What can you tell me about Wahabis? I have heard they have some strange practices?
The term “Wahabi” is used (especially in the Sub-Continent) as a derogatory label for the Ahl-e-Hadith by those who are against them. This obviously means that such a label should be avoided. This term was coined because of some of the reformatory actions taken by Mohammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, which were not approved by his opponents. This was about three hundred years ago in the sacred country of Saudi Arabia .
During the days of this great reformer (Mohammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab), Muslims of Najd, in particular and other places, in general had added a number of bid’at1 to the sacred body of Islam. As we know, the Prophet and his companions lived their lives in Najd. There were a number of places, graves, stones and trees in Najd, which people started revering in the times of Mohammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. Al-Shawkani, in his book “Nayel Al-Awtaar” has referred to these practices and has shown how close these practices, sometimes, came to Shirk, i.e. polytheistic practices. People would sometimes take vows at these places, they would pray at these places and sometimes even address these stones, trees and graves as only the one God should be addressed.
Mohammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab condemned these practices. He tried to stop people from them. He even used his influence in demolishing the sites, which were used for polytheistic practices by the Muslims of his times.
Such reformation, besides a number of other corrective actions, was not welcomed by the commoners and neither by the scholars who advocated them. These were the people who started labeling those who agreed with the great reformer as “Wahhabis“.
I really do not know of any strange practices of this group of people. Whatever they did was in the best spiritual interest of the Muslims. I only think that sometimes they tend to become a little harsh in propagating their ideals, and labeling their addressees. One may differ with them on a number of instances, but in my opinion, in their beliefs and practices, they are not much different from what the Qur’an and the Sunnah would generally like us to be.
May the Almighty reward them for all their correct actions and may He forgive them their mistakes.
27th December 1998
- Inventions in religion. Generally used for practices adhered to as a part of religion, which were not approved or sanctioned by the Prophet (pbuh). [↩]