YES, beyond a doubt. It is not a ?return to the roots?, as it is claimed by the Wahhabis.
Wahhabism is a creation of three disparate forces: 1) Muhammed bin Abd al-Wahhab (d. 1792), an Arab evangelist, whose mission was to oust the Turks from Mecca and Medina, 2) The Saud royal family, keen on a larger Arab kingdom for itself and 3) The British bent on destroying the Ottoman empire which was threatening Europe. But, in the final analysis, Wahhabism won for two reasons: 1) adoption of Wahhabism by the Saud family and 2) the petrol-dollar boom (from 1975). Wahhabism is today the dominant force within Islam. But it does not augur well for the world. It is a negative force. With unlimited funds at its disposal, it has already won over a large segment of the world'sMuslim population. And with its power over the fundamentalists and terrorists, it is trying to terrorise the Muslim world into submission.
But how? By buying the silence of the moderates. Unless the moderates stir up opposition, fundamentalists will engulf the Muslim world in the near future.
It was the view of Wahhab that Muslims had gone into the wrong path and that they should go back to their true faith. He wanted to purify Islam of all its corruptions.
What are these corruptions? These are mysticism (Sufism), Shiism, doctrine of intercession (intervention of saints), and rationalism (belief in reason), as well as many practices of an innovative nature.
How do the Wahhabis propose to solve them? Certainly, not by democratic means. The Wahhabis tend to treat everything that did not come out of Arabia proper as suspect. They are extremely hostile to the influence of pagan Greece, Iran and Turkey on Islam, Greece, because of the influence of its philosophy , Iran because of the influence of its Sufism and Turkey because of the cult of saints. They want Islam to be pure Arab. The Wahhabis equate the primitive life of the Bedouin with Islam. They are against plurality, call jurists ?devils? and the Shiites ?heretics.? They are rabidly hostile to non-Muslims, and oppose all politics. While insisting that there is only one true Islam, they universalised their own belief system and declared it the true Islam. While condemning all forms of nationalism, including Turkish, as evil Western inventions, Wahhabism remains a pro-Arab nationalist movement. In fact, Wahhab branded everything that did not support him as heretical. He branded the Turks also as heretics. What is more he took the name of Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, to practise torture on Muslims, who did not support him. In short, he invented many new cruelties. The extremists of today quote him while indulging in their cruelties. Wahhabis showed little regard for Islamic history, Islam'sintellectual traditions, historical monuments, shrines and relics.
?Historical sources,? says author Prof. Khaled Abou El Fadl (The Great Theft) ?describe horrendous massacres committed by Wahhabi forces in the 18th century all across Arabia.?
Of the four law groups, the Hanbalis called upon jurists to reject Wahhabism. And Hanifi and Maliki described the Wahhabis as modern day ?Khwarij?. The Khwarij, like the Wahhabis, called all Muslims other than themselves as ?infidels? and like the Wahhabis massacred untold number of Muslims including Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet.
Wahhabism would not have spread even in Arabia had it not been for the coming together of the Saud and Wahhab families to oust the Turks from Arabia. (By the way, the two are related to each other.)
However, in 1818, Egyptian forces (Ottoman) suppressed the Wahhab and Saud forces. They were revived under the leadership of Abd al-Aziz bin al-Saud in the early 20th century. He became the founder of modern Saudi state (1932) and adopted Wahhabism as state religion. The Wahhabis took control of Mecca and Medina. Today they control visas, for the pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina.
In 1912 king Abd al-Aziz created a fighting force of religious zealots called Ikhwana. But they opposed the subservience of the Saudis to Britain. In 1929 they revolted against the royal family and were suppressed with the help of British air power.
The Saudi religious police used to flog men who did not conform to Wahhabi rules. They still do. They even destroyed all the Muslim monuments, tombstones of the family of the Prophet and his companions and cut down a sacred tree 1,000 years old. They used to take roll calls at the mosques during the five prayers. Those who failed to turn up were flogged.
The early 1970s was a turning point. The Saudis decided to export Wahhabism and placed unlimited funds at the disposal of the Wahhabis.
To conclude I have two questions: 1) Did this move to greater fundamentalism and extremism enhance the prestige of Islam in the world? and 2) Did extremism and terrorism take the human civilisation forward or backward? It is unfortunate that the Muslim world has not learnt anything from the last century.
Today Wahhabism goes by the name of Salafism (return to root). This is nothing but to beguile the ignorant.