September 11, 2001, forced us to look into the dark and mysterious world of Islamic militants. It seems that they emerged from the deserts of Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, fully grown, already angry, and holding a Kalashnikov. Recently, Major Nidal Malik Hasan went on a shooting spree, which left 12 soldiers and one civilian dead and dozens of other people wounded.
His former classmates described him as militant. Hasan’s presentations for school were often laced with extremist Muslim views, one source said. “Is your allegiance to Sharia law or the United States?” students once challenged Hasan, the source said. “Sharia law,” Hasan responded, according to the source
Hasan, an Army psychiatrist who faces 13 counts of premeditated murder, “was clearly espousing Islamist ideology” during his time as a medical student at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. He got himself into this mess by attending mosques whose fundamentalism is rooted in Wahabi teachings. A good percent of Sunni mosques in the U.S. are Wahabi madrassahs that teach their students to administer sharia law to include beheading and mutilation of the apostate and infidel populations with a goal of martyrdom. This ideology is the greatest threat to global peace and the biggest challenge of the 21st century.
Whether in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnia, Egypt, Iraq, or Algeria, the origin is one. Like there is more than one shape of Judaism, more than one way to Christianity, there is also more than one picture of Islam. Read so you know a little more about where terror stands today, and what is the relationship between Wahabism and Islam?
Terrorism and Wahabism are synonymous. All the Muslim terrorist organizations are Wahabi in creed or sympathetic to Wahabism. Traditional Muslim scholars fought against this heresy disguising itself in the garb of Islam from the time of its inception by the infamous Mohamed Ibn Abd al Wahab. He was a poor scholar of Islamic jurisprudence, and his writings were few and unoriginal. Wahab turned his back on centuries of Islamic jurisprudence and tradition. His erroneous and fallacious understanding of Islamic theology and faith has had detrimental effects and repercussions on Islam and Islamic countries, especially Saudi Arabia.
The union between Wahabism and Saudi Arabia has catalyzed the pseudo religious-political partnership responsible for hijacking Sunni Islam and using it as a flagpole for self serving ambitions — at the cost of thousands of Muslim lives, mainly Sufis and Shi’a, all brutally slaughtered.
Wahabism is an insufferably self-righteous, intellectually impoverished, and violence-prone sect that came out of the Arabian wastelands without pedigree or promise. It could never have made an impact on its own (it has nothing of value to offer) and would have died in infancy if it weren’t for its alliance with the Saud family and their Western connections, which provided money and weapons first from the British and then the U.S.
It is amazing that our government financed the spread of Wahabism directly through our financing of the jihad in Afghanistan, and even more amazing that the Bush administration misidentified Saddam’s secularist government as the threat to the U.S., when Wahabism is clearly the beast that needs to be dealt with and beheaded.
This movement is extremely crude and cultish and rejects almost all of the traditional teachings of Islam which do not fit into its narrow black and white views: any Muslim who disagrees with them is considered a non-believer. They are only about 2% of the world’s Muslims but because of Saudi petro-dollars their beliefs have spread far and wide amongst the disenchanted youth.
Wherever they go, they tear down memorials and shrines to great Muslim leaders including Muhammad himself. They lean very hard on people who worship at them or who pray to those leaders for intercession with Allah. They are fanatical about tawhid, the unity and indivisibility of Allah and the idea that no created thing or person is to be worshipped or venerated.
Wahabism is the first step to becoming angry with the rest of the world. It leads to terrorism. It is a misconception especially in the minds of Western scholars that Wahabism started as a reform movement. They seem to place most of the blame on the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and men like Qutb, but it seems to me that the dominance of Wahabism in Saudi Arabia creates fertile breeding ground for these radicals.
The fact that all outside influences are suppressed and conservative Wahabi doctrines are forced on the whole population means that much of the population has no defense against radical ideas. They were not brought up to question ideas but instead were taught to block independent thought. The educational system and the religious systems seem to me to be, if not directly, then at least indirectly to blame for the current radicalization of certain elements within Saudi society.
Wahabism was and is just a plot to befool ordinary devout Muslims and to capture power. That is how Saudi Arabia, which is the most extremist “Muslim” country, is under the control of these power-hungry dictators.
I, like many of us, have a problem with the enormous oil wealth of the Saudi family and the amount of influence this buys them through mosques, and other less obvious organizations in the United States, which foster the Wahabi ideology.
Whether Wahabism is a deviant form of Islam or not is not the question, but whether it shall become the dominant threat to global peace and security for the next few decades is the question that should be dealt with accordingly by the world’s major powers.
The writer is Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies The University of Toledo.