It does seem as if more and more of us (meaning Muslims & non-Muslims) seems to adopt the belief that such religious fanaticism originate from the doctrines of this particular sect, even though you are of the opinion that they are just ‘harsh’ in their propagation or understanding of Islam.
I have even heard from some who believe that the Wahhabis are the ‘cursed’ people of Najd, which was said to have been derived from a certain prophetic understanding.
Seems to me that there is more to the Salafis of Saudi Arabia then just ‘harshness’ in their understanding. I just find such article, if true, rather disturbing. I can understand if its all just down to differing interpretations of religious texts, but how do one justify the propagation of hate in Islam? I hope to know your views on this. Thank you.
I apologize for the delay in addressing your question.
You raise some important issues pertaining to the Wahhabi movement and some of their preaching. The first issue you raised regarded the use of Salafi or Wahhabi to refer to this particular school of religious thought. There is a slight difference historically between the two groups, but essentially they are interchangeable in this day and age. Wahhabi is simply a title arising from the name of the modern founder of the movement: Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhab. Salafi results from Salaf, which is used by this movement to refer to their attachment with the pious believers of early Islam.
With regard to the website, although informative in a lot of ways, I believe that websites such as this must be viewed with a careful eye. The Saudi Institute has many respectable and admirable goals, but they are premised on a very clear agenda against the government in Saudi Arabia. Hence, if one was to obtain information about the Saudi government this website would naturally contain a significant amount of bias and propaganda. When acquiring information on any matter, it is often best not to get it from a source dedicated to opposing that matter.
With that said, I do not believe that it is possible to blanket the entire Wahhabi movement with the same label on the basis of some rhetoric of certain members of the movement. The Wahhabi movement spreads across the world and has various manifestations; hence to speak of them as the cursed people of Najd is inaccurate. Even the Saudi government has been known to publish material (see “Understanding Islam and Muslims“) in Western nations that contains a strong message of tolerance. Furthermore, traveling around the Muslim world, similar messages of hatred can unfortunately be found among various other movements and schools of thought.
There is no justification for hating other religions in Islam. The Qur’an clearly suggests that the believer should not curse other faiths for they may curse the one God in retaliation. There are various other exhortations to argue with others in the “best of manners”. One clear indication of this is when Prophet Moses was instructed to preach to the Pharaoh. He was told to speak to Pharaoh in a “gentle manner”. Hence, as one prominent South African scholar has pointed out, we must remember that no one in this day and age is worse than Pharaoh, nor are we better than Moses, that we should speak to people in harsh ways. Thus, any movement whether Wahhabi or otherwise, preaching hatred for other religions is deviating from the Qur’anic message in this regard.
Insha’Allah, I hope this will be helpful. If anything remains unclear please feel free to write again.
God knows best.
February 13, 2003