Section 3: Extreme and Severe Fanaticism

Fanaticism today is referred to "extreme beliefs or behaviour in connection with something", whether it is about origin and return, about an ethical issue, some kind of custom and tradition of a nation or community, or even in defense of a particular individual.

The Commander of believers, Ali (‘as) in the Nahj-ul-Balaghah1in the sermon of Disparagement2 has divided fanaticism into two types: positive and praised fanaticism, negative and forbidden fanaticism.

Regarding negative fanaticism he mentions Iblis's fanaticism that prevented him from prostrating before Adam. The Holy Imam (‘as) calls him the leader of fanatics of all creation, and asserts:

"The enemy of God (Iblis) is the leader of all fanatics and fore-runner of the haughty."3

And regarding the praised fanaticism, he states:

"In case you cannot escape fanaticism, let your fanaticism be for noble attributes and praiseworthy acts"4

Despicable fanaticism has always been linked with ideological obduracy, unilateral perspectives and irrational pre-judgments, and has always been – especially in our era – the cause for hatred and underdevelopment. An indication of this kind of fanaticism is taking implacable and extreme stands, occasionally appealing to bloodshed and plunder, humiliating others, and resorting to obscene, hot-tempered and offensive phrases. Such fanatics grant no value to other people's views, have no ears for the reasoning of their opposition, and are disdainful and proud people.

All this is observed in the statements and actions of Extremist Wahhabis and unfortunately, also in the books of the leader of this group. Samples of their behavior are evident from the fact that on the slightest pretext they call Muslims Disbelievers or Polytheists: Mushrik and consider their blood and property permissible.

Those who address the scholars and esteemed individuals of its opposition as "ignorant" and greet them with "Oh you polytheist5, and regard whoever refuses to accept their beliefs as targets, can they ever be ready for logical discussions and dialogue or "debate in a manner which is best"?

The Holy Quran does not consider fanatics, who have no ears for other people's opinions, amongst the pious servants of God, as He says:

{...فَبَشِّرْ عِبَادِ* الَّذِينَ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقَوْلَ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ أَحْسَنَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَاهُمُ اللَّهُ وَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ أُوْلُوا الْأَلْبَابِ}

"So give good news to my servants - who listen to the word [of Allah] and follow the best [sense] of it. They are the ones whom Allah has guided, and it is they who possess intellect." 6

The Holy Quran severely condemns those who put their fingers in their ears during the summons of the previous prophets and reveals Noah's (as) complaint to the Almighty:

{وَإِنِّي كُلَّمَا دَعَوْتُهُمْ لِتَغْفِرَ لَهُمْ جَعَلُوا أَصَابِعَهُمْ فِي آذَانِهِمْ وَاسْتَغْشَوْا ثِيَابَهُمْ وَأَصَرُّوا وَاسْتَكْبَرُوا اسْتِكْبَارًا}

"Indeed whenever I have summoned them, so that You might forgive them, they have put their fingers into their ears and drawn their cloaks over their heads, and they persist [in their unfaith], and are disdainful in [their] arrogance." 7

In the past, in Saudi Arabia, every kind of logical, rational, scientific criticism of the Wahhabi creed was banned, and a severe censorship on the entry of any kind of book even from Islamic countries like Egypt was and is still disallowed. Anything, besides this principle, is exceptional.

Obviously, they will never relent from their state of obduracy nor ever gain from the logical criticism which could help in their theoretical development.

The interesting point is that the libraries of us Shias are overflowing with the books of the Sunnis (the people of tradition)8 and the Wahhabis and we sense no danger to our faith from the presence of these books, whereas you hardly find any library in the Saudi kingdom that holds Shia books (not even a single book) let aside books on criticism of Wahhabism! Why are they so frightened and we not afraid at all? The conscience of an honest, honorable reader can answer this question!

Such radicalisms have never been favored in any era, let alone in this time and age. The supporters of such radicalisms should pack their gear and join history!

The Wahhabi youth have the right to ask their elders why the books of other Islamic creeds and also the books on scientific and logical criticisms of Wahhabism are not within their reach?!

However as was mentioned earlier, the moderate and enlightened strata of Wahhabis have shown willingness for dialogue and this is a gracious dawn for the Islamic world.

  • 1. – نهج البلاغة.
  • 2. – Nahjul-Balaghah, Sermon 192 (خطبة القاصعة).
  • 3. – فَعَدُوُّ اللهِ (إبليس) إمامُ المُتَعَصِّبينَ و سَلفُ المُستَكبرين.
  • 4. – Nahjul-Balaghah, Sermon 192 (خطبة القاصعة)
    فإن كان لا بُدَّ من العَصبيةِ فليكن تَعَصُّبُكم لِمَكارِمِ الخِصالِ و مَحامِدِ الأفعالِ.
  • 5. – أيها المشرك.
  • 6. – Surah Zumar 39:17 & 18.
  • 7. – Surah Nooh 71:7.
  • 8. – أهل السنة.