Wahhabism: Understanding the Roots and Role Models of Islamic Extremism

Zubair Qamar

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Wahhabis as neo-Kharijites

The Wahhabis are especially notorious for reviving the ways of the Khawarij (or Kharijites). They originated in the time of the caliphates of our masters Uthman and Ali, may Allah be well-pleased with them, among the closest companions to Prophet Muhammad.  They were the earliest group of fanatics who separated themselves from the Muslim community. They arose in opposition to our master Ali (r), Prophet Muhammad’s (s) son-in-law, because of his willingness to arbitrate with our master Mu`awiyah (r), governor of Damascus at that time, over the issue of the caliphate. The Khawarij, meaning ‘those who exited,’ slung accusations of blasphemy against our masters Ali and Mu`awiyah – and those who followed them – saying that the Qur’an, and not them, had the ultimate authority in the matter.  Ibn al-Jawzi, an orthodox Sunni scholar, in his book Talbis Iblis (The Devil’s Deception) under the chapter heading “A Mention of the Devil’s Delusion upon the Kharijites”,’ says that Dhu’l-Khuwaysira al-Tamimi was the first Kharijite in Islam and that [h]is fault was to be satisfied with his own view; had he paused he would have realized that there is no view superior to that of Allah’s Messenger (s). Furthermore, the orthodox Sunni scholar Imam Abd al-Qahir al-Baghdadi discusses the Kharijite rebellions and their bloody massacres of tens of thousands of Muslims in one of his books. He explicitly mentions the Azariqa, one of the most atrocious Kharijite movements led by Nafi` ibn al-Azraq from the tribe of Banu Hanifa – the same tribe where the heretic Musaylima the Prevaricator (or Liar) who claimed prophethood alongside Prophet Muhammad (s) came from.  Just as the Khawarij threw accusations of blasphemy on our masters Ali and Mu`awiya, Wahhabis throw accusations of blasphemy against Sunnis and Shi`ites.

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  1. […] worship and reverence to God alone. The authentic carriers of Islam from the time of the Prophet (s)[1] until now.” Calling them Wahhabis implies that they learned ideas from a man – Muhammad ibn […]