Myth of the “Wahhabi Myth: The Wahhabi Bogeyman”.

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

Amad said:

“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?

After exerting an inordinate amount of effort rambling about various people and organizations describing and accusing the Wahhabis, this is what Amad had to say: 
“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?” 
Let’s see how Amad’s logic flows. Here it goes:
 
 Premise: Wahhabis mean different things to different people.
Conclusion: Therefore, Wahhabis doesn’t mean anything real at all.
 
 This is a beautiful example of a non-sequitur. For those unfamiliar with this term, dictionary.com defines it as:
 
 (1) “an inference or a conclusion that does not follow from the premises.”
 (2)  “a statement containing an illogical conclusion.”
 
To understand Amad’s strange reasoning, let’s discuss the word Sufi. People have defined Sufis in many different ways, some correctly and others incorrectly. Some define Sufis and Sufism, or a part of it, as alien to Islam. This is the line commonly heard by Orientalists. Others say Sufis are the pacificists of Islam. Though they stress the internal, they certainly cannot be deemed pacifisits because many participated in physical jihad. Yet, others say that Sufis are reprehensible innovaters who have hijacked Islam and introduced all sorts of unIslamic practices. Similar to the Orientalist accusation, supporters of this view attempt to denigrate Sufism wholesale. Others, in confusion, surrender to the conclusion that there are “good Sufis” and “bad Sufis” and not all are bad. These are confused or renegade Wahhabis who lean just a tad bit closer to Ibn Taymiyah who never condemned Sufism wholesale, though he was never fully representative of it either. And, of course, you have the traditional Sunnis consisting of the vast majority of Muslims who have always accepted Sufism (`ilm ul-tasawwuf) as a legitimate Islamic science. The biggest evidence in favor of the legitimacy of Sufism as an Islamic science is that no reputable Muslim scholar ever condemened it wholesale in Islam’s history. Because it was supported by Muslims who lived before us, it is clear that this was a practice of Ahl al-Sunna wa’al Jama’ah. What’s also clear, then, is that those who condemn Sufis wholesale are not from Ahl al-Sunna wa’al Jama’ah. Too bad for the Wahhabis — I ‘m not counting the renegade Wahhabis here who accept good and bad Sufis. Their confusion, however, still persists. I digress. Let’s return to Amad’s great reasoning.  
 
Now, following Amad’s logic (read: non-sequitur), Sufism/Sufis (like Wahhabism/Wahhabis) are described in so many ways that the safe conclusion we inevitably reach is!: “Sufism/Sufis really do not mean anything real at all! It techically doesn’t exist!” (smile).
 
Surely by now my point is clear to the reader. Such choppy reasoning and the faulty conclusion derived from it cannot be called good logic at all (except to a Wahhabi, of course). Makes me wonder why Amad is so eager to throw the term Wahhabi in the heapbin of history when so many other such terms exist to describe Muslims: Sufis, Hanafis, Deobandis, Barelwis, Naqshbandis, … The list goes on and on. These terms have been used by Muslims positively and negatively, depending on whether they support their particular interpretations of certain Islamic matters or not. Using Amad’s reasoning, these terms should also be discarded because of their negativity when they’re used as such. Moreover, they should be discarded because they mean different things to different people. But why isn’t Amad advocating this and being consistent with his argument (no matter how flawed it is)? The answer is simple: He is a rabid Wahhabi. Any other name calling, including the “Sufi” accusation heaped on Muslim masses as if it was a curse word, doesn’t count in Amad’s (or any Wahhabi’s) books.
 
Amad could have saved lots of his time and energy by simply saying that Wahhabi is a term used mainly by the detractors of Wahhabis (read: Sunnis and Shi’ahs, though the late Abdal Aziz Ibn Baaz didn’t mind using the term either as he was proud of being one himself). Muslims who disagreed with the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam called them Wahhabis to identify them with that unorthodox, pseudo-Sunni understanding of Islam — an understanding of many issues through an approach that the Kharijites had used long before them, i.e. misinterpreting verses by refering verses meant for non-Muslims to Muslims. That is, accusing Muslims of doing tawassul (through a pious, deceased intermediary) and tabarruk  of committing polytheism. Never mind the fact that the late Al-Albani confessed that Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal allowed Muslims to do tawassul through our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Salla Allahu `alayhi wa sallam) only. I suppose Al-Albani was an…unorthodox Wahhabi to Wahhabis? Interesting how there are so many strains of Wahhabism. Innovaters seem to multiply like a variety of cancerous strains.

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

Amad said:

“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.”
(SOURCE: http://www.daruliftaa.com/question.asp?txt_QuestionID=q-18272411)

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

Had Rashid Ahmad Gangohi accessed the sayings of other reputable scholars on the matter, he would certainly have refuted Muhammad ibn Abdal Wahhab and his teachings. If this was not true, his students would not have refuted the Najdis but instead embraced them based on their Shaykh’s “supportive” statements for Muhammad ibn Abdal Wahhab. This was clearly not the case. After all, the students know their Shaykh better than those who do not associate with the Shaykh. It would be bizzare and outrageous to accuse all of Rashid Ahmad Gangohi’s students of being ignorant about their own Shaykh’s statements, would it not? 
 
Now, take a few steps back from the analysis and wonder: The continued desperation of Amad and his cohorts to find alleged Muslim supporters of Wahhabism makes them quote those whom they have already condemned as innovaters and outcasts: Ash’aris and Sufis! This is a common tactic of Wahhabis and other Salafis. Masterful cherry-picking, as if nobody else knows about the people quoted but themselves. They have been exposed time and again by quoting eminent scholars of Islam selectively to fit their anti-Sunni interpretations. 
 
A famous scholar is Imam Nawawi, may Allah bless him abundantly. Wahhabis print his books on hadeeth, tout him as a reputable scholar, and make money from his works — all while hiding from the less informed the fact that he was a staunch supporter of Sufism, as clearly explained in his own works, “Bustan al `Arifin” and “al-Maqasid”. Furthermore, Imam Nawawi followed the Ash’ari creed — a creed accused of being deviant by Wahhabis. So, while championing his books on hadeeth, they hide the fact that he was a Sufi supporter and Ash’ari. Wahhabis will be responsible for these sleight-of-hand deceptions they smear eminent Muslims with on a daily basis and confuse well-meaning but less informed Muslims through them.
 
Amad and Co.’s selective and deceptive use of Rashid Ahmad Gangohi’s statements minus the necessary context, and failure to mention his own students’ anti-Wahhabi positions clearly shows that Muslim-Matters is attempting to portray as true what is actually false. 
 
So, brothers and sisters, those who are being taken for a ride by Amad and Co., including Yasir Qadhi, should be shunned and exposed for their trickery.
 
 
 

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3 responses to “Myth of the “Wahhabi Myth: The Wahhabi Bogeyman”.

    • Assalam-u-alaykum-wa-Rehmatullah dear brother MOUSSA,

      Yes, I have specific references on Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahhab’s demeaning of Hadhrat Abu Bakr. Though I don’t have Natana De Long Bas’s book (“Wahhabi Islam”) in my hand at the moment, you may go to the following website on amazon:

      http://www.amazon.com/Wahhabi-Islam-Revival-Reform-Global/dp/0195169913#reader_0195169913

      Once you are at the website, you can ‘search’ in the book on the left side of the site. In the search box, type “Abu Bakr” and push enter.
      The results will be shown below the search box. Place your cursor on the relevant passage, and you will see the page numbers and statements in the book, along with the specific footnote numbers. You will see some of the author’s examples of demeaning statements by Ibn Abdal-Wahhab against Hadhrat Abu Bakr.

      When you cross-reference the footnote numbers with the actual sources in the back of the book, you will see that these demeaning statements are taken from Muhammad Ibn Abdal-Wahhab’s “Fatawa wa Masa’il”.

      In view of the above, these statements alone bring Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahhab out of mainstream/sunni/orthodox Islam. This is the least that can be said of him based on these statements, and pre-empts the need to discover the many other unorthodox understandings he had in matters of `aqeedah and `ibadaat.

      JazakAllahu-khayrun wassalam-u-alaykum-wa-Rehmatullah.
      Sunni1

  1. salaam

    could the author reference the quotes that are attributed to muhammad bin abdel-wahhab. they are pretty damning indictments

    salaam

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