The Wahhabis and the Sufis – A Commentary

Madinah Press have just published a very important book, ‘Sufis and Sufism: a Defence’, that has been written by two of the leading ‘ulema of Morocco with the dual purpose of defending one of the Ummah’s greatest and most distinguished sons, Shaykh Dr. Muhammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki, while at the same time providing an overall defence of Sufis and Sufism, significantly including the positive opinions of Ibn Taymiyya, Al‑Jawziyya and Ibn Abdulwahhab. These latter views happen to reveal that the self-styled wahhabism of the ghastly Saudi regime is simply an innovatory political position against Islam, and not even that of the historically known reformers.

The authors, Shaykh Abdu’l-Hayy al-‘Amrawi and Shaykh Abdu’l-Karim Murad, are enormously prestigious ‘ulema based at the great Qarawwiyyin Mosque of Fes. Lest anybody think that the militant opposition to Sufism has stopped or even abated, we should be aware that the Saudi regime—we cannot call them a government—continues to promote the Zindiq teachings which they themselves openly see as a war against Islam and the Muslim masses.

We would not have mentioned this issue but for a recent evidence that the Zindiq regime arrogantly continues its progress, as if its militant sector just over two years ago had not spent the night with prostitutes drinking vodka-sours in a bar before flying two airliners into the now notorious skyscrapers. Yet in November of last year the Zindiq regime sent a representative to harangue the respected Muslim Judicial Council of Cape Town and film himself for an official Saudi television station. The obese form of Mr. Wajdi al-Ghazzawi berated the Council with that insolence we have foolishly taken for granted among the thuggish exports of the regime. He learned his Islam inside Arabia and studied something he calls ‘Interfaith Dialogue’, itself an open door onto kufr. Apparently he is an imam at the Al‑Minshaawi Mosque in Makkah.

While the regime that funds him and which he upholds crashed about his ears, here he was in South Africa chattering on with all the official wahhabi denunciations of the very Muslim community he was visiting. Among his attacks, inevitably Mr. Al-Ghazzawi made his vulgar swipe at our noble Shaykh, Dr. Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki. Insultingly, he denounced him as a “big-time deviant”. He said he only attracted poor people (surely one of the virtues of the Deen), and that his teachings were refuted by “authentic scholars”. By the time young Wajdi had waddled out of Cape Town and returned to Makkah, he must have seemed a little surprised at what awaited him.

What awaited the young wahhabi militant on his return was civil war. It is the internal contradictions of the wahhabi doctrines, and the tribal gang who control the wealth, which have finally clashed. This, let us recall, was not the first clash between wahhabism and the Najdi tribe of Sa’ud.

In 1812 on the orders of the Khalif of the Muslims, the Khedive Muhammad Ali of Egypt sent an expeditionary force to drive the wahhabis out of Madinah, Makkah and Jeddah. ‘Abdullah ibn Sa’ud renewed his Bayat to the Khalif from his desert hideaway. Soon he resumed his raiding activity. In a new expedition led by the Khedive’s son, Ibrahim Pasha, they crossed 600 miles of desert from the Red Sea coast to Dhar’iyya, the wahhabi stronghold. Having cleaned up the Hijaz he laid siege to Dhar’iyya. That was March 1818. In September the Sa’udis surrendered. The wahhabi leader, ‘Abdullah ibn Sa’ud, was taken prisoner to Istanbul. As a rebel against the Khalif he was due to be executed as such, which would permit two raka’ts before execution. However, the Khalif understood the real issue went beyond politics—something which our contemporary ‘ulema have stubbornly refused to see in the light of the funds the House of Sa’ud have made available, and for which we are now all paying the price. The Khalif turned him over to the Shaykh al-Islam and asked that his ‘aqida be tested to see if he had gone out of Islam. The great Hanafi ‘ulema on clear grounds declared him, by his doctrines, to be an extreme Zindiq. As a result the Amir of Najd was publicly beheaded at Topkapi.

The leadership devolved eventually on the notorious ‘Abdul-‘Aziz ibn Sa’ud. Re-established in Najd, Ibn Sa’ud in his war against Islam realised he had powerful allies in the British Imperialists. In some of the Saudi raids, his men were even dressed uncomfortably in British military uniforms. The flattering financial support of the British added the key dimension to his political performance, which itself dominated the deserts by the ideological support of the Mutawwas, the wahhabi missionaries who inflamed the ignorant Bedu into an allegiance with the House of Sa’ud. To settle the Bedouin Arabs who were vital to his expansion, he established fixed colonies named ‘The Ikhwan’, the intellectual grandfathers of the Ikhwan al-Muslimun. Significantly, the Ikhwan settlements were the prototype for the later Israeli nationalist kibbutz. Once settled, the Bedouin made the desert green and spent their days absorbing the monotheist doctrines of an anthropomorphic god sitting on a throne in the sky, and absorbing the Najdi hatred of the Messenger himself, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.

Right at this stage one notes the essential dichotomy that was later going to shatter this desert people. Ibn Sa’ud mixed the tribes in the Ikhwan colonies so that the unifying factor was the wahhabi doctrine, and the removal of tribal loyalty and genealogical poetry broke the Arab sense of historical continuity. In other words, as the House of Sa’ud took on absolute leadership of Arabia, all other tribes, from a societal point of view, were dismantled. This gave a blood-bonded Bedouin tribe of desert raiders on the one hand, and on the other a mass of ignorant, uprooted Bedouin-turned-peasants. They had no wealth. They had no voice in governance. They had one ferocious ambition, which was to wipe out the historical presence of Islam which was all that was left of their former tribal memory of their desert past. The Ikhwan saw themselves as an elite at war with historical Islam, and in order to distinguish them as the guardians of wahhabism they were allowed to wear a twisted strip of white material around their headgear instead of the normal black wool Iqal worn by other Arabs.

The first settlement of the Ikhwan started around 1912. Soon it was a small town of 10,000 people. This was Artawiyya, with mainly Harb Bedouin under Shaykh Sa’ud ibn Mutib. The tribe of Mutair entered the Ikhwan movement after surrendering to Ibn Sa’ud under their Shaykh, Faisal ad‑Dawwish, who became governor of Artawiyya. The second Ikhwan colony of around 10,000 people was Ghutghut under its leader Sultan ibn Bijad.

At the height of the Ikhwan movement there were around 200 village-sized settlements, able to put 25,000 soldiers in the field if necessary. Ibn Sa’ud used them in taking the Hijaz, but at the same time felt they stood in the way of his greater ambitions, and so he sent them back to their settlements. By 1929 Faisal ad‑Dawwish and Sultan ibn Bijad realised that Ibn Sa’ud was driven by a personal and tribal ambition, and at the same time the Ikhwan genuinely had another agenda. They rose up in rebellion and Ibn Sa’ud defeated them with great difficulty. Faisal ad‑Dawwish was taken prisoner and was brought on a litter into the presence of his new ‘King’. Ibn Sa’ud forgave him, but he did not die and was soon back on the battlefield. Finally he fled to Iraq. Sultan ibn Bijad was defeated and imprisoned in Riyadh, and Ghutghut was razed to the ground.

The British handed over Faisal ad‑Dawwish to their man, Ibn Sa’ud, and he was also imprisoned in Riyadh. With Artawiyya abandoned and Ghutghut demolished, the Ikhwan were disbanded. The force that had put him on the throne had been de-structured, but it had not disappeared. If the Ikhwan had gone, the wahhabism had to remain.

Now the House of Sa’ud saw itself in a position to take on a high political role. The love affair between British imperialism and the Najdi Bedouins had begun in 1914. Its visible symbolic climax could be seen in the notorious photograph of ‘King’ Fahd standing with the Queen, the Queen Mother and Prince Philip, a large christian cross round his neck, for in that ghastly servility which Arab rulers still show to the British Royal Family, poor Fahd had accepted to be appointed to a christian Order which itself dated back to the Crusades.

The cynical English had attached their intelligence agents to the two forces in the Peninsula. The notorious Lawrence was tied to Sharif Hussein, and Philby to Ibn Sa’ud, assuring that whoever came out the winner would be a puppet of British imperialism. Through the British agent Captain Shakespear, in December 1915, Ibn Sa’ud met with Sir Percy Cox, Britain’s Chief Political Officer in the village of Qatif, and there signed his pact with Shaytan. Ibn Sa’ud was now in the employ of the British government on a monthly stipend of 5,000 pounds. He had already received from them 1,000 rifles and a sum of 20,000 pounds. By 1917, Ibn Sa’ud had central Arabia under his control. From November 1917, Ibn Sa’ud had Philby beside him to give daily advice. Revealing his greed for title and recognition, Ibn Sa’ud forbad the people to address him “Ya ‘Abdul-‘Aziz!” and assumed the title of Sultan of Najd.

The British saw that authority was tilting towards Ibn Sa’ud. This was confirmed by a delegation of modernist ‘ulema from India. They withdrew their support from King Hussein of Makkah. The wahhabis entered Makkah and accomplished their now infamous destruction of the cemetery of Baqi’. The intended siege of Madinah they planned to complete with the smashing of the Dome over the grave of Rasulullah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Ironically, it was due to the mediation of the foreign kafir Consuls that the tomb was respected.

On 8 January 1926 the rebel Najdi declared himself ‘King’, thus establishing his authority on a broken pledge of allegiance to his own ruler, the Khalif in Istanbul. In Jeddah, the new king, in the presence of his advisor Shaykh Hafiz Wahba, an Egyptian, declared: “Up to now you have thought of us as wild, rough fanatics, backward and narrow-minded people. This country now has security, peace and order, and will know justice. We ourselves know how to rule Bedouin, and you do not. They have to be treated very harshly to learn their lesson. We know the Bedouin and we know how he has to be ruled. I punish in such a way that it does not have to be repeated.

“You must know that Allah the Exalted uses us as His instrument. No power can stop us. No enemy will be able to kill us.” With this open declaration of shirk, wahhabi rule was established.

In that same year began the series of events which led to the U.S. takeover from the British of the Arabian Peninsula. It started, appropriately enough, with a millionaire, Charles Crane, who had made his fortune selling lavatory pans, along with a colleague, Karl Twitchell. By 1931 Twitchell had been asked to investigate oil possibilities along the Gulf coast. He brought Standard Oil alongside, and by 1933 the California Arabian Standard Oil Company was formed, later to be renamed the Arabian American Oil Company, that is, Aramco. As the oil exploration expanded, so too did the now fabulous wealth of the tribe of Sa’ud.

It was at that point that another development began, piece by piece, to represent the new face of Arabistan. What you have to understand in order to realise what the situation is today, is that the Sa’udi rulers were in fact repeating yet again the same mistake they had made with the wahhabis. The overland route from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf was named Darb an-Nasara, the Christians’ Road. Discreet airports, isolated and walled compounds, and eventually whole cities were established in a religious Apartheid. Behind these walls, as in the palaces of the family of Sa’ud, the whisky could flow, and the prostitutes could come and go. The preferred venues for the import of slave labour and prostitution were the christian Philippines and buddhist South Korea. The arrogant assumption of the Sa’udi tribe was that the wealth-bringing and power-granting Americans would somehow continue to bestow on them a vast wealth, while assuring that since the oil kept flowing, what happened in Arabia was none of their damned business.

The end result of this can now be seen in all its splendour. The lamentable Sa’udi regime now suffers not only from a psychological schizophrenia, but is actually in the throes of a similar political reality, for on the one hand, the American ‘allies’ did not continue as before but, following their own political evolution, began themselves to experience that same lust for power that had once obsessed ‘Abdul-‘Aziz ibn Saud. On the other hand, the wahhabis did not simply melt into the desert. ‘Abdul-‘Aziz’s boast that he would crush the Bedouin with cruelty did not subdue the desert Arabs. On the contrary, a festering sore of extreme intensity suppurated and finally burst out in a poison that has invaded not only Arabia, but the whole world. Robbed of the historical past, which was within the frame of the world religion of historical Islam, uprooted and re-settled, they clung to what was a history that only began with the founding of the Ikhwan. That history told them that the Zindiq doctrine of wahhabism was a true, all-Arab monotheist religion whose enemies beyond the seas were the kuffar, and that included the non-wahhabi Muslims, and the evil House of Sa’ud which had so cruelly betrayed the very people who had put them in power.

As ‘Abdul-‘Aziz ibn Sa’ud denounced the Bedouin Ikhwan, today Crown Prince ‘Abdullah denounces them yet again, promising his kafir friends that he will crush them with the same severity as his forbear. The promised peace is shattered. The promised justice never appeared. Saudi Arabia, the only country ever called after its rulers, is now plunged into a civil war which can only end with the expulsion of that regime.

In this matter we must observe one further political reality now playing itself out. This same regime which is still sending its state-licensed and paid missionaries across the world—and my Fuqara have had to face them in Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, and Britain—in another arrogant assumption, which is that we are all inordinately stupid, is announcing on BBC, CNN, and Sky, that ‘the Kingdom’ has made war on wahhabism. They have undergone a miraculous sea-change. As if they could convince us to forget the last fifty years, they now inform us that Islam means Tolérance, democracy and human rights, and most of all, it means peace. It is a nice religion. In its true nature it does not bother anybody. It is one religion alongside a tolerated group of other religions, including, presumably, the worship of the hindu god of smallpox. In other words, this desperate regime will do anything to cling to power, even although it entails an even more radical denial of Islam than the now wicked wahhabism which has landed them in such a spot.

The poor Saudis do not seem to realise how ridiculous they are, in the same way that Louis XVI did not realise how ridiculous he was when he put the Phrygian cap of the French Revolution on his head to please the Mob, or indeed, how he gave advice on the design of the same guillotine that all too soon was going to cut off his head.

Mention must be made of the new media spokesmen, whose attempts to shore up Saudi reputation in the face of the escalating civil war are proving so disastrous. At their appearance on TV, one’s first instinct is to think it is a CEO of the Gillette razor-blade company. Everyone’s favourite is the Crown Prince’s Media Advisor, Adel al-Jubeir. In an ill-fitting suit, his tie much too tight, he gives his tremulous defence of the state of affairs in what they still call ‘the Kingdom’. Unfortunately, he and their other spokesman seem to convey to the viewers a sense of imminent danger, as if their former old friend Bin Laden was going to burst into the studio. As for the two uncultured gamblers, the ambassadors respectively of London and New York, they are beneath contempt.

It is an end-game. What we have to do at present is monitor the situation very carefully. Begin firmly and legally to expel Saudi influence, not only their personnel from our mosques, but also their doctrines from our madrassas. In the light of what we have just outlined, this means rejecting the two Zindiq positions, that is, the historical Saudi wahhabi position and the new emergency Saudi doctrine of Tolérance, peace and MTV.

A useful guide to post-Saudi thinking and practice will be this noble text by our two honoured ‘ulema of that true seat of Islamic learning, the wonderful Qarawwiyyin Mosque of Fes, may Allah protect it and its King, and its Kingdom, a true Sharifi Kingdom, and may Allah give its young King wise and frank counsel to prevent him being driven to the same fate that now certainly awaits the rebel rulers of Najd. In a recent publication of the Hadith, the wahhabis removed the famous Hadith indicating that Shaytan would come out of Najd.

Allah the Exalted has said in Surat al-‘Isra (17:81):

Say: ‘Truth has come and falsehood has vanished.
Falsehood is always bound to vanish.