Dr. Abdullah Mohammad Sindi* \Kana’an Electronic Bulletin (2004)
(Joint effort of al-Mashriq al-A’mil Center for Cultural and Development Studies (Ramallah) and Palestine Research and Publishing Foundation (USA). It is edited by the collective efforts of Ibrahim Makkawi, Adel Samara, and Masad Arbid.
One of the most rigid and reactionary sects in all of Islam today is Wahhabism. It is the official and dominant sect in Saudi Arabia whose sole constitution is the Holy Qur’an. Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia’s ruling House of Saud have been intimately and permanently intertwined since their births. Wahhabism created the Saudi monarchy, and the House of Saud spread Wahhabism. One could not have existed without the other. Wahhabism gives the House of Saud legitimacy, and the House of Saud protects and promotes Wahhabism. The two are inseparable because each supports the other and depends on it for survival. Unlike Islam in other Muslim countries, however, Wahhabism treats women as third class citizens, imposes the veil on them, and denies them basic human rights such as: driving cars; the freedom of traveling within the country or leaving it without permission or Mahram (“a relative male chaperon”); the interaction with men who are not related to them in order to maintain a complete separation of the sexes; and until a few decades ago denied them public education and banned them from Radio and Television. In addition, unlike other Islamic sects, Wahhabism outlaws the celebration of Almoulid (Prophet Mohammad’s Birthday); forbids religious freedom, opposes political freedom of expression by constantly admonishing Saudis to obey their leaders (who are not even elected); bans movie theaters; forces the public and businesses to observe prayers; cows the masses by publicly using the harshest Islamic punishments (applied mostly to the poor, like all other punishments) such as the beheading for convicted killers and the hand-amputation for thieves; denies the Saudi citizenship to non-Muslims; and condoned slavery until the 1960s. Wahhabism also abhors smoking, singing, and dancing. To ensure full compliance of its stern ordinances, the Wahhabi “Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice” with its religious police keeps a watchful eye on the Saudi public. Wahhabism is highly self-centered and extremely intolerant of progressive ideologies, other religions, and other Islamic sects such as Shiism and Sufism. It despises Arab Nationalism with a great deal of passion, yet it promotes “Saudi” nationalism, despite the fact that any nationalism is considered a violation of Islamic theology due to the concept of Islamic Ummah (“nation”). Wahhabism considers itself to be the only correct way in all of Islam, and any Muslim who opposes it as heretic or non-believer.
II. THE BIRTH OF WAHHABISM:
Wahhabism was born in the middle of the 18th century in the sleepy desert-village of Dir’iyyah located in the Arabian Peninsula’s central region of Najd. The Wahhabi sect derives its name from the name of its founder Mohammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab (1703-92). Born in the Najdi small desert-village of Uyayna, Ibn Abdul-Wahhab was a zealot preacher who married a total of 20 wives (no more than 4 at a time) and had 18 children.
Before becoming a preacher, however, Ibn Abdul-Wahhab traveled extensively for years for business, pleasure, and education to Hejaz, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and India. Although Ibn Abdul-Wahhab is considered to be the father of Wahhabism, it was actually the British who initially impregnated him with the ideas of Wahhabism and made him its leader for their own sinister purposes to destroy Islam and the Muslim Ottoman Empire. The intricate details of this intriguing British conspiracy, which are beyond the scope of this article, are to be found in the memoirs of its master spy, titled “Confessions of a British Spy” from which the following two paragraphs are drawn.
While in Basra, Iraq young Ibn Abdul-Wahhab fell under the influence and control of a British undercover spy nicknamed “Hempher” who was one of many spies sent by London to Muslim lands in order to destabilize the Ottoman Empire and create conflicts among Muslims. Hempher, who pretended to be Muslim, went by the name of “Mohammad” and cunningly established a long-term intimate friendship with Ibn Abdul-Wahhab. Hempher, who showered Ibn Abdul-Wahhab with money and gifts, completely brainwashed him by convincing him that most Muslims should be killed because they had “dangerously violated” the basic tenets of Islam by becoming “heretics” and “polytheists”. Hempher also fabricated for him a wild dream in which he supposedly “saw” Prophet Mohammad “kissing” Ibn Abdul-Wahhab between the eyes, telling him you are the “greatest”, and asking him to be his “deputy” to save Islam from “heresies” and “superstitions”. Upon hearing Hempher’s dream, Ibn Abdul-Wahhab was wild with joy and became more determined than ever to assume the responsibility of establishing a new Islamic sect to “purify” and “reform” Islam.
In his memoirs Hempher described Ibn Abdul-Wahhab as “extremely unstable”, “extremely rude”, “morally depraved”, “nervous”, “arrogant”, and “ignorant”. The British, who viewed Ibn Abdul-Wahhab as a “typical fool”, also arranged for him to have
Nikah Mut’a (“marriage for pure sex”) with two British female undercover spies. The first was a Christian woman, nicknamed “Safiyya”, who lived with him in Basra as well as in Isfahan, Iran. The other was Jewish, nicknamed “Asiya” and married him in Shiraz, Iran.
III. THE FIRST SAUDI-WAHHABI STATE: 1744-1818
After returning to Najd from his trips, Ibn Abdul-Wahhab began to preach his wild ideas in Uyayna. However, because of his rigid preaching, he was thrown out of his birthplace. He then went to preach in nearby Dir’iyyah where his dear friend Hempher and other undercover British spies joined him. Ibn Abdul-Wahhab ordered women to shave off their heads in order not to “seduce” men with their hair.
He also mercilessly killed a local adulteress in a crowded public square by brutally smashing her head with a large heavy boulder.
While Islamic punishment for adultery is stoning, but only with small stones, Muslim scholars disagree as to whether the punishment was actually intended to kill. Although many people opposed Ibn Abdul-Wahhab’s rigid teachings and actions including his own father and brother Sulaiman, who were both religious scholars, British undercover spies and money succeeded in cajoling an insignificant Dir’iyyah sheik, Mohammad al-Saud, to support him.
In 1744, al-Saud joined forces with Ibn Abdul-Wahhab by forging a political, religious, and marital alliance. With this union between them and their families, which is still in existence today, Wahhabism as a religious and political movement was born. By this joint venture each head of the al-Saud family (House of Saud) assumed the position of a Wahhabi Imam (“religious leader”), while each head of the Wahhabi family was guaranteed control over religious interpretation. Ignorant people, not by means of knowledge or persuasion, but by pure violence, bloodshed, and terror, spread Wahhabism in the Arabian Peninsula. As a result of the 1744 Saudi-Wahhabi alliance, a small Bedouin army was established with the help of British undercover spies who provided it with money and weapons.
In time this army grew into a major menace that eventually terrorized the entire Arabian Peninsula up to Damascus, and caused one of the worst
Fitnah (“violent civil strife”) in the history of Islam. In the process, this army was able to viciously conquer most of the Arabian Peninsula to create the first Saudi-Wahhabi State. For example, to fight what they considered Muslim “polytheists” and “heretics”, the Saudis-Wahhabis shocked the entire Muslim world in 1801 by brutally destroying and defacing the sacred tomb of the martyr Hussein Bin Ali (Prophet Mohammad’s grandson) in Karbala, Iraq, a particularly holy shrine to Shiite Muslims. They also mercilessly slaughtered over 4,000 people in Karbala and stole anything that was not nailed down. It took over 4,000 camels to carry the huge loot.
Again in 1810 they ruthlessly killed many innocent people across the Arabian Peninsula. They raided and pillaged many pilgrimage caravans and several major cities in Hejaz including the two holiest cities of Makkah and Madinah. In Makkah they turned away pilgrims, and in Madinah they attacked and desecrated Prophet Mohammad’s Mosque, opened his grave, and sold and distributed its valuable relics and expensive jewels. These Saudi-Wahhabi terrorist acts and blasphemous crimes aroused the deep anger of Muslims around the world including the Ottoman Caliph in Istanbul. As the official ruler of the Arabian Peninsula and the guardian of Islam’s holiest mosques, Caliph Mahmud II ordered an Egyptian force to be sent to the Arabian Peninsula to punish the Saudi-Wahhabi clan. In 1818, an Egyptian army led by Ibraheem Pasha (son of Egypt’s ruler) savage acts after capturing Riyadh was to terrorize its inhabitants by spiking the heads of the falling al-Rasheeds at the age of the city. He and his fanatical Wahhabi followers also burned over (1,200) people to death.
Known in the West as “Ibn Saud”, the Wahhabi Imam Abdulaziz was well loved by his British masters. Many British officials and emissaries in the Arab Gulf area frequently met or interacted with him, and generously supported him with money, weapons, and advisors. Sir Percy Cox, Captain Prideaux, Captain Shakespeare, Gertrude Bell, and Harry Saint John Philby (the so-called “Abdullah”) were among the many British officials and advisors who constantly surrounded Abdulaziz to help him with everything he needed. With British weapons, money, and advisors, Imam Abdulaziz was able to gradually conquer most of the Arabian Peninsula in a ruthless manner under the banner of Wahhabism to create the Third Saudi-Wahhabi State, known today as Saudi Arabia. In creating Saudi Arabia, the Wahhabi Imam Abdulaziz and his fanatical Wahhabi soldiers of God committed horrible massacres especially in Islam’s holy land of Hejaz from which they brutally expelled its noble Shareef ruling class, the direct descendants of Prophet Mohammad. In Turabah in May 1919 they waged a sneak attack in the dead of the night on the Hejazi army and viciously massacred over 6,000 of its men. Again, in August 1924 the fanatical Saudis-Wahhabis barbarically broke into people’s houses in the Hejazi city of Taif, threatened them, and stole their money at gunpoint. They decapitated boys and old men, and were amused by the horrified women who were screaming and weeping. Many of Taif’s women quickly hid down deep in their water-wells to escape the ongoing rape and murder committed by the savage Saudis-Wahhabis. The primitive Saudis-Wahhabis also murdered many Imams while they prayed in their mosques; burned most of Taif’s buildings to the ground; indiscriminately slaughtered most men they found in the streets; and stole everything that could possibly be moved. More than 400 innocent people were quickly butchered in Taif.
When the vicious Saudis-Wahhabis entered Islam’s holiest city, they found Makkah’s terrorized inhabitants hiding in their homes, the streets were totally deserted, and the houses’ doors and windows were tightly shut in their faces. The Saudis-Wahhabis brutally broke into Makkah’s houses and destroyed all musical instruments and records, gramophones, radios, cigarettes, tobacco pipes, pictures, and mirrors – all considered by them (at that time) to be the work of the Devil. The primitive invaders then used the wooden frames of Makkah’s houses and doors for cooking fire. The Wahhabi soldiers of God also flogged Makkah’s inhabitants who wore Western clothes, gold, perfume, or silk. They also desecrated most graveyards, and destroyed many of Makkah’s beautiful tombs, ornamental mosques, and shrines that had stood for centuries reflecting the glorious Islamic past and the great history of the holy city. In addition, the ignorant invaders barbarically destroyed any physical traces of Prophet Mohammad’s historical monuments and sights in the holy city as well as all other historical buildings or physical structures that could in any way be traced to his disciples “in order not to be worshiped as holy spots”.
In addition, Imam Abdulaziz’s Wahhabi soldiers of God savagely bombarded Islam’s second holiest city of Madinah. To the horror of all Muslims around the world, their British-made bombs and shells fell on Prophet Mohammad’s tomb, badly damaging it. The fanatical Saudi-Wahhabi army then laid a yearlong crippling siege on the seaport city of Jeddah causing starvation. As a result, drinking water was practically impossible to find and Jeddah’s poor spent their days searching the streets for food in the garbage. Many of them even picked and ate the undigested corn found in the camels’ dung. After severely bombarding the city for some time, the ignorant Saudi-Wahhabi fighters
finally entered Jeddah and immediately began destroying the telephone lines, the radio station, and other signs of modern life, considered by them (at that time) to be sacrilegious and work of the Devil. During the 30 years of creating Saudi Arabia (1902-32), the fanatical Saudis-Wahhabis brutally killed and wounded over 400,000 Arabs throughout the Arabian Peninsula; and carried out over 40,000 public executions and 350,000 public amputations, respectively 1% and 7% of the then estimated population of 4 million.
In addition, the Saudi-Wahhabi terror forced more than one million inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula to flee for their lives to other parts of the Arab world, never to return.
Unlike a century earlier when the Egyptian Ibraheem Pasha under Ottoman orders punished the Saudi-Wahhabi warriors for their crimes against Hejaz’s holy cities and inhabitants, this time the Arab and Muslim worlds were under the brutal control of Western colonial powers. Accordingly, the fanatical Saudis-Wahhabis escaped punishment and found protection and safety in Britain’s power and friendship. After establishing his British-made Wahhabi State,Imam Abdulaziz became a brutal dictator who took control of everything personally. He destroyed Hejaz’s free press, political parties, constitution, and all of its governmental apparatuses. The Wahhabi Imam then brazenly named the whole country after his own family, calling it the Kingdom of “Saudi”
Arabia. Besides being a dictator, King Abdulaziz was well known for his insatiable sexual appetite. In addition to his innumerable concubines, the “pious” Wahhabi Imam
married about 300 wives; some of them were only a one-night stand. While his sons are estimated to be about 125, no one knows for sure how many daughters he fathered. Moreover, King/ Imam Abdulaziz encouraged the practice of slavery by personally owning hundreds of slaves for himself as well as for his family members. However, to avoid international embarrassment, Wahhabism and the House of Saud were finally forced to abolish slavery in 1962. Other embarrassments caused by Wahhabism came in 1969 when the top religious Wahhabi sheik, Abdulaziz Bin Baz, emphatically declared that the Earth was flat, static, and that the Sun revolved around it. All of Imam/King Abdulaziz’s sons who assumed power after his death in 1953 (Saud, Faisal, Khalid and Fahad) became brutal dictators like him and continued to rely heavily on the enemies of Islam and Arabs in the West for protection. And ever since the US replaced Britain during World War II as the dominant power in the Arab world, the Wahhabi House of Saud has shamelessly turned Saudi Arabia (the holy land of Islam) over to Islam’s foes to make it into a virtual American colony. Unlike their father, however, Abdulaziz’s sons dropped the title “Imam” preferring to be called simply “kings”. But in late 1986 Saudi Arabia’s current King Fahad (a spoiled playboy in his heydays) in a way returned to a different title of “ Imam” when he dropped the title “King” and assumed the title of “the guardian of the two holiest shrines” of Makkah and Madinah, a title that was originally coined for the Muslim Turkish Sultan Selim I (reign: 1512-20). However, with Saudi Arabia’s immense oil wealth at its disposal, Wahhabism has been able in recent decades not only to mute most of its critics, but also to dramatically improve its own image throughout the Muslim world. Hence, Wahhabism has now been presented as a “reformist movement” that re-established the “purity” of Islam. Even the name “Wahhabism” itself has been dropped in favor of new more suitable names such as “Salafi movement” (“noble tradition”) and “Muwahhedoon” (“unitarians”). Furthermore, the Wahhabi founder himself, Mohammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab, has been presented as a “great man” of immense character and 6
knowledge, a man who single-handedly “saved” Islam from “superstitions”. Accordingly, fortified with petro-dollars Wahhabism has in recent times begun to creep out of Saudi Arabia into the surrounding Arab and Muslim lands in a futile attempt to erase its stigma of being a minority trend in Islam. The Wahhabi House of Saud’s dismal failure to defend al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and the Palestinians against Israel’s illegal occupation and brutalities, as well as its shameful treachery and open cooperation with the Western enemy of Islam and Arabs not only in killing Muslims and occupying their lands in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also in allowing this enemy to militarily occupy the holy land of Islam itself, make all of its efforts to improve its image and the image of its Wahhabism worthless and fruitless. Contrary to current American media propaganda in the post 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US still strongly supports the Wahhabi House of Saud which fears terrorism as much as the US does. In fact, Wahhabism has already implemented American orders by changing the Saudi Islamic curricula and the meaning of
Jihad (“holy war”) in Islam to please Washington. In reality, the House of Saud and the Wahhabi leaders are as much hated by most Muslims as the US itself. Terrorist attacks by Saudi Muslim fundamentalists (some of whom are connected to Osama Bin Ladin’s al-Qa’eda) inside Saudi Arabia aimed at destabilizing the Wahhabi House of Saud have actually increased in the last 10 years. The fact that the enemies of Islam and Arabs, Israel and the US, fear and loath Shiism (i.e., Iran and Hizbolah) more than any other Islamic sect, is considered by most Muslims to be an honor for Shiism that Wahhabism has shamefully failed to attain for itself.
VI. PROPHET MOHAMMAD’S SAYINGS (“Hadeeths”):
The two Saudi ruling-class families (the political House of Saud and the religious Wahhabi House), who are from the Najd region in central Arabia, are deeply hated by millions of Muslims in and out of Saudi Arabia especially in its Hejaz region where many people continue to privately celebrate Prophet Mohammad’s Birthday despite Wahhabism.
In a well-known Hadeeth, Prophet Mohammad said: “Narrated by Ibn Umar: The Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said, ‘O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Sha’m! [Greater Syria] O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Yemen.’ The people said, ‘And also on our Najd.’ He said, ‘O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Sha’m (north)! O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Yemen.’ The people said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! And also on our Najd.’ I think the third time the Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said, ‘… There (in Najd) is the place of earthquakes and afflictions and from there comes out the side of the head of Satan.”
Many Muslims around the world truly believe that “the head of Satan” that Prophet Mohammad was talking about in the above Hadeeth is none other than the two evil families, the House of Saud and its bosom body, the reactionary Wahhabi House. Also, in another famous Hadeeth Prophet Mohammad said that one of the signs that the end of the world is nearing is: “… that you find barefooted, [unclad], destitute, shepherds of goats vying with one another in the construction of magnificent buildings.”
Again, many Muslims believe that Prophet Mohammad in this second Hadeeth was also referring to these two Saudi ruling-class families. In fact, just several decades ago before oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia, both of these families were indeed destitute, barefooted, goat herders who lived in the Arabian deserts’ villages and oasis in tents made of sheepskin. They now own some of the most magnificent skyscrapers in the entire Muslim world and control the lion share of the Saudi immense wealth.
It is very clear from the historical record that without British help neither Wahhabism nor the House of Saud would be in existence today. Wahhabism is a British-inspired fundamentalist movement in Islam. Through its defense of the House of Saud, the US also supports Wahhabism directly and indirectly regardless of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Wahhabism is violent, right wing, ultraconservative, rigid, extremist, reactionary, sexist, and intolerant. Its bloody historical record is well documented and cannot not be erased or dismissed by anyone. All of Wahhabism’s recent cosmetic changes to improve its own image would never deceive most educated Arabs and Muslims. Although in recent years a few Wahhabi religious leaders have tried to “distant” themselves from the House of Saud’s brutality and un-Islamic policies in a vain attempt to save Wahhabism’s image from further deterioration, most of the top Wahhabi religious leaders are still firmly 100% behind the House of Saud. In fact, most Wahhabi leaders have openly supported and defended all of the House of Saud’s unpopular domestic and foreign policies including allowing the US to occupy the land of Islam and Arabs, as well as to destroy Arabs and Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, the two families of the House of Saud and the Wahhabi House could not be separated because they are interwoven by bloodline and marriage since 1744. Their dynamic alliance is clearly manifested today in the composition of Saudi Arabia’s ruling class. In fact, the unity between them is stronger than the old unity of Church and State in Europe’s Middle Ages. Wahhabism’s intimate association with and support of the House of Saud, which is widely recognized to be one of the most brutal, corrupt, undemocratic, and feudal ruling classes in the entire world, makes its boastful claim of representing “the best form of Islam” the target of Muslim ridicule and derision. Today many educated Arabs and Muslims feel that Wahhabism gives Islam a bad name, and represents a reactionary shackle that prevents Arabs and Muslims from advancement. Certainly many Muslim Sunni scholars in the last 250 years both conservative and liberal, all across the Muslim world from Morocco to Indonesia, as well other Muslim sects such as the Shiite and Sufi, have all rejected Wahhabism since its birth as a horrible deformation of Islam.