This post and others to follow aim to expose the pseudo-Sunni statements and deception in the article entitled “The Wahhabi Myth: Debunking the Bogeyman” by a little known “Amad”. This article was also acknowledged by “Yasir Qadhi, Ruth Nasrullah, and Omar Usman for reviewing and providing valuable comments.” The article, then, is understood as the final product achieved through the collective agreement of the primary author (Amad) and those acknowledged. Therefore, all of them are responsible for the contents in the article, and all harm and confusion that accrue from it to unknowing Muslims who have chosen them as their religious role models.
Amad (understood as him and his acknowledgers from now onwards) attempts to refute those who oppose Wahhabis/Salafis by attempting to portray the term Wahhabi as meaningless. His poorly displayed semantics attempt to wiggle away from and sideline the truth to deceive their followers and readers. But as long as Muslims like me exist, they won’t get away with it. The truth is that this article is an attempt to raise the banner of Wahhabism against what its detractors say. It is foolish to attempt such an impossible feat as it can only be done through an exercise of semantic acrobatics and cherry-picking marred by lies, half-truths, ommission of context, and opposition to all who oppose Wahhabism (for good or not-so-good reasons). Amad’s article can be read at: http://muslimmatters.org/2007/04/01/the-wahhabi-myth-debunking-the-bogeyman/
#1 — MUSLIM-MATTERS SUPPORTS THE SLANDERING OF THE COMPANION ABU BAKR BY MUHAMMAD IBN ABDAL WAHHAB
“An absolute must-read is a book by Natana DeLong-Bas, called “Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad”, excerpts here, and buy it here. “
Natana DeLong-Bas’s book was partially funded by Wahhabis so it is no surprise that she had resorted to apologetics for Wahhabism. But Amad’s support for the book is disturbing.
I find it odd that Amad sees DeLong-Bas’s book as, in his words, an “absolute must-read” when it is well known that Muhammad Ibn Abdal Wahhab said some despicable things about our beloved Imam Abu Bakr (peace be upon him).
As one observer correctly noted, “Abu Bakr had been the first caliph of the Islamic community, and during his tenure…he had established the practice of the caliph serving as a paid guardian over the people. Shaykh Ibn Abdul Wahhab expressed vehement disagreement with the decision saying that Abu Bakr had mis-applied vague Quranic verses to justify the ruling. The Shaykh goes on to label Abu Bakr’s decision as:
“…the most astonishing part of his ignorance.”
The astute observer continues: “In the same edict, Ibn Abdul Wahhab described Abu Bakr’s claim that such spending was for public good as:
“…an awesome lie.”
The astute observer later correctly concludes that “Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s harsh criticism of Abu Bakr is a radical departure from the reverence that mainstream Muslims typically have of the Companions of the Prophet.”
Amad, I will let you do a bit of reading so you can tell all of us the exact page numbers where those quotes are found in DeLong-Bas’s book — the book you praise and ask people to purchase. In any case, it is shameful for obvious reasons to publicize a book that speaks ill of our beloved Companions.
It is even more shameful that those who read this excerpt of yours as stated in your “Acknowledgements” quickly endorsed your die-hard support of it. I ask: Yasir Qadhi, Ruth Nasrullah, and Omar Usman: How can you endorse such slander against Abu Bakr? Your desperation to support Wahhabism and its founder has made you stoop to so low a level that the Prophet Muhammad’s (Salla Allahu `alayhi wa salaam) Companion in the cave is being championed as a greedy thug. I’m not sure you’ll find any real Sunni who supports you in this matter. But you’ll certainly find a few Shi’ah. Nevertheless, Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahhab’s slandering of Companions speaks for itself. It reflects his anti-Sunni character and shows beyond any shadow of a doubt that he is as far from Ahl al-Sunna wa’al Jama’ah as the earth is from the sun.
It also makes me curious why Amad is recommending a book that puts much of the blame for terrorism on Ibn Taymiyah (and Syed Qutb, though he doesn’t concern us at this time). Isn’t Ibn Taymiyah esteemed to be one of the few favorites of Wahhabis, along with his foremost student, Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah? Perhaps you missed this too in your hurry to put the stamp of approval on what seemed to be a categorical defense of Wahhabism’s founder and his teachings.
#2 — DISCARD THE TERM WAHHABI BECAUSE IT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING REAL AT ALL?
“And the top reason is that Wahhabis has different meaning to different people. The data collected here proves that Wahhabis means so many different things for different people, that in the end, it doesn’t mean anything real at all….With an origin inaccurate, with usage incoherent, and with connotations divisive and slanderous, is it not time to bury this term, once and for all?”
Conclusion: Therefore, Wahhabis doesn’t mean anything real at all.
Amad’s attempt to kill the word Wahhabi is futile. As long as Wahhabis exist, so will their detractors who most often call them by that name to warn Muslims from their unorthodox, pseudo-Sunni interpretations of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Cease such fanatical interpretations and only then will Wahhabism’s dectractors stop using the term. Sorry, you can’t have it both ways. Simple as that.
#3 — DELIBERATELY HIDING THE CONTEXT OF RASHID AHMED GANGOHI’S PRAISE OF MUHAMMAD IBN ABDAL WAHHAB
“Respect for Shaykh Muhammad among Muslims varies as with any scholar. While there is a greater respect in areas where he had greater impact (i.e. Arabian Peninsula), he still garnered respect in the non-Arab world, such as among the Deobandis in Pakistan, for instance Rashid Ahmed Gangohi’s praise of the Shaykh.”
In an unclever attempt to portray that the Deobandi scholar, Rashid Ahmed Gangohi, praised the Founder of Wahhabism and thus the teachings of Wahhabism, Amad fails to explain the context of Rashid Ahmed Gangohi’s words. The context is best known through other learned Deobandi scholars — a group in which Amad does not belong. (Rashid Ahmed Gangohi is not from “Pakistan” as Amad alleges, but from British India.)
It is worth reading at length the words of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adham al-Kawthari, a learned Deobandi scholar, who sheds light on the matter and provides the context needed for his “support” of Muhammad ibn Abdal Wahhab:
“The above clearly demonstrates that Shaykh Rashid Ahmad al-Gangohi was a great scholar of traditional Sunni Islam, follower of the Matrudi Aqidah and the Hanafi School of Islamic law. He was in no way a follower of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab al-Najdi and was not in any way from those who reject the four Schools of Sunni Islamic law and condone Taqlid.
“As far as what you have quoted from his Fatawa regarding Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab al-Najdi, it is true indeed. He answers two questions with regards to him. Below is the translation of each of the two questions and their answers:
“Question: What kind of a person was (Muhammad ibn) Abd al-Wahhab al-Najdi?”
“Answer: People call Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab a Wahhabi. He was a good person, and I have heard that he was a follower of the Hanbali School of Islamic law and acted upon the Hadith. He used to prevent people from Shirk and innovation (bid’a), but he was harsh (shadid) in his attitude.”
“Question: Who are the Wahhabis and what was the belief of Abd al-Wahhab al-Najdi? What was his Madhhab and what type of person was he? What is the difference in belief between the people of Najd and Sunni Hanafis?”
“Answer: The followers of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab are called Wahhabis. They had good (umdah) beliefs and their school of thought was Hanbali. However, they were very stringent in their attitude but he and his followers were good people. But, yes, those who exceeded the limits were overcome by wrongness (fasad). And basic beliefs of everyone are united. The difference they have in actions is (like that) of Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki and Hanbali.” (Fatawa Rashidiyya, P. 241-242)
“The above is what the respected Shaykh wrote about Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab al-Najdi and his followers. However, one must understand the background of the Shaykh’s statements.
“The great Faqih of recent times in the Indian Subcontinent, Shaykh Mufti Mahmud al-Hasan al-Gangohi (Allah have mercy on him) who passed away in 1994 A.D, the grand Mufti of India whose Fatawa are gathered and compiled in 17 volumes discusses the reason behind Shaykh Rashid Ahmad (Allah have mercy on him) mentioning this in his Fatawa.
“Note that, these two scholars are two different people and not related to one another, though they both have the same last name, namely Gangohi, which is an attribution to a village known as Gangoh in India. Shaykh Rashid Ahmad (Allah have mercy on him) was the great grand-teacher of the more recent Mufti Mahmud al-Hasan (Allah have mercy on him), hence the latter holds the former in great regard and respect. This humble writer was also privileged to have received Ijazah in Hadith from Mufti Mahmud al-Hasan al-Gangohi.
“Nevertheless, Mufti Mahmud al-Hasan al-Gangohi (Allah have mercy on him) states in his Fatawa that, Shaykh Rashid Ahmad (Allah have mercy on him) was initially unaware of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab al-Najdi’s position, because al-Najdi was initially known in the Subcontinent as a reformer of Sunnah, and the one who strived greatly in rejecting Bid’a and establishing the Sunnah. As such, the respected Shaykh also said what he had heard, for a Muslim should always hold good opinions about other Muslims until it is proven otherwise.
“Thereafter, the respected Shaykh’s mentor and teacher sent him the copy of Radd al-Muhtar wherein Allama Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) clearly refuted Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. Allama Ibn Abidin states:
“…As it has occurred in our times with the followers of Abd al-Wahhab al-Najdi, who appeared from Najd and imposed their control over the two sacred Harams. They used to attribute themselves to the Hanbali School but they believed that only they were Muslims and that who ever opposed their beliefs were polytheists (mushrik), thus they considered the killing of those who were from the Ahl al-Sunnah and their scholars to be legitimate, until Allah Most High destroyed their might and power.” (Radd al-Muhtar, 3/339-340, chapter regarding the followers of Abd al-Wahhab, the Khawarij of our times)
“Mufti Mahmud al-Hasan states that had Shaykh Rashid Ahmad read what Allama Ibn Abidin stated in his Radd al-Muhtar regarding the Wahhabis, he would surely not have stated what he had in his Fatawa.
“He states that this does not in any way demean the status and rank of Shaykh Mawlana Rashid Ahmad al-Gangohi, for he had said what he had heard. He did not have knowledge of the unseen, thus he cannot be blamed. Allama Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) was geographically closer to Najd, thus he was aware at first hand of what Shaykh Rashid Ahmad, who was living in India, was unaware of. (See: Fatawa Mahmudiyya, 13/411-412)
“I would like to add here that this is clearly the case when we look at Shaykh Rashid Ahmad’s first Fatwa wherein he states “I have heard that he was a follower of the Hanbali School…..” stipulating that his information was purely based on what he had heard. This was not a matter of Fiqh or Shariah as such in which he needed to investigate, and anyway, a Muslim should always have good opinion (husn al-Zann) about fellow Muslims until the contrary is proven.
“Moreover, the students of Shaykh Rashid Ahmad al-Gangohi (Allah have mercy on them all) clearly refuted the ideologies and actions of the Najdis. Shaykh Khalil Ahmad al-Saharanfuri (Allah have mercy on him), a student of the Shaykh, stated in his renowned al-Muhannad ala al-Mufannad that he and his teachers hold the same view as Allama Ibn Abidin regarding Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab al-Najdi and his followers. This was agreed upon and signed by almost all of the major scholars of the Indian subcontinent.”
So, it is clear that Deobandis definitely do not support Wahhabism. Deobandis are Hanafi in fiqh, Ash’ari in `aqeedah, and they also embrace Sufism as a legitimate Islamic science. Wahhabis do not embrace any fiqh seriously (though some claim to be Hanbali) and they repudiate the Ash’ari creed as deviant. Moreover, Wahhabis have never accepted `ilm ul-tasawwuf (Sufism) as a valid Islamic science as the majority of Muslims in Islam’s history have.
It is also interesting to note that Rashid Ahmad Gangohi’s students
“clearly refuted the ideologies and actions of the Najdis.”
This shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Rashid Ahmad Gangohi simply had a good opinion as he would of any Muslim who he had only heard about. It was not an approval of his anthropomorphic `aqeedah and his reprehensible innovations in `ibadat.