The 21st Century Phenomenon





WAHHABISM is an Islamic theological school which emerged on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula in the early years of the 18th century. It’s called Wahhabya or WAHHABISM on the name of an Islamic secular Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab at-Tamimi ,who lived in 1703-1792 in Najd, in the center of the Arabian Peninsula.

In early 18th century the tribes of the Najd, relatively isolated from Islamic life, had resumed various pagan practices. Some of the Arabian tribes worshiped trees and rocks in a similar manner that the Shiaa venerate the tombs of their Imams.

Muhammad al-Wahhab preached that the Quraan (the Holly Book) and the Hadith -the stories of the closest friends of the Prophet Muhamed, are the only fundamental texts of Islam, interpreted according to the understanding of the first three generations of Islam. In other words:  only those who knew the Prophet, his way of life, his epoch and his social circle were able to understand the true Islam in its first, primary and purest ideology and implementation and, therefore, is the only correct version of Islam. According to Muhammad al-Wahhab later interpretations are a deviation from the original Islam. Text and rituals, such as visiting old tombs, are almost an act of polytheism and heresy. Muhammad al-Wahhab totally rejected those of the renowned Muslim scholars of Mecca and Medina of his time and went as far as to declare Jihad against them.

Although Muhammad al-Wahhab’s tribe, the at-Tamimi, did not follow his strict Islamic theology, iIt was adopted by the  neighbor northern tribe, the Ibn Saud, who became in 1744 the standard-bearer of the new interpretation of Islam. The Ibn Saud began a two century campaign in which they occupied large areas but also suffered from many bloody defeats. In 1801 the Ibn Saud-Wahhabi armies attacked and sacked the Shiite shrine of Husayn in Karbala, Iraq, and in 1802-3 they occupied, for a short time, Mecca and Medina in the Hijaz. The Ibn Saud-Wahhabies destroyed monuments and tombs which were used for prayer and for votive rituals, as the Wahhabies considered this acts of polytheism, just as Muhamed had, supposedly, destroyed pagan idols in Mecca.

In 1926 Ibn Saud, eventually, took over most of the Arabian Peninsula and the state of Saudi Arabia was founded. The WAHHABISM, although moderated throughout the years, became the official state version of Islam.     

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