The Wahhabi Movement Essay

966 words - 4 pages

The Wahhabi Movement Hibanks24The founder of the Wahhabi movement was Muhammad b. 'Abd al-Wahhab who was born in 1703 in Uyayna in Najd in the peninsula of what is now Saudi Arabia. He came from a well off family and was thus able to study in the leading universities in Medina, Basra, Baghdad, and Hamadan. He was exposed to philosophy and Sufism in his many years of study and travels. During this time 'Abd al-Wahhab was witness to many practices in the Muslim world that he did not agree with. Among the practices that were prevalent at this time was the use of saints as an intermediary between the people and God. There were also people who show an excessive devotion to certain saints, in fact a tree or large rock might be associated with a saint and therefore become a place of veneration. Burial tombs of saints were made into elaborate shrines which displease 'Abd al-Wahhab. Even practices such as celebrating the Prophet's Muhammad birth, the use of prayer beads, and adding minarets and ornaments to mosques were considered affronts to Allah by 'Abd al-Wahhab.Muhammad b. 'Abd al-Wahhab return home to Uyayna and published a series of books where he denounced the practices that he felt were wrong. He stated that there was only one God and that you were to pray to him directly, not by the use of intercession by the saints. He asked that the people stop visiting sites of veneration that worshiped the saints, and stop using saint's names in prayer. He also wanted them to stop the use of tobacco, to stop shaving their beards, and not to use obscene language. 'Abd al-Wahhab was a strict fundamentalist, he wanted the people to return to the early days of Islam, in fact 'Abd al-Wahhab felt that only the first three generations following the Prophet Muhammad were the only true followers of the faith. He also claimed the current Ottoman Empire was not fit to oversee the security of the holy cities Mecca and Medina. He felt that the Turks who were not Arab, did not have the birthright to control the Muslim holy land.An alliance occurred at the same time 'Abd al-Wahhab was spreading his message to the Arab peninsula that help cement the budding state of Saudi Arabia and the spread of Wahhabism. 'Abd al-Wahhab was forced to leave his home town of Uyayna when his message of casting aside the external influences on Islam and returning to the old ways of the Prophet was not received well. He went to Dariyya were he obtained acceptance and refuge by the son of the founder of the Saudi dynasty, Muhammad Ibn al-Sa'ud. Ibn al-Sa'ud soon converted to Wahhabism, this religious and military union proved to be a binding force on the Arab tribes in the Saudi...

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