Unfortunately, many Muslims have adopted these types of superstitions and beliefs of lesser and greater polytheism. However, amongst these people can be found a smaller group of people who try their utmost to correct these false forms of worship. In spite of this, it is said to them, “You are the bringers of a new way and religion called ‘Wahhaabism’.” Are we to believe then, that the same Prophet who brought this religion is also a “Wahhaabee,” for he was the one who informed us about these matters?!
Exactly eleven days after the attacks of September 11, a UK based journal called The Spectator carried a cover story by Stephen Schwartz,101 a self appointed anti-“Wahhaabee” expert, called “Ground Zero and the Saudi Connection.” The UK based journal added the following subheading: “Stephen Schwartz on the extreme Islamic sect that inspires Osama bin Laden as well as all Muslim suicide bombers — and is subsidised by Saudi Arabia.” In his article, Schwartz states the following about ‘Wahhaabism’: “Above all, they hate ostentatious spirituality,102 much as Protestants detest the veneration of miracles and saints in the Roman Church.” In another article entitled “Terror and Islam,” Schwartz is quoted as saying: “Above all, they hate the spiritual side of Islam, or Sufism, much as Protestants grimaced at the worship of saints and miracles in the Roman church.”103
Upon reflection of these statements, one wonders if Schwartz has actually ever picked up the Qur’aan, as the whole Qur’aan, from its beginning to its end, contains different kinds of exhortations to follow Tawheed,104 and the strongest admonitions to shun polytheism. The reader is invited to examine the clear texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah and decide for him or herself whether Schwartz and generations of critics have spoken truthfully about “Wahhaabism.”
Furthermore, is Soofism actually the “spiritual side of Islam,” or is it in reality an open-ended methodology which often involves clear acts of polytheism? Schwartz has correctly linked the “worship of saints” with Sufism.105 However, what do the texts of Islaam say about the veneration of pious people, whether they be Prophets, perceived ‘saints,’ or faithful saints?
Perhaps one of the greatest differences between the system of belief of the Salaf (the Prophet (e) and his Companions) and those who came after them and opposed their way can be found in the issue of the etiquette of visiting the graves. The Prophet (e) encouraged his Companions to visit the graveyards, as it is something which can remind us of death and thus make us think about preparing for it by doing good deeds. However, he gave stern warnings about not falling into excess in this regard, as the end result of this is to associate partners with Allaah, which is that which negates one’s Islaam.
There are many texts which corroborate the prohibition of building graves in places of worship. In one hadeeth, the Prophet (e) said, “All the earth is a mosque, except graveyards and toilets.”106
This hadeeth clearly indicates the prohibition of building graves in mosques. Not only are graves prohibited from being built in mosques, it is also forbidden to pray in their direction. The Prophet (e) said, “Do not pray towards graves…”107
All of these prohibitions exist because they act as an inhibiting factor for any channel which leads towards polytheism. Crimes against humanity can be grave and dreadful, as the rights of people are squandered; but in Islaam, the ultimate crime is to set up partners in worship with the One who created all of humanity. After having created us from nothing, then continually sustaining, aiding and caring for us, we are certainly denying Him of His right if we refuse to worship and serve Him alone, although He is free of needing anything from His creation. Anyone who considers this from a rational perspective would have to conclude that this is the most tremendous form of ingratitude imaginable.
With the passing of time, the Muslim Nation has become heedless in this regard. A prime reason for this neglect can be attributed to compounded ignorance about religious matters. To cite an example of how this phenomenon has become widespread in the Muslim Nation today, one may find in some Muslim countries that it is very difficult to find a mosque which does not contain the grave of some ‘saint’ or another.
Unfortunately, anyone who reminds the people about the clear prohibitions and the inherent danger to one’s Islaam in regards to this matter will then be told that he is a “Wahhaabee” deviant who does not love the Prophet Muhammad (e).108 This claim is made solely upon the basis that the “Wahhaabees” oppose the baseless traditions they inherited from their forefathers which they ascribe to Islaam. This is not a new claim:
“When it is said to them, “Come to what Allaah has revealed to the Messenger.” They say, “Enough for us is that which we found our fathers following,” – even though their fathers were deprived of knowledge, nor were they guided?” [5:104]
These are amongst some of the statements of the people who engage in these acts. Regrettably, this is not only something repeated by their scholars who have taught them these beliefs, but it is also the main position which is held by orientalist scholars and writers such as Schwartz; that the Salafee/“Wahhaabee” sect’s understanding differs from the mainstream understanding of the Sunnee Muslims. It is also said that a difference has arisen between the “mainstream”109 Sunnee Muslim understanding which prevails in many countries today and the “Wahhaabee” system of belief which exists as a minority view throughout the Muslim lands. It is as if Schwartz and those who repeat these claims have never heard the saying of the Prophet Muhammad (e), wherein he clearly explained that those from the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) who came before this Nation had gone against the command of their Prophets when they fell into venerating their Prophets and ‘saints’ by calling upon them in their graves:
“Those who came before you took the graves of their Prophets and pious people as places of worship. Do not take the graves as places of worship, for verily, I forbid you to do so.”110
Additionally, Umm Salamah (z), the Prophet’s (e) wife, told him about a church with pictures on its walls which she had seen in Ethiopia. When he was told about this, he had the following to say:
“When a religious man dies among those people, they build a place of worship at his grave and make in it those types of pictures.111 They will be the most evil of creation in the sight of Allaah on the Day of Resurrection.”112
101 In an article published by The National Review called “Liberation, Not Containment: How to win the war on Wahhabism,” Stephen Schwartz compared ‘Wahhaabism’ to “Nazism.” In the same article, he also manages to compare it to “Italian fascism.” Not to be outdone by his own self, he proceeds to compare it to “Soviet Communism” because “it recruits cadres worldwide.” Lest he be accused of minimizing the perceived condition of the “Wahhaabees,” he then compares it to “Japanese militarism” because “it is utterly ruthless”!!
Exposing his lack of understanding, Schwartz refers to “Wahhabized fringe groups like the Taliban and Hezbollah,” even though the straying Hizbullaah are Iranian backed Shee’ahs and the Taalibaan are Deobandi Soofees. In speaking about an “anti-Wahhabi war,” he says, “Only in a world where Wahhabism has been crushed can we hope for the survival of world peace, and of a legitimate, peaceful Islam.”
Feigning to care about the fate of Islaam and the Muslim Nation, Schwartz confirms his journalistic ineptitude and lack of integrity by firstly muddling up the creed of the contemporary Qutbist ideology of Usaamah bin Laadin with that of the orthodox Salafee creed, and thereafter, concluding that the “anti-Wahhabi war” should be fought in Saudi Arabia, “where the enemy is”: “The war against terrorism, too, must be fought where the enemy is, and that means the Islamic countries. Wahhabism has declared a war to the death against us, as the Nazis and Communists did. And we must fight Wahhabism to the death, to secure not only our survival but that of Islam itself as a great religion and civilization. Bin Laden and his Saudi backers threaten to bring the world of Islam crashing down in flames as Hitler did Berlin. But just as we liberated the Germans from Hitler and the Japanese from Tojo, we can liberate the world’s Muslims from bin Laden and his Saudi accomplices.” (Stephen Schwartz, Liberation, Not Containment: How to win the war on Wahhabism. The National Review, November 30, 2001.)
It should be kept in mind that the publication which Schwartz has written for is the same National Review which called for examining the possibility of nuking Makkah as a deterrent. After one of its readers suggested the nuking of Makkah, or at least Baghdad, Tehran, Gaza City, Ramallah, Damascus, Cairo, Algiers, Tripoli, and Riyadh, editor and television talking head Rich Lowry affirmed the following: “Mecca seems extreme, of course, but then again few people would die and it would send a signal. Religions have suffered such catastrophic setbacks before.” Continuing, he said, “And as a general matter, the time for seriousness -including figuring out what we would do in retaliation, so maybe it can have some slight deterrent effect–is now rather than after thousands and thousands more American casualties.” (The National Review, Rich Lowry, The Corner, 03/03/2002.)
This is also the same publication that carried an article by the same notorious Ann Coulter who said regarding the Muslims, that America had been “invaded by a fanatical murderous cult” and should therefore “invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” (This is War: We should invade their countries, Ann Coulter (The National Review, September 13, 2001.)
102 It is indeed true that Salafees do not respect “ostentatious spirituality” with the meaning of pretentiousness and flamboyance. Since Schwartz has taken it upon himself to speak so much about “Wahhaabism,” it is a shame he did not learn the Arabic language and read some of the works which have been written by Salafee scholars. Had he done so, he would have come across the many volumes of books they have written regarding the subject of tazkiatun-nafs (purification of the soul).
103 Stephen Schwartz, Terror and Islam, CJEE (Chrétiens et Juifs Pour un Enseignement de l’Estime), September 25, 2001. (www.chretiens-et-juifs.org/JIHAD/Terror_and_Islam.htm).
104 True monotheism
105 About Sufism, the Toronto Star’s Martin Regg Cohn said: “The Sufis dance and chant. They venerate saints and are open to other faiths.” (Martin Regg Cohn, Where are the moderates? The Toronto Star, November 4, 2001.)
Note: Although it is true that all Soofees fall into religious innovation by seeking new ways of worship, not all Soofees fall into acts of polytheism.
106 Authenticated in al-Albaanee’s al-Mishkaat (no. 737) and Saheeh Abee Daawud (no. 492).
107 Related by Muslim (no. 2247).
108 It is said that the “Wahhaabees” don’t love the Prophet (e) since they don’t call upon him or make intercession through him. Since these people supplicate to the Prophet (e), they see themselves as loving him. However, how true is the saying of the Arab poet who said:
“If your love was true you would have obeyed him,
Verily, the lover is to the beloved obedient.”
109 What is meant by mainstream in this context is the tradition of Islaam that the majority of people have inherited through time by their forefathers, regardless of its compatibility with the Islaamic texts.
110 Related by Muslim (no. 1188).
111 The second of the Commandments clearly prohibits this kind of action in the strongest of terms: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.” (Exodus 20:4,5)
112 Reported by al-Bukhaaree (no. 427).
Source: The Wahhabi Myth, Haneef James Oliver.