What should our attitude be toward Muhammad b. Abdulwahhab?

The Details of the Question

- I have heard different things about Muhammad b. Abdulwahhab. While some Muslims say that he was a great Muslim who invited people to the path of Allah, some other Muslims say that he was a heretic or a sinful Muslim; they unjustly call him an unbeliever and say that he is one of the Kharijites who killed innocent Muslims. Some Muslims even accuse him of being an unbeliever.
-What is your opinion about him?
-Does he have any ideas contrary to Ahl as-Sunnah?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Muhammad b. Abdulwahhab (d. 1792), who lived in Iran and Iraq when he was young, who studied philosophy along with Islamic sciences and who was a Sufi, was influenced by Ibn Taymiyya afterwards.

Ibn Abdulwahhab chose a secluded part of the Arabian Peninsula to spread his views. Feeling that political support was necessary for the realization of the reform, he contacted, Muhammad b. Saud, the Emir of Dariyya, explained his ideas to him, persuaded him and gained his full support.

When he died in 1792 - Ibn Saud had died 33 years ago - the reform had become successful and spread throughout the Peninsula. During the periods of the Emir’s son Abdulaziz and grandson Saud, the new movement spread beyond the Peninsula. The movement challenged the Ottomans, and entered Iraq, Syria and Haramayn.

Wahhabis attacked Karbala in 1801 and destroyed all the holy places, including Hz. Husayn’s grave.

The Ottoman State saw that the movement was against them both politically and intellectually and that it spread dangerously; therefore, it assigned Mehmed Ali Pasha, the Governor of Egypt to struggle against them and also started severe propaganda against them.

Mehmed Ali Pasha defeated the Wahhabi forces and drove them to the inner parts of the Peninsula; thus, the new movement’s establishing a stated was delayed for a hundred years; however, the movement continued its development and expansion by performing its propaganda and publicity activities in the meantime.

This movement, which was later called “Wahhabism”, emerged when popular Sufism became the most important factor and as a reaction to the ethical collapse into which the Islamic Ummah gradually fell due to it and various additional reasons. The Western countries, which were hostile to the Ottoman State, especially England, supported this movement for their own treacherous policies.

According to Ibn Abdulwahhab, “Help needs to be asked only from a living person. It is also permissible for a person to ask his Muslim brother to pray for him; however, making a request from a dead person or someone who is not there (sheikh, imam) is regarded as polytheism (shirk). Therefore, all kinds of prayers (duas) such as referring to intermediaries and intercessors between a person and Allah in this worldly life and taking shelter in a person’s spiritual power need to be rejected. It is polytheism to travel to visit the graves of people known as saints, to hang things on their tombs to ask something, to mention their names with expressions of honor, and to ask them for the acceptance of prayers. He is against those who reject intercession, such as Mu’tazila and Kharijites, and those who consider it a right that the Prophet has.... It is stated in several hadiths that the Messenger of Allah will ask permission from Allah to intercede for not only the righteous people but also the disobedient people from his ummah. However, intercession belongs only to Allah, and the Messenger of Allah will be able to intercede only with His permission. Therefore, in order to attain the intercession of the Prophet, intercession needs to be asked from Allah. What the Companions understood from making tawassul to Allah through the prayer (dua) of the Messenger of Allah was permissible when he was alive; when he died, the Companions left it and asked his uncle Abbas to pray for them. Muhammad b. Abdulwahhab opposes common Sufi views, rejects spiritual ranks such as ghaws, aqtab, awtad and abdal, and regards them as bid’ahs that are haram…” (For more information, see TDV İslam Ans.)

According to the beliefs and deeds of Muhammad b. Abdulwahhab we have summarized above, he is outside Ahl as-Sunnah but calling him an unbeliever is a big mistake.

Today, his followers in their homeland have kept their mouths shut due to the political situation; they cannot make the harsh warnings they do to the weak to the current administration; however, their influence continues in the world and they divide the ummah; they exclude the great people of sunnah and propagate that they are the only people of Ahl as-Sunnah.

Our duty is to act wisely and try to put the fire out instead of blowing the coals.

For more information, please click on the link given below;

Who is Muhammad b. Abdulwahhab?

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