The Sharing Group Discussion - Why are Young People Attracted to Wahhabism

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Sister San Yee posted this on The Sharing Group, on the 27th November, 2015: “What attracts many Muslims to Wahhabism or Salafism?”

Brother Colin Turner: Shaythan?

Brother Tarquin Rees: Two things, in my opinion, and these should be worrying to those who want to see extremism defeated:

Firstly, western culture today is one that is significantly dumbed-down and people are conditioned into black and white reductionist thinking.  In fact, many people do not want to think at all.  For such a person, if they are spiritually oriented to any degree, solid inflexible rules and rigid dogma have an attraction.

Secondly, nature abhors a vacuum and when a vacuum arises then something comes into being to fill it.  There is no opposition to the injustice we see daily.  None.  No legitimate peaceful opposition to the rampage the West has been on since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

ISIS and associated dogmas can step into this gap and - to an extent truthfully - point to the excesses and crimes of the West and position themselves as the solution which of course they are not.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Probably a sense of certainty; it provides a black and white, halal or haram framework with which to judge everything, which for the often troubled people joining, can be attractive.  Rebellion too; pushing back against their parents, for born Muslims, by joining the opposite of what they practiced and raised their children to believe.

Zehra Celepci: I find your comment about “troubled people joining” quite offensive.  Salafi or not, we are all Muslim and we must respect each other.

Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: You mean the way they respect us by calling us kafirun and mushrikin?  As per the famous hadits of Rasulullah (s.a.w.), the Wahhabis are outside of the fold of Islam simply for making takfir on us; that is before you get into their ‘aqidah.  So calling them ‘troubled’ is the absolute minimum that is incumbent upon us when dealing with these people.

Brother J.E. Mikell: Personality type and Shaythan.

Brother Al Musafir: The glamorous slogan of Qur’an and sunnah.

Brother Mustafa Elfrink: What Brother Colin and Brother J.E. said, along with environmental factors, like poverty, desperation, low intelligence, lack of intellectual and spiritual stimulation - they want a simple theology and path.  It is a large reason why Salafi daw’ah is common in prisons or economically depressed areas or among contemporary youth.

Some folks convert to Salafism because it is so foreign and alien to their inherited culture and background.  They see the acceptance of Salafism as “sticking it” to a culture or society that has cast them aside.  Then again, I have affinities to revolutionary Islamic political currents, yet I do not see the need to go out of my way to not “imitate the kuffar”.

Brother Ansari Jainullabudeen: Secularism is not just about separation of religion and politics.  It is also desacralisation of nature and all of Creation.  Everything is reduced to the nominal value and the value of Creations in other dimensions is not of concern.  In Salafism and Wahhabism, there is also a similar approach and having already been secularised in thought earlier on through schools, the Wahhabi thought when exposed later seems okay.

In issues where Wahhabis get into fits, many issues bother modern Muslims.  However, Sunni thought promotes a passive approach that is deeply influenced by the reliance on God and the grand scheme of things.  Modern Muslims who cannot understand that will find traditional Sunni approach weak and problematic.  They will prefer taking things into their hands which Wahhabi thought promotes.  When modernity and modernism pose rapid changes to status quo, traditional thought has responses which the modern Muslim views as weak because those responses on the exterior do appear weak.  Whereas the responses by Wahhabism appear on the exterior to be powerful.

Hajj Habib Weide: To think he is better than others, in the position to judge others.  They teach them this stuff in Madinah university.

Brother Abdulkareem C Stone: Wahhabism has been courted by the greatest powers of the age for nearly three hundred years.  The greatest treason they committed was sedition against the Khalifah.  Then, the very area they came from became a source of great wealth making the Wahhabis rich.  But still, the radical aspects of the Wahhabi were put to use in fighting the Russians and have been doing so for so long now.  They brought instability to any power following anything of than that of the USA or UK.  With great wealth and political power, they are able to deliver material benefit to any Muslims and set up masajid and madaris to teach their creed.  Obviously, they are going to have a lot of support from Muslims.

Sister San Yee: I think many Muslims do not really know what Wahhabism really is.  Many equate the Salafi practices as the ideal way of being pious.

Brother Colin Turner: It would appear that Salafism is not about different practices; after all, they do not do anything that other Muslims do not do as far as orthopraxy is concerned.  Salafism appears to be more about the approach - a puritanical, dogmatic, literalist approach - than about practices as such.

San Yee: That is what I mean.  The puritanical approach is a way of displaying piety and exerting authority over others.

Sister Colleen M Dunn: I have heard several Wahhabis criticising the different madzahib as divisive, which makes me wonder if maybe part of what attracts those folks is a lack of understanding that the madzahib are different but have mutual respect for one another as correct, and are reacting to a perceived polarisation and division amongst Muslims.  I am guessing it starts out innocently enough, if misguided.

Sister Shahbano Aliani: They seem to be people who are uncomfortable with uncertainty, ambiguity and subtleness.  They appear to be those who are interested in or drawn to form and the outer, instead of meaning and the inner. attention to form and the outer makes people hard and focused on others and that's where the judgment and intolerance comes in.

Sister Samantha Spicer: Glossy pamphlets and great talkers.

Brother Zayn Abiya: I think most are either mentally unstable, suicidal or criminals.

Brother Yusuf Saleh Walker: As say this, and I do not mean to speak ill of any group of Muslims, but it is marketing.  Maybe it is because Wahhabis have marketed themselves as ‘Sunni’, maybe it is because of the petro dollars backing them, or probably both.

Brother Nathan Hill: It is a parallel to the proto-fundamentalism that emerged in the 19th century USA.  In both cases, I would point to sparsely populated frontier areas and small libraries, sometimes containing just one book, limited education.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Wahhabism is profoundly anti-intellectual.  I remember a Wahhabi in my class in Damascus who walked out because our teacher would not let him move up and kept asking for him to get the previous stuff right first, whereas he thought he already knew everything.  The arrogance!

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: We had a Wahhabi ustadz attend one of our classes and my shaykh told him nicely, that perhaps what we were learning was too advanced for him.  He was from al-Azhar and was extremely offended.

Brother Yusuf Saleh Walker: Another thing to consider is that some people may believe in Wahhabism and not know what it is.  I honestly believed in some of their beliefs because I thought it was Orthodox Sunni Islam, that is until I came to live among Orthodox Sunni Muslims in Indonesia.

Brother Mustafa Elfrink: This is what happens when Salafism or Hanbali-centrism becomes the norm for a faith culture, as you see in North America.

Brother Yusuf Saleh Walker: Definitely.  Sometimes I wonder if they intentionally prey on converts from non-Muslim majority places.

Brother Bilal Cleland: Funds have been poured in spreading Wahhabism since the 1970s.  Scholarships were spread around but only to the Wahhabi institutions in KSA.  A whole generation of a’immah has been produced from these funded ideological farms and they have been financially supported to spread their religion in the home countries.  Many converts are influenced in this way.  Those who wake up and reject this way of thinking often leave Islam altogether.

Sister San Yee: I have noticed many new converts and born again Muslims go through the puritanical process believing that the hardline Salafi way is the ideal way of Islam.  As a convert, I walked this same path for many years until one day I had to think about the purpose of this path.  Many Muslims believe that by questioning the Wahhabi approach, we are challenging Islam, the Islamic identity of the community and creating division amongst Muslims.  Salafism is changing rich Islamic culture, destroying Islamic history and dividing communities.

Brother Sri Nahar: The Wahhabis definitely know how to market themselves.  That is the principal factor.  Take the televangelist, Zakir Naik.  He has an entire channel to himself, although he is not a scholar in any sense of the term.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: They have had the Saudi oil money to do so; insha’Allah, that era is coming to an end.

Brother Ahsan Razvi: Outwardly, Wahhabis look very committed and they prepare their brigade by making them memorise quotations from ahadits and Qur’an; any person quoting in Arabic is blindly believed by most non-Arabs.  That is the first stage.

Sister Colleen M Dunn: Especially when most Arabic-speaking Wahhabis that I have met seem to have a firm grasp of Arabic, even if their thinking is based on intolerance.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: If the Wahhabis had a firm grasp of Arabic, they wouldn't take the religion literature and so would not be Wahhabis.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: It is not exactly fair to say that many Muslims are attracted to Wahhabism.  That may be so in some places, particularly North America and Australia.  But it not true in much of the Muslim world.  What we do have, are a lot of Muslims unknowingly influenced by Wahhabism without realising it.  And this is only because of the dearth of actual knowledge of Islam.  Technically, even though they may have Wahhabi beliefs, these people are not Wahhabis.  They are simply mistaken.

Wahhabism as an extreme ideology attracts a specific type of person.  Most of them are those who crave a form of certainty without the need for actual scholarship.  It pertains to a sickness in the heart where person is only pious when others are deemed unbelievers.  In effect, faith is a zero sum game, so if God has a limited amount of Mercy and for them to acquire that ‘mercy’ someone must be deprived of it.  This is the worship of merchants.

This is also about hasad, envy.  And that is why the Prophet (s.a.w.) said that envy eats up deeds like fire on wood.  We do not envy the righteous and seek to tear them down as if that would make us better.  And we do not seek reason to put good people in the Fire.  And that is why people of this thinking are amongst the foremost to say that celebrating the birth of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and the righteous is polytheistic, or that to pray for the departed is haram, or to wish well upon non-Muslims is forbidden.  If you cannot want for your brother what you want for yourself, you cannot be a believer.

Matthew 25:31-46
31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit down upon the throne of his glory, 32 and all nations will be gathered in his presence, where he will divide men one from the other, as the shepherd divides the sheep from the goats; 33 he will set the sheep on his right, and the goats on his left.  34 Then the king will say to those who are on his right hand, “Come, you that have received a blessing from my Father, take possession of the kingdom which has been Prepared for you since the foundation of the world.  35 For I was hungry, and you gave me food, thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you brought me home, 36 naked, and you clothed me, sick, and you cared for me, a prisoner, and you came to me.”  37 Whereupon the just will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw thee hungry, and fed thee, or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  38 When was it that we saw thee a stranger, and brought thee home, or naked, and clothed thee?  39 When was it that we saw thee sick or in prison and came to thee?”  40 And the king will answer them, “Believe me, when you did it to one of the least of my brethren here, you did it to me.”  41 Then he will say to those who are on his left hand, in their turn, “Go far from me, you that are accursed, into that Eternal Fire which has been Prepared for the devil and his angels.  42 For I was hungry, and you never gave me food, I was thirsty, and you never gave me drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not bring me home, I was naked, and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison, and you did not care for me.”  44 Whereupon they, in their turn, will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee?”  45 And he will answer them, “Believe me, when you refused it to one of the least of my brethren here, you refused it to me.”  46 And these shall pass on to eternal punishment, and the just to eternal life.

Sister Lily Peters: For me, I certainly realise now I learned Wahhabism first.  Really, it is because that is who I met.  My ex-husband was giving me the version that favoured him - the most misogynistic version.  And because I was so isolated, it was after we separated that I began to begin to understand what Islam was supposed to be.

Sister Colleen M Dunn: I think you might be onto something there.  Often, as women, there is a tendency to try to accommodate our partners and in a sense sacrifice who we are in an effort to compromise and cooperate, even if it means expressing values that do not sit well with us at a deeper level.  But, eventually, if he does not reciprocate and learn to give a little in return, we wise up and start to assert the values we really have.

Brother AbdRohim Sinwan: I might be going into the realm of conspiracy theory, but are Wahhabis not useful tools, the way the Ahmadis were useful to the British Empire and the Nuswayri ‘Alawis were useful to colonial France?

Brother John Lehmann: Some people are attracted to extreme ideologies, these followers of Wahhabism would have probably been dedicated communists, fascists or Nazis back in the 20s and 30s.

Sister Lily Peters: I was thinking about it more.  One of the reasons I did not question it too deeply was because I always thought religion would be difficult when you are doing it correctly.

Sister Julie Mary: Many Wahhabis I have spoken to over the years say they follow Wahhabism because the Saudis can never be wrong since they are blessed to be the key holders of Islam.

Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: So were the Ottomans but that did not stop the Saudis, with British help, revolting against them.

Brother Bilal Cleland: We have to remember, just who gave the Wahhabi-Saudis the keys.


Popular posts from this blog

In Saudi Arabia, Mawlid is Bid'ah, the King's Birthday is Fine

Singapore Bans Ismail Menk from Entry

Some Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) in Art