Making sense of Wahhabism – 7

Wahhabism and Kharijism 3

Muslim scholars linking Wahhabism to Kharijism (part 1)

This entry is part of a series entitled Making Sense of Wahhabism that I started writing as a result of the interest generated in an earlier post. The link to the post and the previous articles can be found at the end of this entry.

Our claim in previous articles of this series (specifically in Part 4 and Part 5) was that many scholars and historians have labeled Wahhabis as modern-day Khawarij. We went on giving an overview of the historical roots that led to the rise of the Khawarij, as well as a glimpse of the ideology and behavior of the Khawarij, so that parallels can be drawn, and the reader can start making the connection.

For instance Toshihiko Izutsu writes on the khawarij sect called Muhakkimah:

Those Muhakkimah used to go out with their swords to the market places. And when the innocent people gathered together without being aware of it, they suddenly cried out ‘La hukm illa lillah!’ and lifted up their swords against anybody they happened to overtake, and they went on killing people until they themselves were killed. ….The people used to

live in constant fear of them; it caused a terrible commotion.

[in “The concept of belief in Islamic theology” (p.7) by Toshihiko Izutsu referencing  his source as “al Tanbih wa-al Radd Ala Ahl al Ahwa wa al bidah” of Al-Malati.]

Sayyid Abdul Qadir al-Gilani al-Hanbali in his book al-Ghunya li-Talibi Tariq al-Haqq, describes the traits of a Khawarij sect named “Azariqa”:

The Azariqa also consider it permissible to kill young children, meaning the offspring of those who attribute partners to Allah.

He then describes the traits of another Khawarij sect named “Bida’iyya”:

 They are in agreement with the Azariqa on the permissibility of taking women captives from among the unbelievers, and of killing their infant children inadvertently…

In this entry, (in addition to posting a few pictures of book covers because I’m a book addict…sorry) I would simply like to provide a few references of scholars explicitly stating that the Wahhabis are Khawarij or like Khawarij. We could easily multiply such quotations, but the point here is simply to provide a representative sample of quotes from Muslim scholars of significant weight among Muslims. This is not only to inform Muslims who may be unaware of these positions, but to show the world in what light Wahhabism has been viewed by Sunni Muslim scholars since the day it appeared. This should also make it clear that when some journalists or analysts make the connection between Kharijism and Wahhabism, they are simply repeating the conclusions of Muslim scholars, as opposed to having some deeper insight into historical and theological matters than Muslims themselves…

(Shi’a scholars have also clearly made their position clear in hundreds of volumes, but Wahhabism is the sworn enemy of Shi’ism on the one hand, and on the other, Wahhabis claim adherence to Sunni Islam, specifically the Hanbali school (a point which we will address in some detail in subsequent entries…) So it is only fair to see how they are viewed by some of the specialists of those schools they claim adhering to. Again, the main point here is the connection between Kharijism and Wahhabism, and not how Wahhabism is viewed in general by Muslim scholars. We will get to that when talking about Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Abd al-Wahhab in more depth…)


Ibn Munabbih

Ibn Asakir reports that:

Wahb ibn Munabbih said, “I knew the early period of Islam. By Allah, the Khawarij never had a group that God did not to split due to their evil condition. Never did one of them proclaim his opinion openly except that God caused his neck to be struck. Never did the Muslim nation unite upon a man from the Khawarij. If God had allowed the opinion of the Khawarij to take root, the earth would have been filled with corruption and destruction, the roadways would have been cut off, the Hajj pilgrimage to the sacred house of God would have ceased, and Islam would have returned to the era of ignorance (i.e. pre-Islamic era) when the people would seek refuge on mountain tops (for safety). For every group of ten or twenty, there would be one man claiming to be the ruler and leader. Some of them have no less than 10 000 followers, all of them fighting each other, and excommunicating each other (charging each other with disbelief). The believer would fear for himself, his religion, his life, his family, his wealth, and he would not know where to travel or with whom he can be!”

[Ibn Asakir in Tarikh Dimashq, volume 63, 380-383; also Al Mizzi in Tahtheeb al Kamal Volume 31: 150-156; also Al Thahabi in Seyar Volume 4: 553-555]


Ibn Aabidin

One of the biggest imams of the Hanafi school, Ibn Aabidin al-Shami in his book Radd al-Muhtar Hasyiyah ‘Ala ad-Durr al-Mukhtar which is a commentary on a book about Islamic law and jurisprudence (which should have nothing to do with such matters), but in which he specifically adds the following heading “On the Followers of Abdul Wahhab, the Khawarij of our Time” because of its importance at the time he was writing:

Transgressors is in reference to a group of Muslims who revolt against a just ruler, but they do not go as far as the Khawarij in spilling the blood of Muslims and enslaving their women. […] and as for his words [they excommunicate the companions of our Prophet, God’s peace be upon him], you know by now that this is not the condition for calling them Khawarij. Rather, it is a description of their uprising against our Master Ali, may God be pleased with him. Otherwise, it is sufficient (to be one of them) that they consider all those they fight as disbelievers, as it happened in our own time from the followers of [Muhammad ibn] Abdul Wahhab, who came out of Najd in revolt, and took over the holy sanctuaries of Mecca and Medina. They used to claim to be followers of the Hanbali school, but they believed that they were the only Muslims and that anyone who disagreed with their beliefs is a polytheist. They used this a pretext to kill Sunnis and their scholars, until God broke their power, destroyed their land, and the armies of the Muslims were victorious against them in year 1233 [H. or 1818 AD] […] And the ruling on the Khawarij from the jurists and Ahlul Hadeeth [a theological and legal school in Islam that relies only on narrations…] is that they are transgressors. Some scholars of Ahlul Hadeeth consider them disbelievers.”

[Radd al Muhtar; Hashyat Radd al-Mukhtar, Vol 4: 262] (But then he goes on rejecting this last opinion…).



The Hanafi scholar Ahmad bin Muhammad as-Sawi who died in the year 1241 H (1825 AD over 170 years ago) in his Hashiat al-Allamah as-Sawi which is his commentary on the interpretation of Al-Qur’an “Tafsir al-Jalalayn”, in verse 6 of chapter 36 (Satan is indeed your enemy, so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his allies so that they may be among the inmates of the Blaze) he writes:

“And it is reported that this verse was revealed about the Khawarij who misinterpret the Qur’an and prophetic narrations, thus legitimizing the killing of Muslims and confiscating their properties and belongings. As it is witnessed now from those who are their equals: a group in the land of Hijaz that is now called Wahhabis. They fool themselves in thinking that they are on to something when they are liars. “Satan has prevailed upon them, so he has caused them to forget the rememberance of Allah. They are Satan’s allies. And it is indeed Satan’s allies who are the losers!” We ask God, Most Honourable, to amputate their origin.”



The Hanbali Imam al-Shatti (1857-1929) in his work “an-Nuqul al-Shar’iyyah fir Raddi ‘al al-wahhabiyyah” says:

“the false claims [of Ijtihad, or the competence to having a religious opinion] is held by a group of deviants, who have claimed their adherence to the Hanbali school. They are located in the region of Najd, from which the horn of Satan will appear, as mentioned in the prophetic narration. […] they rely solely in their arguments on the Qur’an and the narrations when they understand nothing of them, nor do they have any understanding of the elements of the sciences, so you can imagine the misunderstanding when it comes to the most advanced parts of science, its principles, and its intentions. They teach their kids from a young age the same claims, and they encourage them to argue using only the literal words and leaving aside anything beyond it, out of their ignorance and arrogance. […] They reject Ijtihad and rely only on the opinions of Ibn Taymiyyah, when he differed from the rest of the Hanbali school in many opinions which he was the only one to hold […] these opinions were not based on the opinion of the Hanbali school… and the jurists of the Hanbali school have declared that he is not consistent with Hanbalism. So whoever claims to be a Hanbali may not follow him in those matters, as did the aforementioned group, as a result of their ignorance and blindness of their heart.” (7-9)

and he continues in page 14 and onward:

“and whoever excommunicates a believer, they have themselves become an unbeliever, as mentioned in the prophetic narration: “Do not talk about the people who say “There is not God but Allah” and do not call them unbelievers because of a sin. Truly, whoever considers one who says “There is no God but Allah” is much closer to disbelief.” And in another narration “it is he who is the greater disbeliever.” […] and yet this is one the articles that are contradicted by the group that we alluded to from Nejd […] It is Ibn Abdul Wahhab, the shaykh from Nejd, who was the cause of the corruption of the beliefs of the masses. He sent a treatise to my grandfather, the pious scholar and the highest authority of the Hanbali school in his time Shaykh Hasan Shitti, so that he may look at it and write an preface to it. But at that time, he was suffering from a great illness, and was incapable of refuting its claims in detail, so he limited himself to write, in his own blessed handwriting, in summary: ‘I have looked at this treatise which contains some religious articles related to some things that have been done by some people out of ignorance, and which do not lead in any way to excommunicating people, and in fact some of it may even be considered good actions if they were thought about with more reflection. Yet Ibn Abdul Wahhad, the author of this treatise, has excommunicated these people as a result of these actions, and he has considered their blood and their wealth free to do with as he wishes because of notions that he has imagined, wrongly thinking that they have come from the literal meanings of the scriptures. This has revealed his ignorance, his incompetence, and his accusing the believers. So may God’s curse be upon whoever holds these views; for, whoever excommunicates a believer, it is he who has become a disbeliever.”

And on pages 16-17:

“Let one then consider the ignorant, harsh and unforgiving people, and how they are with the community of the Chosen One (i.e. Prophet Muhammad), peace and blessings be upon him. Take a careful look at how they release charges of disbelief on the Muslims, declaring their blood and wealth licit for spilling and seizure without the necessary legal prerequisites nor evidence being presented. In all of this, they are simply blindly following an ignorant man among them, namely, Ibn Abdul Wahab. […] They are nothing but a great calamity and an awful tribulation. It is the creed of the people of Harura [remember that Harura was the gathering point of the Khawarij], and a satanic tendency. May Allah preserve us and the Muslims from that calamity. Amen.”


Al-Dhahabi, Wahhabism and Kharijism

Islam is the religion of monotheism par excellence. All Muslims believe that there is only one god, and that he alone can have any effect on anything. If anything else in our universe seems to have any effect, that effect comes from god, and is being perpetuated by Him every instant. For instance, if fire burns, it is not because it has some intrinsic, essential ability to burn, but because god grants it the ability to burn… However, all Muslims also believe that God has also made the universe work based on certain laws, such as fire burning if certain conditions are met, or water quenching thirst if certain conditions are met. One of these laws, is that because of God’s love to some of his purest servants and creatures, you render yourself and your prayers more answer worthy from God by associating yourself to those beloved servants and creatures of God, not because they have some intrinsic ability to do anything outside of God’s will, but because you know that God loves them for the pure servitude to Him, and you recognize that. This can be understood as intercession, intermediation, tabarruk, etc.

The only Muslims who disagree with this are the Wahhabis (blindly following IbnTaymiyyah in this) who claim that anyone who does this has associate other divinities with God and has therefore become a disbeliever, a polytheist, and they must be punished or even killed.

I do not yet want to get into the main tenets and beliefs of the Wahhabis, or talk about Ibn Taymiyyah now. So what is the link between this introduction and our topic, namely the links between Wahhabism and Kharijism?

Imam al-Dhahabi, who many consider as the highest authority in Sunni Islam in biography and the sciences of narration (in addition to being a very knowledgeable historian) was a student of Ibn Taymiyyah. Yet, he disagreed with his teacher on the issue of tabarruk to the point of saying that anyone who rejects tabarruk in the manner in which Ibn Taymiyyah (and Ibn Abdul Wahhab later) did are following the opinion of the Khawarij! He relates that Imam Ahmad himself used to seek blessings from the relics of the Prophet saws then he lambasts who­ever would fault the practice of tabarruk or seeking blessings from blessed objects:

“’Abd Allah ibn Ahmad [the son of Ahmed ibn Hanbal, the founder of the Hanbali school] said: “I saw my father take a hair that belonged to the Prophet peace upon him, put it on his mouth, and kiss it. I believe I saw him put it on his eyes. He also dipped it in water and drank the water to obtain cure. I saw him take the Prophet’s bowl, wash it in water, and drink from it. I saw him drink Zamzam water (a well in Mecca) in order to seek cure with it, and he wiped his hands and face with it.” I [Al-Dhahabi is saying] say: Where is the quibbling critic of Imam Ahmad now? It is also authentically established that ‘Abd Allah asked his father about those who touch the pommel of the Prophet’s pulpit and touch the walls of the Prophet’s room for blessing, and he said: “I do not see any harm in it.” May Allah protect us and you from the opinion of the Khawarij and from innovations!”

[Al-Dhahabi, Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’]

All the Muslims of the world who have performed the pilgrimage and gone to the Great Mosque of Medina where the Holy Prophet’s grave lies, know that the Wahhabis will not let anyone stand near the walls or get close to them, or salute the Prophet or seek his blessings, and basically every human being who walks from there is called Mushrik by the self-appointed Wahhabis, who stand there with sticks in there hands to hit those who defy them with a look or who do not take them seriously enough…

This most famous scholar (upon the Wahhabis themselves rely for biographies and history) al-Dhahabi also said:

“Ahmad ibn Hanbal was asked about touching the Prophet’s grave and kissing it and he saw nothing wrong with it. His son ‘Abd Allah related this from him. If it is asked: “Why did the Companions not do this?” We reply: “Because they saw him with their very eyes when he was alive, enjoyed his presence directly, kissed his very hand, nearly fought each other over the remnants of his ablution water, shared his purified hair on the day of the greater Pilgrimage, and even if he would spit it would virtually not fall except in someone’s hand so that he could pass it over his face. Since we have not had the tremendous fortune of sharing in this, we throw ourselves on his grave as a mark of commitment, reverence, and acceptance, even to kiss it. Do you not see what Thabit al-Bunani did when he kissed the hand of Anas ibn Malik and placed it on his face saying: “This is the hand that touched the hand of the Messenger of Allah”? Muslims are not moved to these matters except by their excessive love for the Prophet, as they are ordered to love Allah and the Prophet more than their own lives, their children, all human beings, their property, and Paradise and its maidens. There are even some believers that love Abu Bakr and ‘Umar more than themselves.” [Al-Dhahabi, Mu’jam al-Shuyukh (1:73 #58)]

So now you know that when the Wahhabis learn of this, they will label Al-Dhahabi of being a “grave worshipper” whose religion and belief must be rectified by them…

stay tuned for part 2 of this article

see all the articles of Making Sense of Wahhabism series:

Are Wahhabis Sunnis? Chechnya Conference and Saudi Anger

Making Sense of Wahhabism – 1: Links between the House of Saud and Wahhabism

Making Sense of Wahhabism – 2: Roots of Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab

Making Sense of Wahhabism – 3: History of the House of Saud

Making Sense of Wahhabism – 4: Wahhabism and Kharijism 1

Making Sense of Wahhabism – 5: Wahhabism and Kharijism 2

Making Sense of Wahhabism – 6: Québec City Shooting

Making Sense of Wahhabism – 7: Wahhabism and Kharijism 3

Making Sense of Wahhabism – 8: Wahhabism and Kharijism



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