Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Wahhabi Myth: Debunking the Bogeyman

© Musings of a Muslim Mind

"Wahhabism"—a term used by different people for different reasons. My purpose was to collect some of these uses to serve the end-goal of debunking the term itself. After all, if it means enough different things for different people, it really comes down to not meaning anything real in an absolute sense. Also, as you will see, the use of this term is almost exclusively negative or with implied negative connotations. Hence, you will hardly hear anyone proudly referring to himself as a Wahhabi or a Masjid named Masjid al-Wahhabi. It simply doesn’t occur. What this implies is that there is usually some emotional or prejudicial baggage with the term’s usage or some other sinister agenda.

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Hasan the Not-So-Great said...

I must say...very well written and formatted


Amad said...

Hasan-not-so-great, jazakallahkhair for your kind comment.

Hassan said...

Very interesting, but Amad bhai, I have seen some ahle-hadith scholars of Pakistan (like Allama Ehsan Elahi Zaheer RA) proudly saying, we are wahabis. By the way Pakistan was the only country where I have seen people sometimes taking it positively, usually in Saudia they do not use this term at all.

AnonyMouse said...

As-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatu,

Masha'Allah, great post! I was flattered that you included my comment, lol... :P

By the way, Umar Lee has a good post on the same subject:“wahabbi-believes-this-then-what-does-a-muslim-believe”

Your little sister in Islam,

illuminatingfaith said...

As Salaamu alaikum wa rahmatuAllahi wa barakatuh,

Really insightful compilation, mashaAllah. May Allah reward you.

As br. Hassan has mentioned, I have also met some Ahle Hadith sisters in Pakistan who call themselves Wahhabis. I didn't really get into a whole debate about the term but to me, as long as they followed the Qur'an and sunnah, I was like "Alhamdulillah" since many other Muslims in Pakistan have a long way to go (from bid'ah, amulets, superstition, etc..)

May Allah guide us all and help us stay away from labels, ameen.

Amad said...

Quick points to Pakistan's ahl-hadith:

1) I am not sure if this is the reason, but I know some of the Shayookh, like Allama Zaheer Elahi were very outspoken, and may have taken a reactionary position, "You want to call me Wahhabi, OK I am one".
2) Pakistan is in the position that Arabian peninsula was before Sh. Abdul Wahhab-- full of grave-worshipping, faqeers, etc. So, perhaps the need to associate with Sh. Abdul Wahhab
3) Regardless, you don't see an institute or an organization called "the Wahhabi center", do you (in Pakistan)? No. It may be more of a slogan than a label.
4) Anyone can feel free to correct me, but from what I know, the Ahl Hadith in Pakistan take some extreme positions, esp. on matters of Madhabs. More Shawkani-ish (RH) than anything else.
5) Most importantly Pakistanis always try to be different, even when its not to their advantage :) I can say that because I am one!

I highly recommend this article as mentioned by Mouse(amazing timing of our articles!), posted on Umar Lee's blog here.

Hassan said...

Yes, Amad bhai, ahle-hadith in Pakistan sometimes scare me. My wife is one. :)

illuminatingfaith said...

As Salaamu alaikum wa rahmatuAllah,

The following is a website of Ahle-hadith:

and this seems to be one too, but Allahu alim:

Amad said...

Well, how did I miss this one?? A wahhabi rap!!

As I have been saying, open the door of music, singing and dancing a little bit, and you won't be able to close it.... here, see for yourself (for not too long) muhajiba sister doing the rap! And for reasons only Allah knows, it is called "wahabi rap"... THERE YOU GO...another proof that wahhabi means absolutely nothing!

Anonymous said...

Abdul Haq said...

Asalam Alaykum Amad,

I wanted to mention that the Deobandis are not monolith and that you will find various opinions of the Salafis and their "leaders" from their Ulema. As for your quoting Mufti Ahmed Rashid Gangohi raheemullah, then please spend some time reading this, which is written by a leading Deobandi Mufti who resides in the UK.

Amad said...

Abdul Haq=jinnzaman?

Actually, I did drop by the link during my research, before I published the article. That is why I posted the link that I posted re: Mufti Gangohi, read the info. in the link... the brother does mention the effort by someone (i.e. the UK mufti that you refer to) in attempting some revisionist history. What Mufti Rashid Gangohi said was very clear... what anyone says today regarding the former's lack of depth in knowledge is mere opinions. Until we can find something from Mufti Gangohi that directly contradicts/abrogates what he said (which I mentioned), we'll have to assume that he meant what he said.

Ibn al-Amreeki said...

I didn't want to be confused with the guy you mentioned, so I'll use this name instead.

I get what you're saying in your post. But should we not look at the beliefs and practices of Mufti Ahmed Rashid Gangohi if we're trying to see how he felt about an individual or a group as well? Because once we do this, we see that there are MAJOR differences there in creed, fiqh, tasawwuf, etc. And as for Deobandis, al-Muhannad by Shaykh al-Saharanfuri raheemullah serves as a guidebook of their beliefs, and the the comments on Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab and his following are not very positive.

I'm interested in your thoughts about the rejection of Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab by his father, and brother Sulaiman Ibn Abdul Wahhab, who even wrote a book in which he used the term "wahhab" entitled, Al-Sawaiq al-Ilahia fi al-Ra'd ala al-Wahabia.

These were just some thoughts I had, but I did like the effort you put into your article.

Samireye said...

Excellent Analyzation. Hahha Amadi's :). It could happen :).

Abdu said...

Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahab's father did in fact reject what he was teaching. But, close to his death, he accepted Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahab's Dawah as the truth and followed it.

HijabIsOverrated said...

As Salaamu Alaikum,

"Amad said...
Well, how did I miss this one?? A wahhabi rap!!

As I have been saying, open the door of music, singing and dancing a little bit, and you won't be able to close it.... here, see for yourself (for not too long) muhajiba sister doing the rap!"

I'm not sure by what you mean by saying (for not too long) but if you mean that just because she is on a stage and talking out loud in public that in time she will be swinging around on a pole in a strip club then just say that. Don't side slander people you don't know. However, if you mean that u-tube might take down the video soon then thats completly different all together and just ignore my previous comment. I know this sister, she is a good sister and her best friend married a good brother on the Salafiya from philly (don't get me on which "branch" he's on because that convo can get silly). If you don't agree with her public "display" then fine but you're not a teller of futures, she didn't post this clip, someone ignorant did. It would have been better to not speak about her potential future as if its auto matic. This myth that if you give women a inch and they will all break out butt naked and swing on poles is just...... (BS) Really 80% if not more would stay close to the sunnah in modesty and adab I think. give us some credit.. jeesh... Allah Knows Best

Amad said...

wasalam Sister Hijabisover...
Obviously you have missed the context of the comment. The regular reader would get it... we have been talking about the proliferation of "halal" music and the "halal" concerts. That we don't believe this is Islamic and that the Prophet (S) would not be part of that audience. See this, this and this.

It is interesting sister, that you came in with your guns blazing, and accusing me of the same thing that you ended up doing-- slander. You could have asked first, couldn't you? A few more points here:
(1) "For too long"... I don't believe the video is Islamically appropriate, and we will not argue that on this entry-- you can do that in one of the old entries related to music/singing. So, the point was, "watch it, to see it, but don't spend too much time in it". It has nothing to do with poles, etc. astaghfirullah.
(2) Your friend's friend's husband is a Philly salafi, and the point is?
(3)As for giving an inch, taking a foot... this refers to music, singing, concerts in general. My other posts that I refer to were all men. So, this is not a man/woman thing. HOWEVER, it is worse that a sister would be out on the stage hitting it on all cylinders. And since the video is out there for all to see, that is even more shameful. And even if the video wasn't there, the event was in public, for God's sake! If it was a private sisters-only event, one could make an argument. I don't think you will find any brothers... "traditionalists/salafis/whatever" who would be ok with this.
(4) If you don't mind answering, what's up with your nick? As soon as I read it, it brought up some connotations in my mind, but I want to give you an opportunity, if you wish, to tell me (us) what you mean by hijab being overrated?

thank you for dropping by, wasalam

HijabIsOverrated said...


I have never read your blog before so I ask for forgiveness from you for not understanding the point in the context in which you meant it.

As far as my name goes I'd like to think my profile sums it up best. I am against either side of the divide telling me what I should do with my head. Each side even if they don't want to admit it seeks to control me. It starts with Hijab and works its way across the road to a weird abyss where woman needs only 1 eye in which to see the way, to being completely invisible or the other side that leads to some pagan Romanics attitude that walking nude on the beach equates freedom. I don't know much about your area but over here you could with ease find men telling men to hit their children or wives if they don't cover the way he feels is acceptable (depending on the group). It becomes more about the men and less about the women. I think more lectures need to be about building community, gated communities, institutions, social justice, volunteering for causes that just don't benefit us, and competing in good deeds against the people of the book. The way we use to do, when slave women wanted to be like free believing women so bad they covered their heads even at the time it wasn't allow. When the focus is on that woman will naturally conform without all the scare tactics and pressure from tradition. People flock more to image of success like a good business plan. If we gave woman a choice I think that most would keep their hijabs on but I feel like all this talk about it shows a bit of insecurity on both sides of the divide and really it's my head and no one else’s business.

In general I avoid with the plague converstaions that involve hijab, music, or anything promoting sectarian hate becuase it takes away from planing a good deed, makes us weaker and depresses the iman.

So again I ask for your forgiveness for my previous comments which might have been more about the foolish replies I saw on you tube than anything you may have written.

Allah U Alim

Amad said...

sister HIO, jazakillahkhair for your response. By the way, you have a cute son mashallah, may Allah make him a soldier of Allah (in the non-violent sense-- need these disclaimers these days :) )

As long as we both agree that hijab is mandated by Allah, and not by the male entity, then we can only advice our sisters to do it... just like we can advice our brothers to be good to their wives or we can advice the general ummah to pray 5 times.

Hijab has taken prominence these days because of how it is being restricted by certain countries... so it a CAUSE now... before it was only (and I don't say that lightly) an obligation. We are sensitive because the human-satans want to rip those off our sisters' heads. Tunisia, France, Germany, and the list goes on. Why do you think that these countries are so afraid of a piece of cloth?

In my humble opinion, and the opinion of those young sisters who can't attend school because they don't want to give up their hijabs,; for all of us, hijab is certainly not over-rated! Otherwise great "secular" nations wouldn't be trembling over it... wasalam.

P.S. It is wallahu ALAM, not ALIM... different meaning, not the right context.

Travelling Stranger said...

I just found this:

HijabIsOverrated said...

AS Salaam Alaikum,

Thank you for the kind words regarding my son. For the most part I agree with you but when I think of "hijab concerns gone wild” I mostly look at my own back yard (ummah) and the debate within it.

In the past 100 yrs or so the hijab issue grew like a wild fire because certain "movements" would harp on the women as a sign of "Islam’s demise" in a country. Which I found amusing because during this same time a 3rd of the woman aren't educated, and very little hold any leadership positions. So when a certain group gets power for various reasons, they don’t deal with corruption, health care, education, tribal allegiances, racism, labor rights, and building strong governmental institutions that are ORGANIZED, COSTUMER FRIEND, and TIMELY.

Instead, what’s the 1st issue on the table?! Hijab! Hijab in all its forms and "reigning the women in" becomes the #1 issue. So we get various places who FORCED implementation of hijab (according to their customs) laws making it harder for a women to seek justice in courts, restriction of a woman’s movement outside the home, in some places education limited, marriage age reduced down to its youngest possible limits, etc. ALL this is a sign of REFORM and coming closer to Allah SWT and His sunnah, mean while, greed is the same, racism is the same, streets still dirty, hospitals are a joke, organization, courtesy, and professionalism is optional.

Some og the things the Prophet (PBUH) took more than 13 years to teach the people some want done in days. It's a batty concept to me. I personally just wish more people would stop being so concerned with wearing Islam on their sleave like a merit badge and get on those 1st 13 years of the Prophets (PBUH) life. Work on that, master the concepts of that time and then move to our Medina period and beyond. Seems to me that the 1st part of his struggle is a foot note while Medinah and the lives of companions after his (pbuh)loss are far more import. One must boot up the cpu 1st is all I'm saying.

Allah U Alam

Anonymous said...