The Threat of the Wahhabi Fitnah

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Imam Jamil Swiddiqi ibn Muhammad Faydhi az-Zahawi al-Kurdi (r.a.) lived from 1863 to 1936.  He was the son of the previous Mufti of Iraq and a descendant of Khalid ibn al-Walid (r.a.).  He was educated in the religious sciences chiefly by his father and, besides going on to become the greatest Arabic and Persian poet of modern Iraq, was also a literary master in the other two Islamic languages of the time: Turkish and Kurdish.  In addition to being a giant in the fields of fiqh, taswawwuf and ‘aqidah, he was a prominent philosopher.  He is still regarded as one of the greatest contemporary poets of the Arab world and was known for his defense of women’s rights.

At the turn of the 20th century, Arabia had witnessed the return of the Wahhabis to power and the open rebellion of their forces against the Caliph of the Islamic community.  The Wahhabi heresy was knocking at the gates of Baghdad, and the scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah spoke out in order to stem its rising tide.  In 1905 at the age of 42, and upon the request of his father, Imam az-Zahawi (r.a.) published this eloquent indictment of the sect's innovations in doctrine and jurisprudence, refuting its tenets one by one.  This is al-Fajr asw-Swadiq fi ar-Radd ‘ala Munkiri at-Tawaswswul wa al-Khawariq, “The True Dawn: A Refutation of Those Denying Miracles & Intercession in Islam”.  The title indicates Imam az-Zahawi’s (r.a.) opinion, as was that of other scholars who wrote similar refutations, that the Wahhabi position on tawaswswul represents the essence of their deviation from the beliefs of Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah, although it is but one of their many divergences with Sunni Muslims.

‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) said, “This religion is our flesh and our blood, so watch from whom you take it.”  We are living in that age of fitan, where the Muslims are led astray by those whom they take to be part of us, but are not.  In this age, the 21st century, the Muslims are besieged by the Wahhabi sect.  Our beliefs and our religion are under attack by the onslaught of these heretics from within.  They have come to us in the name of Qur’an and the sunnah, but are actually far from it.  They are supported by certain regimes pursuing specific ideologies, most notably, Saudi Arabia.  They are taking over the mosques built by the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah in Europe and North America, mostly Indian and Pakistani immigrants, by means of elections and funding.  They have sent their media-friendly scholars to Southeast Asia and Africa, undermining the local ‘ulama.  They have flooded our communities with supposed religious books that have deviations, omission, and selective translations to deceive those who seek to know their religion.

It is the duty of all Muslims to ascertain that the mosques continue as centers of sound Islamic practice, not ‘Salafi’ practice, that those we take our religion from have held on to the Rope of Allah (s.w.t.), and that this heresy is combatted by all means.  They are the enemies of Islam, more so than any external threat.  Where others would seek to destroy the religion, they seek to corrupt it and make it what it is not. 

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “My ummah will split into seventy-three sects.  All of them will be in the fire except one group.”

The companions asked him, “Who are they, O Messenger of Allah?”

He replied, “Those that follow my way and that of my companions.”

We reject the Wahhabi claim that they are this ‘Saved’ group, and not the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah.  Since they have never been the majority nor will they ever, they call themselves the ‘Ahl as-Sunnah, but without the ‘Jama’ah’.  Imam az-Zahawi (r.a.) asked them, if the ‘Saved’ group, they who came after Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, then what is the status of all those who came before him, and that of the majority of those who came after him?

Our Islam is the Islam of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah, The People of the Way of the Prophet and the Community of Muslims.  Foremost among them are the true Salaf of Islam: the companions, their successors, and the successors of the successors according to the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) sound hadith as recorded in Swahih Muslim: “The best generation is my generation, then the one following it, then the one following that.”  This covered the first 400 years of Islam.  All the scholars understood by this hadits that the true Salaf were the models of human behaviour and correct belief for us Muslims and for all mankind, that to follow them was to follow the Prophet (s.a.w.), and that to follow the Prophet (s.a.w.) was to achieve salvation according to Allah’s (s.w.t.) Command:

He who obeys the Messenger, obeys ... (Surah an-Nisa’:80)

In our time, however, the name Salaf has been usurped by a movement which seeks to impose its own narrow interpretation of religion towards a refashioning of the teachings of Islam.  The adherents of this movement call themselves ‘Salafi.’  Such an appellation is baseless since the true Salaf knew no such school as the ‘Salafi’ school nor even called themselves by that name; the only general name they recognised for themselves was that of Muslim.  As an eminent scholar has stated, the Salafiyyah is not a recognized school of thought in Islam, rather, it refers to a blessed historical period of our glorious past.

In reality, today’s so-called ‘Salafi’ movement, which was about thirty years old when this refutation was written, is the modern outgrowth of a two-century old heresy spawned by a ‘scholar’ of the Najd area in the Eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula by the name of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab who lived from 1703 to 1792.  This ‘scholar’ has been refuted by a long line of scholars both in his time and ours.  Salafism and Wahhabism are actually two names of the same heresy, but the latter is identified by its founder while the former takes the name of the Salaf and makes it its own.  By whatever name they call themselves, they still depart from the beliefs and practices of the Salaf.

I have decided to put the different points extracted from the book as separate articles so that they are easier to read.  They begin with the history of the movement, then the list of works by major scholars refuting their heresy, and then to their points of ‘aqidah.


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