-istiwaa' in His Saying (ta'aalaa): "Ar-Rahmaan rose over the Throne." [Taa-Haa: 5] said: "Al-istiwaa' is known, the "how" of it is unknown, believing in it is waajib, and asking about it is bid'ah." 
Some criticism accuses this school as being anthropomorphic however Ibn Taymiyyah in his work Al-Aqidah Al-Waasitiyyah refutes the stance of the Mushabbihah (those who liken the creation with God: anthropomorphism) and those who deny, negate, and resort to allegorical/metaphorical interpretations of the Divine Names and Attributes. He contends that the methodology of the Salaf is to take the middle path between the extremes of anthropomorphism and negation/distortion. He further states that salaf affirmed all the Names and Attributes of God without tashbih(establishing likeness), takyeef (speculating as to "how" they are manifested in the divine), ta'teel (negating/denying their apparent meaning) and without ta'weel (giving it secondary/symbolic meaning which is different from the apparent meaning).
Khaled Abou El Fadl attributed the appeal of Wahhabism to some Muslims as stemming from
Scholar Gilles Kepel, agrees that the tripling in the price of oil in the mid-1970s and the progressive takeover of Saudi Aramco in the 1974–1980 period, provided the source of much influence of Wahhabism in the Islamic World.
... the financial clout of Saudi Arabia had been amply demonstrated during the oil embargo against the United States, following the Arab-Israeli war of 1973. This show of international power, along with the nation's astronomical increase in wealth, allowed Saudi Arabia's puritanical, conservative Wahhabite faction to attain a preeminent position of strength in the global expression of Islam. Saudi Arabia's impact on Muslims throughout the world was less visible than that of Khomeini's Iran, but the effect was deeper and more enduring. .... it reorganized the religious landscape by promoting those associations and ulemas who followed its lead, and then, by injecting substantial amounts of money into Islamic interests of all sorts, it won over many more converts. Above all, the Saudis raised a new standard -- the virtuous Islamic civilization -- as foil for the corrupting influence of the West.
Estimates of Saudi spending on religious causes abroad include "upward of $100 billion", between $2 and 3 billion per year since 1975. (compared to the annual Soviet propaganda budget of $1 billion/year), and "at least $87 billion" from 1987-2007
Its largesse funded an estimated "90% of the expenses of the entire faith", throughout the Muslim World, according to journalist Dawood al-Shirian. It extended to young and old, from children's madrasas to high-level scholarship."Books, scholarships, fellowships, mosques" (for example, "more than 1,500 mosques were built from Saudi public funds over the last 50 years") were paid for. It rewarded journalists and academics, who followed it and built satellite campuses around Egypt for Al Azhar, the oldest and most influential Islamic university. Yahya Birt counts spending on "1,500 mosques, 210 Islamic centres and dozens of Muslim academies and schools".
This financial has done much to overwhelm less strict local interpretations of Islam, according to observers like Dawood al-Shirian and Lee Kuan Yew, and has caused the Saudi interpretation (sometimes called "petro-Islam") to be perceived as the correct interpretation—or the "gold standard" of Islam—in many Muslims' minds.
Generally, Sunni and Shia Muslims regard Wahhabism as the ideology which gave birth to many terrorist organizations that have perpetrated violent acts against them and innocents since the extremist movement was established. Several Sunni and Shia scholars have also condemned and opposed the ideology calling it twisted, violent and against Islam.
Allegedly the first people to oppose Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab were his father Abd al-Wahhab, and his brother Salman Ibn Abd al-Wahhab who was an Islamic scholar and qadi. Salman Ibn Abd al-Wahhab was moved to write a book in refutation of his brothers' new teachings, known as, The Final Word from the Qur'an, the Hadith, and the Sayings of the Scholars Concerning the School of Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab.
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) in communications between Ottomans and Egyptian Khedive Muhammad Ali. Redissi details refutations of Wahhabis by scholars (muftis); 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 holyShia cities of Karbala and Najaf in Iraq and destroyed the tombs of Husayn ibn Ali who is the grandson of Muhammad, and son of Ali (Ali bin Abu Talib), the son-in-law of Muhammad (see: Saudi sponsorship mentioned previously). In 1803 and 1804 the Saudis captured Mecca and Madinah and demolished various venerated shrines, monuments and removed a number of what was seen as sources or possible gateways to polytheism or shirk - such as the shrine built over the tomb of Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad. In 1998 the Saudis bulldozed and allegedly poured gasoline over the grave of Aminah bint Wahb, the mother of Muhammad, causing resentment throughout the Muslim World. Shi'a and other minorities in Islam insist that Wahhabis are behind targeted killings in many countries such as Iraq, Pakistan and Bahrain.
Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a is a Somali paramilitary group consisting of Sufis and moderates opposed to the radical islamist group Al-Shabaab. They are fighting to prevent Wahhabism from being imposed on Somalia and protecting the country's Sunni-Sufi traditions and generally moderate religious views.
The Syrian professor and scholar Dr. Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Buticriticises the Salafi movement in a few of his works.
The Sufi Islamic Supreme Council of America founded by the Naqshbandi sufi Shaykh Hisham Kabbani classify Wahhabbism as being extremist and heretical based on Wahhabbism's rejection of sufism and what they believe to be traditional sufi scholars. Kabbani allegedly thanked UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in 2005 for the role the UK played in the Middle East, saying: “We are glad to see changes taking place in the political mechanisms in the Middle East. We hope to see an end to tyranny and we are happy to observe a strong upsurge in freedom of speech, freedom of belief and political openness in the region.” 
Wahabbism is opposed by Hui Muslims in China, primarily by the Sufi Khafiya,Hanafi Sunni Gedimu and a number of Jahriyya. The Yihewani (Ikhwan) Chinese sect founded by Ma Wanfu in China was originally inspired by the Wahhabi movement however the group reacted with hostility to Ma Debao and Ma Zhengqing, who attempted to introduce Wahhabism as the Orthodox main form of Islam. They were branded as traitors of foreign influence, alien to the native popular cultural practices of Islam in China, and Wahhabi teachings were deemed as heresy by the Yihewani leaders. Ma Debao established a Salafi / Wahhabi order, called the Sailaifengye menhuan in Lanzhou andLinxia, 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 Sufi Muslim general Ma Bufang, who backed the Yihewani (Ikhwan) Muslims, persecuted the Salafi / Wahhabi Muslims. The Yihewani forced the Salafis into hiding. They were not allowed to move or worship openly. The Yihewani had become secular and a Chinese nationalist organisation, 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 practices.
The Deobandi Alim Abd al-Hafiz al-Makki has argued that Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab viewed authentic sufism in a positive light comparing it to the sciences of tafseer, hadith, and fiqh.
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 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 Most High. He is enough for us, the best trustee, the bestmawla and the best helper. May Allah send peace on our master Muhammad, his family andcompanions.
Ottoman return of Mecca 1813 after being ousted by Salafis.
Battle of Medina (1812),Ottoman Army regains Medina from Salafis.
Ottoman loyalists gather against the Arab Revolt.
A study conducted by the NGO Freedom House found Wahhabi publications in mosques 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 "is responsible for all the horrible wars... the number of wars it started in the 20th century alone is more than 130 wars," and that Shia and certain Sunni Muslims wereinfidels. In a response to the report, the Saudi government stated, "[It has] worked diligently during the last five years to overhaul its education system" but "[o]verhauling an educational system is a massive undertaking."
A review of the study by Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (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:
American-Muslim leaders must thoroughly scrutinize this study. Despite its limitations, the study highlights an ugly undercurrent in modern Islamic discourse that American-Muslims must openly confront. However, in the vigor to expose strains of extremism, we must not forget that open discussion is the best tool to debunk the extremist literature rather than a suppression of First Amendment rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
What connection, if any, there is between Wahhabism and Jihadi Salafis is disputed. Natana De Long-Bas, seniorresearch assistant at the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, argues:
The militant Islam of Osama bin Laden did not have its origins in the teachings of Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab and was not representative of Wahhabi Islam as it is practiced in contemporary Saudi Arabia, yet for the media it came to define Wahhabi Islam during the later years of bin Laden's lifetime. However "unrepresentative" bin Laden's global jihad was of Islam in general and Wahhabi Islam in particular, its prominence in headline news took Wahhabi Islam across the spectrum from revival and reform to global jihad.
Noah Feldman 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 leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. While Saudi Wahhabis were "the largest funders of local Muslim Brotherhood chapters and other hard-line Islamists" 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".
An analysis by START of the Global Terrorism Database reveals an increase from a few hundred in 1976 to 10,000 acts in 1983. In 2012, it found more than 8,500 terrorist attacks killed nearly 15,500 people, and six of the seven most deadly terror groups were affiliated with al Qaeda.
However, Karen Armstrong states that Osama bin Laden, like most extremists, followed the ideology of Sayyid Qutb, not "Wahhabism".
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, mausoleums 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.
Al-Baqi' before the demolition by Salafis/Wahhabis.
Mausoleum containing the bodies of Imam Hassan and Fatimah prior to its destruction by Salafis/Wahhabis.
The grave of Aminah; it was destroyed in 1998 by Salafis/Wahhabis.
Ajyad Fortress atop the Bulbul hill was destroyed by Salafis/Wahhabis.
Naseer Saheb Observer, why do you feel compelled to invent "the growing extremism and radicalization of the
Sufi/Barelvis," the moment some one talks of Wahhabi extremism and
violence, examples of which one can see on one's TV screens and in newspapers every
day. What "growing extremism and radicalization of the Sufi/Barelvis"
are you talking about?
Well, in a sense you may be right. There is
indeed a growing extremism and radicalization of the Sufi/Barelvis. I have also
talked about it. If some one watches Ahl-e-Hadeesi Zakir Naik's Peace TV and
agrees with his Salafi prescriptions, and then also goes to Hazrat Nizamuddin
Auliya's shrine and seeks his intercession, how will you define him? He may
think he is still a Sufi/Barailwi, but obviously he has become a Wahhabi in his
mindset. There are millions who do not know they have converted to Wahhabism. So
clearly what is happening is a growing radicalisation of all Muslims under
Salafi-Wahhabi impact. This is petrodollar Islam for you.
I used to think that you start a talk of
Sufi-Barailwi radicalism and violence, etc. the moment I mention Salafi-Wahhabi
Islam simply out of an intense dislike for me for whatever reason. But clearly
the disease goes deeper. If you have your way, no one in the world would be
allowed to talk of Salafi-Wahhabi theology of violence, Islam-Supremacism,
exclusivism, intolerance, xenophobia, gender injustice and so on. They would
all be asked first to explain "growing extremism and radicalization of the
Sufi/Barelvis" that exists in your imagination. There is indeed a growing
radicalisation under petrodollar-Wahhabi impact, which, of course, you do not
Naseer Saheb Observer, Clearly any one who criticises Wahhabi-Salafi ideology of Jihadism is for you a Barailwi. I used to wonder why you would call me a Barailwi. Now that you make the same accusation against the author of this article, apparently because he criticises Wahhabi-Salafi ideology of Jihadism, I can see how your mind works.
Do you consider all journalists in the world, tens of thousands of all religious persuasion, also Barailwis because they too consider Wahhabis-Salafism responsible for current Qital in the name of Jihad?
And do you also consider the authors of the EU report to be Barailwi?
"A recent report by the European Parliament reveals how Wahhabi and Salafi groups based out of the Middle East are involved in the "support and supply of arms to rebel groups around the world." The report, released in June 2013, was commissioned by European Parliament's Directorate General for External Policies. The report warns about the Wahabi/Salafi organisations and claims that "no country in the Muslim world is safe from their operations ... as they always aim to terrorise their opponents and arouse the admiration of their supporters."
Nauman Sadiq has a very
shallow understanding of the issues. How does he explain the growing extremism
and radicalization of the Sufi/Barelvis in Pakistan whose madarsas presumably
are not funded by petro dollars?
As I understand it,
there are two kinds of madarsas - the traditional ones and the madarsas
specially set up to produce "jehadists". The traditional ones are
unaffected whether or not these receive petro dollar funding.
Petro dollar funding
also needs to be defined. Does it mean donations from expats who are working
abroad? Or does it mean Saudi government funding or funding by private Saudi
As far as India is
concerned, apart from a few Institutions which receive Saudi Government funding
which may include institutions such as the Aligarh University, and a few top
notch Islamic universities, I doubt whether any of the smaller institutions
receive anything apart from donations from expats.
I also do not think that
the syllabus of these institutions or madarsas have undergone any change or is
influenced by the donors.
The Saudi government
does spend a lot more on American Universities creating chairs for research and
studies which produce papers found useful by the Saudi government.
A non-partisan like
Yoginder Sikand, should conduct a study on the madarsas in India to record
changes, if any, in the last 50 years in the syllabus, which are designed to
promote radicalism. I very much doubt that anything of the sort has happened,
but since doubts are frequently raised, and the concerns are legitimate, a
study should end all speculation or lead to corrective steps to reverse the
process. The last thing we need, is a shallow article on the subject by a Barelvi providing anecdotal evidence or based on hearsay.
Radicalism also needs to
be defined. Is it wearing of hijab and sporting of beard? Or is it praying 5 times
a day? Or is it giving up shrine worship? The only transformation in the people
who return from Saudi Arabia is in these aspects but the people continue to
be as peaceful as ever but with a greater consciousness of God and for
doing good deeds.
"... and last but not the least, the Western support for the
Afghan Jihad in the context of the Cold War".
This should be at the
top of the list.
The "Jehad" in
Afghanistan by civilians, who defeated a super power Russia, has not only
created half a million of militarily trained and armed civilians on the
loose in 35 countries who are involved in most of the extremist incidents, but
it has given a new confidence to Muslims with a "jehadi" mindset.
They now believe that they can achieve anything. The morale of such people shot
up with the victory in Afghanistan and also their power to attract people to their fold. For example, is it only coincidence that with the victory in Afghanistan, the radicals in London became
bolder and more aggressive and the phenomenon of Paki bashing which had started
in the 70's and raged through the 80's petered out. The victims are now looking
more like the aggressor!