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Clarification of Doubts Concerning the Life of Shaykh al-Islām Muḥammad Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb

A response to the Ṣūfī lies claiming that Shaykh al-Islām Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb (d. AH 1206) had a connection to the British and that he was responsible for the downfall of the Ottoman Khilāfah.

And I believe in the obligation of submitting and being obedient to the Imāms of  the Muslims, the dutiful of them as well as the wrong-doers of them, as long as they don’t order disobedience to Allāh, and the person who is responsible for Khilāfah; he whom the people have gathered around and accepted, and he who has forced his way to become Caliph as well, his obedience is obligatory and revolting against him is unlawful (ḥarām).

Some of the enemies of the Salafī Da‘wah have claimed that Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb broke away from the Ottoman Caliphate, and thus departed from majority in disobedience.

Ibn Afaaliq describes the tawḥīd of the followers of the Salafī Da‘wah as such:

“As for their tawḥīd, then it includes going against Muslims…and this is disbelief and not tawḥīd .”

Addressing them, ʿUmar al-Mahjūb said:

“…and you have fallen into disobedience.”

Ibn ‘Aabidīn in his commentary described the followers of this da‘wah as Khawārij, and that was under the chapter of ” The wrong-doers (al-Bughāt)”, and they are the ones who go against the obedience of the Imām without a true (proof).1

Dahlān claims that the followers of Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb:

“…have departed the majority.”2

Az-Zahaawee as well, claims that they are notorious for:

“…deserting the obedience of Amīrul-Mu’minīn”.

Many of the enemies of the da‘wah described the Shaykh and his followers as Khawārij, because one of the attributes of Khawārij is that they go against the Imām of Muslims, and they become disobedient as soon as they observe some sins of this Imām that are far below Major Disbelief.

And this is illustrated with what al-Amlī claims. He says:

“The Khawārij have made the fighting of the Kings of Muslims and going against them permissible… So did the Wahhābiyyah.”

The author of the book “A summary of the History of Arabs” includes a chapter in his book titled “The Uprising of the Wahhābiyyah against the obedience”.

ʿAbd al-Jadīd claim that the upcoming of Wahhābism was one of the reasons behind the fall of the Caliphate, he says:

“The Wahhābiyyah founded a state within the Islamic State under the leadership if Muḥammad Ibn Sa‘ood and then his son ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz. England supported them with weapons and money, and based on ideology they have thrust forward to conquer Islamic lands that were under the control of the Sultaan, in other words, they have raised the sword in the face of the Caliph and killed the Islamic Army, the army of Ameerul-Mu’mineen (Leader of the Faithful) by means of instigation and support from the English.”

And before starting to answer the claim of Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb’s revolt against the Caliph, it is appropriate to mention what the Shaykh believed of the creed that necessitates the obedience to the Imām of Muslims, regardless of whether they are dutiful or wrong-doers, unless they order a disobedience of Allāh, for obedience (to them) is only for things that are good.

The Shaykh says in his letter to the people of Qaseem:

“And I believe in the obligation of submitting and being obedient to the Imāms of Muslims, the dutiful of them as well as the wrong-doers of them, as long as they don’t order a disobedience of Allāh, and the person who is responsible for Khilāfah; he whom the people have gathered around and accepted, and he who has forced his way to become Caliph as well, his obedience is obligatory and revolting against him is unlawful (ḥarām).”

He also says:

“The third source: To make our gathering complete we have to listen to and obey those who rule us, even if it was an Abyssinian slave, and Allāh has explained this to us fully in various forms of explanations, legislative and destined, and then this foundation became to be unknown to a lot of those who claim to have knowledge, never mind practicing it.”

In answering such claims, an integral question needs to be answered: Was Najd, the home of this movement, under the control of the Ottoman Khilāfah?

Dr. Ṣāliḥ al-‘Ubood answers:

” In general, Najd did not witness the sovereignty of the Ottomans, for their power did not reach it, nor their governors, nor at any time preceding the lifetime of Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb did a Turkish flag rise in it. What proves this reality is reading through the managerial divisions of the Ottomans. A treatise by Yamīn ʿAlī Afandee (who was the treasurer of the Ḥaqqaanee book in the year (1018H), corresponding to 1609) titled “The laws of the Ottoman/ the contents of the book of Deewaan”, reveals that starting with the eleventh Hijrī century, the Ottoman Khilāfah split into thirty-two distinct divisions (iyala), fourteen of each are Arabic, and Najd is not included in those, except for al-Ihsaa, if we were to consider it to be part of Najd..”

Dr. ʿAbdullāh al-‘Uthaymīn says:

“Prior to the upcoming of the call of Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb, Najd was not under the direct dominion of Ottomans, nor did it witness any sovereignty from within. Banī Jabr, Banī Khālid, and the Shareefs were not sovereign, and civil strife between the tribes of Najd was the norm.”

Dr. Aajil al-Nashmī says:

“The Khilāfah did not pay attention to Najd and the neighbouring territories. This policy may be attributed to the vastness of Najd, on one side, and on the other side the presence of the tribal fragmentation.”

What proves that the position of the Shaykh was fine, and that the Shaykh did not hesitate as to the fact that his movement is not related to the Khilāfah is the letter sent to Faadil al-Mazīd, the ruler of the Syrian desert:

” This thing that they have disapproved of me, that they hated me for and created enmity between me and them for; if they ask any scholar in Syria or Yemen and others, they will say this is the truth and it is the religion of Allāh and His Messenger (ﷺ). However, I cannot make it public in my area because the state does not approve of it, and Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb managed to because the ruler in his area did not disapprove of it, rather when he knew the truth he followed it.”

As for “Zuloom’s” claim that the movement of the Shaykh was one of the reasons behind the fall of the Khilāfah, and that the English helped the Wahhābīs to achieve this cause, then Muḥammad Mahdī al-Istanbūlī answers this flat allegation:

“It was incumbent on this author to support his view with proofs, and in the past the poet said: If the allegations were not based on their proofs/with texts, then it is a proof of foolishness.

To the contrary, History reveals that those English were opposed to this movement from the beginning, fearing a re-awakening of the Islamic World.”

Al-Istanbūlī also says:

“It is strange, both amusing and saddening, that this author accuses the movement of the Shaykh of being one of the causes behind the fall of the Ottoman Khilāfah. It is needless to say that this movement was founded in the year 1811, and the Khilāfah was destroyed in the year 1922.”

And what proves that the English were against the Wahhābī movement is that they have sent Captain Forster Ṣaddler to congratulate Ibrāhīm Pasha on the victory he gained over the Wahhābiyyah- referring to the war in Dar‘iyyah-, and to confirm also how inclined he is to cooperate with the British Act against the Wahhābī piracy in the al-ʿArabīan Gulf (The most aggressive attacks/ kidnapping of the Royal British vessels that roamed in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean carrying the treasures of India to the empress was carried by well known Wahhābī centres on the Gulf coast- which until as recent as the fifties was referred to on international maps as the pirates coast- such as Sharjah and Rāsul-Khaymah.)

Moreover, this letter stated clearly the intention of the British government to create an agreement with Ibrāhīm Pasha with the goal of annihilating the Wahhābī control.

Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn Mandthūr an-Nawmānī says:

“The English have used the position in India that opposed Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb in order to throw anybody who opposed them with the label “Wahhābī” And as such the English called the scholars of Deoband, India – Wahhābiyyah due to their open opposition to the English”

Rather the priest Zuimer mentioned that the Wahhābiyyah in India do not expose their beliefs because call for Jihād against the English was ascribed to them.


[1] Hāshiyah Ibn-‘Aabidīn (4/262).
[2] ad-al-Durar al-Sunniyyah fī Radd ‘alal-Wahhābiyyah (pg. 23)

Published: June 5, 2007
Edited: August 30, 2022


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