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Wahhabism Has Historical Roots

If we go back to our history and look up its painful events, some of those events shall attract our attention to reveal to us that Wahhabism,1 which we have known in this century, had ancient roots since the very beginning of Islam. They were apparent at one time and hidden at another. One time they appeared daringly, and at another they time hid because of fear and dissimulation, until the time that Islam had regressed and its pillars and great personalities were afflicted. Then colonialism came to feed and strengthen this new thought.

The aim behind it was to destroy the sanctity of the Prophet Muhammad (S). Muslims, due to the colonialists’ thoughts, sanctified two things - the Qur'an and the Sunnah. These are the two basic sources of the Islamic Sharia that was targeted by them.

They know that the speech of Allah can never be changed and distorted, because Allah, the Almighty has undertaken its preservation. But as for the Prophet’s Sunnah, it is liable to distortion and fabrication. In fact, since the first day when the Prophet (S) left for the better world, disagreement took place among Muslims on the Prophet’s Sunnah.

However, the colonialists perceived that the scholars of the nation had set right the Sunnah and collected its true and reliable traditions and put laws and rules to keep it safe from increase or decrease. Therefore, they thought of a satanic trick that might help them do away with the spiritual matters that were the most active factor in the life of Muslims. It was that whenever Muslims gave up on these spiritualties they would approach them step by step with unfaithful materialism, and then they would become like the scum of a flood.

They looked for a Muslim man who had infinite ambition, and they discovered Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul Wahhab, to whom Wahhabism is ascribed. They inspired in him from their spirit and convinced him that he was the savant of his age and that he had genius and intelligence that even the orthodox caliphs did not have. They showed him the violations of the caliphs against the clear texts of the Qur'an and the Prophetic Sunnah, especially the objection of Umar ibn al-Khattab to the Prophet (S) during his life. They convinced him that Muhammad was a human being who was fallible; that he committed many mistakes and that some people had to correct him. This was a proof of his (the Prophet’s) weakness. They aroused his greed to the rule and to prevail over Arabia first and then all over the Arab and Muslim world.

Wahhabism was established on these concepts - trying their best to degrade the Prophet (S) and slighting his importance, until their scholars openly said, “The man has died.” And their head said, “Muhammad is just a worn-out rope that neither does any benefit nor harm, and my stick is better than him because it benefits and harms.”

Sayings like that were said at the time of al-Hajjaj ibn Yousuf ath-Thaqafi who himself said, “Woe to them! They circumambulate a worn-out rope. If they circumambulated the palace of Ameerul Mu’minin Abdul Melik ibn Marwan, it would be of use to them.”

In fact, nothing made al-Hajjaj and the vicious Umayyad rulers so daring, except for the daring of Umar ibn al-Khattab who said in the presence of the Prophet (S), “This man (the Prophet) is raving. The Book of Allah is sufficient for us.”2

In this very impudent saying, there are all the meanings that the Wahhabis try their best to confirm and fix in the minds of people. They say that Muhammad has died and is no longer but a part of history. Whoever supplicates through his means is as if he worships him and makes a partner in deity. This is not a new concept; it has a root in history. Abu Bakr said openly before people, “O people, whoever worshipped Muhammad – so Muhammad has died, and whoever worshipped Allah, Allah is alive and will never die.3

What was the reason for Abu Bakr to say so while he certainly knew that no one of Muslims worshipped Muhammad at all? Did Abu Bakr believe that some Muslims actually worshipped Muhammad? If it was so, then why did Muhammad keep silent before those people, or why he did not prevent or scold them or even kill them?

I have been convinced that they (Abu Bakr, Umar…etc.) had the same thoughts that the Wahhabis have today. It means that they could not bear to see people sanctify and honor the Prophet (S). It made them angry to see people hurry and fight with each other to get the remainder of the Prophet’s water of wudhu’ to massage their faces and skins for blessing and to be closer to Allah by loving him and his progeny. All that created a reaction among the people of Quraysh who began hating Muhammad (S) with no guilt being committed by him.

The chief of Quraysh Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan revealed what was hidden in their chests when al-Mughirah suggested to him, “O Ameerul Mu’minin, would that you be kind to your cousins of the Hashimites! By Allah, nothing has remained with them that you may fear. And this may cause you good mention.

Mu’awiyah said, “How far! The man of Taym4 ruled, wronged and did what he did. By Allah, as soon as he died, his mention died with him. People may remember him and just say: Abu Bakr. Then the man of Adiy5 ruled for ten years. As soon as he died, his mention died with him. People may remember him and say: Umar. Then our brother Uthman ruled. He did what he did and people did to him what they did. As soon as he died, his mention and what happened to him died with him. But the man of Hashem;6 everyday his name is announced five times (I witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (S)). So which mention will last after this? May their mention be buried!7

It was Wahhabism in its prettiest clothes and clearest tongues. It plotted yesterday and is trying now to execute the plot for today and tomorrow.

They desired to put out the light of Allah with their mouths but Allah will perfect His light, though the unbelievers may be averse. (Qur’an 61:8)

  • 1. More more detailed information, please see Wahhabism by Ayatullah Ja’far Subhani at:
  • 2. Tarikh al-Tabari vol.3, p. 173. Sahih Muslim vol.3, 1959. For more details of this incident, read ‘Black Thursday’ by the same author available at:
  • 3. Sahih al-Bukhari vol.6, p. 17.
  • 4. It was the name of Abu Bakr’s tribe.
  • 5. The name of Umar’s tribe.
  • 6. The tribe of the Prophet (S); Hashim was the great grandfather of the Prophet.
  • 7. Mentioned by ibn Abil al-Hadid in his book an-Nasa’ih al-Kafiyyah li man Yatawalla Mu’awiyah, quoted from Tarikh al-Tabari and Ibn Athir.