Wahhabism: Understanding the Roots and Role Models of Islamic Extremism

Wahhabis wrongly accuse orthodox Sunnis of committing shirk (polytheism) when asking God for something using an intermediary, whether the means is a pious human being in his grave,  objects (tabarruk), or seeking protection from God using amulets with verses of the Qur’an written on them (ruqya).   The Wahhabi believes that asking God for something through a means is the same as worshipping the means itself. That is, for people who do tawassul through a pious saint in his grave is asking the pious saint – and not God – for things. People who do tabarruk through a relic of Prophet Muhammad (s) are asking the relic – and not God – for blessings, and people who wear ruqya are asking the ruqya itself for protection – and not God. When a Muslim visits the Prophet Muhammad’s (s) grave and calls on the Prophet (s), “Oh Prophet,” (Ya Rasulullah), the Wahhabis accuse such a person of worshipping the Prophet (s) and refuse to accept the understanding that the Prophet himself is a means to asking God for things. Such an act to Wahhabis drives a Muslim out of the realms of the religion of Islam. In sum, the Wahhabis believe that such people are worshipping creation alongside God, and are therefore guilty of polytheism – attributing partners in worship to God.

The now deceased former Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Ibn Baz, defends Ibn Abdul-Wahhab’s accusation of polytheism that he had heaped on the Muslim masses and his resorting to “jihad” by saying that Muslims had gone astray because they had “worshipped” things are than God:

The people of Najd had lived in a condition that could not be approved of by any believer. Polytheism had appeared there and spread widely. People worshipped domes, trees, rocks, caves or any persons who claimed to be Auliya (saints) though they might be insane and idiotic.

There were few to rise up for the sake of Allah and support His Religion. Same was the situation in Makkah and Madinah as well as Yemen where building domes on the graves, invoking the saints for their help and other forms of polytheism were predominant. But in Najd polytheistic beliefs and practices were all the more intense.

In Najd people had worshipped different objects ranging from the graves, caves and trees to the obsessed and mad men who were called saints.

When the Sheikh [Ibn Abdul-Wahhab] saw that polytheism was dominating the people and that no one showed any disapproval of it or no one was ready to call the people back to Allah, he decided to labour singly and patiently in the field. He knew that nothing could be achieved without jihad (holy fighting), patience and suffering [italics mine].[11]

Orthodox Sunnis, however, have never claimed to worship the means, but only God. Because Wahhabis didn’t tolerate this, they massacred thousands of Muslims who they saw as being “polytheists” in Arabia. In actuality, they were Sunni Muslims who were following Islam in its purity as taught by the pious ancestors that lived in the time period of the Salaf.  

Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions

© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America

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