Monday, April 30, 2012


From the Layman's Desk-15.



Since the Wahhabi occupation of Mecca and the creation of Saudi Arabia the situation for Sunnis and Sufis in that Kingdom has been terrible. Sunnis live in fear and are constantly mocked and demonized by the regimes Wahhabi Muttawas.  They are hardly considered Muslims. After the Grand Mosque was recaptured from the Islamist dissidents who were led by a Najdi in which operation hundreds of pilgrims, troops and dissidents were killed by the Saudi government in November 1979, the situation became more radicalized.  The Sufis and Sunnis were brutally prosecuted and hardly considered citizens.  There is not a single Sunni mosque or Sunni institution of learning in Saudi Arabia. They destroyed the four pulpits in the Haram Shareef and banned the teaching chairs of the four Madhhaib.  Lest someone falls a prey to the Salafi propaganda that there used to be four separate congregations there, let it be known that   as per the hundreds of years of documented history of Haramain and Islamic world,  the Musallas were used by scholars to teach and impart their Madhhab rulings  but not to lead Salah exclusively. 

Once the Wahhabis used to follow the Hanbali Madhhab.  However, according to Shaykh Yusuf ar-Rifa’i, they have dissociated themselves from this school and declared themselves to be “Salafis”.  He points out that Ibn Baz  announced in an interview with the periodical al-Majalla that "he does not confirm to nor rely on the Hanbali madhab and the jurisprudence of the Hanbalis" but that they "all conform only to the Qur'an and the Sunna." In his Advice  to the Najdi Ulema, the Shaykh says: “When some one disagrees with you over any issue in jurisprudence or doctrine, you publish a book reviling him, declaring him an innovator or an idolater without granting him his right to defend or justify himself against such charges, as has happened with al-Maliki, Abu Ghudda, al-Sabuni and others.”  In fact, the late Shaykh Muhammad al-alawi al-Makki had been banned from teaching in the holy sanctuary in Makkah and even branded as infidel by many Najdi scholars in the Kingdom.  He was even attacked by the radicals for praying in the Mosque and could only do so under the watchful eye of armed guards. It was Shaikh ar-Rifa’I who defended him with his book, al-Radd al-Mani.  

Thousands of cassettes and booklets went into circulation, calling the Sufis “Grave Lovers” and dangerous infidels who needed to be stopped from making a come-back.  Their salons were raided and they were often arrested or jailed if found in possession of Sufi literature.  It is still illegal to possess Sufi literature or practise the Dhikr.  Non-Wahhabi Sunni books, like classic collections Durud Shareef  such as Dalail Khayrat or of poems such as al-Burda Shareef  in praise of the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) are banned and if found, confiscated.  You cannot even carry with you a copy of Qur’an to Saudi Arabia, let alone other religious books.  Billions of dollars are being pumped into converting Sunnis into Wahhabis through the media, mosques and schools, the distribution of free, but tampered, Islamic  literature, and encouraging the young minds to indulge in terrorism in the name of Jihad!  All traditional Sunnis practices, such as celebrating the birthday of Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam),  Urs of Awliya-Allah, observing of the Lailatu Bara’ah [Shab-e-Baraat or Night of Salvation] and Lailatul Isra wal Mi’raj [Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wasallam’s Night Journey and Ascension], among others,  are forbidden.   In the eyes of many Wahhabi clerics, Sunnis are not even Muslims but rather “innovators” and “grave worshippers” who deserve nothing besides contempt and punishment till they convert to Wahhabism.  In short, except for themselves, they consider the Sunnis including the Sufis, the Asharis, the Maturidis, and other thinkers of Islam as apostates.   However, it should be noted as a renowned Muslim philosopher Ziauddin Sardar elegantly argues in his 1992 essay,  The Making and Unmaking of Islamic Culture, "It was the inner urge to know that transformed Islam from its desert origins into a world civilization."  At its height, Islamic culture led the world in the pursuit of knowledge. The decline, argues Sardar, began when the concept of knowledge was hijacked by a select few religious scholars eager to assert their authority, and narrowly redefined to be religious knowledge.

The late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Bin Baz, by releasing his fatwa that allowed the land of the sacred ka’abah – a land in which our very Prophet Muhammad still is alive within His grave, ‘alayhis salat wa salam, – to be inhabited by an army that defends the very emblems of economic tyranny through cursed usury, political oppression, imperialism,  called the wahhabis all sorts of wonderful names:   “… Rather! The creed of the wahhabiyya is holding fast with the Book of Allah, the Sunnah of His Messenger, traversing upon His guidance, and the guidance of his rightly guided Caliphs, and those who follow them in good, and whatever the righteous forefathers were upon, and whatever the Imams of the Religions were upon, and the people of fiqh and fatwa in regards the gnosis of Allah, and affirming the attributes of Allah etc etc etc….”  All lies, but the point here is that he clearly professes the “Creed of the Wahabiyyah!” [Source the very site of binbaz in Saudi Arabia: http://www.binbaz.org.sa/mat/8159]

Bin Baz and Uthaymin Books Now Banned in Kuwait as is evident from the former minister of State Sayyid Yusuf Hashim al-Rifa`i's interview with the Kuwaiti daily al-Siyasah  13486 (Year 39) of Saturday 29 Rabi` al-Akhar 1427 / 27 May 2006:

Al-Siyasah: What do you say the current prohibition of the books of the Imams Bin Baz and others?

Al-Rifa`i: I say that those books contain extremism. Bin Baz considers that whoever celebrates the Mawlid is a mushrik, so this is extremism. He says that whoever celebrates the Isra' and Mi`raj is a mushrik, so this is also extremism. He says that whoever goes to visit the Mosque specifically to visit the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, his travel is a sin, so this is extremism. And here is Ibn `Uthaymin treading the same path. Consequently, such books promote extremism and it is the right of the state [of Kuwait] to prohibit them as long as we are fighting extremism.  Do they not say that standing in front of the Prophet's grave, upon him blessings and peace, making du`a, is shirk? They say it is impermissible to recite a khatma of Qur'an for the dead. Some of them say it is categorically prohibited to sit down for condolences on the pretext that the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, never sat down when he gave condolences. Did not all the Companions pray with him in the Mosque, among them the Mujahidun, so he would give them condolences when they were with him? For all those reasons I am for the banning of the books of Bin Baz and Bin `Uthaymin from all book forums and exhibits, as every book accusing Muslims of shirk and kufr leads to division and divisiveness among people. And if we declare people apostate, it means we can no longer marry our daughters to whomever they attribute shirk to, nor give them salaam. These books evidently lead to fitna, and those books by those they call "imams" are books of takfir and tashrik. Hence, their circulation became prohibited. An example: the State here celebrates Mawlid, while they distribute a fatwa by Bin Baz that that says such a thing is shirk. Is this matter not against the orientation of the State and against the position of the ministry of Awqaf? So this leads to a great fitna in the society and to matters with dire results. I have no idea why they want Kuwait to be all Wahhabi and Bin Bazi. (Various shorter Texts by G.F. Haddad)

As has been noted before, Wahhabis prefer to be known as Salafis, and Qamar Zubair points out in his “Wahhabism: Understanding the Root Models and Extremism,”  the so-called “Sunni terrorism” today is perpetrated by radical Salafis who desire to replace “infidel” governments with myopic “scholars” who adhere to their fanatical interpretations and ideologies. Their tentacles are spread to all corners of the globe, including Bosnia, Albania, Indonesia, Philippines, Uzbekistan, England, Malaysia, South Africa, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.”   We may now also add Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Somalia and Syria too.

Salafis have demonstrated the havoc they are capable of wreaking in recent decades: 

According to a U.S. Senator from Ohio, Jon Kyl, while speaking on Terrorism: Growing Wahhabi influence in the United States stated among other things on 26th June 2003:  The problem we are looking at today is the State-sponsored doctrine and funding of an extremist ideology that provides the recruiting grounds, support infrastructure and monetary life blood of today’s international terrorists. The extremist ideology is Wahhabism, a major force behind terrorist groups, like al Qaeda, a group that, according to the FBI, and I am quoting, is the ‘‘number one terrorist threat to the U.S. today.’’ …It is widely recognized that all of the 19 suicide pilots were Wahhabi followers. In addition, 15 of the 19 were Saudi subjects.  Journalists and experts, as well as spokespeople of the world, have said that Wahhabism is the source of the overwhelming majority of terrorist atrocities in today’s world, from Morocco to Indonesia, via Israel, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya.  To examine the role of Wahhabism and terrorism is not to label all Muslims as extremists. … The extreme nature of Wahhabism is well established. As the great scholar of Islam [he meant West’s leading Middle East Scholar], Bernard Lewis, has noted, ‘‘Saudi oil revenues have,’’ and I am quoting here, ‘‘allowed the Saudis to spread this fanatical, destructive form of Islam all over the Muslim World and among the Muslims in the West.  Without oil and the creation of the Saudi kingdom, Wahhabism would have remained a lunatic fringe.’’  :

According to Bernard Lewis, the terrorist organizations represent a deformation of Islam in the same way as Nazism is a deformation of German patriotism and Bolshevism is a deformation of the aspiration for social betterment. We have observed such things in our lifetime now, and as with the Germans and the Russians, the Muslims themselves are the first and worst victims of this.

Helena Kane Finn  has quoted Bernard Lewis in her article, Cultural Terrorism and Wahhabi Islam, as saying that the Wahhabis are to Islam what the Ku Klux Klan is to Christianity. They can be accused of hijacking Islam.  Wahhabis regard most of the world’s Muslims as little better than idolaters and make use of Saudi oil wealth and state resources to propagate the Wahhabi message (da’wa) in the Muslim world and beyond.  In Saudi Arabia itself, the destruction has focused on the architectural heritage of Islam’s two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, where Wahhabi religious foundations, with state support, have systematically demolished centuries-old mosques and mausolea, as well as hundreds of traditional Hijazi mansions and palaces. The Turkish people, themselves predominantly Muslim, were distressed when Wahhabis perpetrated the destruction of an important Ottoman fort that overlooked and protected the sanctuary in Mecca. According to her, after the Bosnian War, first it were the Serbs and then later the Wahhabi aid organizations moved in to complete the desecration of some of these war-damaged monuments. Islamic calligraphy is extraordinarily beautiful and the proud adornment of many a Balkan Muslim tombstone. Wahhabis forced desperate Balkan Muslim townspeople to destroy their own graveyards, often all that was left of their heritage, in exchange for badly needed assistance after the war. Wherever indigent Muslim communities are to be found, Wahhabi aid comes with a steep price for people too vulnerable to resist.  From the Philippines to the Balkans, Saudi money has built hundreds of new mosques. In the process, quite deliberately, hundreds of historic mosques and shrines, many of them masterworks of Islamic architecture, have been bulldozed or transformed beyond recognition.

In a presentation of International Studies at Houston, Crisis of Legitimacy in Saudi Arabia, Anouar Boukhars stated that it was the state’s support for the ideological and motivational sources of Islamic radicalism that laid the groundwork for the surge of modern global terrorism. The state provided the radicals with overall political and strategic guidance, equipment and training and for their activities. The Saudis funded mosques, Islamic study centers, universities across the globe, and madrassas to propagate their own rigid and intolerant version of Islam. To preserve its enormous privileges and perpetuate its hold on power, the monarchy bought off its ardent critics at home, gratifying their wishes and financing their proselytizing missions abroad.

Currently also, the Wahhabi menace is of  greater concern to one and all, especially the Sunnis.  The current state of affairs in the Islamic world are the pointers to this fact.  Billions of Saudi petro-dollars coupled with the assistance of the western powers, such as NATO and even the USA,  have helped exporting terrorism and wahhabism into the otherwise peaceful mid-eastern world and south-east Asia, in addition to the objective of leeching of oil supplies from the oil-rich Muslim countries such as Iraq and Libya. Stephen Schwartz informs that the presence of U.S. troops guarding the Saudis did not begin with the Gulf War in 1991. From 1946 to 1962 the U.S. maintained an airbase in Saudi Arabia, and before that the British assisted the Wahhabi-Saudi alliance against the Ottomans. When the Saudis needed to clear the Grand Mosque in Mecca of protestors in 1979, they employed French paratroops to kill Muslims within the walls of the mosque.

Even Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, admitted in one of her speeches how the US went about importing the “Wahhabi brand of Islam” into Afghanistan and Pakistan, flooding these countries with US Dollars and stinger missiles.  This led to the mushrooming of fake Madrassahs and covert mosques which became the breeding grounds for training in terrorism in these countries.   In the light of many other reports, too, it becomes apparent that the US is a tool for spreading Wahhabism.  She was very specific in saying, “Let’s be careful what we sow because we will harvest.”   Indeed, according to an Islamic scholar:  "The West is both loved and feared by Islamists. They cannot hope to defeat it militarily so instead they aim to influence it from within. In part, this means that Islamists divide their work between militants and more moderate- sounding types. Militants execrate the US government and call for its destruction, while the more moderate Islamists are honored guests at the White House.  The danger is that radical groups could become the official representatives of Muslim immigrants in the West.   The great majority of all mosques in democratic countries — not only in North America, but in most of western Europe — are controlled by extremists." It is said that in the United States almost 80% of the mosques have been taken over by the extremists.  Therefore, the spread of extremists ideology is an imminent reality.  

Politically too, we are more concerned with the impact on the Sunni Muslims and Sufis as to what is transpiring presently in Mid-Eastern and other countries the governments  of which support Islamism knowing fully well that a pacified Middle East would not be in favour of their autocratic rule.  Let's examine cursorily some of these countries which have recently fallen victims to the sinister plannings of those who are against Traditional Islam:  

According to the reports of Tom Heneghan, after being freed from Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year dictatorship, Libya's Sufi Muslims find themselves under renewed pressure from violent Islamists who have been attacking them and their beliefs as heretical.  The desecration of graves belonging to Sufi saints and sages in recent months have put the peaceful Sufis on the defensive, prompting some to post armed guards at their mosques and lodges to ward off hardline thugs.  Libya's Sufis also worry they are being outflanked politically. Many new religious officials have Salafi leanings, they say, and are appointing Salafi imams to mosques vacated by pro-Gaddafi preachers. Salafi preaching is now widespread on Libyan television and radio, they say.  Salafis have also begun denouncing traditional imams to the authorities, prompting them to be replaced by hardliners. "About half the imams here have been replaced by Salafis," said one imam at a large Tripoli mosque where Salafis in the congregation are campaigning against celebrating Mawlid. A sudden series of attacks on Sufi shrines and tombs in and around the Libyan capital of Tripoli by heavily armed men in uniform has shocked the large Sufi community in Libya and may indicate the development of a pattern of sectarian attacks similar to those against Sufi groups in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere. Supporters in Tripoli welcomed the attacks, claiming the Sufis were using the shrines to practice “black magic” (AP, October 13).  In Tripoli, the attackers broke into the shrines of Abdul Rahman al-Masri and Salim Abu Sa’if, exhuming and taking away their remains while burning relics and other items found at the shrines. Similar attacks were reported elsewhere in Tripoli and in the nearby town of Janzour. Some of the attackers boasted of having come from Egypt for the purpose of destroying Sufi shrines (AP, October 13). Tripoli’s revolutionary military council is currently headed by Benghazi Salafist militia leader Abd al-Hakim Belhadj.  Shaykh Muhammad Yaqoubi has this to say: In closing, we again extend our congratulations to the Libyan people, but express our concern at the news we've been hearing and what the coming days and weeks might bring if this problem is not addressed promptly. This revolution should not allow fanatics to destroy this country's religious heritage, which is based on the Malikite school of Islamic law, the Ash'arite doctrine in theology, and the Sufi tradition, a heritage that follows in the footsteps of righteous predecessors of our ummah.

Salafi attacks on Sufis broke out last year after Egypt's protesters toppled President Hosni Mubarak.  In neighboring Egypt there have been reports that Salafists intend to destroy a number of Sufi shrines and mosques, beginning with the mosque housing the tomb of al-Mursi Abu’l-Abbas and continuing with the destruction of 15 other Sufi mosques in Alexandria. Sufis in that city have supplied the Egyptian military with a list of 20 mosques that have already been attacked by Salafists. Street-fights have broken out elsewhere in Egypt as Salafists use the post-Revolution breakdown in law and order to attack Sufi shrines (al-Masry al-Youm, April 12). Sufis in Egypt are reported to be forming self-defense committees.  According to Stephen Schwartz, an important example of village Muslim resistance to Wahhabi intrusion was reported in Egypt on 3 April 2011,  in the Nile delta district of Al-Qalyubiya. A party of more than 20 radicals, carrying sledgehammers and crowbars, arrived at the Sidi Abdel Rahman shrine after nightfall, hoping to demolish it. Alarm spread in the community and residents turned out to repel the radicals, beating two of them. Five Sufi shrines had already been destroyed in Al-Qalyubiya.  In other Egyptian developments, aside from the cautionary measure mentioned at the beginning of this column, involving transportation of a modern weapon from Upper Egypt to the precincts of Al-Azhar, the Sufis of Alexandria have initiated organization of local committees to defend shrines, and Sufi leaders have proposed the establishment of a political party to protect them against the Muslim Brotherhood  and the Wahhabis. Egyptian Sufis have called themselves as “Soldiers of God” responsible for the defence of shrines and tombs.

In poor Somalia the bloody Wahhabi war against Sunnis rages on unabated.  Heavily armed al-Shabaab fighters have used hammers and other tools to destroy Sufi shrines and graves while chanting “Allahu Akbar.” According to an al-Shabaab official, such operations would continue “until we eradicate the culture of worshiping graves" (AFP, March 26; see Terrorism Monitor Brief, April 2, 2010). Al-Shabaab’s anti-Sufi approach led to the foundation of Ahl al-Sunna wa’l-Jama’a (ASJ), a Sufi-dominated militia devoted to the destruction of al-Shabaab’s Salafi-Jihadists.  Since they began to capture large swathes of southern Somalia, radical Islamists have been undertaking a programme of destroying mosques and the graves of revered religious leaders from the Sufi branch of Islam.  The destruction of non-approved religious sites started last year when they began to knock down an old colonial era church in the town of Kismayo. Most Somalis are Sufi Muslims, who do not share the strict Saudi Arabian-inspired Wahhabi interpretation of Islam with the hardline al-Shabab group. The Islamists closed the mosques and said no-one could pray at the ones near graveyards - arguing that the prayers performed there could not be proper prayers and would amount to worshiping the graves themselves.  There is evidence that the anger is stirring the usually peaceful Sufis to take up arms and fight back against al-Shabab.

The umbrella group Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama (Sufi Sects in Somalia) has condemned the actions of what they call the ideology of modern Wahhabism and the desecrations of graves. They see Wahhabism as foreign and ultimately un-Islamic.  "These radical groups shed Muslim blood every day and they dig out and desecrate our graves. They are funded from outside and their Wahhabi ideology is foreign and must be dealt with," says the group's spokesman Abdirasak Mohamed Al Ash'ari. The group has now joined forces with the embattled government of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, against al-Shabab.

Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama now controls much of the Galgadud Region in Central Somalia after they defeated al-Shabab in a number of battles. In one of their battles they managed to kill a senior al-Shabab leader. By antagonising the Sufi groups, al-Shabab may have gone too far. Al-Shabab risked a backlash among Somalis by bombing a building in Mogadishu, Somalia where students were gathered to hear the results of a scholarship contest for study in Turkey. As commenter James Gundun pointed out, al Shabab also risked angering Turkey and its popular leader Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visited Somalia in August.  Indeed, Turkey has moved swiftly to transport victims of the blast to Turkey, where they will receive care. Reuters (at link) attributes Turkey’s involvement in Somalia to the Turkish government’s desire for a stronger relationship with Africa, but I would argue that there is also an element of Muslim solidarity. Finally, politics aside, Turkey is doing a noble thing here by helping people who are hurt. Al-Shabaab’s Salafist orientation has brought it into conflict with Somalia’s Sufis, who have responded to the desecration and destruction of their shrines and places of pilgrimage by forming their own formidable militia, the Ahlu Sunnah wa’l-Jama’a. With Sufis rather than Salafists representing mainstream Islam in Somalia, al-Shabaab has created a determined enemy that is unlikely to cease fighting until the radical Islamists have been defeated.

To be concluded:


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