Wahhabism

Wahhabiyyah, Muwahhidun, Wahhabi

{wah - hah' - bizm}

General Information

The term Wahhabism is an outsiders' designation for the religious movement within Islam founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al - Wahhab (1703 - 92). Members describe themselves as muwahhidun ("unitarians"), those who uphold firmly the doctrine that God is one, the only one (wahid). This self designation points to the movement's major characteristic, its opposition to any custom and belief threatening and jeopardizing the glorification of the one God. It condemns as illegal and un - Islamic the practice of using the name of any prophet, saint, or angel in a prayer, of calling upon any such beings for intercession and making vows to them, and of visitations to tombs of saints. Adherents insist on a literal interpretation of the Koran and a strict doctrine of predestination.

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Abd al - Wahhab, who had spent some years in Medina and various places in Iraq and Iran, won the support of Ibn Saud, ruler of the Najd (now in Saudi Arabia), in 1744, after being expelled from his native city, Uyayna, because of controversial teachings in his Kitab al - tawhid (Book of Unity). The realization of the ideal of an Islamic state based on the Sharia now seemed feasible. Between about 1763 and 1811 the Wahhabi Saudis established control of most of Arabia. Although pushed back by the Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali, they recovered part of their first empire between 1821 and 1833. A long period of decline followed, but, in 1932, Ibn Saud succeeded in establishing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Wahhabi teachings have also played a role in the 19th century history of parts of Nigeria, India, and Indonesia.

Willem A Bijlefeld

Bibliography:
H S Philby, Arabia of the Wahhabis (1982) and Saudi Arabia (1955); J Sabini, Armies in the Sand (1981).

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Wahhabiyyah

Advanced Information

Doctrines

Wahabbiyyah is not a new sect within Islam but a movement whose purpose is to purify Islam of perceived heretical accretions. The Wahhabis claim to base their doctrines on the teachings of the fourteenth century scholar Ibn Taymiyya and the rulings of the Hanbali school of law, the strictest of the four recognised in the Sunni consensus. They believe that all objects of worship other than Allah are false, and anyone who worships in this way deserves to be put to death. To introduce the name of a prophet, saint or angel into a prayer, or to seek intercession from anyone but Allah constitutes a form of polytheism. Attendance at public prayer is compulsory, and the shaving of the beard and smoking are forbidden. Mosques should be architecturally simple, not luxurious or ornate. Prohibited are the celebration of the Prophet's birthday, making offerings at the tomb of saints, and playing music. The injunctions of the Qur'an are to be taken literally.

History

Wahhabiyyah emerged in the middle of the 18th century in Arabia as both a religious and political movement responding to the decline of the Ottoman empire and the increasing strength of Shi'a in Iran. Its founder, Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab (1703-92), had witnessed many examples of laxity, superstition, and blind allegiance to Walis (Sufi saints) during his travels through Iraq and Arabia.

The political character of the movement took the form of opposition to the ruling Ottoman empire. In 1744 Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab formed an alliance with a local chieftain, Muhammad Ibn Sa'ud (1765), who accepted his doctrine and undertook its defence and propagation. The demolition of shrines, tombstones and the capture of Mecca caused alarm in the Ottoman government which despatched an army to crush the movement. The decisive defeat of the bedouin troops in 1818 brought to an end the first Sa'udi-Wahhabi venture.

A remnant of the Wahhabi movement survived in a pocket of Central Arabia. In 1902 Abd al-Aziz Ibn Sa'ud, who was from the Sa'udi family and a follower of the bedouin faith of the Wahhabiyyah, took Riyadh, an event which led to his gradual conquest of the interior of the Arabian peninsula. In 1927 Sa'ud signed a treaty with the British (who at that time were controlling parts of the Arabian peninsula) which gave him full independence in exchange for his recognition of British suzerainty over the Gulf sheikdoms. Finally in 1932 he named his state the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Wahhabiyyah then became the official doctrine of the state. Today the Saudi state remains firmly rooted in the Wahhabi creed.

Symbols

The movement has no distinctive symbol system.

Adherents

Wahhabiyyah is the official ideology of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There are no official statistics for the number of Muslims who follow the doctrines of Wahhabiyyah.

Headquarters / Main Centre

The movement has no headquarters.

Bülent Şenay
Overview of World Religions Project


Also, see:
Islam, Muhammad
Koran, Qur'an
Pillars of Faith
Abraham
Testament of Abraham
Allah
Hadiths
Revelation - Hadiths from Book 1 of al-Bukhari
Belief - Hadiths from Book 2 of al-Bukhari
Knowledge - Hadiths from Book 3 of al-Bukhari
Times of the Prayers - Hadiths from Book 10 of al-Bukhari
Shortening the Prayers (At-Taqseer) - Hadiths from Book 20 of al-Bukhari
Pilgrimmage (Hajj) - Hadiths from Book 26 of al-Bukhari
Fighting for the Cause of Allah (Jihad) - Hadiths of Book 52 of al-Bukhari
ONENESS, UNIQUENESS OF ALLAH (TAWHEED) - Hadiths of Book 93 of al-Bukhari
Hanafiyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Malikiyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Shafi'iyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Hanbaliyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Maturidiyyah Theology (Sunni)
Ash'ariyyah Theology (Sunni)
Mutazilah Theology
Ja'fari Theology (Shia)
Nusayriyyah Theology (Shia)
Zaydiyyah Theology (Shia)
Kharijiyyah
Imams (Shia)
Druze
Qarmatiyyah (Shia)
Ahmadi
Ishmael, Ismail
Early Islamic History Outline
Hegira
Averroes
Avicenna
Machpela
Kaaba, Black Stone
Ramadan
Sunnites, Sunni
Shiites, Shia
Mecca
Medina
Sahih, al-Bukhari
Sufism
Wahhabism
Abu Bakr
Abbasids
Ayyubids
Umayyads
Fatima
Fatimids (Shia)
Ismailis (Shia)
Mamelukes
Saladin
Seljuks
Aisha
Ali
Lilith
Islamic Calendar
Interactive Muslim Calendar


The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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