What is Wahhabism Meaning, History, Teaching, Ideology | Strange Military Stories

Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Abd Al Wahhab is the founder of Wahabism

Wahhabis actually consider the term pejorative and prefer to call themselves al-Muwahhidun or  al-Tawhid, “Those who uphold the unity of God. By these terms, Wahhabis presume an exclusive claim on Tawhid, The Oneness of God, the fundamental principle of Islam.


What is Wahhabism Meaning, History, Teaching, Ideology | Strange Military Stories

Al Wahab was born in 1703 in Nejd in central Arabia. At the age of 10, Al Wahab learns the Quran and found a lot of discrepancies in what was mentioned in the Quran and what was being practiced in reality. 

AI Wahab noticed people deviating from the path advocated in Quran by worshipping saints and tombs, which were practices that were completely against the Quran. 

AI Wahab began to preach the ideas of the Quran which went against the existing practices of people. 

In 1724, AI Wahab went to Basra in Iraq and found many followers and sympathizers in Basra, among whom were several prominent persons. However, he was asked to leave Basra, In 1727, AI Wahab came back to his village Uyayna in Nejd from Basra. In his village, Al Wahab again began to preach his ideas which were not appreciated by the ruler of Nejd who ordered him into exile. Al Wahab reached a small emirate in Arabia by the name Diriya. The king of Diriya was Mohammad Ibn Saud. 


Al Wahab preached in Diriya, he began to increase his followership. This was not appreciated by Ibn Saud who wanted Al Wahab to leave Diriya, but Ibn Saud's wife, being a follower of Al Wahab, convinced Ibn Saud to let him stay in Diriya. Al Wahab's ideology was based on monotheism. In Kitab at-Tawhid book, Al Wahab explains that Muslims should only follow Allah, and those who believe in one God are true Muslims. He said that all others who are Muslim but believe in practice other than Allah and monotheism live in a state of Jahiliya

Al Wahab demanded conformity to one God or Caliph and advocated that the true followers of unity and monotheism, who are the chosen ones, can eliminate non-true Muslims like Sufis and Shias, and so on. When Al Wahab preached these doctrines in Diriya, Ibn Saud saw in these doctrines a grand design to enforce conformity, gain acceptance, and expand his empire in other emirates of Arabia. 

Ibn Saud began his territorial expansion and conquest over other emirates of Arabia on the pretext of the enforcement of Wahabi doctrine and gave birth to a unified Arabia which was now called Saudi Arabia (derived from the name of Muhammad Ibn Saud).

Wahhabi Teachings Incorporate 

  • The concepts of hejira (flight from non-Wahhabi traditions).
  • takfir (excommunication of other Muslims as infidels).
  • armed jihad as not only permissible but obligatory against unbelievers and non- Wahhabi Muslims, who are stigmatized as mushrikin or idolators.

Wahhabism owes its influence to a personal and political alliance that Ibn al-Wahhab forged with Muhammad ibn Saud, the ruler of Diriyya, in Najd. Ibn Saud pledged his support to Al-Wahhab in waging jihad against all those who deviated from Wahhabi doctrines in return for religious sanction for his military campaigns. Nevertheless, Wahhabism remained a marginal and heterodox tendency within Islam until Abd al-Azziz ibn Saud expelled the Hashemites from the Hejaz, the region containing the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and established the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

Ikhwan and Wahabi Ideology

Ikhwan and Wahabi Ideology
Flag of Ikhwan

After the death of Ibn Saud, his successor Abdal Aziz also used territorial expansion and violence to ensure the spread of Wahabi ideology and this is how, after the unification of Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism emerged as the core ideology of the ruling state and ruling family. Abdal Aziz established an army of people named Ikhwan to spread Wahabi ideology through forced coercion. The members of Ikhwan used to slaughter people who did not conform to the Wahabi ideology. 

The Ikhwan soldiers used to wear black clothes, raise black flags, and wear a black robe to cover their faces. It is this Ikhwan spirit that is visible in ISIS today. In the period during the Second World War, the US and Saudi Arabia developed an alliance whereby the US would buy Saudi oil in return for money, arms, and ammunition, and Saudi was allowed to export Wahhabism in the Middle East to gain hegemony in the Middle East. Saudi used the money to provide training to West Asians and also provided support to extremists who Would seek conformity. 

The ideological underpinnings of ISIS, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda trace their roots to Wahhabism. Post the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the CIA revived the Ikhwan spirit, leading to the formation of the Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia used it to expand its influence and hegemony, while the US used the ideology and its army to contain the Soviet.

Al-Saud (Mid-eighteenth century) 

Abdulaziz (1902 to 1953) 1932-Saudi Arabia is established
King Saud
King Faisal
King Khalid
King Fahd
King Abdullah
King Salman (Since 2015)

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