Many people who self-identify as Muslims ask why should traditional Sunni Muslims should exert their time and energy to warning against those who are called “Wahhabis” (although nowadays the Wahhabis don’t usually refer to themselves as “Wahhabis but “Salafis). The answer is manifold. Although there are many groups and ideologies that pose threats to the Muslims, such as, the cult of corporate consumerism, Christian missionaries, the military-industrial complex, the atheists, materialists and hedonists, ad nauseum, these ideologies as grave of a concern as they may be in various parts of the world, none of these groups consider themselves Muslims. Ignorant and vulnerable Muslims do not think that the beliefs these people mentioned advocate are actually from the religion of the Prophet Muhammad. Wahhabism, on the other hand, masquerades itself in the garb of piety and claims to be the true protector of the Sunnah of the Prophet. This can even be seen in the name “Salafi” that the Wahhabis have adopted for themselves. Because of the long history of Wahhabi villainy, and their being exposed by Sunni scholars and historians, the Wahhabis call themselves “Salafis” to gain—in the minds of the unsuspecting—legitimacy by claiming to affiliate themselves with the earliest and most righteous generations of Muslims in the Muhammadiyyah nation, that is, the genuine Salaf, who lived in the first 300 years of the Hijrah.
If one wishes to expose Wahhabism and demonstrate that Wahhabism is NOT simply a “sect” of Islam, but that the Wahhabism is contrary to Islam, then all one needs to do is examine the ludicrous (dis)beliefs the Wahhabis have regarding the Creator of the Universe. First, every Muslim must know and believe that the Prophet Muhammad only taught one belief in God. There is only one true belief in God, and the person who holds a bad belief about Allah would not be a Muslim in reality, for he’d be worshiping something other than God, and that would be shirk (polytheism). The correct belief in God—the belief universally shared by all Muslims is that Allah is One: Allah has no associates; no one or thing creates except Allah. Allah is Unique; Allah is Incomparable and has no similarity—at all—to the originated beings. Allah is Indivisible, that is, Allah is not something that could potentially be subject to division or composition. Allah is not a body, object, or spatial entity. Allah has no size and does not require dimensions to exist. Allah exists without place, distance, or direction.
Muslims universally believe that Allah is Eternal. Allah is not subject to time. Allah has no start, or origin, or age. Allah does not undergo change, for change entails development, and development indicates either perfection or imperfection. Allah, the Holy and Almighty does not “improve” or degenerate in status. Given that Allah is Eternal and everything else is a creation, it is known that Allah is not dependent upon the creations. Allah was before the creations were. Allah was before the existence of space and place. Allah does not change or transform. After creating space and place, Allah did not transform and materialize in a location. In summary, the Muslims universally believe in One Perfect Eternal Creator, Who is the Creator of everything and absolutely does not need or resemble anything. Whoever does not believe as such, does not hold the belief in God that the Prophet Muhammad taught, and consequently would not be a Muslim.
The Wahhabis, in a nutshell, pray to a giant unidentified extraterrestrial object with fingers, two feet, one shin, a pair of out stretched right hands and a smiling face. This is not the belief of the Muslims. Now some may think that what was described is a caricature of the Wahhabi doctrine, but it is not. The Wahhabis believe that Allah is large—and not small. The Wahhabis believe that Allah is not on the earth, but dwells in a location above our heads; hence, they believe that Allah is extraterrestrial (and an object). The Wahhabis believe that people will not be able to identify Allah on the Judgment Day, until Allah allegedly shows off His supposed shin. The Wahhabis believe that Allah has fingers, and will place some of the creations of His alleged fingers come the Judgment Day. The Wahhabis believe that Allah has two feet which are allegedly on the `Arsh now, and one of which will be put into Hell on the Judgment Day. The Wahhabis claim that Allah has a pair of right hands, and that His alleged hands are outstretched. And, indeed, the Wahhabis claim Allah “smiles” and has a “face.” Of course, many Wahhabis will not openly profess such an outlandish and repulsive belief in the way described above, for it would cause many of even its more fanatical members to call into question such an absurd and contradictory doctrine. Also, the Wahhabis, in order to take the edge off of their anthropomorphism, will claim things like, “Allah has a literal face, but it’s not like ours.” A “face” is the front part of the head. A literal head is a body part. Whosoever believes Allah is a body is not a Believer in Islam. Also, even if the Wahhabi does not believe that Allah has a real-actual-literal “front part of the head,” the Wahhabis do indeed believe that Allah is some sort of object that exists in a direction and requires space in order to exist. This alone is tantamount to kufr (disbelief), for it entails ascribing to Allah originated attributes and the dependency upon space. Allah is Sublimely clear from all that which the object worshipers ascribe to Him!
The above is enough to make it clear to every reasonable Muslim that the belief of the Wahhabis contradicts the belief of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. Nonetheless, because many Muslims are not well learned in the matters of Tawheed (the science pertaining to the Oneness and Perfection of God), they may fall victim to the religious rhetoric of the Wahhabis. The Wahhabis do this by emphasizing Sunnah matters of dress and practice, and even claim that they are against all forms of shirk (polytheism)—but they fail to realize that their worship of a giant imaginary object also entails shirk, for it certainly doesn’t entail worship of the Creator.
In addition to the erroneous convictions the Wahhabis have regarding God, the Wahhabis do not consider the masses of Muslims to be Muslims. Given the absurd literalist misunderstanding of Qur’anic Verses and Hadiths pertaining to matters of doctrine, it should not be surprising that the Wahhabis also have an absurd and literalist methodology pertaining to the matters of Islamic jurisprudence. Because the Wahhabis imagined meanings to Qur’anic Verses that were not there, the Wahhabis consider the Muslims at large to be polytheists. This can be seen from their origins in the region called “Najd” (this was a region the Prophet, incidentally, warned us about and said it would be an area where the “horm of the devil would arise). The Wahhabis follow Muhammad ibn `Abdul-Wahhab. Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab deemed it to be a virtuous deed to kill Muslims and confiscate their property (because in his mind the Muslims weren’t Muslims in reality). Later, in the early 1800’s the Wahhabis occupied much of Al-Hijaz (Western Arabia), including, Ta’if, Madinah, and Mecca, where the Wahhabis pillaged, terrorized and massacred the inhabitants of that blessed land. This is the historical reality of Wahhabism. This is the history that the Wahhabis are ominously silent about.
Given that the Wahhabi sect started off as a terrorist movement, it should not be surprising that those who self-identify as Sunni Muslims and commit acts of terrorism are almost always Wahhabis or heavily influenced by their ideology. The Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East and into Central Asia have suffered tremendously because of the blood spilled in the name of this Wahhabi ideology. And for the Muslims in the West, the negative perception of Muslims and the increasing levels of persecution are largely due to the influence of Wahhabism. That is not to say that Wahhabism is the only problem the Muslims face in the West, but when it comes to those involved in terrorist plots, or even those entrapped in such plots by the security agencies, Wahhabism is a significant factor in inspiring those who may have the ambition to commit atrocities. If Muslims in the West wish to reduce the level of bigotry we face, then it would serve us well to expose those who promote the Wahhabi ideology in the name of Islam.
The way to combat the radicalization caused by Wahhabism is to equip the general Muslim population with some of the standard Islamic proofs for the Existence, Oneness, Transcendence, and Perfection of Allah. These are the proofs from the Qur’an and Hadith (sayings of the Prophet) that the Sunni scholars elaborated upon in great detail to refute those who mistook the attributes of the creations for the Attributes of the Creator and consequently ascribed to God bodily properties. These proofs also include the sound rational proofs, such as:
Allah is not dependent upon the creations.
Space and direction are creations.
Ergo, Allah is not dependent upon space or direction.
By exposing the ludicrous object-worshiping Wahhabi doctrine and demonstrating that it is not the Islamic belief in One absolutely Incomparable Creator, Muslims would be better able to identify and isolate the Wahhabis in their mosques and communities.
Another benefit in exposing the Wahhabis from a doctrinal point of view is that not only would one be educating Muslims and fortifying the Muslims with the Qur’anic, Prophetic, and rational proofs for the Islamic belief in God, one would also be educating non-Muslims about Islam. Instead of starting the conversation from a position of apologizing for Islam—or for extremists—Muslims could now engage non-Muslims by explaining to them the profundity of the Muslim belief in the Creator. Many non-Muslims simply don’t know much more about Islam other than what they have heard in the mass media. Never therein is the actual Muslim belief in God discussed in any detail. This is the job of Muslims. If the genuine Islamic belief is made known to more of the public, there is a very good chance a considerable number of truth seeking non-Muslims would embrace Islam. Hence, it is mandatory for more Muslims to acquire the knowledge of Islamic theology and educate non-Muslims about the true belief in the Creator of the Universe.
It must be asked: why don’t more Islamic organizations simply identify the menace of extremism—i.e., Wahhabism—by name? Surely it is not a difficult matter to investigate the theology of Wahhabism, or Wahhabism’s historical origins and its connection to fanaticism and terrorism. Sadly, many Muslim centers and their leadership are beholden to varying degrees to the funding from the Saudi-Wahhabi regime. Other Islamic centers simply are not well-versed in detailed matters of traditional Islamic doctrine and are not familiar with the doctrines of Wahhabism. Other Islamic centers respond to the matter of Wahhabism with the simple-minded misunderstanding that if controversial theological matters are ignored and not discussed, then “Muslim unity” will be realized—while failing to recognize that Islamic solidarity is predicated on having the proper belief in God. The Wahhabis do not have the proper belief in God—Wahhabis believe in some form of object worship. Muslims do not worship an object.
For Muslims to strive against radicalization and extremism, we have to be sincere. First of all, we have to be sincere to Allah. Being sincere to Allah, means seeing to it that one learns his (or her) Religion well; that one has the correct belief in God—that one does not violate God’s Perfection and Oneness by ascribing to God the characteristics of created beings. Being sincere also means that one does not betray the Muslims by failing to warn them about those beliefs that nullify one’s Islam, such as, the object-worshiping creed of the Wahhabis. And finally, sincerity also means not betraying the larger society by pretending that there isn’t a Wahhabi menace masquerading in Muslim garb in our mosques.