Wahhabism (Arabic: الوهابية, al-Wahhābiya(h)) is an Islamic doctrine and religious movement founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.[a] It has been variously described as "ultraconservative", "austere", "fundamentalist", or "puritan(ical)"; as an Islamic "reform movement" to restore "pure monotheistic worship" (tawhid) by devotees; and as a "deviant sectarian movement", "vile sect" and a distortion of Islam by its detractors. The term Wahhabi(sm) is often used polemically and adherents commonly reject its use, preferring to be called Salafi or muwahhid. claiming to emphasize the principle of tawhid (the "uniqueness" and "unity" of God), for exclusivity on monotheism, dismissing other Muslims as practising shirk, (idolatry). It follows the theology of Ibn Taymiyyah and the Hanbali school of jurisprudence, although Hanbali leaders renounced Abd al-Wahhab's views.
Wahhabism is named after an eighteenth-century preacher and activist, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792). He started a reform movement in the remote, sparsely populated region of Najd, advocating a purging of such widespread Sunni practices as the veneration of saints and the visiting of their tombs and shrines, that were practiced all over the Islamic world, but which he considered idolatrous impurities and innovations in Islam (Bid'ah). Eventually he formed a pact with a local leader, Muhammad bin Saud, offering political obedience and promising that protection and propagation of the Wahhabi movement meant "power and glory" and rule of "lands and men".
The alliance between followers of ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Muhammad bin Saud's successors (the House of Saud) proved to be a durable one. The House of Saud continued to maintain its politico-religious alliance with the Wahhabi sect through the waxing and waning of its own political fortunes over the next 150 years, through to its eventual proclamation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, and then afterwards, on into modern times. Today Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab's teachings are the official, state-sponsored form of Sunni Islam in Saudi Arabia. With the help of funding from Saudi petroleum exports (and other factors), the movement underwent "explosive growth" beginning in the 1970s and now has worldwide influence. The US State Department has estimated that over the past four decades concerns in Riyadh have directed at least $10bn (£6bn) to select charitable foundations toward the subversion of mainstream Sunni Islam by the harsh intolerance of Wahhabism. (As of 2017 changes to Saudi religious policy by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman have led some to suggest that "Islamists throughout the world will have to follow suit or risk winding up on the wrong side of orthodoxy".)
The "boundaries" of Wahhabism have been called "difficult to pinpoint", but in contemporary usage, the terms Wahhabi and Salafi are often used interchangeably, and they are considered to be movements with different roots that have merged since the 1960s. However, Wahhabism has also been called "a particular orientation within Salafism", or an ultra-conservative, Saudi brand of Salafism. Estimates of the number of adherents to Wahhabism vary, with one source (Mehrdad Izady) giving a figure of fewer than 5 million Wahhabis in the Persian Gulf region (compared to 28.5 million Sunnis and 89 million Shia).
The majority of Sunni and Shia Muslims worldwide disagree with the interpretation of Wahhabism, and many Muslims denounce them as a faction or a "vile sect". Islamic scholars, including those from the Al-Azhar University, regularly denounce Wahhabism with terms such as "Satanic faith". Wahhabism has been accused of being "a source of global terrorism", inspiring the ideology of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and for causing disunity in Muslim communities by labelling Muslims who disagreed with the Wahhabi definition of monotheism as apostates (takfir) and justifying their killing. It has also been criticized for the destruction of historic shrines of saints, mausoleums, and other Muslim and non-Muslim buildings and artifacts.
Some definitions or uses of the term Wahhabi Islam include:
According to Saudi writer Abdul Aziz Qassim and others, it was the Ottomans who "first labelled Abdul Wahhab's school of Islam in Saudi Arabia as Wahhabism". The British also adopted it and expanded its use in the Middle East.
Wahhabis do not like – or at least did not like – the term. Ibn Abd-Al-Wahhab was averse to the elevation of scholars and other individuals, including using a person's name to label an Islamic school.
According to Robert Lacey "the Wahhabis have always disliked the name customarily given to them" and preferred to be called Muwahhidun (Unitarians). Another preferred term was simply "Muslims" since their creed is "pure Islam". However, critics complain these terms imply non-Wahhabis are not monotheists or Muslims. Additionally, the terms Muwahhidun and Unitarians are associated with other sects, both extant and extinct.
Other terms Wahhabis have been said to use and/or prefer include ahl al-hadith ("people of hadith"), Salafi Da'wa or al-da'wa ila al-tawhid ("Salafi preaching" or "preaching of monotheism", for the school rather than the adherents) or Ahl ul-Sunna wal Jama'a ("people of the tradition of Muhammad and the consensus of the Ummah"), Ahl al-Sunnah ("People of the Sunna"), or "the reform or Salafi movement of the Sheikh" (the sheikh being ibn Abdul-Wahhab). Early Salafis referred to themselves simply as "Muslims", believing the neighboring Ottoman Caliphate was al-dawlah al-kufriyya (a heretical nation) and its self-professed Muslim inhabitants actually non-Muslim. The self-designation as "People of the Sunna" was important for Wahhabisms authencity, because during the Ottoman period only Sunnism was the legitimate doctrine.
Many, such as writer Quinton Wiktorowicz, urge use of the term Salafi, maintaining that "one would be hard pressed to find individuals who refer to themselves as Wahhabis or organizations that use 'Wahhabi' in their title, or refer to their ideology in this manner (unless they are speaking to a Western audience that is unfamiliar with Islamic terminology, and even then usage is limited and often appears as 'Salafi/Wahhabi')". A New York Times journalist writes that Saudis "abhor" the term Wahhabism, "feeling it sets them apart and contradicts the notion that Islam is a monolithic faith". Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for example has attacked the term as "a doctrine that doesn't exist here (Saudi Arabia)" and challenged users of the term to locate any "deviance of the form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia from the teachings of the Quran and Prophetic Hadiths". Ingrid Mattson argues that "'Wahhbism' is not a sect. It is a social movement that began 200 years ago to rid Islam of rigid cultural practices that had (been) acquired over the centuries."
On the other hand, according to authors at Global Security and Library of Congress the term is now commonplace and used even by Wahhabi scholars in the Najd, a region often called the "heartland" of Wahhabism. Journalist Karen House calls 'Salafi' "a more politically correct term" for 'Wahhabi'.
Many scholars and critics distinguish between Wahhabi and Salafi. According to American scholar Christopher M. Blanchard, Wahhabism refers to "a conservative Islamic creed centered in and emanating from Saudi Arabia", while Salafiyya is "a more general puritanical Islamic movement that has developed independently at various times and in various places in the Islamic world".
However, many call Wahhabism a more strict, Saudi form of Salafi. Wahhabism is the Saudi version of Salafism, according to Mark Durie, who states Saudi leaders "are active and diligent" in using their considerable financial resources "in funding and promoting Salafism all around the world". Ahmad Moussalli tends to agree Wahhabism is a subset of Salafism, saying "As a rule, all Wahhabis are salafists, but not all salafists are Wahhabis."
Hamid Algar lists three "elements" Wahhabism and Salafism had in common.
And "two important and interrelated features" that distinguished Salafis from the Wahhabis:
Hamid Algar and another critic, Khaled Abou El Fadl, argue Saudi oil-export funding "co-opted" the "symbolism and language of Salafism", during the 1960s and 70s, making them practically indistinguishable by the 1970s, and now the two ideologies have "melded". Abou El Fadl believes Wahhabism rebranded itself as Salafism knowing it could not "spread in the modern Muslim world" as Wahhabism.
The Wahhabi mission started as a revivalist movement in the remote, arid region of Najd. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the Al Saud dynasty, and with it Wahhabism, spread to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. After the discovery of petroleum near the Persian Gulf in 1939, it had access to oil export revenues, revenue that grew to billions of dollars. This money – spent on books, media, schools, universities, mosques, scholarships, fellowships, lucrative jobs for journalists, academics and Islamic scholars – gave Wahhabism a "preeminent position of strength" in Islam around the world.
In the country of Wahhabism's founding – and by far the largest and most powerful country where it is the state religion – Wahhabi ulama gained control over education, law, public morality and religious institutions in the 20th century, while permitting as a "trade-off" doctrinally objectionable actions such as the import of modern technology and communications, and dealings with non-Muslims, for the sake of the consolidation of the power of its political guardian, the Al Saud dynasty.
However, in the last couple of decades of the twentieth century several crises worked to erode Wahhabi "credibility" in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Muslim world – the November 1979 seizure of the Grand Mosque by militants; the deployment of US troops in Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq; and the 9/11 2001 al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.
In each case the Wahhabi establishment was called on to support the dynasty's efforts to suppress religious dissent – and in each case it did – exposing its dependence on the Saudi dynasty and its often unpopular policies.
In the West, the end of the Cold War and the anti-communist alliance with conservative, religious Saudi Arabia, and the 9/11 attacks created enormous distrust towards the kingdom and especially its official religion.
The founder of Wahhabism, Mohammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, was born around 1702–03 in the small oasis town of 'Uyayna in the Najd region, in what is now central Saudi Arabia. He studied in Basra, in what is now Iraq, and possibly Mecca and Medina while there to perform Hajj, before returning to his home town of 'Uyayna in 1740. There he worked to spread the call (da'wa) for what he believed was a restoration of true monotheistic worship (Tawhid).
The "pivotal idea" of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab's teaching was that people who called themselves Muslims but who participated in alleged innovations were not just misguided or committing a sin, but were "outside the pale of Islam altogether", as were Muslims who disagreed with his definition. 
This included not just lax, unlettered, nomadic Bedu, but also Shias and Sunnis such as the Ottomans. Such infidels were not to be killed outright, but to be given a chance to repent first. With the support of the ruler of the town – Uthman ibn Mu'ammar – he carried out some of his religious reforms in 'Uyayna, including the demolition of the tomb of Zayd ibn al-Khattab, one of the Sahaba (companions) of the prophet Muhammad, and the stoning to death of an adulterous woman. However, a more powerful chief (Sulaiman ibn Muhammad ibn Ghurayr) pressured Uthman ibn Mu'ammar to expel him from 'Uyayna.
The ruler of a nearby town, Muhammad ibn Saud, invited ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab to join him, and in 1744 a pact was made between the two.  Ibn Saud would protect and propagate the doctrines of the Wahhabi mission, while ibn Abdul Wahhab "would support the ruler, supplying him with 'glory and power'". Whoever championed his message, ibn Abdul Wahhab promised, "will, by means of it, rule the lands and men".  Ibn Saud would abandon un-Sharia taxation of local harvests, and in return God might compensate him with booty from conquest and sharia compliant taxes that would exceed what he gave up. The alliance between the Wahhabi mission and Al Saud family has "endured for more than two and half centuries", surviving defeat and collapse. The two families have intermarried multiple times over the years and in today's Saudi Arabia, the minister of religion is always a member of the Al ash-Sheikh family, i.e., a descendant of Ibn Abdul Wahhab.
According to most sources, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab declared jihad against neighboring tribes, whose practices of asking saints for their intercession, making pilgrimages to tombs and special mosques, he believed to be the work of idolaters/unbelievers.
One academic disputes this. According to Natana DeLong-Bas, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab was restrained in urging fighting with perceived unbelievers, preferring to preach and persuade rather than attack.  It was only after the death of Muhammad bin Saud in 1765 that, according to DeLong-Bas, Muhammad bin Saud's son and successor, Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad, used a "convert or die" approach to expand his domain, and when Wahhabis adopted the takfir ideas of Ibn Taymiyya.
However, various scholars, including Simon Ross Valentine, have strongly rejected such a view of Wahhab, arguing that "the image of Abd’al-Wahhab presented by DeLong-Bas is to be seen for what it is, namely a re-writing of history that flies in the face of historical fact". Conquest expanded through the Arabian Peninsula until it conquered Mecca and Medina in the early 19th century. It was at this time, according to DeLong-Bas, that Wahhabis embraced the ideas of Ibn Taymiyya, which allow self-professed Muslims who do not follow Islamic law to be declared non-Muslims – to justify their warring and conquering the Muslim Sharifs of Hijaz.
One of their most noteworthy and controversial attacks was on Karbala in 1802. There, according to a Wahhabi chronicler `Uthman b. `Abdullah b. Bishr: "The Muslims" – as the Wahhabis referred to themselves, not feeling the need to distinguish themselves from other Muslims, since they did not believe them to be Muslims –
scaled the walls, entered the city ... and killed the majority of its people in the markets and in their homes. [They] destroyed the dome placed over the grave of al-Husayn [and took] whatever they found inside the dome and its surroundings ... the grille surrounding the tomb which was encrusted with emeralds, rubies, and other jewels ... different types of property, weapons, clothing, carpets, gold, silver, precious copies of the Qur'an.
Saud bin Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad bin Saud managed to establish his rule over southeastern Syria between 1803 and 1812. However, Egyptian forces acting under the Ottoman Empire and led by Ibrahim Pasha, were eventually successful in counterattacking in a campaign starting from 1811. In 1818 they defeated Al-Saud, leveling the capital Diriyah, executing the Al-Saud emir and exiling the emirate's political and religious leadership, and otherwise unsuccessfully attempted to stamp out not just the House of Saud but the Wahhabi mission as well.
A second, smaller Saudi state (Emirate of Nejd) lasted from 1819 to 1891. Its borders being within Najd, Wahhabism was protected from further Ottoman or Egyptian campaigns by the Najd's isolation, lack of valuable resources, and that era's limited communication and transportation.
By the 1880s, at least among townsmen if not Bedouin, Wahhabi strict monotheistic doctrine had become the native religious culture of the Najd.
In 1901, Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud, a fifth generation descendant of Muhammad ibn Saud, began a military campaign that led to the conquest of much of the Arabian peninsula and the founding of present-day Saudi Arabia, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The result that safeguarded the vision of Islam-based on the tenets of Islam as preached by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab was not bloodless, as 40,000 public executions and 350,000 amputations were carried out during its course, according to some estimates.
Under the reign of Abdul-Aziz, "political considerations trumped religious idealism" favored by pious Wahhabis. His political and military success gave the Wahhabi ulama control over religious institutions with jurisdiction over considerable territory, and in later years Wahhabi ideas formed the basis of the rules and laws concerning social affairs, and shaped the kingdom's judicial and educational policies. But protests from Wahhabi ulama were overridden when it came to consolidating power in Hijaz and al-Hasa, avoiding clashes with the great power of the region (Britain), adopting modern technology, establishing a simple governmental administrative framework, or signing an oil concession with the U.S.  The Wahhabi ulama also issued a fatwa affirming that "only the ruler could declare a jihad" (a violation of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab's teaching, according to DeLong-Bas),
As the realm of Wahhabism expanded under Ibn Saud into areas of Shiite (Al-Hasa, conquered in 1913) and pluralistic Muslim tradition (Hejaz, conquered in 1924–25), Wahhabis pressed for forced conversion of Shia and an eradication of (what they saw as) idolatry. Ibn Saud sought "a more relaxed approach".
In al-Hasa, efforts to stop the observance of Shia religious holidays and replace teaching and preaching duties of Shia clerics with Wahhabi, lasted only a year.
In Mecca and Jeddah (in Hejaz) prohibition of tobacco, alcohol, playing cards and listening to music on the phonograph was looser than in Najd. Over the objections of Wahhabi ulama, Ibn Saud permitted both the driving of automobiles and the attendance of Shia at hajj.
Enforcement of the commanding right and forbidding wrong, such as enforcing prayer observance and separation of the sexes, developed a prominent place during the second Saudi emirate, and in 1926 a formal committee for enforcement was founded in Mecca. 
While Wahhabi warriors swore loyalty to monarchs of Al Saud, there was one major rebellion. King Abdul-Aziz put down rebelling Ikhwan – nomadic tribesmen turned Wahhabi warriors who opposed his "introducing such innovations as telephones, automobiles, and the telegraph" and his "sending his son to a country of unbelievers (Egypt)".  Britain had aided Abdul-Aziz, and when the Ikhwan attacked the British protectorates of Transjordan, Iraq and Kuwait, as a continuation of jihad to expand the Wahhabist realm, Abdul-Aziz struck, killing hundreds before the rebels surrendered in 1929.
Before Abdul-Aziz, during most of the second half of the 19th century, there was a strong aversion in Wahhabi lands to mixing with "idolaters" (which included most of the Muslim world). Voluntary contact was considered by Wahhabi clerics to be at least a sin, and if one enjoyed the company of idolaters, and "approved of their religion", an act of unbelief. Travel outside the pale of Najd to the Ottoman lands "was tightly controlled, if not prohibited altogether".
Over the course of its history, however, Wahhabism has become more accommodating towards the outside world. In the late 1800s, Wahhabis found Muslims with at least similar beliefs – first with Ahl-i Hadith in India, and later with Islamic revivalists in Arab states (one being Mahmud Sahiri al-Alusi in Baghdad). The revivalists and Wahhabis shared a common interest in Ibn Taymiyya's thought, the permissibility of ijtihad, and the need to purify worship practices of innovation. In the 1920s, Rashid Rida, a pioneer Salafist whose periodical al-Manar was widely read in the Muslim world, published an "anthology of Wahhabi treatises", and a work praising the Ibn Saud as "the savior of the Haramayn [the two holy cities] and a practitioner of authentic Islamic rule".
In a bid "to join the Muslim mainstream and to erase the reputation of extreme sectarianism associated with the Ikhwan", in 1926 Ibn Saud convened a Muslim congress of representatives of Muslim governments and popular associations. By the early 1950s, the "pressures" on Ibn Saud of controlling the regions of Hejaz and al-Hasa – "outside the Wahhabi heartland" – and of "navigating the currents of regional politics" "punctured the seal" between the Wahhabi heartland and the "land of idolatry" outside.
A major current in regional politics at that time was secular nationalism, which, with Gamal Abdul Nasser, was sweeping the Arab world. To combat it, Wahhabi missionary outreach worked closely with Saudi foreign policy initiatives. In May 1962, a conference in Mecca organized by Saudis discussed ways to combat secularism and socialism. In its wake, the World Muslim League was established. To propagate Islam and "repel inimical trends and dogmas", the League opened branch offices around the globe. It developed closer association between Wahhabis and leading Salafis, and made common cause with the Islamic revivalist Muslim Brotherhood, Ahl-i Hadith and the Jamaat-i Islami, combating Sufism and "innovative" popular religious practices and rejecting the West and Western "ways which were so deleterious of Muslim piety and values". Missionaries were sent to West Africa, where the League funded schools, distributed religious literature, and gave scholarships to attend Saudi religious universities. One result was the Izala Society which fought Sufism in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon.
An event that had a great effect on Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia was the "infiltration of the transnationalist revival movement" in the form of thousands of pious, Islamist Arab Muslim Brotherhood refugees from Egypt following Nasser's clampdown on the Brotherhood (and also from similar nationalist clampdowns in Iraq and Syria), to help staff the new school system of the (largely illiterate) Kingdom.
The Brotherhood's Islamist ideology differed from the more conservative Wahhabism which preached loyal obedience to the king. The Brotherhood dealt in what one author (Robert Lacey) called "change-promoting concepts" like social justice and anticolonialism, and gave "a radical, but still apparently safe, religious twist" to the Wahhabi values Saudi students "had absorbed in childhood". With the Brotherhood's "hands-on, radical Islam", jihad became a "practical possibility today", not just part of history.
The Brethren were ordered by the Saudi clergy and government not to attempt to proselytize or otherwise get involved in religious doctrinal matters within the Kingdom, but nonetheless "took control" of Saudi Arabia's intellectual life" by publishing books and participating in discussion circles and salons held by princes. In time they took leading roles in key governmental ministries, and had influence on education curriculum. An Islamic university in Medina created in 1961 to train – mostly non-Saudi – proselytizers to Wahhabism became "a haven" for Muslim Brother refugees from Egypt. The Brothers' ideas eventually spread throughout the kingdom and had great effect on Wahhabism – although observers differ as to whether this was by "undermining" it or "blending" with it.
In the 1950s and 60s within Saudi Arabia, the Wahhabi ulama maintained their hold on religious law courts, and presided over the creation of Islamic universities and a public school system which gave students "a heavy dose of religious instruction". Outside of Saudi the Wahhabi ulama became "less combative" toward the rest of the Muslim world. In confronting the challenge of the West, Wahhabi doctrine "served well" for many Muslims as a "platform" and "gained converts beyond the peninsula".
A number of reasons have been given for this success: the growth in popularity and strength of both Arab nationalism (although Wahhabis opposed any form of nationalism as an ideology, Saudis were Arabs, and their enemy the Ottoman caliphate was ethnically Turkish), and Islamic reform (specifically reform by following the example of those first three generations of Muslims known as the Salaf); the destruction of the Ottoman Empire which sponsored their most effective critics; the destruction of another rival, the Khilafa in Hejaz, in 1925.
Not least in importance was the money Saudi Arabia earned from exporting oil.
The pumping and export of oil from Saudi Arabia started during World War II, and its earnings helped fund religious activities in the 1950s and 60s. But it was the 1973 oil crisis and quadrupling in the price of oil that both increased the kingdom's wealth astronomically and enhanced its prestige by demonstrating its international power as a leader of OPEC. By 1980, Saudi Arabia was earning every three days the income from oil it had taken a year to earn before the embargo. Tens of billions of US dollars of this money were spent on books, media, schools, scholarships for students (from primary to post-graduate), fellowships and subsidies to reward journalists, academics and Islamic scholars, the building of hundreds of Islamic centers and universities, and over one thousand schools and one thousand mosques.  During this time, Wahhabism attained what Gilles Kepel called a "preeminent position of strength in the global expression of Islam".
The "apex of cooperation" between Wahhabis and Muslim revivalist groups was the Afghan jihad.
In December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Shortly thereafter, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, a Muslim Brother cleric with ties to Saudi religious institutions, issued a fatwa declaring defensive jihad in Afghanistan against the atheist Soviet Union, "fard ayn", a personal (or individual) obligation for all Muslims. The edict was supported by Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti (highest religious scholar), Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz, among others.
Between 1982 and 1992 an estimated 35,000 individual Muslim volunteers went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets and their Afghan regime. Thousands more attended frontier schools teeming with former and future fighters. Somewhere between 12,000 and 25,000 of these volunteers came from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and the other conservative Gulf monarchies also provided considerable financial support to the jihad – $600 million a year by 1982.
By 1989, Soviet troops had withdrawn and within a few years the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul had collapsed.
This Saudi/Wahhabi religious triumph further stood out in the Muslim world because many Muslim-majority states (and the PLO) were allied with the Soviet Union and did not support the Afghan jihad. But many jihad volunteers (most famously Osama bin Laden) returning home to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere were often radicalized by Islamic militants who were "much more extreme than their Saudi sponsors".
The February 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran challenged Saudi Wahhabism in a number of ways on a number of fronts. It was a revolution of Shia, not Sunni, Islam and Wahhabism held that Shia were not truly Muslims. Nonetheless, its massive popularity in Iran and its overthrow of a pro-American secular monarchy generated enormous enthusiasm among pious Sunni, not just Shia Muslims around the world. Its leader (Ruhollah Khomeini) preached that monarchy was against Islam and America was Islam's enemy, and called for the overthrow of al-Saud family. (In 1987 public address Khomeini declared that "these vile and ungodly Wahhabis are like daggers which have always pierced the heart of the Muslims from the back", and announced that Mecca was in the hands of "a band of heretics". ) All this spurred Saudi Arabia – a kingdom allied with America – to "redouble their efforts to counter Iran and spread Wahhabism around the world", and reversed any moves by Saudi leaders to distance itself from Wahhabism or "soften" its ideology.
In 1979, 400–500 Islamist insurgents, using smuggled weapons and supplies, took over the Grand mosque in Mecca, called for an overthrow of the monarchy, denounced the Wahhabi ulama as royal puppets, and announced the arrival of the Mahdi of "end time". The insurgents deviated from Wahhabi doctrine in significant details, but were also associated with leading Wahhabi ulama (Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz knew the insurgent's leader, Juhayman al-Otaybi). Their seizure of Islam's holiest site, the taking hostage of hundreds of hajj pilgrims, and the deaths of hundreds of militants, security forces and hostages caught in crossfire during the two-week-long retaking of the mosque, all shocked the Islamic world and did not enhance the prestige of Al Saud as "custodians" of the mosque.
The incident also damaged the prestige of the Wahhabi establishment. Saudi leadership sought and received Wahhabi fatawa to approve the military removal of the insurgents and after that to execute them, but Wahhabi clerics also fell under suspicion for involvement with the insurgents. In part as a consequence, Sahwa clerics influenced by Brethren's ideas were given freer rein. Their ideology was also thought more likely to compete with the recent Islamic revolutionism/third-worldism of the Iranian Revolution.
Although the insurgents were motivated by religious puritanism, the incident was not followed by a crackdown on other religious purists, but by giving greater power to the ulama and religious conservatives to more strictly enforce Islamic codes in myriad ways – from the banning of women's images in the media to adding even more hours of Islamic studies in school and giving more power and money to the religious police to enforce conservative rules of behaviour.
In August 1990 Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait. Concerned that Saddam Hussein might push south and seize its own oil fields, Saudis requested military support from the US and allowed tens of thousands of US troops to be based in the Kingdom to fight Iraq. But what "amounted to seeking infidels' assistance against a Muslim power" was difficult to justify in terms of Wahhabi doctrine.
Again Saudi authorities sought and received a fatwa from leading Wahhabi ulama supporting their action. The fatwa failed to persuade many conservative Muslims and ulama who strongly opposed US presence, including the Muslim Brotherhood-supported Sahwah "Awakening" movement that began pushing for political change in the kingdom. Outside the kingdom, Islamist revival groups that had long received aid from Saudi and had ties with Wahhabis (Arab jihadists, Pakistani and Afghan Islamists) supported Iraq, not Saudi.
During this time and later, many in the Wahhabi/Salafi movement (such as Osama bin Laden) not only no longer looked to the Saudi monarch as an emir of Islam, but supported his overthrow, focusing on jihad against the US and (what they believe are) other enemies of Islam. (This movement is sometimes called neo-Wahhabi or neo-salafi.)
The 2001 9/11 attacks on Saudi's putative ally, the US, that killed almost 3,000 people and caused at least $10 billion in property and infrastructure damage, were assumed by many, at least outside the kingdom, to be "an expression of Wahhabism" since the al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals. A backlash in the formerly hospitable US against the kingdom focused on its official religion that came to be considered by some "a doctrine of terrorism and hate".
Inside the kingdom, Crown Prince Abdullah addressed the country's religious, tribal, business and media leadership following the attacks in a series of televised gatherings calling for a strategy to correct what had gone wrong. According to Robert Lacey, the gatherings and later articles and replies by a top cleric, Abdullah Turki, and two top Al Saud princes, Prince Turki Al-Faisal and Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz, served as an occasion to sort out who had the ultimate power in the kingdom: not the ulama, but rather the Al Saud dynasty. They declared that Muslim rulers were meant to exercise power, while religious scholars were meant to advise.
In 2003–04, Saudi Arabia saw a wave of al-Qaeda-related suicide bombings, attacks on Non-Muslim foreigners (about 80% of those employed in the Saudi private sector are foreign workers and constitute about 30% of the country's population), and gun battles between Saudi security forces and militants. One reaction to the attacks was a trimming back of the Wahhabi establishment's domination of religion and society. "National Dialogues" were held that included "Shiites, Sufis, liberal reformers, and professional women". In 2009, as part of what some called an effort to "take on the ulama and reform the clerical establishment", King Abdullah issued a decree that only "officially approved" religious scholars would be allowed to issue fatwas in Saudi Arabia. The king also expanded the Council of Senior Scholars (containing officially approved religious scholars) to include scholars from Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence other than the Hanbali madhab—Shafi'i, Hanafi and Maliki schools.
Relations with the Muslim Brotherhood have deteriorated steadily. After 9/11, the then interior minister Prince Nayef blamed the Brotherhood for extremism in the kingdom, and he declared it guilty of "betrayal of pledges and ingratitude" and "the source of all problems in the Islamic world", after it was elected to power in Egypt. In March 2014 the Saudi government declared the Brotherhood a "terrorist organization".
In April 2016, Saudi Arabia stripped its religious police, who enforce Islamic law on the society and are known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, from their power to follow, chase, stop, question, verify identification, or arrest any suspected persons when carrying out duties. They were told to report suspicious behaviour to regular police and anti-drug units, who would decide whether to take the matter further.
Bold reformist actions on religious policy taken by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MbS) in 2017 have led some to question the future of Wahhabi conservatism. In an October 2017 interview with The Guardian newspaper, MbS stated
What happened in the last 30 years is not Saudi Arabia. What happened in the region in the last 30 years is not the Middle East. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, people wanted to copy this model in different countries, one of them is Saudi Arabia. We didn't know how to deal with it. And the problem spread all over the world. Now is the time to get rid of it.
MbS has ruled in favor of allowing women to drive and enter sport stadiums, eventually reopening cinemas. According to Kamel Daoud, MbS is "above all ... putting pressure on the clergy and announcing the review and certification of the great canons of Muslim orthodoxy, including the hadiths, the collection of the Prophet Muhammad's sayings".
MbS's pronouncements, as well as an international conference on Sunni Islam in Grozny (funded by the government of the United Arab Emirates) where "200 Muslim scholars from Egypt, Russia, Syria, Sudan, Jordan, and Europe reject[ed] Saudi Arabia's doctrine", have been called a "frontal assault on Wahhabism" (as well as an assault on other conservative "interpretations of Islam, such as Salafism and Deobandism").
A widely circulated but discredited apocryphal description of the founding of Wahhabism known as Memoirs of Mr. Hempher, The British Spy to the Middle East (other titles have been used) alleges that a British agent named Hempher was responsible for the creation of Wahhabism. In the "memoir", Hempher corrupts Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, manipulating him to preach his new interpretation of Islam for the purpose of sowing dissension and disunity among Muslims so that "We, the English people ... may live in welfare and luxury."
As a religious revivalist movement that works to bring Muslims back from what it believes are foreign accretions that have corrupted Islam, and believes that Islam is a complete way of life and so has prescriptions for all aspects of life, Wahhabism is quite strict in what it considers Islamic behavior. As a result, it has been described as the "strictest form of Sunni Islam". On the other hand critics argue, Wahhabism is not strict, but a distorted version of Islam and not based on traditional Shari'a law, nor is their practise typical or mired in the roots of Islam.
This does not mean however, that all adherents agree on what is required or forbidden, or that rules have not varied by area or changed over time. In Saudi Arabia the strict religious atmosphere of Wahhabi doctrine is visible in the conformity in dress, public deportment, and public prayer, and makes its presence felt by the wide freedom of action of the "religious police", clerics in mosques, teachers in schools, and judges (who are religious legal scholars) in Saudi courts.
Wahhabism is noted for its policy of "compelling its own followers and other Muslims strictly to observe the religious duties of Islam, such as the five prayers", and for "enforcement of public morals to a degree not found elsewhere".
While other Muslims might urge abstention from alcohol, modest dress, and salat prayer, for Wahhabis prayer "that is punctual, ritually correct, and communally performed not only is urged but publicly required of men." Not only is wine forbidden, but so are "all intoxicating drinks and other stimulants, including tobacco." Not only is modest dress prescribed, but the type of clothing that should be worn, especially by women (a black abaya, covering all but the eyes and hands) is specified.
Following the preaching and practice of Abdul Wahhab that coercion should be used to enforce following of sharia, an official committee has been empowered to "Command the Good and Forbid the Evil" (the so-called "religious police") in Saudi Arabia – the one country founded with the help of Wahhabi warriors and whose scholars and pious citizens dominate many aspects of the Kingdom's life. Committee "field officers" enforce strict closing of shops at prayer time, segregation of the sexes, prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcohol, driving of motor vehicles by women, and other social restrictions.
A large number of practices have been reported forbidden by Saudi Wahhabi officials, preachers or religious police. Practices that have been forbidden as Bida'a (innovation) or shirk and sometimes "punished by flogging" during Wahhabi history include performing or listening to music, dancing, fortune telling, amulets, television programs (unless religious), smoking, playing backgammon, chess, or cards, drawing human or animal figures, acting in a play or writing fiction (both are considered forms of lying), dissecting cadavers (even in criminal investigations and for the purposes of medical research), recorded music played over telephones on hold or the sending of flowers to friends or relatives who are in the hospital. Common Muslim practices Wahhabis believe are contrary to Islam include listening to music in praise of Muhammad, praying to God while visiting tombs (including the tomb of Muhammad), celebrating mawlid (birthday of the Prophet), the use of ornamentation on or in mosques. The driving of motor vehicles by women is allowed in every country but Wahhabi-dominated Saudi Arabia and dream interpretation, practiced by the famously strict Taliban, is discouraged by Wahhabis.
Wahhabism emphasizes "Thaqafah Islamiyyah" or Islamic culture and the importance of avoiding non-Islamic cultural practices and non-Muslim friendship no matter how innocent these may appear, on the grounds that the Sunna forbids imitating non-Muslims. Foreign practices sometimes punished and sometimes simply condemned by Wahhabi preachers as unIslamic, include celebrating foreign days (such as Valentine's Day  or Mothers Day) shaving, cutting or trimming of beards, giving of flowers, standing up in honor of someone, celebrating birthdays (including the Prophet's), keeping or petting dogs. Wahhabi scholars have warned against taking non-Muslims as friends, smiling at or wishing them well on their holidays.
Wahhabis are not in unanimous agreement on what is forbidden as sin. Some Wahhabi preachers or activists go further than the official Saudi Arabian Council of Senior Scholars in forbidding (what they believe to be) sin. Several wahhabis have declared football forbidden for a variety of reasons including it is a non-Muslim, foreign practice, because of the revealing uniforms and because of the foreign non-Muslim language used in matches.  The Saudi Grand Mufti, on the other hand has declared football permissible (halal). 
Senior Wahhabi leaders in Saudi Arabia have determined that Islam forbids the traveling or working outside the home by a woman without their husband's permission – permission which may be revoked at any time – on the grounds that the different physiological structures and biological functions of the two sexes mean that each is assigned a distinctive role to play in the family. As mentioned before, Wahhabism also forbids the driving of motor vehicles by women. Sexual intercourse out of wedlock may be punished with beheading, although sex out of wedlock was permissible with a female slave until the practice of slavery was banned in 1962 (Prince Bandar bin Sultan was the product of "a brief encounter" between his father Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz – the Saudi defense minister for many years – and "his slave, a black servingwoman").
Despite this strictness, senior Wahhabi scholars of Islam in the Saudi kingdom have made exceptions in ruling on what is haram. Foreign non-Muslim troops are forbidden in Arabia, except when the king needed them to confront Saddam Hussein in 1990; gender mixing of men and women is forbidden, and fraternization with non-Muslims is discouraged, but not at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Movie theaters and driving by women are forbidden, except at the ARAMCO compound in eastern Saudi, populated by workers for the company that provides almost all the government's revenue. The exceptions made at KAUST are also in effect at ARAMCO.
More general rules of what is permissible have changed over time. Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud imposed Wahhabi doctrines and practices "in a progressively gentler form" as his early 20th-century conquests expanded his state into urban areas, especially the Hejab. After vigorous debate Wahhabi religious authorities in Saudi Arabia allowed the use of paper money (in 1951), the abolition of slavery (in 1962), education of females (1964), and use of television (1965). Music, the sound of which once might have led to summary execution, is now commonly heard on Saudi radios.  Minarets for mosques and use of funeral markers, which were once forbidden, are now allowed. Prayer attendance, which was once enforced by flogging, is no longer.
The uniformity of dress among men and women in Saudi Arabia (compared to other Muslim countries in the Middle East) has been called a "striking example of Wahhabism's outward influence on Saudi society", and an example of the Wahhabi belief that "outward appearances and expressions are directly connected to one's inward state." The "long, white flowing thobe" worn by men of Saudi Arabia has been called the "Wahhabi national dress". Red-and-white checkered or white head scarves known as Ghutrah are worn. In public women are required to wear a black abaya or other black clothing that covers every part of their body other than hands and eyes.
A "badge" of a particularly pious Salafi or Wahhabi man is a robe too short to cover the ankle, an untrimmed beard, and no cord (Agal) to hold the head scarf in place. The warriors of the Ikhwan Wahhabi religious militia wore a white turban in place of an agal.
Wahhabi mission, or Dawah Wahhabiyya, is the idea of spreading Wahhabism throughout the world.  Tens of billions of dollars have been spent by the Saudi government and charities on mosques, schools, education materials, scholarships, throughout the world to promote Islam and the Wahhabi interpretation of it. Tens of thousands of volunteers and several billion dollars also went in support of the jihad against the atheist communist regime governing Afghanistan.
Wahhabism originated in the Najd region, and its conservative practices have stronger support there than in regions in the kingdom to the east or west of it. Glasse credits the softening of some Wahhabi doctrines and practices on the conquest of the Hejaz region "with its more cosmopolitan traditions and the traffic of pilgrims which the new rulers could not afford to alienate".
The only other country "whose native population is Wahhabi and that adheres to the Wahhabi creed", is the small gulf monarchy of Qatar, whose version of Wahhabism is notably less strict. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Qatar made significant changes in the 1990s. Women are now allowed to drive and travel independently; non-Muslims are permitted to consume alcohol and pork. The country sponsors a film festival, has "world-class art museums", hosts Al Jazeera news service, will hold the 2022 football World Cup, and has no religious force that polices public morality. Qataris attribute its different interpretation of Islam to the absence of an indigenous clerical class and autonomous bureaucracy (religious affairs authority, endowments, Grand Mufti), the fact that Qatari rulers do not derive their legitimacy from such a class.
Adherents to the Wahhabi movement identify as Sunni Muslims. The primary Wahhabi doctrine is affirmation of the uniqueness and unity of God (Tawhid), and opposition to shirk (violation of tawhid – "the one unforgivable sin", according to Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab). They call for adherence to the beliefs and practices of the salaf (exemplary early Muslims). They strongly oppose what they consider to be heterodox doctrines, particularly those held by the vast majority of Sunnis and Shiites, and practices such as the veneration of Prophets and saints in the Islamic tradition. They emphasize reliance on the literal meaning of the Quran and hadith, rejecting rationalistic theology (kalam). Wahhabism has been associated with the practice of takfir (labeling Muslims who disagree with their doctrines as apostates). Adherents of Wahhabism are favourable to derivation of new legal rulings (ijtihad) so long as it is true to the essence of the Quran, Sunnah and understanding of the salaf.
In theology Wahhabism is closely aligned with the Athari (literal) school, which represents the prevalent theological position of the Hanbali school of law. Athari theology is characterized by reliance on the zahir (apparent or literal) meaning of the Quran and hadith, and opposition to the rational argumentation in matters of belief favored by Ash'ari and Maturidi theology. However, Wahhabism diverges in some points of theology from other Athari movements. These include a zealous tendency toward takfir, which bears a resemblance to the Kharijites. Another distinctive feature is a strong opposition to mysticism. Although it is typically attributed to the influence of Ibn Taymiyyah, Jeffry Halverson argues that Ibn Taymiyyah only opposed what he saw as Sufi excesses and never mysticism in itself, being himself a member of the Qadiriyyah Sufi order. DeLong-Bas writes that Ibn Abd al-Wahhab did not denounce Sufism or Sufis as a group, but rather attacked specific practices which he saw as inconsistent with the Quran and hadith.
Ibn Abd al-Wahhab considered some beliefs and practices of the Shia to violate the doctrine of monotheism. According to DeLong-Bas, in his polemic against the "extremist Rafidah sect of Shiis", he criticized them for assigning greater authority to their current leaders than to Muhammad in interpreting the Quran and sharia, and for denying the validity of the consensus of the early Muslim community. He also believed that the Shia doctrine of infallibility of the imams constituted associationism with God.
David Commins describes the "pivotal idea" in Ibn Abd al-Wahhab's teaching as being that "Muslims who disagreed with his definition of monotheism were not ... misguided Muslims, but outside the pale of Islam altogether." This put Ibn Abd al-Wahhab's teaching at odds with that of most Muslims through history who believed that the "shahada" profession of faith ("There is no god but God, Muhammad is his messenger") made one a Muslim, and that shortcomings in that person's behavior and performance of other obligatory rituals rendered them "a sinner", but "not an unbeliever."
Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab did not accept that view. He argued that the criterion for one's standing as either a Muslim or an unbeliever was correct worship as an expression of belief in one God ... any act or statement that indicates devotion to a being other than God is to associate another creature with God's power, and that is tantamount to idolatry (shirk). Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab included in the category of such acts popular religious practices that made holy men into intercessors with God. That was the core of the controversy between him and his adversaries, including his own brother.
In Ibn Abd al-Wahhab's major work, a small book called Kitab al-Tawhid, he states that worship in Islam is limited to conventional acts of worship such as the five daily prayers (salat); fasting for Ramadan (Sawm); Dua (supplication); Istia'dha (seeking protection or refuge); Ist'ana (seeking help), and Istigatha to Allah (seeking benefits and calling upon Allah alone). Worship beyond this – making du'a or tawassul – are acts of shirk and in violation of the tenets of Tawhid (monotheism).
Ibn Abd al-Wahahb's justification for considering the majority of Muslims of Arabia to be unbelievers, and for waging war on them, can be summed up as his belief that the original pagans the prophet Muhammad fought "affirmed that God is the creator, the sustainer and the master of all affairs; they gave alms, they performed pilgrimage and they avoided forbidden things from fear of God". What made them pagans whose blood could be shed and wealth plundered was that "they sacrificed animals to other beings; they sought the help of other beings; they swore vows by other beings." Someone who does such things even if their lives are otherwise exemplary is not a Muslim but an unbeliever (as Ibn Abd al-Wahahb believed). Once such people have received the call to "true Islam", understood it and then rejected it, their blood and treasure are forfeit.
This disagreement between Wahhabis and non-Wahhabi Muslims over the definition of worship and monotheism has remained much the same since 1740, according to David Commins, although, according to Saudi writer and religious television show host Abdul Aziz Qassim, as of 2014, "there are changes happening within the [Wahhabi] doctrine and among its followers."
According to another source, defining aspects of Wahhabism include a very literal interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah and a tendency to reinforce local practices of the Najd.
Whether the teachings of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab included the need for social renewal and "plans for socio-religious reform of society" in the Arabian Peninsula, rather than simply a return to "ritual correctness and moral purity", is disputed.
Of the four major sources in Sunni fiqh – the Quran, the Sunna, consensus (ijma), and analogical reasoning (qiyas) – Ibn Abd al-Wahhab's writings emphasized the Quran and Sunna. He used ijma only "in conjunction with its corroboration of the Quran and hadith" (and giving preference to the ijma of Muhammad's companions rather than the ijma of legal specialists after his time), and qiyas only in cases of extreme necessity. He rejected deference to past juridical opinion (taqlid) in favor of independent reasoning (ijtihad), and opposed using local customs. He urged his followers to "return to the primary sources" of Islam in order "to determine how the Quran and Muhammad dealt with specific situations", when using ijtihad. According to Edward Mortimer, it was imitation of past juridical opinion in the face of clear contradictory evidence from hadith or Qur'anic text that Ibn Abd al-Wahhab condemned. Natana DeLong-Bas writes that the Wahhabi tendency to consider failure to abide by Islamic law as equivalent to apostasy was based on the ideology of Ibn Taymiyya rather than Ibn Abd al-Wahhab's preaching and emerged after the latter's death.
According to an expert on law in Saudi Arabia (Frank Vogel), Ibn Abd al-Wahhab himself "produced no unprecedented opinions". The "Wahhabis' bitter differences with other Muslims were not over fiqh rules at all, but over aqida, or theological positions". Scholar David Cummings also states that early disputes with other Muslims did not center on fiqh, and that the belief that the distinctive character of Wahhabism stems from Hanbali legal thought is a "myth".
Some scholars are ambivalent as to whether Wahhabis belong to the Hanbali legal school. The Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World maintains Wahhabis "rejected all jurisprudence that in their opinion did not adhere strictly to the letter of the Qur'an and the hadith". Cyril Glasse's New Encyclopedia of Islam states that "strictly speaking", Wahhabis "do not see themselves as belonging to any school," and that in doing so they correspond to the ideal aimed at by Ibn Hanbal, and thus they can be said to be of his 'school'.  According to DeLong-Bas, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab never directly claimed to be a Hanbali jurist, warned his followers about the dangers of adhering unquestionably to fiqh, and did not consider "the opinion of any law school to be binding." He did, however, follow the Hanbali methodology of judging everything not explicitly forbidden to be permissible, avoiding the use of analogical reasoning, and taking public interest and justice into consideration.
According to various sources—scholars, former Saudi students,  Arabic-speaking/reading teachers who have had access to Saudi text books,  and journalists – Ibn `Abd al Wahhab and his successors preach that theirs is the one true form of Islam. According to a doctrine known as al-wala` wa al-bara` (literally, "loyalty and disassociation"), Abd al-Wahhab argued that it was "imperative for Muslims not to befriend, ally themselves with, or imitate non-Muslims or heretical Muslims", and that this "enmity and hostility of Muslims toward non-Muslims and heretical had to be visible and unequivocal." Even as late as 2003, entire pages in Saudi textbooks were devoted to explaining to undergraduates that all forms of Islam except Wahhabism were deviation, although, according to one source (Hamid Algar) Wahhabis have "discreetly concealed" this view from other Muslims outside Saudi Arabia "over the years."
In reply, the Saudi Arabian government "has strenuously denied the above allegations", including that "their government exports religious or cultural extremism or supports extremist religious education."
According to ibn Abdal-Wahhab there are three objectives for Islamic government and society: "to believe in Allah, enjoin good behavior, and forbid wrongdoing." This doctrine has been sustained in missionary literature, sermons, fatwa rulings, and explications of religious doctrine by Wahhabis since the death of ibn Abdal-Wahhab. Ibn Abd al-Wahhab saw a role for the imam, "responsible for religious matters", and the amir, "in charge of political and military issues". (In Saudi history the imam has not been a religious preacher or scholar, but Muhammad ibn Saud and subsequent Saudi rulers.)
He also taught that the Muslim ruler is owed unquestioned allegiance as a religious obligation from his people so long as he leads the community according to the laws of God. A Muslim must present a bayah, or oath of allegiance, to a Muslim ruler during his lifetime to ensure his redemption after death. Any counsel given to a ruler from community leaders or ulama should be private, not through public acts such as petitions, demonstrations, etc.   (This strict obedience can become problematic if a dynastic dispute arises and someone rebelling against the ruler succeeds and becomes the ruler, as happened in the late 19th century at the end of the second al-Saud state. Is the successful rebel a ruler to be obeyed, or a usurper?)
While this gives the king wide power, respecting shari'a does impose limits, such as giving qadi (Islamic judges) independence. This means not interfering in their deliberations, but also not codifying laws, following precedents or establishing a uniform system of law courts – both of which violate the qadi's independence.
Wahhabis have traditionally given their allegiance to the House of Saud, but a movement of "Salafi jihadis" has developed among those who believe Al Saud has abandoned the laws of God. According to Zubair Qamar, while the "standard view" is that "Wahhabis are apolitical and do not oppose the State", there is another "strain" of Wahhabism that "found prominence among a group of Wahhabis after the fall of the second Saudi State in the 1800s", and post 9/11 is associated with Jordanian/Palestinian scholar Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and "Wahhabi scholars of the 'Shu’aybi' school".
Wahhabis share the belief of Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Islamic dominion over politics and government and the importance of dawah (proselytizing or preaching of Islam) not just towards non-Muslims but towards erroring Muslims. However Wahhabi preachers are conservative and do not deal with concepts such as social justice, anticolonialism, or economic equality, expounded upon by Islamist Muslims. Ibn Abdul Wahhab's original pact promised whoever championed his message, 'will, by means of it, rule and lands and men.'"
One of the more detailed estimates of religious population in the Persian Gulf is by Mehrdad Izady who estimates, "using cultural and not confessional criteria", approximately 4.56 million Wahhabis in the Persian Gulf region, about 4 million from Saudi Arabia, (mostly the Najd), and the rest coming overwhelmingly from the Emirates and Qatar. Most Sunni Qataris are Wahhabis (46.9% of all Qataris) and 44.8% of Emiratis are Wahhabis, 5.7% of Bahrainis are Wahhabis, and 2.2% of Kuwaitis are Wahhabis.
There has traditionally been a recognized head of the Wahhabi "religious estate", often a member of Al ash-Sheikh (a descendant of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab) or related to another religious head. For example, Abd al-Latif was the son of Abd al-Rahman ibn Hasan.
In more recent times, two Wahhabi clerics have risen to prominence with no relation to ibn Abd al-Wahhab.
Khaled Abou El Fadl attributed the appeal of Wahhabism to some Muslims as stemming from
Scholar Gilles Kepel, agrees that the tripling in the price of oil in the mid-1970s and the progressive takeover of Saudi Aramco in the 1974–1980 period, provided the source of much influence of Wahhabism in the Islamic World.
... the financial clout of Saudi Arabia had been amply demonstrated during the oil embargo against the United States, following the Arab-Israeli war of 1973. This show of international power, along with the nation's astronomical increase in wealth, allowed Saudi Arabia's puritanical, conservative Wahhabite faction to attain a preeminent position of strength in the global expression of Islam. Saudi Arabia's impact on Muslims throughout the world was less visible than that of Khomeini]s Iran, but the effect was deeper and more enduring... it reorganized the religious landscape by promoting those associations and ulamas who followed its lead, and then, by injecting substantial amounts of money into Islamic interests of all sorts, it won over many more converts. Above all, the Saudis raised a new standard – the virtuous Islamic civilization – as foil for the corrupting influence of the West.
Estimates of Saudi spending on religious causes abroad include "upward of $100 billion"; between $2 and 3 billion per year since 1975 (compared to the annual Soviet propaganda budget of $1 billion/year); and "at least $87 billion" from 1987 to 2007.
Its largesse funded an estimated "90% of the expenses of the entire faith", throughout the Muslim World, according to journalist Dawood al-Shirian. It extended to young and old, from children's madrasas to high-level scholarship. "Books, scholarships, fellowships, mosques" (for example, "more than 1,500 mosques were built from Saudi public funds over the last 50 years") were paid for. It rewarded journalists and academics, who followed it and built satellite campuses around Egypt for Al Azhar, the oldest and most influential Islamic university. Yahya Birt counts spending on "1,500 mosques, 210 Islamic centres and dozens of Muslim academies and schools".
This financial aid has done much to overwhelm less strict local interpretations of Islam, according to observers like Dawood al-Shirian and Lee Kuan Yew, and has caused the Saudi interpretation (sometimes called "petro-Islam") to be perceived as the correct interpretation—or the "gold standard" of Islam—in many Muslims' minds.
According to counter-terrorism scholar Thomas F. Lynch III, Sunni extremists perpetrated about 700 terror attacks killing roughly 7,000 people from 1981 to 2006. What connection, if any, there is between Wahhabism and the Jihadi Salafis such as Al-Qaeda who carried out these attacks, is disputed.
Natana De Long-Bas, senior research assistant at the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, argues:
The militant Islam of Osama bin Laden did not have its origins in the teachings of Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab and was not representative of Wahhabi Islam as it is practiced in contemporary Saudi Arabia, yet for the media it came to define Wahhabi Islam during the later years of bin Laden's lifetime. However "unrepresentative" bin Laden's global jihad was of Islam in general and Wahhabi Islam in particular, its prominence in headline news took Wahhabi Islam across the spectrum from revival and reform to global jihad.
Noah Feldman distinguishes between what he calls the "deeply conservative" Wahhabis and what he calls the "followers of political Islam in the 1980s and 1990s," such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad and later Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. While Saudi Wahhabis were "the largest funders of local Muslim Brotherhood chapters and other hard-line Islamists" during this time, they opposed jihadi resistance to Muslim governments and assassination of Muslim leaders because of their belief that "the decision to wage jihad lay with the ruler, not the individual believer".
For their guiding principles, the leaders of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, are open and clear about their almost exclusive commitment to the Wahhabi movement of Sunni Islam. The group circulates images of Wahhabi religious textbooks from Saudi Arabia in the schools it controls. Videos from the group's territory have shown Wahhabi texts plastered on the sides of an official missionary van.
Among the criticism, or comments made by critics, of the Wahhabi movement are:
The first people to oppose Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab were his father, Abd al-Wahhab and his brother, Salman Ibn Abd al-Wahhab who was an Islamic scholar and qadi. Ibn Abd al-Wahhab's brother wrote a book in refutation of his brother's new teachings, called: "The Final Word from the Qur'an, the Hadith, and the Sayings of the Scholars Concerning the School of Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab", also known as: "Al-Sawa`iq al-Ilahiyya fi Madhhab al-Wahhabiyya" ("The Divine Thunderbolts Concerning the Wahhabi School").
In "The Refutation of Wahhabism in Arabic Sources, 1745–1932", Hamadi Redissi provides original references to the description of Wahhabis as a divisive sect (firqa) and outliers (Kharijites) in communications between Ottomans and Egyptian Khedive Muhammad Ali. Redissi details refutations of Wahhabis by scholars (muftis); among them Ahmed Barakat Tandatawin, who in 1743 describes Wahhabism as ignorance (Jahala).
In 1801 and 1802, the Saudi Wahhabis under Abdul Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn Saud attacked and captured the Shia cities of Karbala and Najaf in Iraq and destroyed the tombs of Husayn ibn Ali, who is the grandson of Muhammad, and Ali (Ali bin Abu Talib), the son-in-law of Muhammad (see: Saudi sponsorship mentioned previously). In 1803 and 1804 the Saudis captured Mecca and Madinah and demolished various tombs of Ahl al-Bayt and Sahabah, ancient monuments, ruins according to Wahhabis, they "removed a number of what were seen as sources or possible gateways to polytheism or shirk" – such as the tomb of Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad. In 1998 the Saudis bulldozed and poured petroleum over the grave of Aminah bint Wahb, the mother of Muhammad, causing resentment throughout the Muslim World.
Shi'a Muslims complain that Wahhabis and their teachings are a driving force behind sectarian violence and anti-Shia targeted killings in many countries such as Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Yemen. Worldwide, Saudis run sponsored mosques and Islamic schools teaching the Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam that labels Shia Muslims, Sufis, Christians, Jews and others as either apostates or infidels, thus paving a way for armed jihad against them by any means necessary till their death or submission to the Wahhabi doctrine. Wahhabis consider Shi'ites to be the archenemies of Islam.
Wahhabism has been vehemently criticized by many mainstream Sunni Muslims and continues to be condemned by many prominent traditional Sunni scholars for being a "heretical and violent" innovation within Sunni Islam. Among traditional Sunni organizations worldwide that oppose the Wahhabi ideology is the Al-Azhar in Cairo, the faculty of which regularly denounces Wahhabism with terms such as "Satanic faith." Regarding Wahhabism, the renowned Azharite Sunni scholar and intellectual Muhammad Abu Zahra said: "The Wahhabis exaggerated [and bowdlerized] Ibn Taymiyya's positions ... The Wahhabis did not restrain themselves to proselytism only, but resorted to warmongering against whoever disagreed with them on the grounds that they were fighting innovation (bid`a), and innovations are an evil that must be fought ... Whenever they were able to seize a town or city they would come to the tombs and turn them into ruins and destruction ... and they would destroy whatever mosques were with the tombs also ... Their brutality did not stop there but they also came to whatever graves were visible and destroyed them also. And when the ruler of the Hijaz regions caved in to them they destroyed all the graves of the Companions and razed them to the ground ... In fact, it has been noticed that the Ulama of the Wahhabis consider their own opinions correct and not possibly wrong, while they consider the opinions of others wrong and not possibly correct. More than that, they consider what others than themselves do in the way of erecting tombs and circumambulating them, as near to idolatry ... In this respect they are near the Khawarij who used to declare those who dissented with them apostate and fight them as we already mentioned."
The Sunni conventional scholars for centuries rejected Ibn Taymiyah's ideas however Wahhabism has made this controversial scholar its central figure.
In the 18th century, the Hanafi scholar Ibn Abidin declared the Wahhabi movement of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab to be a modern-day manifestation of the Kharijites. Another important early rebuttal of Wahhabism came from the Sunni jurist Ibn Jirjis, who argued that supplicating the saints is permitted to "Whoever declares that there is no god but God and prays toward Mecca," for, according to him, supplicating the saints is not a form of worship but merely calling out to them, and that worship at graves is not idolatry unless the supplicant believes that buried saints have the power to determine the course of events. These arguments were specifically rejected as heretical by the Wahhabi leader at the time. 
The influential Sunni jurist and son of the renowned Moroccan scholar Abdullah al-Ghumari, Abu'l-Fayd Ahmad, staunchly condemned Wahhabism and attacked it for straying away from classical tradition, stating: "And nothing has emerged ... to bring about earthquakes and discord in the religion like Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who was astray and led others astray. Hence he was the Devil's Horn foretold by the Messenger (upon him be blessings and peace), and he abstained from offering prayer for Najd because of him, and because of the dissensions which would flow from his demonic preaching."
The prominent Kuwaiti Sunni Shafi'i jurist Yusuf ibn al-Sayyid Hashim al-Rifa`i (1932–1999) remained a severe critic of Wahhabism throughout his scholarly life, and penned a famous fifty-seven-point critique of the movement, titled Advice to the Scholars of Najd. He criticized the followers of the movement for causing discord among the Sunni community by their labeling all other Sunnis as "pagans," "innovators," and "deviants."
The Transnational Turkish Gülen movement disagrees with Wahhabism furthermore blames it directly for the rise of Islamophobia in the world. The leader of the movement Fethullah Gülen denounces Arabs for conspiring against the Ottoman state as well as interpreting Islam strictly by their Arabian culture and Wahhabism.
The largest Sunni organization in the world, Indonesia's Nahdlatul Ulama, opposes Wahhabism, referring to as a fanatical and innovative movement within the tradition of Sunnism. Subsequently, Nahdlatul Ulama promotes Islam Nusantara, as an alternative movement against the growing austerity, intolerance, radicalization and violence brought by Wahhabi movement within modern Indonesian society. Islam Nusantara was developed in Nusantara (Indonesian archipelago) at least since the 16th century, defined as an interpretation of Islam that takes into account local Indonesian customs in forming its fiqh.
Malaysia's largest Islamic body, the National Fatwa Council, has described Wahhabism as being against Sunni teachings, Dr Abdul Shukor Husin, chairman of the National Fatwa Council, said Wahhabi followers were fond of declaring Muslims of other schools as apostates merely on the grounds that they did not conform to Wahhabi teachings.
South Asia's Barelvi movement rejects Wahhabi beliefs. According to Barelvi scholars, Wahhabis preach violence as opposed to Barelvis who promote peace. In 2016 Barelvis banned Wahhabis from their mosques nationwide. The founder of the movement Ahmed Raza Khan said Wahhabis aren't Muslims, and any Muslim who has difficulty understanding this, has also left Islam.
The transnational Lebanon Al-Ahbash movement uses takfir against Wahhabi and Salafi leaders. The head of Al-Ahbash, Abdullah al-Harari says Wahhabis offer anthropomorphic descriptions of God thereby imitate polytheists.
The Sufi Islamic Supreme Council of America founded by the Naqshbandi Sufi Shaykh Hisham Kabbani classify Wahhabism as being extremist and heretical based on Wahhabism's role as a terrorist ideology and labelling of other Muslims, especially Sufis as polytheists, a practice known as Takfir.
In general, mainstream Sunni Muslims condemn Wahhabism for being a major factor behind the rise of such groups as al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram, while also inspiring movements such as the Taliban.
In late 2016, at a conference of over a hundred Sunni scholars in Chechnya, Al-Azhar's current dean, Ahmed el-Tayeb was said to have taken an uncompromising stand against Wahhabism and Islamic terrorism by defining orthodox Sunnism as "the Ash'arites and Muturidis (adherents of the theological systems of Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi and Imam Abul Hasan al-Ash'ari) ... followers of any of the four schools of thought (Hanafi, Shafi'i, Maliki or Hanbali) and ... also the followers of the Sufism of Imam Junaid al-Baghdadi in doctrines, manners and [spiritual] purification." Having said that, Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayeb excluded the "Salafists" from the term of Ahluls Sunna (Sunnis) stating that Salafists – also known as Wahhabis – are not from among the Sunnis.
According to at least one critic, the 1744–1745 alliance between Ibn Abdul Wahhab and the tribal chief Muhammad bin Saud to wage jihad on neighboring allegedly false Muslims, was a "consecration" by Ibn Abdul Wahhab of bin Saud tribe's long-standing raids on neighboring oases by "renaming those raids jihad." Part of the Najd's "Hobbesian state of perpetual war pitted Bedouin tribes against one another for control of the scarce resources that could stave off starvation." And a case of substituting fath, "the 'opening' or conquest of a vast territory through religious zeal", for the "instinctive fight for survival and appetite for lucre." 
A study conducted by the NGO Freedom House found Wahhabi publications in mosques in the United States. These publications included statements that Muslims should not only "always oppose" infidels "in every way", but "hate them for their religion . . . for Allah's sake", that democracy "is responsible for all the horrible wars ... [and] the number of wars it started in the 20th century alone is more than 130 wars", and that Shia and certain Sunni Muslims were infidels.
A review of the study by the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) complained that the study cited documents from only a few mosques, arguing that most mosques in the U.S. are not under Wahhabi influence. ISPU comments on the study were not entirely negative:
American-Muslim leaders must thoroughly scrutinize this study. Despite its limitations, the study highlights an ugly undercurrent in modern Islamic discourse that American Muslims must openly confront. However, in the vigor to expose strains of extremism, we must not forget that open discussion is the best tool to debunk the extremist literature rather than a suppression of First Amendment rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Concern has been expressed over the fact that U.S. university branches, like the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and the Northwestern school of Journalism, housed in the Wahhabi country of Qatar, are exposed to the extremist propaganda espoused by Wahhabist imams who preach at the Qatar Foundation's mosque in Education City. Education City, a large campus where U.S. and European universities reside, hosted a series of religious prayers and lectures as part of a month-long annual Ramadan program in 2015. The prayers and lectures were held at Education City's new lavish mosque in Doha. Education City also affords campus space to other American universities such as Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon.
Among those who have attended Education City lectures is a Saudi preacher who described the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris as "the sequel to the comedy film of 9/11", and another cleric who wrote, "Jews and their helpers must be destroyed." The mosque in Education City has hosted extremist Anti-Semitic Wahhabi preachers speaking against "Zionist aggressors" in their sermons, and calling upon Allah "to count them in number and kill them completely, do not spare a [single] one of them." Qatar has reportedly sent Jewish professors back to America, and students attending American universities in Qatar are reportedly required to dress in a manner respectful to Wahhabism.
There has been much concern, expressed in both American and European media and scholarship, over the fact that Wahhabi countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been financing mosques and buying up land all over Europe. Belgium, Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy have all noted the growing influence that these Wahhabi countries have over territory and religion in Europe.
The concern resonates at a local level in Europe as well. In 2016, the citizens of Brussels, Belgium overturned a 2015 decision to build a 600-person mosque next to the Qatari embassy. Fear largely emanates from the fact that Belgian citizens see the mosque as an opportunity for a Wahhabi country to exert control over Muslims in Europe, thus spreading the more extreme sect of Islam.
Several articles have been written that list the Cork Islamic Cultural Center as an example of one of many properties throughout Europe, paid for by the Qatari government, in an effort to spread an extreme and intolerant form of Islam known as Wahhabism.
The Assalam Mosque is located in Nantes, France was also a source on some controversy. Construction on the mosque began in 2009 and was completed in 2012. It is the largest mosque in its region in France. The mosque is frequently listed among examples of Qatar's efforts to export Wahhabism, their extreme and often intolerant version of Islam, throughout Europe.
Some of the initiatives of the Cultural Islamic Center Sesto San Giovanni in Italy, funded by Qatar Charity, have also raised concerns due to its ties to Wahhabbism. The Consortium Against Terrorist Finance (CATF) said that the mosque has a history of affiliation and cooperation with extremists and terrorists. CATF notes that Qatar Charity "was named as a major financial conduit for al-Qaeda in judicial proceedings following the attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania", supported al-Qaeda operatives in Northern Mali, and was "heavily involved in Syria."
Munich Forum for Islam (MFI), also known as the Center for Islam in Europe-Munich (ZIEM), was another controversial initiative largely financed by the Wahhabi Gulf country of Qatar. In 2013 German activists filed a lawsuit in opposition to the construction of the mosque. These activists expressed fear that the Qatari government aimed to build Mosques all over Europe to spread Wahhabism. But the government quashed the lawsuit. In addition to this 2014 ruling, another court ordered an anti-mosque protester to pay a fine for defaming Islam when the protester claimed that Wahhabi Islam is incompatible with democracy.
The Islamic Cultural Center in Luxembourg was also funded by Qatar in what some note is an attempt by Qatar to spread Wahhabism in Europe.
The Wahhabi teachings disapprove of "veneration of the historical sites associated with early Islam", on the grounds that "only God should be worshipped" and "that veneration of sites associated with mortals leads to idolatry". However, critics point out that no Muslims venerate buildings or tombs as it is a shirk. Muslims visiting the resting places of Ahl al-Bayt or Sahabah still pray to Allah alone while remembering the Prophet's companions and family members. Many buildings associated with early Islam, including mazaar, mausoleums and other artifacts have been destroyed in Saudi Arabia by Wahhabis from the early 19th century through the present day. This practice has proved controversial and has received considerable criticism from Sufi and Shia Muslims and in the non-Muslim world.
Ironically, despite Wahhabi destruction of many Islamic, non-Islamic, and historical sites associated with the first Muslims, the Prophet's family and his companions, and the strict prohibition of visiting such sites (including mosques), the Saudi government renovated the tomb of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab turning his birthplace into a major tourist attraction and an important place of visitation within the kingdom's modern borders.
For more than two centuries, Wahhabism has been Saudi Arabia's dominant creed. It is an austere form of Sunni Islam that insists on a literal interpretation of the Quran. Wahhabis believe that all those who don't practice their form of Islam are heathens and enemies. Critics say that Wahhabism's rigidity has led it to misinterpret and distort Islam, pointing to extremists such as Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Wahhabism's explosive growth began in the 1970s when Saudi charities started funding Wahhabi schools (madrassas) and mosques from Islamabad to Culver City, California.
The majority of mainstream Sunni and Shia Muslims worldwide would strongly disagree with the interpretation of Wahhabism outlined above. Rather than see Wahhabism as a reform movement, many Muslims would reject it in the strongest terms as firqa, a new faction, a vile sect.
While Wahhabism claims to represent Islam in its purest form, other Muslims consider it a misguided creed that fosters intolerance, promotes simplistic theology, and restricts Islam's capacity for adaption to diverse and shifting circumstances.
Wahhabism has become [...] a blanket term for any Islamic movement that has an apparent tendency toward misogyny, militantism, extremism, or strict and literal interpretation of the Quran and hadith
Thus, the mission's devotees contend that 'Wahhabism' is a misnomer for their efforts to revive correct Islamic belief and practice. Instead of the Wahhabi label, they prefer either Salafi, one who follows the ways of the first Muslim ancestors (salaf), or muwahhid, one who professes God's unity.
The Wahhabi religious reform movement arose in Najd, the vast, thinly populated heart of Central Arabia.
the two ... concluded a pact. Ibn Saud would protect and propagate the stern doctrines of the Wahhabi mission, which made the Koran the basis of government. In return, Abdul Wahhab would support the ruler, supplying him with 'glory and power'. Whoever championed his message, he promised, 'will, by means of it, rule and lands and men'.
A sect dominant in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, at the beginning of the 19th century it gained footholds in India, Africa, and elsewhere.
... the financial clout of Saudi Arabia [that] had been amply demonstrated during the oil embargo against the United States, following the Arab-Israeli war of 1973. This show of international power, along with the nation's astronomical increase in wealth, allowed Saudi Arabia's puritanical, conservative Wahhabite faction to attain a preeminent position of strength in the global expression of Islam.
Hamid Algar ... emphasizes the strong influence of the Saudi petrodollar in the propagation of Wahhabism, but also attributes the political situation of the Arab world at the time as a contributing factor that led to the co-opting of Salafism ... Khaled Abou El Fadl ... expresses the opinion that Wahhabism would not have been able to spread in the modern Muslim world ... it would have to be spread under the banner of Salafism. This attachment of Wahhabism to Salafism was needed as Salafism was a much more 'credible paradigm in Islam'; making it an ideal medium for Wahhabism ... The co-opting of Salafism by Wahhabism was not completed until the 1970s when the Wahhabis stripped away some of their extreme intolerance and co-opted the symbolism and language of Salafism; making them practically indistinguishable.
Journalists and experts, as well as spokespeople of the world, have said that Wahhabism is the source of the overwhelming majority of terrorist atrocities in today's world, from Morocco to Indonesia, via Israel, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya. Jon Kyl, US Senator for Arizona
[T]he pivotal idea in Ibn Abd al-Wahhab's teaching determines whether one is a Muslim or an infidel. In his opinion, Muslims who disagreed with his definition of monotheism were not heretics, that is to say, misguided Muslims, but outside the pale of Islam altogether
Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab branded all who disagreed with him as heretics and apostates, thereby justifying the use of force in imposing his doctrine, and political suzerainty with it, on neighboring tribes. It allowed him to declare holy war (jihad), otherwise legally impossible, against other Muslims. To this end, Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab also taught the use of firearms in place of the sword and the lance, the traditional weapons of the desert.
It is the undisputed case that the Taliban justification for this travesty [the destruction of the Buddha statues at Bamiyan] can be traced to the Wahhabi indoctrination program prevalent in the Afghan refugee camps and Saudi-funded Islamic schools (madrasas) in Pakistan that produced the Taliban ... In Saudi Arabia itself, the destruction has focused on the architectural heritage of Islam's two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, where Wahhabi religious foundations, with state support, have systematically demolished centuries-old mosques and mausolea, as well as hundreds of traditional Hijazi mansions and palaces.
Calling them Wahhabis implies that they learned ideas from a man – Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab – instead of the Qur'an and Sunnah the, two great sources of Islam.
... the Wahhabis used to label themselves al-Muslimun (the Muslims) or al-Muwahidun (the monotheists), intimating that those who did not accept their creed were neither Muslims nor monotheists
Wahhabis themselves prefer the titles al-Muwahhidun or Ahl al-Tauhid, 'the asserters of the divine unity.' But precisely this self-awarded title springs from a desire to lay exclusive claim to the principle of tawhid that is a foundation of Islam itself; it implies a dismissal of all other Muslims as tainted by shirk. There is no reason to acquiesce in this assumption of a monopoly, and because the movement in question was ultimately the work of one man, Muhammad b. abdal-Wahhab it is reasonable as well as conventional to speak of 'Wahhabism' and Wahhabis.
Adherents ... prefer to call themselves Muhwahhidun (Unitarians). However, this name is not often used, as [it] is associated with other completely different sects extant and defunct.
Salafis themselves do not like being called Wahhabis, because to them it smacks of idolatry to name their movement after a recent leader. Instead they prefer to call themselves Ahl al-Sunnah "People of the Sunna".
... the Wahhabis used to label themselves al-Muslimun (the Muslims) or al-Muwahidun (the monotheists), intimating that those who did not accept their creed were neither Muslims nor monotheists.
Wahhabi-inspired xenophobia dominates religious discussion in a way not found elsewhere in the Islamic world.
Bookshops in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, for example, sell a 1,265-page souvenir tome that is a kind of "greatest hits" of fatwas on modern life. It is strewn with rulings on shunning non-Muslims: don't smile at them, don't wish them well on their holidays, don't address them as "friend."
A fatwa from Sheik Muhammad bin Othaimeen, whose funeral last year attracted hundreds of thousands of mourners, tackles whether good Muslims can live in infidel lands. The faithful who must live abroad should "harbor enmity and hatred for the infidels and refrain from taking them as friends," it reads in part.
The kind of Islam practiced at Dar-us-Salaam, known as Salafism, once had a significant foothold among area Muslims, in large part because of an aggressive missionary effort by the government of Saudi Arabia. Salafism and its strict Saudi version, known as Wahhabism, struck a chord with many Muslim immigrants who took a dim view of the United States' sexually saturated pop culture and who were ambivalent about participating in a secular political system.
There are others, the so-called Salafia. It's run along parallel lines to the Wahhabis, but they are less violent and less extreme – still violent and extreme but less so than the Wahhabis.
What is called Wahhabism – the official religious ideology of the Saudi state – is a form of Salafism. Strictly speaking, 'Wahhabism' is not a movement, but a label used mainly by non-Muslims to refer to Saudi Salafism, referencing the name of an influential 18th-century Salafi teacher, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab ... The continuing impact of Salafi dogma in Saudi Arabia means that Saudi leaders are active and diligent in funding and promoting Salafism all around the world. If there is a mosque receiving Saudi funding in your city today, in every likelihood it is a Salafi mosque. Saudi money has also leveraged Salafi teachings through TV stations, websites and publications.
Much of Wahhabism's 20th-century experience has been the story of trade-offs for the sake of consolidating the position of its political guardian. The ulama gained control over education, law, public morality and religious institutions. In return, they only mildly objected to the import of modern technology and communications and did not hamper Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud's dealings with the British, non-Saudi Arabs and Americans.
The gradual erosion of Wahhabi credibility has been punctuated by three major crises ... [November 1979 seizure of Grand Mosque;  Iraq invasion of Kuwait;  9/11]
[Wahhabi clerics] dependence on the Saudi government disposed leading Wahhabi clerics to support its policies. As political discontent in the kingdom intensified, the Wahhabi establishment found itself in the awkward position of defending and unpopular dynasty.
the ulama occupy center stage in times of crisis and turn the situation to their own advantage. But the 1980s iteration of this tradition, the religious leaders called upon by the royal family to reestablish moral order were not Wahhabite clerics but were rather sahwa militants
Muslims sharply disagree on this question of definition because the pivotal idea in Ibn Abd al-Wahhab's teaching determines whether one is a Muslim or an infidel. In his opinion, Muslims who disagreed with his definition of monotheism were not heretics, that is to say, misguided Muslims, but outside the pale of Islam altogether ...
"Most Muslims throughout history have accepted the position that declaring this profession of faith [the shahada] makes one a Muslim. One might or might not regularly perform the other obligatory rituals ... but ... any shortcomings would render one a sinner, not an unbeliever.
Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab did not accept that view. He argued that the criterion for one's standing as either a Muslim or an unbeliever was correct worship as an expression of belief in one God ... any act or statement that indicates devotion to a being other than God is to associate another creature with God's power, and that is tantamount to idolatry (shirk). Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab included in the category of such acts popular religious practices that made holy men into intercessors with God. That was the core of the controversy between him and his adversaries, including his own brother.
Abd al-Wahhab described the Ottoman caliphate as al-dawlah al-kufriyya (a heretical nation) and claimed that supporting or allying oneself with the Ottomans was as grievous a sin as supporting or allying oneself with Christians or Jews.
Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab ... insisted that invoking and making vows to holy men indeed constituted major idolatry and that it was proper to deem as infidels anyone who failed to view such practices as idolatry ... He then stated that if one admits that these practices are major idolatry, then fighting is a duty as part of the prophetic mission to destroy idols. Thus, the idolater who call upon a saint for help must repent, If he does so, his repentance is accepted. If not, he is to be killed. [source: Ibn Ghannam, Hussien, Tarikh najd. (Cairo 1961) p. 438] ... In the end, the debate ... was not settled by stronger argument but by force majeure through Saudi conquest, carried out in the name of holy war, or jihad.
In 1744, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab arrived in al-Dir'iyya ... This was the origin of the pact between religious mission and political power that has endured for more than two and half centuries, a pact that has survived traumatic defeats and episodes of complete collapse.
Muhammad ibn Saud declared his readiness to back the mission against unbelief and idolatry but insisted ... two conditions ... Second, that Sheikh Muhammad approve of Ibn Saud's taxation of al-Dir'iyya's harvests. The reformer ... replied that God might compensate the amir with booty and legitimate taxes greater than the taxes on harvests.
In the last years of the 18th century, Ibn Saud attempted to seize control of Arabia and its outer lying regions and his heirs spent the next 150 years in this pursuit. This was done at the expense of the overlords of the Ottoman Empire. Eventually, the house of Al Saud met with defeat at the hands of the Ottoman and Egyptian armies, resulting in the burning of Diriyah.
The Saudi minister of religion is always a member of the Al Sheikh family, descendents of Ibn Abdul Wahab. Moreover links between Ibn Abdul Wahab and the house of Saud have been sealed with multiple marriages.
Muhammad ibn Saud turned his capital, Ad Diriyah, into a center for the study of religion under the guidance of Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab and sent missionaries to teach the reformed religion throughout the peninsula, the gulf, and into Syria and Mesopotamia. Together they began a jihad against the backsliding Muslims of the peninsula. Under the banner of religion and preaching the unity of God and obedience to the just Muslim ruler, the Al Saud by 1803 had expanded their dominion across the peninsula from Mecca to Bahrain, installing teachers, schools, and the apparatus of state power. So successful was the alliance between the Al ash Shaykh and the Al Saud that even after the Ottoman sultan had crushed Wahhabi political authority and had destroyed the Wahhabi capital of Ad Diriyah in 1818, the reformed religion remained firmly planted in the settled districts of southern Najd and of Jabal Shammar in the north. It would become the unifying ideology in the peninsula when the Al Saud rose to power again in the next century.
Ibn Abd al-Wahhab promised not to interfere with Muhammad Ibn Saud's state consolidation, and Muhammad Ibn Saud promised to uphold Ibn Abd al Wahhab's religious teachings ...
[But] there is a marked difference between noninterference in military activities and active support and religious legitimation for them ... Rather than actively supporting or promoting this conquest, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab merely 'acceded' to it, hoping that Ibn Saud would get his fill of conquest and then focus on more important matter – those pertaining to religious reform. In fact, as evidence of the lack of religious support this military conquest enjoyed, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab left Ibn Saud's company altogether during this campaign, devoting himself instead to spiritual matters and prayer
Opponents of the Wahhabi movement claimed religious justification for their military actions by accusing the Wahhabis of ignorance, sorcery and lies ... It was only at this point – when the Wahhabi community was threatened – that Ibn Abd al-Wahhab finally authorized a jihad as holy war to defend the Wahhabis. However, even this defensive jihad remained limited in scope, as fighting was permitted only against those who had either attacked or insulted his followers directly.
Muhammad ibn Saud turned his capital, Ad Diriyah, into a center for the study of religion under the guidance of Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab and sent missionaries to teach the reformed religion throughout the peninsula, the gulf, and into Syria and Mesopotamia. Together they began a jihad against the backsliding Muslims of the peninsula. Under the banner of religion and preaching the unity of God and obedience to the just Muslim ruler, the Al Saud by 1803 had expanded their dominion across the peninsula from Mecca to Bahrain, installing teachers, schools, and the apparatus of state power. So successful was the alliance between the Al ash Shaykh and the Al Saud that even after the Ottoman sultan had crushed Wahhabi political authority and had destroyed the Wahhabi capital of Ad Diriyah in 1818, the reformed religion remained firmly planted in the settled districts of southern Najd and of Jabal Shammar in the north. It would become the unifying ideology in the peninsula when the Al Saud rose to power again in the next century.
The history of the Al Sa'ud dynasty is, therefore, one of political expansion based on the Wahhabi doctrine. After the conclusion of the pact of 1744, Muhammad Ibn Sa'ud, who at the time ruled only the Najd village of Dir'iya, embarked on the conquest of neighboring settlements, destroying idols and obliging his new subjects to submit to Wahhabi Islam.
... al-Jabarti reported the 1803 masacre at Ta'if, where Wahhabi forces slaughtered the men and enslaved the women and children.
Ibrahim's ruthless prosecution of the war, al-Dir'iyya's leveling and the exile of the emirate's political and religious leadership gave the same impression to a sojourning European as it did to Arabian Bedouins and townsmen: The Saudi emirate and the Wahahbi mission had been crushed once and for all.
Wahhabism retained hegemony over Najd's religious life because of the political shelter provided by Saudi power. In turn, the Saudi realm could maintain its independence vis-a-vis Istanbul because of physical and technological factors: Its geographical isolation, its lack of valuable resources, the limits of nineteenth-century communications, transportation and military technologies made conquest and pacification too costly for both Cairo and Istanbul. These outside powers decided to leave the Saudis alone so long as they did not revive the first amirate's impulse for expansion through jihad and refrained from attacking Hijaz, Iraq and Syria.
Outside of al-Qasim, the Rashidis left Wahhabi ulama in place a qadis throughout Najd, including the amirate's capital Ha'il. By the 1880s, generations of Najdi townsmen had lived in a Wahhabi milieu. The strict monotheistic doctrine had been naturalized as the native religious culture.
Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab sought the protection of Muhammad bin Saud, in Ad-Dariyah, the home of the House of Saud... ... they had interests in common, pre-eminently a desire to see all the Arabs of the Peninsula brought back to Islam in its simplest and purest form. In 1744, they therefore took an oath that they would work together to achieve this end.
Since the foundation of the modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, there has been a close relationship between the Saudi ruling family and the Wahhabi religious establishment.3 Wahhabi-trained Bedouin warriors known as the Ikhwan were integral to the Al Saud family's military campaign to reconquer and unify the Arabian peninsula from 1912 until an Ikhwan rebellion was put down by force in 1930. Thereafter, Wahhabi clerics were integrated into the new kingdom's religious and political establishment, and Wahhabi ideas formed the basis of the rules and laws adopted to govern social affairs in Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism also shaped the kingdom's judicial and educational policies. Saudi schoolbooks historically have denounced teachings that do not conform to Wahhabist beliefs, an issue that remains controversial within Saudi Arabia and among outside observers.
What we do know is that Ibn Saud hewed to the dynastic tradition of supporting Wahhabi ulama and giving them control over religious institutions. At the same time, he tempered Wahhabi zeal when he felt that it clashed with the demands of consolidating power in Hijaz and al-Hasa or the constraints of firmer international boundaries maintained by the era's dominant power in the region, Great Britain. Simply put, political considerations trumped religious idealism. The same principle governed Ibn Saud's approach to adopting modern technology, building a rudimentary administrative framework and signing the oil concession with the Americans.
The Ikhwan pressed for strict adherence to Wahhabi norms, but Ibn Saud was willing to take a more relaxed approach to matters like smoking tobacco and worship at shrines
Wahhabi ulama ordered the demolition of several Shiite mosques and took over teaching and preaching duties at the remaining mosques in order to convert the population ... some Shiites emigrated to Bahrain and Iraq ... The intensive phase of Wahhabi coercion lasted about one year. When ibn Saud decided to curb the Ikhwan, he permitted the shiites to drive away Wahhabi preachers.
Ibn Saud designated local dignitaries in Mecca and Jeddah to enforce loosely the Wahhabi prohibition of tobacco, alcohol, playing cards and the phonograph. The outcome of this approach was the preservation of a more relaxed atmosphere in Hijaz than in Najd. Standards would stiffen when Ibn Saud arrived for the pilgrimage with a retinue of Wahhabi ulama and then slacken with his departure ...[Ibn Saud] even pioneered the use of automobiles to transport pilgrims from Jeddah to Mecca over the objections of Wahhabi ulama who considered them a prohibited innovation. In another sign of Ibn Saud's willingness to disregard Wahhabi sensibilities, he allowed Shiites to perform the pilgrimage.
[the first] documented instance of a formal committee to enforces the duty dates to 1926, [when the official Saudi newspaper in Mecca published the news of its establishment]
They attacked Ibn Sa'ud for introducing such innovations as telephones, automobiles, and the telegraph and for sending his son to a country of unbelievers (Egypt). Despite Ibn Sa'ud's attempts to mollify the Ikhwan by submitting their accusations to the religious scholars ('ulama'), they provoked an international incident by destroying an Iraqi force that had violated a neutral zone established by Great Britain and Ibn Sa'ud between Iraq and Arabia (1927–28); the British bombed Najd in retaliation.
Ibn Atiq considered the first category, those who willingly fall in with the idolaters to be infidels ... Those in the second category are not infidels but sinners because they stay with idolaters for the sake of wealth or preserving family ties; ... it is a sin, however, to remain in their land even if in one's heart one hates the idolaters ... Those in the third category are free of any blame. They openly practise religion or are compelled to reside among idolaters ... For the rest of the nineteenth century strict enforcement of this aversion to mixing with idolaters – and in Wahhabi terms, most Muslims fell into that category – would remain the norm of in Wahhabi discourse.
Ahl-i Hadith scholars and Wahhabis agreed that Sufis and Shiites were not true believers. The movement also shared with the Wahhabis that desire to revive the teachings of Ibn Taymiyya and a tendency to express intolerance toward other Muslims (Ahl-i Hadith preachers compared Delhi's Muslims to idolaters).
Alusi began a campaign against ritual innovations in Sufi orders like music, dance and veneration of saints' tombs
Rashid Rida (d. 1935) ... After a visit to the newly conquered Hijaz, he published a work praising the Saudi ruler as the savior of the Haramayn and a practitioner of authentic Islamic rule and, two years later, an anthology of Wahhabi treatises. [why?] ... the aftermath of World War One saw both the abolition of the Ottoman caliphate and the failure of Sharif Husay to gain either a pan-Arab kingdom or acceptance by Muslim as a candidate for a revived caliphate. It is, then perhaps, not surprising that persons of salafi tendency ... casting around in desperation for a hero, should have begun to view Ibn Sa'ud with favor and to express sympathy for Wahhabism.
Rida's liberal ideas and writings were fundamentally inconsistent with Wahhabism, and this is why after Rida's death, the Wahhabis regularly condemned and maligned Rida. … the Saudis banned the writings of Rida, successfully preventing the republication of his work even in Egypt, and generally speaking made his books very difficult to locate
By the early 1950s, Saudi Arabia was by no means a modern state ... Nevertheless, the twin pressures of controlling regions outside the Wahhabi heartland and navigating the currents of regional politics led him to take steps that punctured the seal between the internal land of belief and the outside land of idolatry.
in the 1950s and 1960s, two dramatic shift in Arab regional and Saudi domestic politics brought Islam to the fore as an element in the kingdom's international relations ... the polarization of Arab politics between revolutionary (republican, nationalist) regimes and conservative monarchies and,  in the domestic realm, the assimilation of political ideologies sweeping nearby Arab lands.
It was in the bosom of this organization, intended to eclipse all other supranational Islamic organizations, that a closer association between leading Salafis and Wahhabis came into being. Its constituent council, which met for the first time in December 1962, was headed by the then chief mufti of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad b. Ibrahim Al al-Shaykh, a lineal descendant of Muhammad b. Abd al-Wahhab, and the presidency remains to this day vested in the Saudi chief mufti. Included among its eight other members were important representatives of the Salafi tendency: Sa'id Ramadan, son-in-law of Hasan al-Banna ... Maulana Abu l-A'la Maududi ... Maulanda Abu 'l-Hasan Nadvi (d. 2000) of India. In accordance with statute, the head of the league's secretariat has always been a Saudi citizen, the first to occupy the post being Muhammad Surur al-Sabban.
Then, the book [The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia] widens its focus to embrace the world beyond Arabia and to demonstrate how the Wahhabis and Islamic revivalists in the world beyond, members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of the Ahl-i Hadith and the Jamaat-i Island, found common cause in their rejection of the West and its ways which were so deleterious of Muslim piety and values.
The League also sent missionaries to West Africa, where it funded schools, distributed religious literature and gave scholarships to attend Saudi religious universities. These efforts bore fruit in Nigeria's Muslim northern region with the creation of a movement (the Izala Society) dedicated to wiping out ritual innovations. Essential texts for members of the Izala Society are Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab's treatise of God's unity and commentaries by his grandsons.
The decision to offer asylum to Muslim Brothers fleeing persecution at the hands of secular Arab regimes was part of an effort to consolidate the bastion of Islam against atheist currents. No one could have foreseen that the Muslim Brothers would successfully spread their ideas in the kingdom and erode Wahhabism's hegemony.
... targets of state repression. When Gamal Abdel Nasser took over Egypt in 1952, the Muslim Brotherhood is said to have welcomed the coup, but this budding relationship did not last. An attempted assassination on Nasser in 1954, blamed by the authorities on elements of the Brotherhood, saw the movement face a crackdown that led to the imprisonment of Qutb and other members. In 1956, the organisation was repressed and banned and Qutb was executed in 1966. However, it continued to grow, albeit underground.
In the melting pot of Arabia during the 1960s, local clerics trained in the Wahhabite tradition joined with activists and militants affiliated with the Muslim Brothers who had been exiled from the neighboring countries of Egypt, Syria, and Iraq – then allies of Moscow.
In the 1960s, when Faisal became king, he championed the creation of public schools across the kingdom for boys—and also girls. The largely illiterate nation had few qualified teachers, so the government dispatched emissaries abroad, mostly to Egypt and Jordan, to recruit teachers with substantive skills who also were devout Muslims. A hallmark of King Faisal's reign was an effort to create an Islamic alliance in the Middle East to counter the Arab nationalism of Egypt's president, Gamel Abdel Nasser. When Nasser, a nationalist strongman and sworn enemy of Saudi Arabia, turned on his country's conservative Muslim Brotherhood, King Faisal welcomed those religious conservatives into Saudi Arabia as scholars and teachers, reinforcing the fundamentalist hold on the young Ministry of Education, founded in 1954 under his predecessor and half-brother, King Saud.
The ambitions of the Muslim Brotherhood were similar to those of the Salafis and also of the dawah wahhabiya (Wahhabi mission) – to reestablish the order of Allah and to bring about the perfect Islamic states. But the rhetoric of the Brotherhood dealt in change-promoting concepts like social justice, anticolonialism, and the equal distribution of wealth. Politically they were prepared to challenge the establishment in a style that was unthinkable to mainstream Wahhabis, who were reflexively deferential to their rulers, and enablers, the House of Saud. It was heady stuff for the young students of Jeddah, taking the Wahhabi values they had absorbed in childhood and giving them a radical, but still apparently safe, religious twist. They had learned of jihad at school as an instantly romantic concept – part of history. Now they were hearing of its practical possibility today, and they could even make personal contact with jihad in the barrel-chested shape of Abdullah Azzam, who gave lectures in both Jeddah and Mecca in the early 1980s. The Saudi government had welcomed ideologues like Azzam and Mohammed, the surviving Qutub, to the Kingdom as pious reinforcement against the atheistic, Marxist-tinged thinking of their Middle Eastern neighborhood. But in the process they were exposing young Saudi hearts and minds to a still more potent virus – hands-on, radical Islam.
Within the kingdom itself, the Muslim Brothers obeyed the prohibition on proselytizing to Saudi subjects [but] ... contributed to discussion circles and frequented the salons held by princes ... Methodically but without fanfare, the Brothers took control of Saudi Arabia's intellectual life, publishing books that extended their influence among educators and generally making themselves politically useful while obeying the orders that kept them away from the pulpits.
Stephane Lacroix, a Saudi expert at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, sums up the battle over education in Saudi Arabia: 'The education system is so controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, it will take 20 years to change – if at all. Islamists see education as their base so they won't compromise on this.' [source: telephone interview by author Karen House]
The content analysis reveals both Wahhabi doctrine and Muslim Brothers themes. In fact, the Muslim Brother imprint on this sample of Saudi schoolbooks is striking. Apparently members of the organization secured positions in the Ministry of Education, which they used to propagate their ideas.
A new Islamic university in Medina was created to train proselytizers and its regulations called for 75% of its students to come from abroad.
David Commins, in The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia ... believes that 'the ideology of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda is not Wahhabi. It is instead a part of contemporary jihadist tendency that evolved from the teachings of Sayyid Qutb… in other words; Al-Qaeda belongs to an offshoot of twenty-first century Muslim revivalist ideology, not Wahhabism.' ... agrees with DeLong-Bas's conclusions that Al-Qaeda's ideology evolved with the introduction of Salafi ideas from Sayyid Qutb and other Muslim Brotherhood members.
the pronouncements and actions [of Juhayman, the leader of the 1979 Grand Mosque seizure] indicated that a combustible mix of Wahhabi and modern Islamic revivalism was brewing in the niches of Saudi mosques. Exactly how and when these elements combined has not yet been established beyond the common knowledge that Saudi Arabia opened its doors to members of the Muslim Brothers fleeing repression by secular regimes in Egypt and Syrian in the later 1950s and 1960s They spread their ideas by occupying influential positions in educational institutions and circulating their literature.
In the melting pot of Arabia during the 1960s, local clerics trained in the Wahhabite tradition joined with activists and militants affiliated with the Muslim Brothers who had been exiled from the neighboring countries of Egypt, Syria, and Iraq – then allies of Moscow. This blend of traditionalists and modern Islamist militants served the kingdom's interests well at first, because it countered the threat of a 'progressive', pro-Soviet Islam – the brand preached at Al Azhar University in Egypt during the Nasser regime. But eventually this volatile mixture would explode in the Saudis' hands.
"In the 1950s and 60s ... within Saudi Arabia, official religious institutions under Wahhabi control multiplied at the same time that ulama maintained their hold on religious law courts, presided over the creation of Islamic universities and ensured that children in public schools received a heavy dose of religious instruction.
A former US Treasury Department official is quoted by Washington Post reporter David Ottaway in a 2004 article [Ottaway, David The King's Messenger New York: Walker, 2008, p. 185] as estimating that the late king [Fadh] spent 'north of $75 billion' in his efforts to spread Wahhabi Islam. According to Ottaway, the king boasted on his personal Web site that he established 200 Islamic colleges, 210 Islamic centers, 1500 mosques, and 2000 schools for Muslim children in non-Islamic nations. The late king also launched a publishing center in Medina that by 2000 had distributed 138 million copies of the Koran worldwide.
The summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference at Taif, Saudi Arabia, in January 1981, which had reached a consensus on the idea of launching a jihad for the liberation of Jerusalem and Palestine, refused to do the same for Afghanistan. Instead, it confined itself to calling on all Islamic states to cooperate with the UN secretary general in bringing an end to a situation that was 'prejudicial to the Afghan people.'
Tehran's efforts to export the revolution through leaflets, radio broadcasts and tape cassettes castigating Al Saud for corruption and hypocrisy found a receptive audience in the Eastern Province. On 28 November, Saudi Shia summoned the courage to break the taboo on public religious expression by holding processions to celebrate the Shia holy day of Ashura [...]
"on 1 February, the one-year anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini's return to Iran, violent demonstrations again erupted. Crowds attacked banks and vehicles and hoisted placards with Khomeini's picture. The government responded to the February protests with a mix of coercion and co-optation. On the one hand, leading Shiite activists were arrested. On the other, a high official from the Interior Ministry met with Shiite representatives and acknowledged that Riyadh had neglected the region's development needs. [...] extend the electricity network [...] more schools and hospitals and improve sewage disposal.
It is important to emphasize, however, that the 1979 rebels were not literally a reincarnation of the Ikhwan and to underscore three distinct features of the former: They were millenarians, they rejected the monarchy and they condemned the wahhabi ulama.
in keeping with a pattern dating back to the alliance between the royal family and tribal clerics, in which the ulama occupy center stage in times of crisis and turn the situation to their own advantage. But the 1980s iteration of this tradition, the religious leaders called upon by the royal family to reestablish moral order were not Wahhabite clerics but were rather sahwa militants whose belief system was a hybrid of Salafism and Qutbist thought and whose allegiances lay outside the Saudi kingdom.
'Those old men actually believed that the Mosque disaster was God's punishment to us because we were publishing women's photographs in the newspapers,' says a princess, one of Khaled's nieces. 'The worrying thing is that the king [Khaled] probably believed that as well.' ... Khaled had come to agree with the sheikhs. Foreign influences and bida'a were the problem. The solution to the religious upheaval was simple – more religion.
... Iraq's 2 August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Saddam Hussein's annexation of the oil-rich amirate alarmed Riyadh and Washington, in large measure because his intentions were unclear: Did he intend to push south to seize the oil fields in Saudi Arabia's Eastern province.
For the Muslim Saudi monarchy to invite non-Muslim American troops to fight against Muslim Iraqi soldiers was a serious violation of Islamic law. An alliance between Muslims and non-Muslims to fight Muslims was also specifically forbidden by the teachings of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab
In contemporary Wahhabism there are two broad factions. One is publicly supportive of the House of Saud, and will endorse any policy decision reached by the Saudi government and provide scriptural justification for it. The second believe that the House of Saud should be forcibly removed and the wahhabi clerics should take charge. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda are from the second school.
According to the militants, there were, however, two kinds of salafist, as they defined them. The sheikists had replaced the adoration of Allah with the idolatry of the oil sheiks of the Arabian peninsula, with the Al Saud family at their head. Their theorist was Abdelaziz bin Baz... the archetypal court ulama (ulama al-balat)... They had to be striven against and eliminated. Confronted by the sheikist traitors, the jihadist-salafists had a similarly supercilious respect for the sacred texts in their most literal form, but they combined it with an absolute commitment to jihad, whose number-one target had to be America, perceived as the greatest enemy of the faith. The dissident Saudi preachers Hawali and Auda were held in high esteem by this school
A few days later another article appeared delivering the same verdict. Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz ... ranked high in the brotherly pecking order ... The sheikhs and ulama had very valuable advice to offer, wrote the prince, but it was no more than that—advice. They should not consider that they were among 'those who govern'. Dr. Turki's bid for a direct role in Saudi government was firmly slapped down, and the reverend doctor did not argue back.
Saudi citizens account for two-thirds of employment in the high-paying, comfortable public sector, but only one-fifth of employment in the more dynamic private sector, according to the International Monetary Fund (PDF).
In 2003–2004, Saudi cities were the scene of a wave of suicide bombings, killings of westerners and gun battles between Saudi security forces and militants ... members of Al Saud decided it might be time to trim Wahhabism's domination by holding a series of National Dialogues that included Shiites, Sufis, liberal reformers, and professional women. At present, the indications are not good for true believers in Wahhabi doctrine. But as its history demonstrates, the doctrine has survived crises before.
When Saudi intellectuals began worrying aloud that Saudi mosques and schools were fostering hatred of non-Wahhabists among young men, the religious establishment – which ensures that the kingdom follows a strictly puritanical interpretation of Islamic law – reacted with righteous anger, as if its social authority were under threat. Prince Nayef defended the religious establishment and blamed instead a foreign import – the Muslim Brotherhood, the radical Islamic political organization founded in Egypt in the 1920s – for the kingdom's problems. For years, Saudi Arabia sheltered and embraced the Brotherhood activists, and now, Prince Nayef told the press, the Brotherhood had turned against the Saudis and were destroying the Arab world.
Wahhabi influence in Saudi Arabia, however, remained tangible in the physical conformity in dress, in public deportment, and in public prayer. Most significantly, the Wahhabi Legacy was manifest in the social ethos that presumed government responsibility for the collective moral ordering of society, from the behavior of individuals, to institutions, to businesses, to the government itself.
... religious police, which is feared and reviled both because of its wide reach and because its members are drawn from the lower classes. Their resentment of the rich, combined with their freedom of action, results in a dangerous combination and adds to the hardline religious social atmosphere sanctioned by Wahhabi doctrine, which is spread by clerics in the mosques and teachers in the schools, and which guides the verdicts handed down by Wahhabi 'justice' in the courts.
Wahhabism is noted for its policy of compelling its own followers and other Muslims strictly to observe the religious duties of Islam, such as the five prayers, under pain of flogging at one time, and for enforcement of public morals to a degree not found elsewhere.
Ibn Taymiyya and Abdul Wahhab counseled the strictest possible application of sharia in the most minuscule aspects of daily life and the use of coercion on subjects who did not conform to dogma. As Wahhabism began to exert its influence, a religious militia, the mutawaa – bearded men armed with cudgels (and today, riding in shiny SUVs) – was organized in Saudi Arabia to close down shops and office at prayer times five times a day.
Wahhabis regularly flogged the residents of territories under their control for listening to music, shaving their beards, wearing silk or gold (this applied to men only), smoking, playing backgammon, chess, or cards, or failing to observe strict rules of sex segregation; and they destroyed all the shrines and most of the Muslim historical monuments found in Arabia.
The Taliban, despite their similarity to Wahhabis, never destroyed the graves of pirs (holy men) and emphasised dreams as a means of revelation, which is not a Wahhabi trait.
Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab condemned many traditions, practices and beliefs that were an integral part of the religious and cultural consciousness of the Muslim community.
[hadith] 'Whoever imitates or resembles a nation, he is considered among them.'
... a Saudi friend forwarded me a copy of a fatwa, or religious ruling, issued by senior clerics. The fatwa banned the giving of flowers when visiting the sick in the hospital. The ruling observed: "It is not the habit of Muslims to offer flowers to the sick in hospital. This is a custom imported from the land of the infidels by those whose faith is weak. Therefore it is not permitted to deal with flowers in this way, whether to sell them, buy them or offer them as gifts."
... he continued his crusade against what he saw as the hypocrisy of the Wahhabi establishment. A year later, in 1989, he issued a fatwa condemning the World Youth Soccer Cup, which was being held in Saudi Arabia. Soccer was haram (forbidden), in his view, like many sports ...
Everywhere Juhayman looked he could detect bidaa – dangerous and regrettable innovations. The Salafi Group That Commands Right and Forbids Wrong was originally intended to focus on moral improvement, not on political grievances or reform. But religion is politics and vice versa ... immoral of the government to permit soccer matches...
... one Saudi sheikh issued a fatwa condemning soccer because the Koran, he insisted, forbids Muslim to imitate Christians or Jews. Therefore, using words like foul or penalty kick is forbidden. The country's grand mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al Ashaikh, rejected that fatwa and called on the religious police to track down and prosecute its author.
[from the religious editor of the Saudi Gazette circa 1986–1995] There are legal and moral rights that become consequential on marriage. Because of their different physiological structures and biological functions, each sex is assigned a role to play in the family ... it is the husband who is supposed to provide for the family. If he cannot gain enough to support the family ... both ... may work for gain. However:
1. he husband has the right to terminate a wife's working whenever he deems it necessary;
2. He has the right to object to any job if he feels that it would expose his wife to any harm, seduction or humiliation;
3. The wife has the right to discontinue working whenever she pleases.
Wahhabi doctrines and practices were imposed by the conquests although in a progressively gentler form as more urban areas passed into Saudi control. This was particularly true of the Hejaz, with its more cosmopolitan traditions and the traffic of pilgrims which the new rulers could not afford to alienate. Thus, although the sound of a trumpet calling reveille in Mecca when it was newly conquered was enough to cause riot among the Wahhabi soldiers – music was forbidden – such that only energetic intervention on the part of the young Prince Faysal, later King, prevented a massacre, today music flows freely over the radio and television.
The sign of changing times in Saudi Arabia is that the exigencies of the modern world and pragmatism have opened the door to accepting the legal precedents of the other schools. The Wahhabis consider, or previously considered, many of the practices of the generations which succeeded the Companions as bid‘ah ... these included the building of minarets (today accepted) and the use of funeral markers.
Luxuriant beards were and are the most famous badge of Salafi conviction, based on a traditional belief, which some scholars dispute, that the Prophet never trimmed his beard ... The other badge is a shortened thobe, because the Prophet did not let his clothes brush the ground.
The ambitions of the Muslim Brotherhood were similar to those of the Salfis and also of the dawah wahhabiya (Wahhabi mission) – to reestablish the order of Allah and to bring about the perfect Islamic states.
Official Egyptian correspondence expressed sectarian hostility to the Najdi reform movement),
Nevertheless, significant differences separate the Najdi movement from the modern revivalist agenda because the former stemmed from Muhammad ibn Ad al-wahhab's distinctive views on doctrine, where as the Muslim Brothers were a reaction against European domination and cultural invasion.,
The Wahhabi leadership of the World Muslim League made it an instrument for exporting the Najdi doctrine.
The Eastern Province (home to the oil reserves and to the perennially ill-used and unhappy Shiite minority) and the Hejaz (site of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina with their more open, international outlook) both resent the overwhelming dominance of religious conservatives from the Najd, home of the Al Saud, at all levels of national governance.
... Asir, and the tribal population in that region, like the liberals of the Hijaz and the Shiites of the Eastern Province, have always been reluctant partners in the Saudi state. As with the merchants of the Hijaz and al-Jouf, the tribes of Asir have never fully embraced Wahhabi doctrine. Periodic local rebellions, and a low-level struggle to keep alive a regional identity, are both testimony to that ...
Qatar, the only other country whose native population is Wahhabi and that adheres to the Wahhabi creed.
Both Wahhabism and Salafism are very much opposed by the vast majority of Sunnis and also by Shiites
Abdul-Wahhab was a proponent of Ijtihad, as were the leading reformers of the Salafi movement in Egypt.
Those who opted out of affiliation with the Ash'aris and Maturidis are often referred to as merely a group of Hanbalis [...] or Atharis, who relied on transmitted as opposed to rationally deduced sources. Their school is generally associated with an insistence on avoiding the use of rational argumentation in matters of belief, and a reliance solely on transmitted content (Qur'an and Hadith).
Most Muslims throughout history have accepted the position that declaring this profession of faith [the shahada] makes one a Muslim. One might or might not regularly perform the other obligatory rituals ... but ... any shortcomings would render one a sinner, not an unbeliever.
Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab did not accept that view. He argued that the criterion for one's standing as either a Muslim or an unbeliever was correct worship as an expression of belief in one God. ... any act or statement that indicates devotion to a being other than God is to associate another creature with God's power, and that is tantamount to idolatry (shirk). Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab included in the category of such acts popular religious practices that made holy men into intercessors with God. That was the core of the controversy between him and his adversaries, including his own brother.
One of the peculiar features of the debate between Wahhabis and their adversaries is its apparently static nature ... the main points in the debate [have] stay[ed] the same [since 1740].
The Wahhabi movement in Najd was unique in two respects: first, the ulama of Najd interpreted the Quran and sunna very literally and often with a view toward reinforcing parochial Najdi practices;
It is common for writers on Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab to assert that he sought a social renewal of Arabia, but that characterization is never given specific substance, unless one considers ritual correctness and moral purity to constitute such renewal. The problem with such generalizations is they encourage facile comparisons with modern revivalist movements, when in fact Najd's eighteenth-century reformer would have found key elements in Hasan al-Banna's writings utterly alien.
plans for socio-religious reform of society were based on the key doctrine of tawhid
Ibn Abd al-Wahhab produced no unprecedented opinions and Saudi authorities today regard him not as a mujtahid in fiqh [independent thinker in jurisprudence], but rather in da'wa or religious reawakening ... the Wahhabis' bitter differences with other Muslims were not over fiqh rules at all, but over aqida, or theological positions.
Among the innovations condemned by Ibn Abd al-Wahhab was the centuries-long heritage of jurisprudence (fiqh) that coalesced into four Sunni schools of law and many schools of Shi'ism. The Wahhabiyya considered themselves the true Sunnis and acknowledged their affinity to the Hanbali legal tradition. Yet they rejected all jurisprudence that in their opinion did not adhere strictly to the letter of the Qur'an and the hadith, even that of Ibn Hambal and his students.
The Wahhabis are often said to 'belong' to the Hanbali School of Law (madhhab), but strictly speaking, like the Ahl al-Hadith ... they are ghayr muqallidun ('non-adherents'), and do not see themselves as belonging to any school, any more than the first Muslim generations did.
... the Wahhabis – who claim to be the champion of Sunni Islam – perceive the Sunnis as having been wrong for over ten centuries and have been living a state of pre-Islamic paganism (jahiliyya [literally, ignorance]) since they moved away from the way of al-salaf. They even accused the majority of orthodox Sunni Muslims who were living under the Ottoman caliphate and the caliphate itself of reprehensible innovation (bid‘ah) and unbelief (kufr) because they had been living under a political system that is unknown to al-salaf.
In 1159/1746, the Wahhabi-Saudi state made a formal proclamation of jihad all who did not share their understanding of tauhid, for they counted as non-believers, guilty of shirk and apostasy. It is significant that whenever the term 'Muslims' occurs in Uthman b. Abdullah b Bishr's chronicle, `Unwan al-Majd fi Tarikh Najd, it refers exclusively to the Wahhabis. But the Wahhabi dismissal of all Muslims other than themselves as non-believers is of more than historical significance. Discreetly concealed over the years because of a variety of factors –above all the desire of the Saudi regime to portray itself as a protector of Muslim interests, despite abundant evidence to the contrary – this attitude of monopolistic rejection continues to inform the attitudes to Muslims held by contemporary Wahhabis and those under their influence, even when not fully articulated." (p.20)
Ibn `Abd al Wahhab's fundamentalism ... led to an Khariji-style division of the world into 'us' against 'them', identifying all who failed to conform to Wahhabi tenets as 'infidels' liable to attack ...
The intertwining of Saudi political/military power and Wahhabi religious power strengthened this legitimacy, as Wahhabism (or Wahhabiyyah) claims to represent the only orthopraxy Islam.
Wahhabi Muslims believe that their sect is the real true form of Islam, and that pretty much any other kind of way of practicing Islam is wrong." [according to Ahmed Ali, 'a Shi'a Muslim who grew up in Saudi Arabia']
My Saudi students gave me some of their core texts from university classes. They complained that regardless of their subject of study, they were compelled to study 'Thaqafah Islamiyyah' (Islamic Culture) ... These books were published in 2003 (after a Saudi promise in a post-9/11 world to alter their textbooks) and were used in classrooms across the country in 2005. I read these texts very closely: entire pages were devoted to explaining to undergraduates that all forms of Islam except Wahhabism were deviation. There were prolonged denunciations of nationalism, communism, the West, free mixing of the sexes, observing birthdays, even Mother's Day
Saudi textbooks are filled with references to hate; the Islamic Studies curriculum in the country is simply barbaric. I've experienced first-hand being taught by an Islamic Studies teacher in one of the most prominent private schools in Riyadh, about the dangers of having non-Muslims as friends and about the evil conspiracies hatched by Christians, Jews and Shias.
Significantly, Abd al-Wahhab also insisted that it was a sign of spiritual weakness for Muslims to care for or be interested in non-Muslim beliefs or practices. Pursuant to a doctrine known as al-wala` wa al-bara` (literally, the doctrine of loyalty and disassociation), Abd al-Wahhab argued that it was imperative for Muslims not to befriend, ally themselves with, or imitate non-Muslims or heretical Muslims. Furthermore, this enmity and hostility of Muslims toward non-Muslims and heretical had to be visible and unequivocal. For example, it was forbidden for a Muslim to be the first to greet a non-Muslim, and even if a Muslim returned a greeting, a Muslim should never wish a non-Muslim peace.
The Saudi Arabian government has strenuously denied the above allegations. Saudi officials continue to assert that Islam is tolerant and peaceful, and they have denied allegations that their government exports religious or cultural extremism or supports extremist religious education. In response to allegations of teaching intolerance, the Saudi government has embarked on a campaign of educational reforms designed to remove divisive material from curricula and improve teacher performance, although the outcome of these reforms remains to be seen. Confrontation with religious figures over problematic remarks and activities poses political challenges for the Saudi government, because some key Wahhabi clerics support Saudi government efforts to de-legitimize terrorism inside the kingdom and have sponsored or participated in efforts to religiously re-educate former Saudi combatants.
Not only is the Saudi monarch effectively the religious primate, but the puritanical Wahhabi sect of Islam that he represents instructs Muslims to be obedient and submissive to their ruler, however imperfect, in pursuit of a perfect life in paradise. Only if a ruler directly countermands the comhandments of Allah should devout Muslims even consider disobeying. 'O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. [surah 4:59]'
Ibn Baz submitted a memorandum to apologize for the Letter of Demands' tone and for publishing it at all rather than adhering to the customary Wahhabi principle that counsel to a ruler should be private.
For the Wahhabi ulama, however, the succession struggle raises an unprecedented and knotty issue: namely, which candidate to support. Part of the problem lay in the ulama's tendency to accord allegiance to the ruler, regardless of how he came to power, as long as he declared support for Wahhabism. But some ulama insisted on a strict juridical view that branded a rebel against the legitimate ruler (imam) as a usurper
Since believers owe the ruler obedience, he is free to organize government as he sees fit as long as he does not cross that line. While this appears to grant unlimited powers to the ruler, the proviso for respecting shari'a limits is significant, since it includes, in Wahhabi doctrine, respect for the independence of qadis in matters within their jurisdiction. Hence, the ruler may not interfere in their deliberations. Building on this limitation on a ruler's power, the ulama have preserved their autonomy in the legal sphere by refusing to participate in the codification of law and the formation of a uniform system of law courts ... In matters before religious courts, Vogel found a striking degree of independence wielded by qadis because their mandate is not to follow precedent or implement a uniform code, but to discern the divine ruling in a particular incident.
The ambitions of the Muslim Brotherhood were similar to those of the Salafis and also of the dawah wahhabiya (Wahhabi mission) – to reestablish the order of Allah and to bring about the perfect Islamic states. But the rhetoric of the Brotherhood dealt in change-promoting concepts like social justice, anticolonialism, and the equal distribution of wealth. Politically they were prepared to challenge the establishment in a style that was unthinkable to mainstream Wahhabis, who were reflexively defferential to their rulers, and enablers, the House of Saud.
First, there is the void created by the 1999 death of the elder Bin Baz and that of another senior scholar, Muhammad Salih al Uthaymin, two years later. Both were regarded as giants in conservative Salafi Islam and are still revered by its adherents. Since their passing, no one "has emerged with that degree of authority in the Saudi religious establishment," said David Dean Commins, history professor at Dickinson College and author of "The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia."
The proliferation of brochures, free qurans and new Islamic centres in Malaga, Madrid, Milat, Mantes-la-Jolie, Edinburgh, Brussels, Lisbon, Zagreb, Washington, Chicago, and Toronto; the financing of Islamic Studies chairs in American universities; the growth of Internet sites: all of these elements have facilitated access to Wahhabi teachings and the promotion of Wahhabism as the sole legitimate guardian of Islamic thought.
But over the last 30-odd years, since the oil crisis and the petrodollars became a major factor in the Muslim world, the extremists have been proselytizing, building mosques, religious schools where they teach Wahhabism ... sending out preachers, and having conferences. Globalizing, networking. And slowly they have convinced the Southeast Asian Muslims, and indeed Muslims throughout the world, that the gold standard is Saudi Arabia, that that is the real good Muslim.
Wahhabism, a peculiar interpretation of Islamic doctrine and practice that first arose in mid-eighteenth century Arabia, is sometimes regarded as simply an extreme or uncompromising form of Sunni Islam. This is incorrect, for at the very outset the movement was stigmatized as aberrant by the leading Sunni scholars of the day, because it rejected many of the traditional beliefs and practices of Sunni Islam and declared permissible warfare against all Muslims that disputed Wahhabi teachings.
[Algar lists all these things that involve intercession in prayer, that Wahhabi believe violate the principle of tauhid al-`ibada (directing all worship to God alone)]. all the allegedly deviant practices just listed can, however, be vindicated with reference not only to tradition and consensus but also hadith, as has been explained by those numerous scholars, Sunni and Shi'i alike, who have addressed the phenomenon of Wahhabism. Even if that were not the case, and the belief that ziyara or tawassul is valid and beneficial were to be false, there is no logical reason for condemning the belief as entailing exclusion from Islam.
the alliance concluded in 1744–1745 between Abdul Wahhab and the tribal chief Muhammad bin Saud, who ruled over the oasis of Diriyya ... in the Nejd, the peninsula's central desert province. (In Arabic, najd is any area where water disappears into the sand.) A Hobbesian state of perpetual war pitted Bedouin bribes against one another for control of the scarce resources that could stave off starvation. In exchange for Bin Saud's adherence to the strict dogma of Ibn Taymiyya, Abdul Wahhab offered to consecrate the Saudi tribe's raids on neighboring oases by renaming those raids jihad – holy war to promote, by the sword, Islam's triumph over unbelief. In place of the instinctive fight for survival and appetite for lucre, Abdul Wahhab substituted fath, the 'opening' or conquest of a vast territory through religious zeal.
A related error is to think of Wahhabism as having been from the time of its origin a reform movement that found a widespread and sympathetic echo in the Muslim world, or that it conformed to a general pattern of 'renewal' (tajdid) then underway in the Middle East, in South Asia, in Africa and elsewhere. All those movements were largely different in their nature from Wahhabism, which must be regarded within the specific context of its own time as an exception, an aberration, or at best an anomaly.
in the introduction to his translation to Kitab al-Tauhid, he [Islmail Raji al-Faruqi] had it almost right when, in the introduction to his translation to Kitab al-Tauhid, he described the book as having 'the appearance of a student's notes.' It would have been closer to the mark to say that this and many other writings of Abdal-Wahhav were the notes of a student ... what might charitably be termed the scholarly output of ... abdal-Wahhab ... All of his works are extremely slight, in terms of both content and bulk." Algar goes on to suggest that the works have been padded with lists of "further issues" and expansion by their editors/translators to make up for their slightness ... It is true that some fairly thick volumes have been published in Saudi Arabia as the collected works of ... Abd al-Wahhab ... but they are mostly a little more than collections of notes and arrangements of hadith according to certain subjects." "Volumes one, two, and four of this set" ... contain no elucidation or commentary from ... Abd al-Wahhab ... Every major figure to inaugurate a significant movement of renewal in Islamic history has been a prolific and influential writer, two examples ... Uthman dan Fodio and ... Dihlawi."... Abda al-Wahhab "is not remotely comparable to either.
During this period [of Wahhab jihad against the Ottoman Empire] Britain acquired a client in southeast Arabia: Oman, a state with sovereignty over Zanzibar in African and parts of the Iranian and neighboring coasts. Britain also expanded its influence northward into the area now known as the United Arab Emirates. In the other direction, the British subjugated Aden, on the southern Yemen coast in 1839. Yet remarkably enough, Wahhabi violence was almost never turned against the encroachments of this aggressive Christian power; the fanatics seemed concerned only with destroying the Ottomans. For this reason, anti-Wahhabi Muslim writers have repeatedly denounced them as a tool of the British ..." (p.79)
The first contact was made in 1865, and British subsidies started to flow into the coffers of the Saudi family, in ever growing quantity as World War One grew closer. The relationship fully matured during that war. In 1915, the British signed with the Saudi ruler of the day, Abd al-Aziz b. Sa'ud (Ibn Sa'ud); one of those contracts with their underlings that were euphemistically known as "treaties of friendship and cooperation". Money was, of course, the principal lubricant of friendship and cooperation, and by 1917 the Saudi ruler was receiving 5000 pounds a month ... the British also graciously saw fit to confer a knighthood on the champion of Wahhabism ... in 1935, Abd al-Aziz b. Sa'ud was made a Knight of the Order of the Bath."
Abd al-Latif, who would become the next supreme religious leader ... enumerated the harmful views that Ibn Jirjis openly espoused in Unayza: Supplicating the dead is not a form of worship but merely calling out to them, so it is permitted. Worship at graves is not idolatry unless the supplicant believes that buried saints have the power to determine the course of events. Whoever declares that there is no god but God and prays toward Mecca is a believer.
Most Somalis are Sufi Muslims, who do not share the strict Saudi Arabian-inspired Wahhabi interpretation of Islam with the hardline al-Shabab group. They embrace music, dancing and meditation and are appalled at the desecration of the graves... The umbrella group Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama (Sufi Sects in Somalia) has condemned the actions of what they call the ideology of modern Wahhabism and the desecrations of graves. They see Wahhabism as foreign and ultimately un-Islamic.
Ahl-i Hadith or Ahl-e-Hadith (Persian: اهل حدیث, Urdu: اہل حدیث, people of hadith) is a religious movement that emerged in Northern India in the mid-nineteenth century from the teachings of Syed Nazeer Husain and Siddiq Hasan Khan. Adherents of Ahl-i Hadith profess to hold the same views as the early Ahl al-Hadith movement. They regard the Quran, sunnah, and hadith as the sole sources of religious authority and oppose everything introduced in Islam after the earliest times. In particular, they reject taqlid (following legal precedent) and favor ijtihad (independent legal reasoning) based on the scriptures.In recent decades the movement has expanded its presence in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, and has drawn both inspiration and financial support from Saudi Arabia.The movement has been compared to Saudi Wahhabism, or a variation on the Wahhabi movement, but the movement itself claims to be distinct from Wahhabism, and some believe it possesses some notable distinctions from the mainly Arab Salafis.Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a
Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a (ASWJ) (Somali: Ahlu Suna Waljamaaca) is a Somalia-based paramilitary group consisting of moderate Sufis opposed to radical Islamist groups such as Al-Shabaab. They are fighting to prevent strict Sharia and Wahhabism from being imposed, and protecting the local Sunni-Sufi traditions and generally moderate religious views. During the civil war, the organization worked in cooperation with faction leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid.Alleged Saudi role in September 11 attacks
The alleged Saudi role in the September 11 attacks gained new attention after two former U.S. senators, co-chairmen of the Congressional Inquiry into the attacks, told CBS in April 2016 that the redacted 28 pages of the Congressional Inquiry's report refer to evidence of Saudi Arabia's substantial involvement in the execution of the attacks, and calls renewed to have the redacted pages released. 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens.
The panel's findings 'did not discover' any role by 'senior, high-level' Saudi government officials, said officials familiar with the report, but the "commission’s narrow wording", according to critics, suggests the possibility that "less senior officials or parts of the Saudi government could have played a role". Florida Democratic Senator Bob Graham, who chaired the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at the time the report said in his sworn statements that "there was evidence of support from the Saudi government for the terrorists."In 2017 a New York lawyer, Jim Kreindler, said that he had found "a link between Saudi officials and the hijackers."Demolition of al-Baqi
Al-Baqi cemetery, the oldest and one of the two most important Islamic graveyards located in Medina, in current-day Saudi Arabia, was demolished in 1806 and, following reconstruction in the mid-19th century, was destroyed again in 1925 or 1926. An alliance of the House of Saud, and the followers of the Wahhabi movement known as the Emirate of Diriyah, carried out the first demolition. The Sultanate of Nejd, also ruled by the House of Saud and followers of Wahhabism, carried out the second. In both cases, the actors were motivated by the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam, which prohibits the building of monuments on graves.Donja Bočinja
Donja Bočinja (Serbian Cyrillic: Доња Бочиња) is a village in the municipality of Maglaj in Zenica-Doboj Canton, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.Hamid Algar
Hamid Algar (born 1940) is a British-American Professor Emeritus of Persian studies at the Faculty of Near Eastern Studies, University of California, Berkeley. He is a prolific writer on Persian and Arabic literature and contemporary history of Iran, Turkey, the Balkans and Afghanistan. He served on the UC Berkeley faculty for 45 years (from 1965 to 2010). Algar remains an active scholar and his research has concentrated on the Islamic history of the Perso-Turkish world, with particular emphasis on Iranian Shi'ism during the past two centuries and the Naqshbandi Sufi order. Algar is a Shia Muslim.Algar, who was born in England, later converted to Islam and later chose to follow Shia Islam. He has also translated books written by contemporary political Shiite theologians, like Ruhollah Khomeini's book Velayat-e Faqih and books written by Ali Shariati, Murteza Mutahhari and Sayyid Mahmoud Taleqani.Indonesian Islamic Propagation Council
(Indonesian: Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia)
The Indonesian Islamic Propagation Council (Indonesian: Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia (DDII)) is a Sunni Islamic organization in Indonesia which aimed at dawah (proselytizing). The organization is considered one of the most prominent dawah organisations in modern Indonesia. It is also noted for being the primary receiver (along with the LIPIA) of funding for Islamic activities in Indonesia from Saudi Arabia.International propagation of Salafism and Wahhabism
Starting in the mid-1970s and 1980s, conservative/strict/puritanical interpretations of Sunni Islam favored by the conservative oil-exporting Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, (and to a lesser extent by other Gulf monarchies) have achieved what political scientist Gilles Kepel calls a "preeminent position of strength in the global expression of Islam." The interpretations included not only "Wahhabi" Islam of Saudi Arabia, but Islamist/revivalist Islam, and a "hybrid" of the two interpretations.
The impetus for the spread of the interpretations through the Muslim world was ‘the largest worldwide propaganda campaign ever mounted’ (according to political scientist Alex Alexiev), "dwarfing the Soviets’ propaganda efforts at the height of the Cold War" (according to journalist David A. Kaplan), funded by petroleum exports which ballooned following the October 1973 War.
One estimate is that during the reign of King Fahd (1982 to 2005), over $75 billion was spent in efforts to spread Wahhabi Islam. The money was used to establish 200 Islamic colleges, 210 Islamic centers, 1,500 mosques, and 2,000 schools for Muslim children in Muslim and non-Muslim majority countries.
The schools were "fundamentalist" in outlook and formed a network "from Sudan to northern Pakistan".
The late king also launched a publishing center in Medina that by 2000 had distributed 138 million copies of the Quran (the central religious text of Islam) worldwide.
Along with the millions of Qurans distributed free of charge came doctrinal texts following the Wahhabi interpretation.In the 1980s the Kingdom's approximately 70 embassies around the world were equipped with religious attaches whose job it was to get new mosques built in their countries and to persuade existing mosques to propagate the dawah wahhabiya".
The Saudi Arabian government funds a number of international organizations to spread fundamentalist Islam, including the Muslim World League, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, the International Islamic Relief Organization, and various royal charities. Supporting da'wah (literally `making an invitation` to Islam) -- proselytizing or preaching of Islam—has been called "a religious requirement" for Saudi rulers that cannot be abandoned "without losing their domestic legitimacy" as protectors and propagators of Islam.In addition to the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam, other strict and conservative interpretations of Sunni Islam directly or indirectly assisted by funds from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf include those of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami Islamist organizations. While their alliances were not always permanent, Wahhabism and forms of Islamism are said to have formed a "joint venture", sharing a strong "revulsion" against western influences, a belief in strict implementation of injunctions and prohibitions of sharia law, an opposition to both Shiism and popular Islamic religious practices (the cult of `saints`), and a belief in the importance of armed jihad.Later the two movements are said to have been "fused",
or formed a "hybrid", particularly as a result of the Afghan jihad of the 1980s against the Soviet Union, and resulted in the training and equipping of thousands of Muslims to fight against Soviets and their Afghan allies in Afghanistan in the 1980s.The funding has been criticized for promoting an intolerant, fanatical form of Islam that allegedly helped to breed terrorism.
Critics argue that volunteers mobilized to fight in Afghanistan (such as Osama bin Laden) and "exultant" at their success against the Soviet superpower, went on to fight Jihad against Muslim governments and civilians in other countries. And that conservative Sunni groups such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan are attacking and killing not only non-Muslims but fellow Muslims they consider to be apostates, such as Shia and Sufis. (Changes to Saudi religious policy as of 2017 have led some to suggest that "Islamists throughout the world will have to follow suit or risk winding up on the wrong side of orthodoxy".)Islam in Saudi Arabia
Islam is the state religion of Saudi Arabia. The connection between Islam and Saudi Arabia (or at least the western Hejaz region of the country) is uniquely strong. The kingdom, which sometimes is called the "home of Islam", is the location of the cities of Mecca and Medina, where Muhammad, the messenger of the Islamic faith, lived and died, and attracts millions of Muslim Hajj pilgrims annually, and thousands of clerics and students who come from across the Muslim world to study. The official title of the King of Saudi Arabia is "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques"—the two being Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina—which are considered the holiest in Islam.In the 18th century, a pact between Islamic preacher Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and a regional emir, Muhammad bin Saud, brought a fiercely puritanical strain of Sunni Islam first to the Najd region and then to the Arabian Peninsula. Referred to by supporters as "Salafism" and by others as "Wahhabism", this interpretation of Islam became the state religion and interpretation of Islam espoused by Muhammad bin Saud and his successors (the Al Saud family), who eventually created the modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. The Saudi government has spent tens of billions of dollars of its petroleum export revenue throughout the Islamic world and elsewhere on building mosques, publishing books, giving scholarships and fellowships, hosting international Islamic organisations, and promoting its form of Islam, sometimes referred to as "petro-Islam".Whether Salafis/Wahhabis are a majority in Saudi Arabia is disputed, with one estimate putting their number at only 22.9% of the native population (concentrated in Najd). The Wahhabi mission has been dominant in Najd for two hundred years, but in most other parts of the country—Hejaz, the Eastern Province, Najran—it has dominated only since 1913-1925. Most of the 15 to 20 million Saudi citizens are Sunni Muslims, while the eastern regions are populated mostly by Twelver Shia, and there are Zaydi Shia in the southern regions. According to a number of sources, only a minority of Saudis consider themselves Wahhabis, although according to other sources, the Wahhabi affiliation is up to 40%, making it a very dominant minority, at the very least using a native population of 17 million based on "2008-9 estimates". In addition, the next largest affiliation is with Salafism, which encompasses all of the central principles of Wahhabism, with a number of minor additional accepted principles differentiating the two.Proselytizing by non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia, including the distribution of non-Muslim religious materials (such as the Bible), is illegal.Islamic Djamaat of Dagestan
The Islamic Djamaat of Dagestan, known in Russia as the Kadar zone (Russian: Кадарская зона), was an Islamist political entity in the Buynaksky District of Dagestan consisting of the fortified villages of Kadar, Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi. In the late 1990s, the Djamaat, heavily influenced by militant Wahhabism, declared independence and ejected Dagestani officials from the area. After a series of armed conflicts with Dagestani police and local moderate Muslims, the Djamaat broke off from government control. Sharia law was introduced in the villages, the Russian Constitution was declared void and an alliance was signed with Chechen forces with the aim of establishing an Independent Islamic Republic in the Caucasus.
Chechnya-based militants led by warlords Shamil Basaev and Ibn Al-Khattab launched an armed invasion of Dagestan in the autumn of 1999. While the invasion was resisted by Dagestani civilians and Russian troops, a retributive military attack was launched against the Djamaat. In the ensuing fighting, the three villages were destroyed and the Djamaat's militants left the area on 15 September 1999.Islamic Modernism
Islamic Modernism is a movement that has been described as "the first Muslim ideological response" attempting to reconcile Islamic faith with modern values such as nationalism, democracy, civil rights, rationality, equality, and progress. It featured a "critical reexamination of the classical conceptions and methods of jurisprudence" and a new approach to Islamic theology and Quranic exegesis (Tafsir).It was the first of several Islamic movements – including secularism, Islamism, and Salafism – that emerged in the middle of the 19th century in reaction to the rapid changes of the time, especially the perceived onslaught of Western Civilization and colonialism on the Muslim world. Founders include Muhammad Abduh, a Sheikh of Al-Azhar University for a brief period before his death in 1905, Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani, and Muhammad Rashid Rida (d. 1935).
The early Islamic Modernists (al-Afghani and Muhammad Abdu) used the term "salafiyya" to refer to their attempt at renovation of Islamic thought, and this "salafiyya movement" is often known in the West as "Islamic modernism," although it is very different from what is currently called the Salafi movement, which generally signifies "ideologies such as wahhabism". Since its inception, Modernism has suffered from co-option of its original reformism by both secularist rulers and by "the official ulama" whose "task it is to legitimise" rulers' actions in religious terms.Modernism differs from secularism in that it insists on the importance of religious faith in public life, and from Salafism or Islamism in that it embraces contemporary European institutions, social processes, and values. One expression of Islamic Modernism (expressed by Mahathir Mohammed) is that "only when Islam is interpreted so as to be relevant in a world which is different from what it was 1400 years ago, can Islam be regarded as a religion for all ages."Islamic schools and branches
This article summarizes the different branches and schools in Islam. The best known split, into Sunni Islam, Shia Islam, and Kharijites, was mainly political at first but eventually acquired theological and jurisprudential dimensions. There are three traditional types of schools in Islam: schools of jurisprudence, Sufi orders and schools of theology. The article also summarizes major denominations and movements that have arisen in the modern era.Islamism in South Asia
Islamism in South Asia may refer to:
Muslim nationalism in South Asia
Islam in South Asia : Movements
Islam in India : Leadership and organisationsHistorical events
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's Islamization
1984 Pakistani Islamisation programme referendum
International_propagation_of_Salafism_and_Wahhabism#Afghanistan_TalibanMemoirs of Mr. Hempher, The British Spy to the Middle East
Memoirs of Mr. Hempher, The British Spy to the Middle East or Confessions of a British Spy is a document purporting to be the account by an 18th-century British agent, Hempher, of his instrumental role in founding the conservative Islamic reform movement of Wahhabism, as part of a conspiracy to corrupt Islam. It first appeared in 1888, in Turkish, in the five-volume Mir'at al-Haramayn of Ayyub Sabri Pasha (who is thought to be the actual author by at least one scholar). It has been described as "apocryphal", a "forgery", "utter nonsense", and "an Anglophobic variation on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion". It has been widely translated and disseminated, is available on the internet, and still enjoys some currency among some individuals in the Middle East and beyond. In 2002, an Iraqi military intelligence officer, in a "top secret document", made many of the same assertions regarding Wahhabism as are found in the book.Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani
Muhammad Nasir-ud-Dīn al-Albani (1914 – October 2, 1999) (In Arabic محمد ناصر الدين الألباني) was an Albanian Islamic scholar who specialised in the fields of hadith and fiqh. He established his reputation in Syria, where his family had moved when he was a child and where he was educated.Albani is considered to be a major figure of the purist Salafi movement which developed in the 20th century. Al-Albani did not advocate violence, preferring quietism and obedience to established governments.A watchmaker by trade, al-Albani was active as a writer, publishing chiefly on hadith and its sciences. He also lectured widely in the Mideast, Spain and the United Kingdom on the Salafist movement.Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab
Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (; Arabic: محمد بن عبد الوهاب; 1703 – 22 June 1792) was a religious leader and theologian from Najd in central Arabia who founded the movement now called Wahhabism. Born to a family of jurists, Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab's early education consisted of learning a fairly standard curriculum of orthodox jurisprudence according to the Hanbali school of law, which was the school of law most prevalent in his area of birth. Despite his initial rudimentary training in classical Sunni Muslim tradition, Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab gradually became opposed to many of the most popular Sunni practices such as the visitation to and the veneration of the tombs of saints, which he felt amounted to heretical religious innovation or even idolatry. Despite his teachings being rejected and opposed by many of the most notable Sunni Muslim scholars of the period, including his own father and brother, Ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab charted a religio-political pact with Muhammad bin Saud to help him to establish the Emirate of Diriyah, the first Saudi state, and began a dynastic alliance and power-sharing arrangement between their families which continues to the present day in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Al ash-Sheikh, Saudi Arabia's leading religious family, are the descendants of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab, and have historically led the ulama in the Saudi state, dominating the state's clerical institutions.Padri War
The Padri War (also called the Minangkabau War) was fought from 1803 until 1837 in West Sumatra, Indonesia between the Padris and the Adats. "Padris" were Muslim clerics from Sumatra who, inspired by Wahabism and after returning from Hajj, wanted to impose Sharia in Minangkabau country in West Sumatra, Indonesia. "Adats" comprised the Minangkabau nobility and traditional chiefs. The latter asked for the help of the Dutch, who intervened from 1821 and helped the nobility defeat the Padri faction.Sahwa movement
Sahwa Movement (Awakening movement) or Al–Sahwa Al-Islamiyya (Islamic Awakening) is a faction of Saudi Qutbism, an extremist jihadist Islamist ideology developed by Sayyid Qutb, the figurehead of the Muslim Brotherhood. In Saudi Arabia, the Sahwa Movement has been involved in peaceful political reform. Safar Al-Hawali and Salman al-Ouda are representatives of this trend. Because of being active on social media they have earned some support amongst the more educated youth.This group opposed the presence of US troops on the Arabian peninsula.Salafi movement
The Salafi movement, also called Salafist movement, Salafiya, and Salafism, is a reform branch or revivalist movement within Sunni Islam that developed in Egypt in the late 19th century as a response to Western European imperialism. It had roots in the 18th-century Wahhabi movement that originated in the Najd region of modern-day Saudi Arabia. It advocated a return to the traditions of the salaf, the first three generations of Muslims. Those generations included the Islamic Prophet Muhammad and his companions (the Sahabah), their successors (the Tabi‘un), and the successors of the successors (the Taba Tabi‘in).
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Sab'u Masajid, Saudi Arabia
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Part of a series on Islam
1Salafism (Ahl-i Hadith & Wahhabism)
2Sevener-Qarmatians, Assassins & Druzes
3Alawites, Qizilbash & Bektashism; 4Nukkari
5Ajardi, Azariqa, Bayhasiyya, Najdat & Sūfrī
6Bahshamiyya, Bishriyya & Ikhshîdiyya
7Alevism, Bektashi Order, Qalandariyya & various Sufi orders