The Kharijites and Their Impact on Contemporary Islam 6

Returning to the theme of Wahhabism per se, recent research appears to have revealed a degree of conflict between the positions of `Abdul Wahhab himself. A few years back the Imam Muhammad bin Sa`ud University in Riyad made available a number of letters written by Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab that appear to contradict the excessive nature of his declarations of kufr and shirk on those who do not espouse his cause or views. The culprit – according to the letters of Ibn `Abdul Wahhab – who spread these nefarious views, was one called Sulaiman b. Suhaim. I will recount one of the letters in full as it is quoted by Sayyid Muhammad `Alawi al-Maliki in his book Mafahim Yajib an Tusahhah.

`Abdul Wahhab states:

“Let it not be unknown to you (the people of Qasim) that the letter of Sulaiman b. Suhaim has reached your hands and that some people who profess to be `Ulama have indeed accepted and believed the contents of the letter. Allah knows that that person has fabricated and invented a number of lies against me. I have never said those things and most of those opinions have not even occurred to me. Amongst the views appearing in that letter are the following: – That I have invalidated the four Madhabs – That for 600 years all Muslims have been unbelievers – That I have appropriated the right of absolute ijtihad to myself – That I am against taqlid (adopting the opinions of other schools of thought) – That I have stated that “differences of opinion amongst the `Ulama is a curse” – That I have made Kafir those who practice intercession with the Salihin (people known for their piety) – That I have pronounced a verdict of kufr on al-Busiri (of Qasida Burdah fame) because he has referred to the Prophet in his Qasida as “O most venerated of creation” – That I have said: “Had I had the opportunity then I would have destroyed the shrine over the Prophet (s) – That had I had the opportunity then I would have removed the Mizab (spout) of the Kaba and replaced it with a wooden one – That I have declared haram visitations to the grave of the Prophet (s) – That I find reprehensible visitations to the graves of the parents of Muhammad (s) – That I have made Kafir those who swear in the name of other than Allah – That I charged with kufr both Ibn al-Farid and Ibn Arabi – That I have burnt the Dalail al-Khayrat and the Rawd al-Riyahin and that I have referred to the Rawd al-Riyahin as the Rawd al-Shayatin.

My response to all of these allegations is the Quranic verse: ‘Glory to Allah. This is indeed a serious slander! (24:16).”

These statements of Muhammad `Abdul Wahhab appear to fly in the face of the contents of his book mentioned in a previous segment of this series Kashf al-Shubahat. In the interests of scholarly fairness one would like to accept this. But there are a number of things that demand explanation.

First – even if we remove Ibn `Abdul Wahhab from the equation – is Wahhabism’s historical unfolding. Their approach, which is largely determined by their takfir of others, has resulted in massive dislocations of Muslims and the shedding of Muslim blood. This approach, coupled with the severity and extremism with which they deal with others, confirms the thesis that they are fundamentally a neo-Kharajite movement.

Second is the reality of Wahhabism as represented by their institutions today. At Madinah University, for example – and I do not imply by this that all their graduates are people who lack critical discernment – it is virtually impossible to express the views as they are apparently articulated by Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab in the above-quoted letter.

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