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The Ideological Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Islam: A Historical Reading –Part 3

By Prof. Maulana Syed Aleem Ashraf Jaisi

(Translated from Urdu by New Age Islam Edit Desk)

The aggression of Saudi-Najdi government was spreading rapidly throughout the Muslim world, causing worry and anxiety among the common Muslims. Therefore, on the orders of the Ottoman Caliphate, the then governor of Egypt Muhammad Ali Pasha sent his army in the Arabian Peninsula. After a long battle, the Egyptian forces defeated the Najdis and completely destroyed Diriyah, which was the hub of the Wahhabi movement and at the same time, the capital of the first Saudi dynasty.

The House of Saud (Aal-e-Saud) took refuge in Kuwait. There was a dire need for a practical end of the Najdi government. However, on the ideological front, it remained very active. It has to be kept in mind that ideological opposition was never defeated in the battlefield. The extremist thinking cannot be rooted out without countering the misleading philosophies. But the historical fact is that this task was neither done by the governor of Egypt nor by the authorities of Ottoman Empire. Muslims couldn't tackle the terrorism in the deserts of Najd for a longer period of time.

Soon after the return of the Egyptian forces, the second Saudi Najdi government was formed. It somehow remained in its existence from 1821 to 1889. However, its effects could not go beyond the Najdi deserts. During that time, the Saudi authorities kept indulged in killing each other.

The third, which is also the current Saudi government was formed in 1902 by Abdul Aziz bin Abdur Rahman bin Faisal Aal-Saud who is also known as Ibn Saud. This government was initially formed in Riyadh and its adjoining areas. For almost a quarter of the 20th century, this government was active in wreaking destruction,  mass killing and mayhem to extend the Najdi ideology and Saudi political rule.  The Saudi forces displayed their extreme hostility, ruthlessness and cold bloodedness after capturing the cities like Taif. They were so cruel that their beastly examples cannot be paralleled even with the Khawarij, Nazis and Tatars. The base of the Saudi army was formed with an organization called Al-Ikhwan Al-Najdiyyun. It was a group of religious fanatics inspired by the rigid ideology and desiccated teachings of Ibn Abdul Wahab Najdi—the founder-ideologue of Wahhabism-Salafism. He considered everyone other than the Wahhabi followers to be disbeliever and punishable with death. He termed the killing of innocents as Jihad, looting of properties as permissible Maal-e-Ghanimat (war booty), and getting killed while doing these evil actions as Shahadat (martyrdom). With the support of these bloodthirsty, barbarian and savage fanatics; Abdul Aziz captured almost all of the Arabian Peninsula until 1925.

After the defeat in the First World War, the Ottoman Caliphate lost its control and suffered the sudden fall. Thereafter, the Arab world was totally captured under the great influence of the western imperialism. The Najdi-Wahhabi movement had tremendous support from the British government. There are substantial historical evidences to prove it. Both the Najdis and the British were hostile towards the Ottoman Caliphate. Therefore, the western imperialists not only ignored all the violent events which were carried out by the Najdi movement throughout the Arabian Peninsula, but it also helped the Wahhabis further their nefarious designs.

The intellectual and ideological training of Ikhwan Al-Najdiyyun was based on the fanatic teachings of Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Abdul Wahhab al-Najdi. It is important to study and analyze their ideas and practices in order to understand the contemporary terrorism. The primary factor in the teachings of Ibn Abdul Wahab was repugnance and exclusivity. His teachings encouraged religious intolerance and peddled hatred against all those who did not follow the Najdi ideology. The most horrific ideological repercussions of the Najdi narrative of Ibn Abdul Wahhab were as follows:

        To exclude the non-Najdi Muslims from Islam,

        To migrate from the non-Muslim societies and change them through force,

        To kill the people of those countries if they do not change

The main violent teachings of Ibn Abdul Wahab and his radical thoughts and reflections can be found in details in these books in Arabic: Tafseer Kalimah Tauheed (التوحید کلمہ تفسیر), Risalah Salaas Masail (مسائل رسالہ ثلاث), Kashf Ash-Shubhaat (الشبہات کشف), Risalah Talqeen Usool Al-Aqeedah Lil-Aammah (للعامہ العقیدہ اصول تلقین رسالہ), Risalah Ma’na At-Taghut (الطاغوت اومعنی رسالہ), Risalah Arb'a Qawaid Li Ad-Deen (للدین اربع قواعد رسالہ)

 Ibn Abdul Wahab writes:  "The polytheism of the people in the period of ignorance (Jahiliyah) was in two ways less intense than those of today." Then, he clarifies this statement and further writes: "The former polytheists used to call others including Allah when they were in comfort. But during the calamities, they used to call only Allah. Secondly, the polytheists of the days of ignorance used to call the sinless non-living things. But today, people call even the transgressors and deviants as God.”

The above statement not only declared all Muslims (of that time) as polytheists but also considered their alleged ‘polytheism’ to be greater and more sinful than that of those pagans who lived before the advent of Islam. While on the other hand, it is narrated by Hazrat Uqba bin Amer (r.a) that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “"By Allah! I do not worry about you (Muslims) becoming polytheists after me. But I fear that you will involve yourself in this world." (Bukhari Sharif: 1344 and Muslim Shareef: 2296. This Hadith is noted as Muttafaq Alaih, which is agreed upon)

The extremist ideology and teachings of the Najdi scholars like Ibn Abdul Wahhab were the drivers for Saudi government and the Wahhabi theocracy which were drawn towards Islamist militancy.

When Ibn Abdul Wahab issued a ruling (fatwa) to migrate from the (so called) polytheist community, there were few Wahhabi followers who couldn't migrate due to some reasons. Thus, they were also declared ‘Kafir’ (disbelievers) and were murdered. The height of the Najdi extremism was that Ikhwan An-Najdiyyun, who were the followers of Ibn Abdul Wahab declared those Wahhabis as disbelievers who didn't tie the turban as their leader did. There are innumerable other petty issues on which the Wahhabis, especially the Ikhwan An-Najdiyyun used to declare others as disbelievers and liable of being killed. They also used to create trouble to the political administration.

When king Abdul Aziz decided to Saud to Egypt and Faisal to London, the Wahhabi scholars, keeping in view their belief (Aqeedah) of "Wala wal Wara" strictly opposed this decision. For, in their view, Egypt and England were the countries of the polytheists (Dar ul Harb). Therefore, staying in the countries of polytheists was akin to polytheism. As per their religious jurisprudence, it is an obligation for those who are born in the Christian countries to migrate to the Muslim nations.

Ikhwan An-Najdiyyun and the Salafis were trained to disregard every culture which did not adhere to the Islamic teachings, and every civilization which developed the science and technology. As a result, the usage of electricity, automobiles, telephone and other channels and instruments of communication were frowned upon as Haraam (forbidden in Islamic Shariah). Thus, these products were known as "prohibited innovations" (Bidʿah). One of the ridicules reasons they cited was that they are manufactured in non-Muslim countries (Daar ul-Harb) with which only war, and not the business, is permitted.

(This article was first published and circulated in Urdu on the occasion of the World Sufi Forum recently held in March, 2016 in New Delhi).

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