RADICAL WAHHABISM AS AN EXTREMIST RELIGIOUS-POLITICAL IDEOLOGY

Igor DOBAEV


Igor Dobaev, Ph.D. (Political Science), works on a doctor thesis at Rostov State University (Rostov-on-Don, Russia)


When understood in its narrow sense the term Wahhabism applies to a teaching that an Arabian religious reformer Muhammad ibn al-Wahhab (1703-1787) from Nejd formulated in the 18th century. It was at the same time that a powerful religious-political movement based on his works appeared in Arabia to recreate the earlier purity of Islam that they described as Islam of the righteous ancestors. Today Wahhabism is broadly understood as an Islam-related religious-political extremist ideology. For the world today Wahhabis are either those who profess the ideas of the teaching or members of groups that proceed from these ideas in their practices. In short, the term covers everything that has anything to do with the teaching.1

Wahhabism is part of a wider teaching in Sunni Islam called Salafism (Sunni fundamentalism). Both are not merely radical Islamic phenomena and this is confirmed by everyday practices of the Wahhabi states: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and the UAE where Wahhabi-tinged Sunni Islam is a traditional religion. However one cannot deny that the extreme and most politicized parts of Wahhabism and Salafism smack of radicalism. I think that the extremist version of Wahhabism very much in vogue today (neo-Wahhabism) is, in many respects and principles, identical with the earlier variant of the time of Al-Wahhab himself.

By an ideology I mean a system of philosophical, scholarly, esthetic, ethic, legal, political, economic, and sociological knowledge and values about the Cosmos, society and the individual, his role and place in the Universe, and the meaning of his life. Ideology supplies one with ideas about a kind of society those who profess such ideology want to create. The ideological knowledge and values organize, regulate, and direct people in the spiritual, state, economic, social, family and everyday structures and social spheres. At the same time, ideology commands and channels individuals’ practical activities and coordinates and directs the functioning of the state, political, and economic forms of power.2

Depending on the nature of society and the state, their development levels, the place and time the correlation between ideology and politics (political practice) may take on one of three forms: ideology as a political instrument; politics as an ideological instrument; and ideology as an ideological and theoretical substantiation and justification of political practice. This is fairly conventional because the functions may change, be transformed one into another or be combined. Depending on the circumstances the emphasis may shift from one ideological function to another as its social-political practice dictates it. The latter, on the whole, demonstrates that ideology and politics are constantly changing places as cause and effect, and an aim and means. This intertwining is especially obvious where ideology is a state ideology. In this case the boundary between politics as represented by the state and state ideology becomes blurred.3

The radical Islamic ideology and the Islamists’ practical activity based on this ideology demonstrate similar connections and mutual dependencies. It should be said that each member of such society is fed on slogans (archetypical formulas) that Islamism (radical Islam) describes as Islamic norms or prescriptions rather than being presented with complicated and hard to understand theoretical constructs. Islamic radicalism as an ideological doctrine is an instrument of social and political mobilization of all supporters designed to address the tasks formulated by Islamist theoreticians. The ideologists of this type presuppose that their followers will fight daily for the “true faith” by which a theocratic society is meant. In other words, mobilization (social and political) in radical Islam is an instrument of channeling people’s activity toward the aims posed by Islamism as a political ideology.

When completely comprehended the historical material related to radical doctrines in Islam helps identify the common mechanisms of social mobilization as a whole and its political components. Islam has a rich tradition of the use of religious and philosophical constructs in social and political practice when doctrinal precepts become part and parcel of current politics, that is, are used as ideological formulas. There are several types of the factors that make this possible.

The first is Islam’s doctrinal specifics: the key philosophical postulates presuppose that the faithful imbibe special ideas about the world and their own place in it. Such postulates are the propositions about the nature (causes and essence) of the world order and of certain social order. There are other key propositions such as the correlation between God, the Islamic umma, and the individual as well as the propositions that explain the nature of power, the purpose of the faithful in the world and the meaning of life. For example, there is a canonical formula typical of traditionalism and fundamentalism that prohibits the individual to interfere at will in the world order while the faithful are not allowed to organize social life and establish power in society according to their wishes if not blessed by the Divine will. In the teaching of the radicals these postulates are combined with other postulates that allow such interference or even deem it necessary or obligatory for the true faithful if the God-established order is violated.

As a result, from the very beginning the adepts embrace a semantically fairly simple philosophical pattern that is functioning at the archetypical level: created by God the world and society are perfect. Imperfectness of society (evil and injustice) is created by people (unfaithful, those who believe in wrong things or those who are not sincere in their faith). This suggests a conclusion: the meaning of true faith is fighting against the “enemies of Islam” (polytheists, apostates and hypocrites). One can see that the semantic idea of the world is a mobilizational one.

The second group of factors that mobilizes Islamic society relates to the forms of collectivism and the norms of coexistence typical of Islam. At the level of motivation of social activity (by which I mean, according to tradition, an urge to action) the logic of Islamic world perception developed above is described below. Meanwhile, motivational attitudes are the corresponding stable non-reflexive behavioral patterns united into stereotypical action schemes which radical Islam developed into norms. A true believer is unable to correctly assess whether social realties correspond to Divine providence and the correct world order hence the need to consult experts (ulemas, faqihs, ustaz). Their opinion relieves the believer of his personal responsibility and makes each member of the Muslim community accountable solely to the religious authorities and responsible for an exact and complete adherence to their prescriptions. In other words, a rank-and-file member of an Islamic society or a (radical) group is not personally and individually responsible to God as is the case in, for example, Christianity. He is responsible to an intermediary who stands between him and God.

In this way initial attitude to the world is formed that relieves an individual of responsibility for his ideas of the world and his personal legal accountability for his actions. Under this scheme responsibility rests with an outside authority that is registered in fiqh, the procedural and normative document of Muslim law.4

Finally, the third of the factors mentioned above belongs to radicalism’s political and legal experience. The decisions of councils of ulema are never personified—the council speaks to the community members in the name of the community. The idea of umma (a community of believers) can be interpreted not only as a parish (village) community known as a jamaat but also metaphysically. The umma is a sum-total of Muslims living on a given territory, state, region or even the world.

This interpretation reduces to naught a common believer. He has no individual value in the world of social and political relations. He is merely a member of communities that vary in size yet united by their religious affiliation (in fact, sharing political and ideological platform) ranging from a real one proving its existence every day to spiritual and ideological communities by association.

An individual can join a community and be recognized as its full member when he demonstrates his loyalty and solidarity, that is, when he agrees to obey the injunctions of its religious authorities as a binding condition. If such authorities formulate their demands as sociopolitical requirements then sociopolitical mobilization is realized through a very specific assimilation performed by the community in relation to an individual and by the religious authorities in relation to the community.

We can thus see that in radical Islam the three factors described above form a mechanism of social and political mobilization of an adept. The individual is completely dissolved in the community both in a really existing and a spiritual and political and ideological association: this is what makes such mobilization specific. It is in radicalism that a specific “phenomenon of representation” reaches its highest form: the community itself is personified in its authorities who represent it on a sacral and political plane.

The above is completely applicable both to early Wahhabism and contemporary radical neo-Wahhabism. From the very beginning and until the 1930s Wahhabism, its ideological doctrine and sociopolitical practice were radical or even extremist. Its ideological linchpin put in place by Al-Wahhab was the idea of strict monotheism (tauhid) as the main Islamic religious principle. The founder and his followers waged a resolute struggle against not only obvious relapses of pre-Islamic beliefs among the Bedouins of Arabia (who worshipped groves and stones and practiced magic, etc.) but against certain Islamic traditions. For example, they believed that tombs, visits to burial places and the cult of saints typical of Sufism were digressions from Islam toward paganism. They even condemned excessive worshipping of the Prophet Muhammad.

Dogmatically and from the religious and legal point of view Wahhabism is not a special trend in Islam: it totally relies on Hanbalism, one of the four Sunni schools (madhabs) of the Shari‘a that never easily tolerated novelties (bida’), that is any practice not sanctioned by the Koran and the Sunnah. This explains why the Wahhabis condemn tobacco smoking, music, singing, and dancing.

The works of medieval neo-Hanbali theologians Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328) and Ibn al-Qayyim (1292-1350) in which they developed the fundamental Hanbali doctrine during the Islamic Middle Ages exerted a great influence on Al-Wahhab.

The legacy he left is mainly handwritten agreements, letters, and sermons. Together with practical deeds they allow contemporary Wahhabis speak about the key philosophical and theological principles such as monotheism, resorting to intermediary (tawassul), pilgrimage to the tombs of saints (ziarat al-qubur), sinful novelties (bida’), freedom for a religious authority to express his opinion (ijtihad), blind adherence to the source (taqlid), accusation of lack of faith (taqfir), and a holy religious war (jihad).5

Tauhid, the heart of the Wahhabi doctrine, is the principle of strict monotheism. The Divine unity is revealed in a triune formula: Allah is the Founder, Provider, and Master. According to the Wahhabis the main formula of Islam “There is no God but the God, and Muhammad is his Prophet” says that Allah alone should be worshipped but not Muhammad who is a mere prophet. There is even more truth in this when applied to religious authorities.

The sheikh resolutely objected to worshiping stones and other objects as intermediaries between Allah and the believers. According to him man was directly protected by God. Everything in the world happens according to Divine providence that is not ruled by anyone, even the Prophet Muhammad. Wahhabis argue that visits to the tombs of Muhammad, his companions and saints lead to their deification and are, consequently, manifestations of polytheism.

Al-Wahhab was implacable in relation to bida’ that went beyond the Koran and the Sunnah to the extent that he banned celebrations of the Prophet’s birthday because (1) it had been prescribed neither by Allah nor by Muhammad and (2) it led to the Prophet’s deification.

In relation to ijtihad and taqlid the Wahhabis have always been convinced, and remain convinced, that the Koran and the Sunnah are the summit of knowledge. The “Gates” that had remained open to any interpretation of the Islamic sources were shut tight as soon as Hanbalism took its final shape. If anybody can prove that a Hanbali interpretation does not correspond to the Koran or the Sunnah it should be banned.6

While demonstrating tolerance toward the “people of the Book” (Christians and Jews) the Wahhabi interpretation of taqfir was reduced to stricter demands imposed on the Muslims. For example, it is stated that simple declarations about an adherence to Islam and daily prayers are not enough to prevent polytheism. If man says that he is a Muslim and is worshiping other gods he should be exposed and executed. According to the founder of Wahhabism “such hypocrites are much worse than Christians and Jews since the latter do not conceal their alien faces.” The Shi‘a were also looked at as polytheists whose ideas have been always considered heretical.7

There is another system-forming ideological proposition of the Wahhabis’—a very specific interpretation of the jihad. For them jihad is, first and foremost, an armed struggle waged against the infidels (kafirs) that is a duty of every mentally and physically fit Muslim. The infidels are all those who disagree with the Wahhabis—this means that jihad is waged against all and mainly against those Muslims who do not share the ideology of the supporters of “pure Islam.” The Wahhabis are convinced that all their enemies, including Muslims, are infidels—this justified in their eyes intolerance and cruelty toward them. Fanaticism forced the Wahhabis to close the ranks and tighten discipline, and approved, in religious and ideological terms, their anti-Islamic actions. It is precisely for this reason that from the very beginning the teaching of Al-Wahhab was an ideology of military expansion and plundering inroads.

Normally the opponents stress the following propositions of Wahhabism: the Wahhabis look at God as a substance similar to man; their ideas are unreasonable, all religious questions are resolved according to the tradition; consensus (ijma) and analogy (qiyas) are ignored as potential legal sources; the opinions of those who composed the codes of norms cannot be looked at as guiding, therefore those who follow them are godless; nearly all the Muslims outside the Wahhabi communities are polytheists; neither the Prophet Muhammad nor any of the saints can serve as intermediaries between man and Allah; visits to the tombs of saints cannot be tolerated; prayers should be addressed solely to Allah; it is prohibited to worship anybody except Allah.8

The social doctrine of Wahhabism is obviously aimed at patriarchal equality and an absence of social hierarchy. It is insisting that the Muslims as members of a certain “brotherhood” are equal before Allah and is denying all estate and other types of social division. The Wahhabis concentrate not so much on the moral-ethical and spiritual aspects as on a purely organizational side that requires tight discipline (more severe than in a normal Muslim community) maintained by one leader, collective responsibility, etc. The Wahhabi community is not merely a religious society but a militarized religious and political organization. Later these principles were borrowed by the Ihwan movement that sprung from Wahhabism in the early 20th century; still later they reappeared in everyday life of the Muslim religious-political organizations acting today.9

The Wahhabi movement gave rise to the first Saudi state that by the early 19th century had spread to the entire Arabian Peninsula. In 1818 it was routed by Egyptian general Ibrahim Pasha. The Second Riyadh Emirate survived for slightly over twenty years, from 1843 to 1865 and fell apart because of weak central power and strong separatist sentiments among the local rulers. The third stage (that started in 1902) is associated with the name of Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd er-Rahman, head of the ruling Al Saudi dynasty. In 1932 he united the states of Nejd, Hejaz and Al Hasa into a single state, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Throughout these changes Wahhabism preserved his followers—it is still very popular in Saudi Arabia. However those who say that Wahhabism is an official ideology (and even an official religion) of Saudi Arabia are wrong. The kingdom’s official documents have proclaimed Islam, without going into details, the state religion. Nevertheless, the Salafi doctrine, the local name for Wahhabism, is recognized by the state. The founder’s works, mainly dedicated to strict monotheism are regularly issued, studied, and promoted.

Today, there are two opposite opinions about the role of the Saudis in the use of Wahhabism as a powerful ideological weapon designed to help Riyadh realize its regional and global strategic designs. Some experts say that Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with the radicalism and extremism of the Wahhabis. They insist10 that while at the very beginning of the kingdom a transfer to the common Islamic values and balanced politics was obvious, today it has become a necessity with no alternatives. This is true in light of the fact that present-day Islam of the Salafi-Wahhabi type practiced in Saudi Arabia and some other countries is far removed from the “excesses” of the early period.

Indeed, as time went on the key Wahhabi propositions were losing their cutting edge at the state level. The tauhid principle was reduced to what all monotheistic religions say about monotheism. In fact, the pre-Islamic ideas had died out while those of the Arab Muslims who sided with different madhabs never argued with tauhid. The same can be said about taqfir: struggle against infidels inside Islam is no longer topical. Technical progress, an objective need to join the worldwide economy and more intensive cooperation with the world were destroying the principle of bida’. When Mecca and Medina became part of Hejaz another Wahhabi principle about visits to the tombs of saints was pushed to the background. Aggression in relation to other countries under the banner of jihad is no longer topical: having routed the Ihwans in 1929 Saudi Arabia dropped all religious motivation of territorial expansion.

The above authors emphasize that Saudi Arabia would not be able to remain one of the leaders of the Muslim world if it openly exported militant Wahhabism. The state’s new Islamic doctrine no longer fit the Procrustean bed of Wahhabism—in many respects it is its opposite and contradicts its historical practice. In the 1990s Saudi Arabia resolutely rejected the attempts of Muslim extremists to use Islam to cover up terrorist and selfish political aims that had nothing to do with religion. This was one of the most important theses of the Kingdom’s Islamic doctrine.

The same authors point out that as the one of the richest countries of the world Saudi Arabia is lavishly funding its foreign-policy aims—it is seeking a stronger position as a leader of the Muslim world but does not go beyond this. The Ministry for Islam, Faith and Orientation has an important role to play; numerous international Islamic organizations, the bulk of which were set up by Saudi Arabia and are functioning using its money, are working to reach the same aim. They are the Organization of the Islamic Conference with 54 members, the Islamic Bank of Development 25 percent of whose capital came from Saudi Arabia; the Muslim World League that is disseminating Islam and supporting Islamic education; the World Supreme Council for Mosques at the Muslim World League; the Islamic Solidarity Fund designed to extend material and religious-political support to Muslim minorities abroad; the International Islamic Salvation Organization set up to help all Muslims across the world. It is funded by the Muslim tax (zakiat) collected in various places, including the funds of the Ministry for Islamic Affairs of Saudi Arabia, the Muslim Youth League, etc.

The Ministry for Islamic Affairs set up about 25 Saudi Islamic centers abroad (one of them in Moscow), it dispatched several thousands of preachers to about 90 countries of the world. Saudi Arabia contributed to 1.5 thousand mosques built abroad and is funding on a regular basis 20 Islamic institutes of higher learning. In the last ten years Saudi Arabia has disseminated about 1m copies of religious publications; every year 300 to 400 foreigners graduate from its Islamic colleges.11

The authors enumerated above do not deny that Saudi Arabia is pursuing an active foreign policy; it also uses its unique position in the Islamic world to strengthen its geopolitical positions, yet does not support, as a state, religious radicalism and extremism either inside the country or outside it.

Their opponents are accusing the country of exporting the ideology and practice of aggressive Wahhabism.12 They are concerned with the desire of the Saudi extremist circles to exploit the state channels, Islamic funds and private structures to spread radical Wahhabi postulates (no longer popular inside the country) across the world and to sow religious and ethnic strife in various countries and regions. They are convinced that not only the special services and all sorts of funds can be used as the main instrument to realize the Wahhabi doctrine. There are also NGOs of the religious-political bias that are supported and funded by the state through the funds and special services that can be used for the same purpose. They are instruments Saudi Arabia is using to exploit the Wahhabi doctrine so that to achieve definite aims that contradict the national interests of other countries, including Russia.

Indeed, starting with the 1970s Wahhabism has been deliberately and actively promoted outside Saudi Arabia. The process can be divided into three stages. At the first, the 1970s-1980s Wahhabism was accepted as an ideology by numerous antigovernment extremist groups in Arab countries. In the 1980s and 1990s it was actively used to organize a jihad against the “infidel” government in Kabul and the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. At that time it was accepted as an ideology by the “Arab Afghans” and the “second-generation Afghans” (extremists of all nationalities who were trained in Wahhabi camps on the Taliban-controlled territories of Afghanistan). Starting with the 1990s Wahhabis have been aiming at the former Soviet republics, including Russia, and at Southeastern and Western Europe, America, Australia, and Africa. Today, a network of Wahhabi (Salafi) groups, outposts, toeholds, training bases, educational establishments, and coordination centers has spread to may countries of the world.

In view of this both opinions (about Saudi Arabia’s involvement or non-involvement in spreading the ideology and practices of radical Wahhabism) have their reasons and inner logic. At the same time, the truth lies in between two extreme views: like any other Wahhabi state Saudi Arabia cannot be accused of exporting religious extremism and terrorism—there are no firm proofs of this.

One can say that the Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam, that is traditional for these states, is not a monolithic structure. In Saudi Arabia, for example, the religious community is strictly differentiated. There are traditionalists, some of them common people for whom religion means faith, and the pro-governmental clerical circles headed by the Grand Mufti. The other group is religious antigovernmental clandestine movement hostile to the regime, the West, and the United States in particular. It is inclined toward extreme forms of struggle of which terror is part.13

Formally the extremists are part of the radical worldwide Islamic movement (that is a virtual rather than real phenomenon). They recruit supporters to wage jihads in “hot spots” in all corners of the world and are trying to coordinate their activities with like-minded people and structures elsewhere. They, and other supporters of the radical wing of Wahhabism threaten the world order. As an independent political entity extremists become objects of manipulation by other forces, including special services of their own and other states. Examples of this are numerous.

At the same time, the ideology and practice of the religious extremist groups in Saudi Arabia and in many other countries are often associated not so much with Muslim radicalism as with Wahhabism as a whole, which is not correct, to my mind. In fact, not all Wahhabis (Salafis) are threatening the present world order but only their extremist-minded coreligionists. They borrowed the doctrine of Al-Wahhab and his followers and supplied it with new ideas. In other words, neo-Wahhabism while relying on the ideas of earlier, original teaching of its founder has shifted much closer to radicalism during the two centuries of its existence.

According to Alexander Ignatenko this Wahhabism is a heresy within Islam and a result of selection and adaptation of the Koranic and Sunnic propositions to the Wahhabi principles and ideas.14 Here is what a contemporary Wahhabi author has to say about a typically Wahhabi treatment of the Koran and the Sunnah: “In this book I have answered all questions related to the Islamic postulates and supplied my answers as well as I could with quotations from the Koran and the authentic Hadith to convince the reader that my answers were correct.”15

The above demonstrates that the Wahhabis supply their arguments with random quotations from the Koran or the Sunnah to support the author’s opinions. At the same time, orthodox Islam believes that the ulema while working on commentaries on the holy texts should grasp the meaning of what the Creator deemed it necessary to bring to the people in the form of the Koran and the Sunnah of the Prophet. The ulema are not expected to use bits and pieces from them to prop up their own ideas and constructs. The method the Wahhabis employ when dealing with the holy texts creates an impression among their supporters that what they say is correct. And this despite the fact that more often than not there is a partial or even complete discrepancy between what they say and what is said in the Koran or the Sunnah.

This is especially typical of two system-forming provisions of Wahhabism: an accusation of the lack of faith, and the holy religious war. The Wahhabis have been abusing them until they lost their original meaning.

For example, they extend the range of taqfir at will and make the ideas of lack of faith (qufr, or godlessness) and polytheism (shirk or paganism) an absolute. As distinct from Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), theology (kalam), philosophy (falsafah), and theoretical Sufism (tasawwuf) that are striving for a complete and adequate understanding of the meaning of monotheism in the form it is offered to people in the Koran the Wahhabis deny the very possibility of a legal, theological, philosophical or Sufi understanding of the Koran and the Sunnah.

While upholding the idea of strict monotheism the Wahhabis describe as “unfaithful” and “polytheists” all those whom they believe to have digressed from monotheism. They consider as enemies16 Jews and Christians (the people of the Book, ahl al-Qitab).17 In his book about monotheism Al-Wahhab referred to the following pronouncement of the Prophet Muhammad who said: “When one of their pious men or a faithful slave of Allah dies they erect temples on their burials and paint them with portraits. This is the worst of Allah’s creations!”… “Let Allah curse the Jews and Christians who have turned the burials of their prophets into temples!”18 A Salafi author al-Omar called Christians and Jews “obvious enemies of Islam” because “they are irritated with the perfection, nobleness and wide dissemination of Islam.”19 Therefore “the enemies of the Muslims are slandering Islam and its last Apostle Muhammad, Allah bless and greet him, sometimes rejecting his mission, sometimes censuring his behavior though Allah relieved him of all faults.”20

At the same time, none of the Wahhabi books published in Russian that treats the problem of the “unfaithful” Jews and Christians offers an ayat that says: “Those who believe (in the Koran), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, and who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve” (Surah 2, Ayat 62).

The Wahhabis class among the enemies of Islam those Muslims who digressed from the principle of monotheism even to the “smallest extent” (murtadd). What is looked at as digressions? This is: worshipping the righteous ancestors, worshipping Allah at a burial of a righteous man (wali) and worshipping idols, fortune telling by the stars (astrology), any types of fortune telling and carrying amulets and other charms, glorifying an individual, and many other things and actions.21 The Salafis believe that these people do “the greatest harm to Islam” because “they are able to lie, deceive, fail to do what they promised, and be envious—all of this being the greatest sins” so that “people of other faiths may imagine that Islam approves of these crimes.”22

The neo-Wahhabis look at “birthday parties, worshipping on fixed days of the weeks and on fixed weeks of the year, all sorts of religious festivals, celebration of anniversaries and jubilees, erection of statues and monuments, organization of mass mournings, introduction of novelties into the mourning ceremonies, and building all sorts of structures, sumptuous tombs, some of them even made of marble, etc.” as bida’.23

It should be said that the treatise ar-Risala al-Qadiria (Qadiria Treatise of Faith) published in Baghdad in 1017 under Caliph al-Qadir said: “Anybody who failed to observe all the prescribed rules of the faith with the exception of prayer should not be accused of lack of faith.”24 There are well-known pronouncements of the Prophet to the effect that blood, property, and honor of a Muslim are taboo for all Muslims and should not be infringed upon.25 The Wahhabis, however, insist that even the slightest digression from monotheism makes a Muslim an “unfaithful”: “Any vacillation or doubt (about the principle of monotheism.—I.D.) deprives man’s life and his property of inviolability.”26

The Wahhabis look at those whom they call “hypocrites” (munafiqun), that is, the Muslims who “demonstrate their loyalty to Islam and conceal their lack of faith”27 as enemies of Islam. In other words, they may brand any Muslim they suspect of “hypocrisy” as an “unfaithful.” For example, Bin Baz, the former Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia warned: “Anybody who openly or secretly violates (the principle of monotheism as interpreted by the Wahhabis.—I.D.) should be aware that this makes him a godless person and he should be ready to die or to be imprisoned.”28

At the same time, contrary to what the Wahhabis say, the ulema that support tradition and rely on Sunnah explain that a hypocrite is a person who promises something and fails to deliver thus betraying those who trusted him.29 Sh. Alyautdinov who graduated from the most respected in the Muslim world Al-Azhar University, believes that even these demands are too strict. He has said in this connection: “Hasty conclusions about others based on the above criteria are dangerous.”30 He has reminded: “If our thoughts in relation to our brother-Muslims are becoming darker and darker, then the clouds of wrath of Allah the Almighty are gathering above our—precisely our (!) heads.”31

Wahhabis believe that followers of all other ideological trends in Islam, except their own, are also “enemies of Islam.” They say that those who follow the atheist trends like the communist, secular, democratic, capitalist or other similar trends are apostates and signify digression from the religion of Islam.32 This list also includes “anti-religious secularism, oppressing capitalism, Marxist socialism, and atheist Masonry.”33 Judaism is “found behind all and every destructive doctrine that undermines morals and spiritual values,” such doctrines being “Masonry, world-wide Zionism and Babouvism.”34

“The enemies” are those who reject the Shari‘a as the only possible source of law. Al-Fauzan described lack of faith as “rule and judgment not based on what Allah sent to us.”35 The radicals are convinced that lawmaking by men and the right to lawmaking granted to anybody else except Allah contradicts Islam.36

The Wahhabis call themselves “a salvaged group” (as distinct from those whom they accuse of “lack of faith” and “polytheism”) and say that on Doomsday they will avoid the perils of the flames of inferno37 and will go straight to the heaven. What is more they insist that the “salvaged group” is in the minority in the umma, the community of the faithful.38 According to Ignatenko, “the fact that the Wahhabis are in a minority and that they are actually a sect is quite clearly seen.”39

The ideologists of radical Wahhabism (or, in a broader sense, of radical Salafism) proceeded from the above philosophical propositions to develop a misanthropic quasi-scientific conception called Allegiance and Enmity (Al-walaa‘ wa-l’-baraa‘).40 Its explanation can be found, in particular, in a book by a Salafi author Saleh bin Fauzan Al-Fauzan41. He says that mankind can be divided into three groups: those who should be loved and who deserve no enmity; those who should be hated with neither love nor friendship extended to them—they deserve only enmity, and those who, on the one hand, deserve love and, on the other, enmity.

Obviously, the first category is made of the members of the “salvaged group,” that is, the Wahhabis whom their coreligionists should treat with tolerance and benevolence: “One should love, treat with benevolence and help each of the faithful monotheists who avoids any actions banned by the Shari‘a.”42 An absolute obedience to the Wahhabi group and an active enmity (up to and including murder) in relation to all those outside it are the most decisive evidence of monotheism. In other words, to avoid accusations of “lack of faith” any Muslim should prove his monotheism by demonstrating loyalty (allegiance, love, recognition) to the Wahhabis and enmity and hatred to the non-Wahhabis. This rule was registered in words by Al-Wahhab: “This can be attained solely by love to those who practice the tauhid of Allah (that is, to the coreligionists, or the Wahhabis.—I.D.), loyalty to them and extending all types of assistance to them, and also by hatred and enmity in relation to the unfaithful and mushriqs (polytheists.—I.D.).”43

A true monotheist (a member of the Wahhabi jamaat) should hate all those whom other members believe to be “unfaithful,” “polytheists,” and “hypocrites.” Every adept should confirm his enmity with practical deeds up to assassinating his ideological rivals.

The second group comprises all non-Muslims while the third, all Muslims outside the Salafi creed. It is to them that taqfir is applied, they are its main target since the non-Muslims are all kafirs, that is, unfaithful, by definition. In other words, the radical Wahhabis define as unfaithful all the Muslims who fail to follow the version of Islam the Salafis describe as the only correct one. This makes them the main target of the jihad, their major crime is their friendship with other categories of the unfaithful. Al-Fauzan describes the following as the manifestations of such friendship: similar clothes they wear and similar tongues they use; their continued stay in the countries of the unfaithful and refusal to move to an Islamic country to preserve their religion; pleasure trips to the countries of the unfaithful; assistance to such countries when they oppose the Muslims as well as praises and protection of them; calling them for help, trusting them, appointing the unfaithful to the posts on which they can probe into the secrets of the Muslims, and enrolling them as advisors and accomplices; the use of their calendar especially when fixing rites and festivals like Christmas; participation in such festivals, helping organize them and sending out greetings; praising their culture, civilization, rules and skills without due regard for the depravity of their ideas and the false nature of their religion; the use of their personal names; asking Allah to forgive them and praying Him for His benevolence toward them.44

The Wahhabis should “hate everyone who violates the order of Allah (as understood by the radicals.—I.D.), such people should be treated with enmity, a Jihad of the word and heart should be waged against them to the extent it is possible.”45 Assassinations of the “enemies of Islam” should become a system and take up a form of a jihad against the “unfaithful,” “polytheists,” and “hypocrites.” The above explains the war crimes, acts of terror, hostage taking for the sake of a ransom, and torturing prisoners. The neo-Wahhabis literally interpret what the Koran says: “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)” (Surah 9, Ayat 5), “Remember your Lord inspired the angels (with the message): ‘I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite you above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them’” (Surah 8, Ayat 12), “Therefore, when you meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; and when you have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them)” (Surah 47, Ayat 4).

No wonder, in Chechnia trade in prisoners is common; people are beheaded, their fingers are chopped off.

We can see that in the ideological sphere the radical Wahhabis are guiding themselves by the theoretical propositions of Al-Wahhab and his followers crowned with his Allegiance and Enmity On the practical level they are practicing jihad, narrowly understood as a war against all for the triumph of their ideals.

This sort of a jihad is an armed struggle against all those who interfere with the spread of the teaching of Wahhabism and its monopoly domination. The aim of such jihad is struggle against all “enemies of Islam” (the unfaithful, the apostates, and the hypocrites). The radical Wahhabis look at peace as an imposed abstention from jihad as a form of armed struggle. “Jihad should be waged whenever it is possible. This is how the Mecca ayats about peace, forgiveness and repentance are translated into reality when the Muslims are still too weak and how the Medina ayats that prescribe war and armed struggle when the Muslims acquire strength are translated into practical action.”46

The religious radicals resolutely refuse to recognize their jihad as political extremism and terrorism. In this way the numerous terrorist acts of the Islamists in many places that they are interpreting as a “holy war” have created a new situation in the world that cannot be tolerated. Religious terrorism feeds on the jihad preached by the Wahhabis-Salafis: they have removed a moral ban accepted by humanity on killing innocent people whom they describe as “enemies of Islam:” According to Salafi ideas they are “the worst creations in the eyes of Allah,” that is, they are worse than all other creatures because “Allah hates them.”47


1 See: A.A. Ignatenko, “Obyknovenniy vakhkhabizm,” Part 1, “Ereticheskoe techenie v islame,” in: [www.russ.ru], 14 September, 2001.
2 See: Iu.G. Volkov, “Gosudarstvennaia i regionalnaia ideologiia v protsesse modernizatsii obshchestva na Iuge Rossii,” in: Sovremennoe obshchestvo na Iuge Rossii: osnovnye tendentsii razvitia. Sbornik dokladov Vseros. Nauch. Konf., RGU Publishers, Rostov-on-Don, 2001, p. 41.
3 See: E.A. Pozdniakov, Filosofia politiki, Moscow, 1994, p. 244.
4 See: N.S. Kirabaev, Sotsial’naia filosofia musul’manskogo Vostoka (epokha srednevekovia), UDN Publishers, Moscow, 1987.
5 See: I.A. Aleksandrov, “Islamskaia osnova saudovskogo obshchestva i gosudarstva,” in: Korolevstvo Saudovskaia Aravia: proshloe i nastoiashchee, Institute of Oriental Studies, RAS Press, Moscow, 1999, pp. 45-46.
6 For an exposition of the Wahhabi doctrine see: Muhammad bin Suleiman at-Tamimi (Ibn Abd al-Wahhab), Kniga edinobozhia, Badr Publishers, Moscow, 1999; Ayman Al-Yassini, Religion and State in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, London, 1985, pp. 26-29; A.M. Vassiliev, Puritane islama?, Nauka Publishers, Moscow, 1967, pp. 101-104.
7 See, for example: Ibn-Taymiyyah, Minhaj as-Sunna an-nabawiyya (The Method of Prophetic Sunna), in 9 volumes, Muhammad Rashad Salim Publishers, Riyadh, 1986.
8 See: Islamic Quarterly, Vol. XXIII, No. 1, The Islamic Cultural Center, London, January-March 1979, pp. 148-149.
9 See: Idris Abdullah, “Wahhabism: istoria problemy,” Musul’mane, No. 1 (4), 2000, p. 36.
10 See: I.A. Aleksandrov, op. cit.; idem., Monarkhii Persidskogo zaliva: etap modernizatsii, Moscow, 2000; V.M. Porokhova, “Ia — musul’manka i ochen etim schastliva…,” Sovetskaia Adygea, 22 November, 2000; A.I. Iakovlev, “Sotsial’no-politicheskie reformy na rodine islama i Dom Saudov,” Islam i islamizm, ed. by E.M. Kozhokin, V.I. Maksimenko, Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, Moscow, 1999, pp. 179-200, ff.
11 See: I.A. Aleksandrov, op. cit., pp. 77-78.
12 See: G. Kurbanov, “Komu zhe ob’iavlena voina?” Dagestanskaia pravda, 1 March, 2001; A. Surikov, A. Baranov, “Vakhkhabity kak potentsial’naia ugroza,” Pravda-5, 5 February, 1998; M. Tulskiy, “Saudovskie spetssluzhby v borbe za sozdanie mirovogo islamskogo khalifata,” in: [www.russ.ru], 24 September, 2001; “Islamizm: global’naia ugroza?” Nauchnye doklady Series, Moscow, 2000; and others.
13 See: I.P. Dobaev, Islamskiy radikalizm v mezhdunarodnoi politike, Rosizdat Publishers, Rostov-on-Don, 2000, pp. 52-60.
14 See: A.A. Ignatenko, op. cit.
15 Muhammad ibn Jamil Zinu, Islamskaia Akida (verouchenie, ubezhdenie, vozzrenie) po Sviashchennomu Koranu i dostovernym izrecheniam proroka Muhammeda, Badr Publishers, Moscow, p. 4.
16 See: A.A. Ignatenko, “Obyknovenniy vakhkhabizm,” Part 2, “Osobennosti uchenia ‘edinobozhnikov,’ in: [www.russ.ru], 17 September, 2001.
17 See: Programmy po izucheniu shariatskikh nauk, Published by the Ministry for Islamic Affairs, Waqfs, Calling and Orientation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Russian Ibrahim Al Ibrahim Foundation, Moscow, 1999, p. 89.
18 Muhammad bin Suleiman at-Tamimi, op. cit., p. 119.
19 Abdurrahman bin Hammad al-Omar, Religia istiny Islam, Moscow, 1997, p. 53.
20 Ibid., pp. 53-54.
21 See: Muhammad bin Suleiman at-Tamimi, op. cit.; F. Al-Fauzan, Kniga edinobozhia, Badr Publishers, Makhachkala, 1997; M.A. Bashamil, Kak my ponimaem edinobozhie, Badr Publishers, Makhachkala, 1997.
22 Abdurrahman bin Hammad al-Omar, op. cit., p. 53.
23 V. Koreniako, “Vakhkhabizm bez posrednikov,” Gazeta.Ru [www.gazetta.ru/karamaxi.shtml], 25 April, 2000.
24 Quoted from: A. Mets, Musul’manskiy renessans, BiM Publishers, Moscow, 1996, p. 203.
25 See: Nuzha al-muttakyn. Sharh Riyadh us-Salaheen (Walking with the Righteous. Commentary on the book by An-Nawawi Riyadh us-Salaheen (Gardens of the Righteous), in 2 vols, Vol. 1, Al-Risala Publishers, Beirut, 2000, p. 204 (Hadiths Nos. 236, 237).
26 Muhammad bin Suleiman at-Tamimi, op. cit., p. 69.
27 Programmy po izucheniu shariatskikh nauk, pp. 7, 53-61.
28 Bin Baz Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, On the Need to Observe the Sunnah of the Apostle (Allah Bless and Greet Him) and on Recognition as Faithless Those Who Reject It, General Administration for the Press at the Ministry for Islamic Affairs, Waqfs, Calling and Orientation, Riyadh, 2000, p. 35 (in Arabic).
29 See: J. Al-Suyuti, Al-jami’ al-Saghir (The Smaller Collection), al-Qutub al-‘ilmiya Publishers, Beirut, 1990, p. 209 (Hadith No. 3473); Ia. An-Nawawi, Riyadh us-Salaheen, al-Mysriya al-lyubnaniya Publishers, Cairo, 1993, p. 527 (Hadith No. 1541.)
30 Sh. Alyautdinov, Put’ k vere i sovershenstvu, 2nd enlarged and revised edition, With participation and editorship of M. Zargishiev, Mir obrazovania Foundation, Moscow, 2001, pp. 43-44.
31 Ibid., p. 44.
32 See: F. Al-Fauzan, op. cit., p. 64.
33 Muhammad ibn Jamil Zinu, op. cit., p. 131.
34 Ibid., p. 68.
35 F. Al-Fauzan, op. cit., p. 58.
36 See: M.A.-L. Ibrahim, Ustanovlenie zakonov Allaha, Badr Publishers, Makhachkala, 1997.
37 Muhammad ibn Jamil Zinu, op. cit., pp. 120-121.
38 Ibid., p. 121.
39 A.A. Ignatenko, “Obyknovenniy vakhkhabizm,” Part 2, “Osobennosti uchenia ‘edinobozhnikov,’”, p. 4.
40 See: A.A. Ignatenko, “Samoopredelenie islamskogo mira,” in: Islam i politika, ed. by V.Ia. Belokrinitskiy and A.Z. Egorin, Kraft+ Intstitute of Oriental Studies, RAS Press, Moscow, 2001, p. 14.
41 See: Saleh bin Fauzan Al-Fauzan, Druzhba i neprichastnost v Islame (Friendship and Alienation in Islam), Baku, 1997.
42 Quoted from: V. Koreniako, op. cit.
43 Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, Kniga edinobozhia, p. 70.
44 See: Saleh bin Fauzan Al-Fauzan, op. cit., pp. 95-96.
45 V. Koreniako, op. cit.
46 Muhammad ibn Jamil Zinu, op. cit., p. 99.
47 Quoted from: A.A. Ignatenko, “Obyknovenniy vakhkhabizm,” Part 3, “Sotsial’no-politicheskie posledstvia rasprostranenia vakhkhabizma v mire,” in: [www.russ.ru], 19 September, 2001.

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