“Stop Wahhabi Indoctrination of Syrian Youth,” by Elie Elhadj

I received this opinion piece by Elie ElHadj and agreed to publish it, although I have edited it for length. You can read his original full article here. I hesitated before agreeing to publish it because the opinions expressed are controversial and stated powerfully; the open discussion of religious topics is often frowned upon in Syria because of the potential for stirring up sectarian hard feelings.  I decided to publish it anyway, because debate is good and because the recent law to ban the niqab has raised the larger issue of how the Syrian government and society should deal with the larger issues of private schools and Islamic education.  I stress that the views expressed in this article do not reflect those of Syria Comment’s editors; although, I recognize that some of its conclusions are shared by many, if not most, Syrians. It is part of an on-going debate. I hope to be able to publish an opinion piece defending the spread of Islamic schools in Syria in the not distant future. (That is a challenge to those readers who will disagree with the views expressed in this article. Joshua Landis)

In a madrasa at the Zahra mosque in suburban Damascus, students in the oldest group, 15 to 17, taking an English language class in addition to religious training. Photo by Jeroen Kramer

Stop Wahhabi Indoctrination of Syrian Youth
By Elie Elhadj, July 25, 2010
for Syria Comment

The Website ALL4SYRIA reported (in Arabic) on July 17, 2010 that private Islamist elementary schools have been proliferating in Syria. The title of the article: Secrets and Background Behind the Decision to Ban the Wearing of the Niqab in Syria’s Schools and Universities Taken by the Office of National Security. The article may be accessed on:

A Summary of the ALL4SYRIA article
Islamist groups in Syria have succeeded in controlling most private elementary schools (up to sixth grade), estimated to be around 200 schools (presumably in Damascus) with approximately 25% to 30% of all elementary schools enrollment. The article revealed that teachers are all women, don the Niqab (black covering of face and body), and belong to Islamist proselytizing groups, typically led and controlled by women. ALL4SYRIA added that classroom teaching material contravenes Ministry of Education curriculum and textbooks, that young children are instructed to insist that their mothers must wear the Niqab so that they avoid burning in hell’s fire, that large amounts of money have been paid by Islamist organizers to purchase secular private schools from their owners; for example, Dar Al-Faraj, Dar Al-Na’eem, Omar bin Al-Khattab, The Arab Islamic College, Ummat Al-Majd, Al-Yaqzah…).

Significance of the report
Such a development is disconcerting. Syria must be vigilant. At the core of Islamist teaching, just like Wahhabi teaching, is indoctrination and brainwashing in fanaticism. Sunni Islamists, Syria’s included, embrace Wahhabi extremism with all their being. Their speech and actions are akin to being members of a religious cult. If allowed to go unchecked, such a development would cause irreparable damage to Syria’s way of life and to its multi-ethnic multi-religion harmony, including discrimination against and persecution of the country’s many religious minorities and sects, particularly the ruling Alawite minority, which orthodox Muslims regard as heretics.

To appreciate the consequences of Islamist teaching one need not look beyond the Saudi educational curriculum to see its effects on Saudi youth and Muslim youth in Islamist/ Wahhabi sponsored schools elsewhere. While Saudi textbooks might not be seen in Syria’s classrooms, the dogma, dictums, values, attitudes, and beliefs imparted through the words, mannerism, dress, and personal behavior of Islamist teachers would, nonetheless, mold impressionable young children with Arabia’s seventh century culture.

Content of Islamist education
Students in Wahhabi controlled schools are taught to denigrate other religions and Islamic sects, including other Sunnis. Starting with the First grade, children are taught that Jews, Christians, and others are destined to be consumed in hellfire. As the children grow up, the same message is honed more explicitly. Fourth graders are taught to hate the polytheists and infidels. Fifth graders are taught that someone who opposes God, even if he/she were one’s own brother/sister becomes his/her enemy. In Sixth grade, students are taught that Islam bans the mourning of the dead tradition that Shi’ites venerate (Center for Religious Freedom of Freedom House with the Institute for Gulf Affairs, Saudi Arabia’s Curriculum of Intolerance, with Excerpts from Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies, 2006.

To put overall Saudi school curriculum in perspective, it is helpful to describe some of what the older students learn. Eighth graders are taught that building mosques on graves, even by Muslims, is the work of polytheists and unbelievers. In Ninth grade, teenagers are taught in apocalyptic terms that violence against Jews, Christians, and other non-believers is sanctioned by God. Tenth graders are taught that, in law, the life of non-Muslims as well as women is worth a fraction of that of free Muslim men. Eleventh graders are taught that Muslims do not yield to Christians and Jews on a narrow road out of honor and respect (the Prophet reportedly said: “Do not initiate greeting the Jews and Christians, and if you encounter one of them on a road you should force him toward the narrow side” The Six Books, Sahih Muslim, tradition 5661, p. 1064 and Sunan Abi Dawood, Ibid., tradition 5205, p. 1603). Twelfth graders learn that the spread of Islam through jihad is a religious duty, that jihad is the summit of Islam, that through jihad Islam’s banner was raised high, that jihad is one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to God.

Islamists/Wahhabi education emphasizes the belief in predestination.

Outside the classroom, Islamist/Wahhabi propaganda promotes an anti-Western agenda—Westernization results in the loss of Islamic ideals and practices, encourages the introduction of Western political systems, political parties, and parliaments, which interfere with social cohesion and consensus, brings misery and suffering to Muslims, undermines Muslim conduct, leading to mixing of the sexes, opening of nightclubs, discarding of the veil, charging of interest on bank loans, and celebration of non-Islamic holidays such as Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Labor Day. (Madawi Al-Rasheed, A History of Saudi Arabia, Cambridge University Press, 2003, 191).

Islamist/Wahhabi doctrine denounces Arab nationalism and socialism, as atheistic innovation. Abdulaziz Bin Baz, Saudi Arabia’s former grand mufti (1993-1999), called Arab nationalism an atheist jahiliyya (the pre-Islamic age of ignorance and darkness). Ibn Baz described nationalism as “a movement of ignorance whose main purpose is to fight Islam and destroy its teachings and rules” (Ibid. 190). As for the Arab military-ruled republics that since the 1950s have adopted nationalism as a basis for Arab unity and as a political objective, Ibn Baz branded them “the enemies of Islam.” Saudi history textbooks highlight that Arab nationalism is “European in origin, Jewish in motivation . . . [and] represented as a conspiracy promoted by the West and Zionism to undermine the unity of Muslims” (Ibid. 191).

Islamist/Wahhabi education engenders hostility towards all those who hold different religious beliefs or political or national aspirations. Opponents are viciously attacked as kuffars (atheists), orientalists, or agents of the CIA and Mossad, deserving death. Islamist/Wahhabi education is designed to enslave the faithful through superstitions and irrationalities in order to prolong the dictatorship of the coalitions that typically govern Arab countries; namely political families and the ulama class.

What should Syria do?
Syria can take four actions. First, trace and cut off the flow of funds that sustains Islamist groups. The source is most likely to be Syria’s home grown Islamists and Syrians who had worked or are still working in Saudi Arabia and who embraced Saudi Islam plus rich Saudis on a mission to spread the Islamist creed around.

Secondly, proselytizing groups, like other Islamist organizations, must be declared illegal and their financial backers prosecuted.

Thirdly, teachers who deviate from the Ministry of Education’s curriculum must be punished.

Fourthly, promulgate a twenty-first century personal status law befitting a supposedly “secular” country like Syria to replace its current antiquated Shari’a based laws and courts for Muslims and spiritual courts for non-Muslims. A country that claims to be “secular” should become truly secular. Syria’s government appeasement of Islamists is like riding a tiger. The tiger may someday devour the rider.

Post Script addendum:

It should be noted that the word “Islamist” refers only to the tiny minority among individual Muslims who are extremists in their religious fervor and beliefs; specifically, the Hanbalite Wahhabis. The word “Islamist” does not apply to the 95% of Sunnis who follow the other three schools of jurisprudence (Hanafites, Maliktes, and Shafiates). This great majority  is  moderate, enlightened, and tolerant. On a macro level, the word “Islamist”  refers to  extremist Islamic states, not to moderate Islamic countries. While Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Syria, and Turkey, for example, are Islamic countries, Saudi Arabia is an Islamist country.

Comments (226)

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201. Alex said:

Dear Leoleoni.

Please avoid making this kind of statement:

“These two morons Husam and Al Masri are really stepping over-bound and are ruining the discussion”

No “moron” please, let other readers decide if anyone is a moron.

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August 2nd, 2010, 2:16 pm


202. Ghat Al Bird said:

To HUSAM. Salamat.

I came across this commentary by Dr. Khalid Abdulla. and think you [and possibly others too] might find it interestingly provocative.

Its somewhat lengthy and elaborates on the “challenges facing the Arab nations in the 21st. Century.”


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August 2nd, 2010, 2:23 pm


203. Shami said:

Leonloni ,he was not as easy than you portrayed him.
Of course,He did not elaborated a philosophical system as Farabi ,Ibn Sinna or Ibn Rushd but he had assimilated the philosophocal knowledge of his time in order to launch his attack against the philosophers.You can read some of these works:


There are also recent books on his conception of free will:
A commentary on a Risala of Avicenna:(A philosopher that he studied well ,and noticed how deeply Al Ghazali was under the Avicennian influence)
And on Aristotle Logic:

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August 2nd, 2010, 3:32 pm


204. Off the Wall said:

Shami, and LEOLEONI
I wrote a long response about the topic of Ibn Taymiyya and philosophy. Unfortunately, I do not have the text file with me. I will post it tomorrow. It is along post.

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August 2nd, 2010, 4:02 pm


205. LeoLeoni said:


You are correct, I will refrain from such statements.


My statement came at a point when you and Almasri were bashing Elie, Ehsani, and anyone who disagreed with you guys. There were all sorts of name calling that went unnoticed and my “moron” labeling come later as a retaliation and comes no close to what has been said by you or Almasri earlier. But I will cease calling you that as long as you don’t jump into rage mode and start personally attacking people who disagree with you.

You said:
“If you want me to “respect” secularist, then you too must “respect” non-secularist views.”

I don’t ask you to respect my views or Elie’s views. I ask you to respect Elie and everyone here. Criticise the negate the views as much as you like, but leave the users alone.

Last, I never implied that you should be jailed. My comment was a personal understanding and realization of why Arab jails are full of Islamists. It appears that the majority of them can not even engage in rational discourse, and thus many resort to violence, intimidation, and criminal activities. All it takes is for anyone to read the read the first 100 comments here from you and AlMasri to see what I am talking abut.

I have to admit though, your attitude has changed throughout the end of this discussion. Maybe you realised that you took things overbound, or that you saw there are too many people here opposing your views. I am not sure, but whatever it is, the result is positive. Keep it up and continue to disagree in a rational way.


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August 2nd, 2010, 5:13 pm


206. Elie Elhadj said:


Well put. Thank you.


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August 2nd, 2010, 5:28 pm


207. Husam said:


So you are saying the government doesn’t engage in cladenstine operations? Don’t watch CSI, watch CNN, better food for thought.

BTW, what happened to comment #188 #3, @ 10:20 minutes into the tape showing FBI involvement. Why did the FBI rent apartments for 2 hijackers? Remember you rediculed me before, now I showed you where and how. Why don’t refute the evidence instead of engaging in a “naaaah, I don’t by that attitude, people are dillusional”

You said: “They have suppressed information post the incident.” They suppresed a ton of it, Why? If your brother was killed there, wouldn’t you want to know why?

We all know what happened in Hama decades ago where tens of thousands died, but at least we know, by whom and why. That is why no one discusses anymore, we have closure.

Ehsani2, I brought you the proofs, and all you did was avoid answering. Why because you are adamant that they (Muslims) acted alone – From the desert to Manhattan!

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August 2nd, 2010, 6:11 pm


208. Husam said:


First, of all I read the first 100 comments, I couldn’t find any of the “name calling” that you said I personally engaged in.

You said: “I don’t ask you to respect my views or Elie’s views. I ask you to respect Elie and everyone here. Criticise the negate the views as much as you like, but leave the users alone.”

I was engaging Elie and adressing him personally, not you. If he feels that I attacked him directly and retaliated, perhaps that would be understandable. But for you to come in, out of nowhere and bash me in the first sentence 150 comments later and flex on his behalf is uncalled for.

I think SC is not a gangsta show, where Elie is the boss and everyone does his laundry.

I have always tried to be rational as anybody can be. I think Muslims are in Jail for much like the same reason Christians, Hindus, Atheist are in Jail in the US or anywhere else for that matter.

Take care,

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August 2nd, 2010, 6:32 pm


209. LeoLeoni said:

203. Husam said:

“First, of all I read the first 100 comments, I couldn’t find any of the “name calling” that you said I personally engaged in.”

Ok, here are some of the personal attacks and name calling that you engaged in. I never wanted to do this but you insist.


Husam said:
Calling someone to Islam (d’awa) who obviously has an agenda to spread distortions about Islam and Muslims while claiming his secularist game to fame is not proper. Even if you are joking….
As for the adult-suckling fatwa that Elahdj is so infatuated with, perhaps he fantasizes about it… I mean..errr…he is stuck on the nipple.

@ 58
“Ok, fine, too much for you to handle…what about the shaven head, do you fancy that with some breast milk…err..ok in a cup?”

@ 75

Wrong. Oh yes you do have many specs of hatred, it is clear as day in your arguments, choice of words, generalizations, assumptions, distortions, false tafsir, focus, and most of all your arrogance.


Husam said:
You DID NOT answer my question @54, why should I answer yours? Go play elsewhere.


8 -Canada is my home. Why don’t you move to Israel, I think you belong there. If my words are cheap why are you responding to them? If you decide to move to Israel, take your buddy Elie with you.


Husam said:
You are Akhbar Palace’s twin. You are also a parrot. Why should I answer you when you didn’t and never answered me?
I think you are also deeply enjoying the orgy with Elhadj, Jad, Pipes et al.


Why don‘t you go to one and ask your smart questions? Anyone claiming that Muslims can’t debate without fear or threat can only come from troubled souls. You are a liar Dr. Elahdj.
Please know that you are Muslim hater whether you label yourself as such or not. Distortions + Hatred = Elie Elhadj
You said: “I’d love to read a convincing essay on this issue. Such an essay should be welcomed. It’ll strengthen Islam, not weaken it.”

Really? Can I know why you are so interested in strengthening Islam? Are you a Muslim? Why don’t you strengthen your own faith. You claim to know so much about Islam, what do you believe in, please fill us in. If you are an atheist, why would you want to see a stronger Islam? Aren’t you a big time hypocrite. I don’t believe you for one second.

I certainly don’t go on blogs calling for Jews, Hindus, Christians to re-evaluate their faith and books and expect them to believe that I mean well, while all along, I bring them distortions and misconceptions from a long mastery (PhD) of copy/repackage/paste.

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August 2nd, 2010, 10:07 pm


210. LeoLeoni said:


I never came out of nowhere, I was in this discussion from the start. But I felt that you and Almasry were going way over bound with your personal insults and that is something that concerns everyone. This is a public forum, not something private. I could care less if you insult me or anyone else in private, but on a public forum, the situation becomes different.

Last, you need to distinguish between Islamists and Muslims. Islamists are those who use Islam as a political agenda. Those who view the civil State, secular laws, democracy, as an innovation or kufr. They are highty prone to radicalism and terrorism, especially when they feel they have the right to enforce their views on others by violent means. Not every Muslim is an Islamist. My statement about those in Arab jails are those who are radical Islamists and not Muslims.

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August 2nd, 2010, 10:18 pm


211. Husam said:


1 & 2) Islam encompasses a total solution for mankind. Thus, those who believe the Quran to be the actual word of God can not possibly accept someone else dictating how they should live, transact, behave, etc.. The designor, the creator, the producer, the manufacture who produces a BMW for example, should and must print an owner’s manual by which the user can find all the functionalities, the limitations, the maintenance required, the safety, the specifications, and the operation of such a formidable vehicle. Likewise, the Quran is the manual for mankind by its creator. If people don’t believe in it, that is their choice. The majority in Syria are Muslims, and I don’t think it is possible for a non-Muslim, spiritually or even politically, to govern such a large Muslim majority without any reprisal or conflicts. Personally, I would take a good Christian leader over a corrupt Muslim any day. In case of Syria, I say put the candidates forward, and let the voters decide.

People, like Elie and some others who don’t understand the proper interpretation and the correct jurisprudence of the Quran like to toss around the accusation that the Qur’an teaches violence and anti-Semitism, that Al Bukhari’s Ahadiths are mission impossible, or Aisha (PBUH) was too young to comprehend or remember anything. Unfortunately, those same people who buy into these misconceptions have distinctly Islamaphobic agendas, despite their statement to the contrary. This inhibits them from having the slightest positive view of Islam, and as a result, they enjoy to use defamatory labels they pick up from the Media.

As for the convert or die, kindly forward me which verse you are referring to so I can properly answer you. I hope you are not referring to the battlefield context….rr, the “game” called convert or die (yes there are people making money out of this B.S.) In the meantime, here is what the Quran says regarding other religions:

First, the Qur’an recognizes the natural diversity of humanity (49:13)

Second: there is also the recognition that human beings are religiously and ethnically diverse (16:93)

Third: there is no compulsion into Islam(2:256)

Also, there are specific verses in the Quran that deal with the special treatment and provisions for the Jews and Christians.

Lastly consider this:

In the Catholic Reconquista of Muslim Spain, Muslim and Spanish Jews were generally ordered to convert to Christianity, be expelled, or die.


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August 2nd, 2010, 10:28 pm


212. Husam said:


I see where you are coming from.

All you have to do now to be fair is to go cut/paste all those who rediculed, threatend, name called me.

About Islamist/Radicals other buzz words compared to Muslims, thank you for your clarifications. But you do realize that references were made from the very biginning by Elie, which despite his claim that he is not anti-Mulsim, he uses the word “Islamists” very liberally, basically anyone who opposes his views are nothing but exactly that. Perhaps, you should remind him the difference.

“The reaction among the Islmists was not surprising. Their shallowness and ignorance of their own religion, however, was surprising.”

The excerpts below is an example what Elie has accomplished. This is a disgrace to any Muslims on SC reading this stuff.

43. Al-Waleed to Elie Elhadj:

“Another course explores the theory and the practice of breastfeeding for adults. This is a very popular course indeed and it is generally oversubscribed as it may come in handy later when/if the student gets a job in an office with female co-workers.”

44. Elie Elhadj to Al Waleed:

“Thanks for the advice. Sadly, what you outlined is true, a lamentable state of affairs.”

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August 2nd, 2010, 11:46 pm


213. Elie Elhadj said:

To Alex/ Husam re. 207

Husam, you are correct: There is no forced conversion in Islam. Christians and Jews, however, converted to Islam over the long sweep of history for personal gain and career advancement. Also, they converted at certain times in order to escape persecution by certain caliphs, primarily during the reigns of four Arab caliphs. Persecution, when it happened, included the display of distinctive markings on their homes and clothes, exclusion from public office, demolition of places of worship, etc.

The four caliphs were the Umayyad, Omar II in Damascus (717-720), the Abbasids, Haroun Al-Rasheed (786-809) and Al-Mutawakkil (847-861) in Baghdad, and the Fatimid, Al-Hakim in Cairo (996-1021). Further, in the early 1300s, two Mamluk sultans, Qalawoon and Al-Nasir, discriminated against not only Christians and Jews, but also against Muslim sects that helped the European Christian Crusades during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, including the Ismailis, and the Nusayris (today’s Alawites).

On this subject, it is relevant to mention Verse 9:29, which establishes the basis for a political-Islam-on-the-offensive:

“Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by God and his Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of truth, even if they are of the People of the Book, until they pay the protective tax (jizya) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

While verses like 2:120, 5:14, 5:51, and 5:78 criticize Christian and Jews and urge Muslims not to befriend them, 9:29 goes beyond criticism, friendship, and retaliation. Verse 9:29 orders Muslims to fight the People of the Book even if these people do not attack Muslims. 9:29 represents an aggressive international political doctrine. It sets the spiritual foundation for the Muslim state to campaign against its non-Muslim neighbors.

Verse 9:29 is consistent with the Arab conquests of the Roman and Sassanian lands in the seventh and the eighth centuries. 9:29 is also consistent with Ottomans’ conquests of parts of Europe in the fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries.

To carry the dynamism of 9:29 to its ultimate, the Muslim state should, theoretically at least, if it is capable to do so, not stop fighting non-Muslims until the whole world “pay the protective tax (jizya) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” However, the reality today is different.

Does 9:29 require the conversion of the conquered people to Islam? No, because 2:256 orders: “Let there be no compulsion in religion.”

Together, the effect of 9:29 plus 2:256 would be to provide the Muslim state with money rather than converts.

And Husam, no, I do not copy and paste. Every word, idea or conclusion I express here and elsewhere is the result of my own work. I provide full references to the words, ideas, or conclusions of others. In case I do not make a specific reference here, the reference can be found in my work elsewhere.

Also, Husam (in 208 to Leoleoni), no, I do not use “the word “Islamists” very liberally, basically anyone who opposes his views are nothing but exactly that”.

May I repeat: Islmists are the extremist among Muslims, luckily, a minority of about 5%, may be less. Islamists are NOT the 95%, to which Sunnis belong. The Hanafis are not Islamists, nor are the Malikis or the Shafiis. Islamists are that tiny minority of extremist; namely, the Hanbalis/ Wahhabis.

And by the way, Leoleoni, your 201 was perfect. Thanks.


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August 3rd, 2010, 4:20 am


214. Off the Wall said:

Shami @ 186

I knew you will dig, and I always count on you to do so. 

LEOLEONI and Shami

While Ibn Taymiyya detested and fought a very ugly battle against Muslim philosophers, he had to accumulate reasonable knowledge about philosophy in order to write his book “refutation of logicians”. Furthermore, he was the first Muslim scholar to apply inductive reasoning to figh and sharia. His approach to inductive logic was the foundation of the thinking of a couple of 19th century western philosophers (the names skip me now). He is also accredited for reforming the concept of Qiyas (analogous logic) in Sharia.

Inductive logic is one of the foundations of probability and statistics, and of experimental analysis. Off course it is a long stretch from Ibn Taymiyya to Kendall, but each and every contribution counts.

What was missing from Ibn Tyamiyya’s inductive reasoning was the Bayesian inference, which allows for adjustment of the degree of belief (probability) that a hypothesis is correct, as new observations become available.

It is interesting that with modern computational power, the mathematical version of Bayesian logic is now reigning supreme as the most efficient method in addressing uncertainties in complex models and in risk assessment under uncertainty. But there remain substantial applications for qualitative Bayesian inference in comparative literature, anthropology, and philosophy.

As such, one may be tempted to consider and expand on Shami’s proposition that if one is to apply Ibn Taymiyya’s own methods instead of blindly following his outdated Fatwas, one may be surprised at the results. With my limited knowledge, I am rather reluctant to do so, and its possible that some may already have done that as Husam has argued. However, one may also ask, what is the value of using Ibn Taymiyya’s tools when one has Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd and other giants who by far surpassed Ibn Tyamiyya in philosophy and in science to which he had no connection whatsoever (and there lies the mortal problem).

Yet, in fact as a secular humanist, I dislike to also cast Ibn Tyamiyya as a one dimensional character. There is no doubt that someone with his prolific writings had much more to say than simply combat innovations, quite violently. If I am to ask that one takes a modern view of Islam, then I must also take a view of Ibn Taymyya and others contemporary to their times. As I always do when Shami posts a link (such as the one on Nitsche and Islam), I go on web hunt. A good place to start is Wikipedia, but not for its article as much as for its reference links. Google also helps. And here below are some excerpts of a sample of what I found. The full article is a review of a book on Ibn Taymyya, and it’s a noteworthy review of a noteworth book. I only removed a couple of paragraphs about his birth and education.. Emphasis added by me

The father of Islamic radicalism?

Muslims Under Non-Muslim Rule, by Yahya Michot, Oxford: Interface Publications, pp. 190, 2006, HB.

Born in 1263 in Harran (located close to Damascus) into a family of Islamic scholars and Hanbali jurists, Ibn Taymiyyah received his early education in Arabic and traditional Islamic sciences at home under the tutelage of his pre-eminent father…….

………………It was a time of considerable socio-political uncertainty and upheaval as the Mongols threatened to overwhelm the entire Islamic East. Likewise, most of the prominent Islamic scholars and jurists of the time were in the service of the ruling elites and this created a culture of blind imitation (taqlid) rather than promote intellectual creativity and fresh thinking. To make matters worse, the Sufis, he felt, had deviated from the original, pristine Prophetic norms and practices (sunnah). Thus, living as he did at a challenging and unpredictable period in Islamic history, it is not surprising that Ibn Taymiyyah’s life and thought also reflected the difficulties and contradictions of his time

That is why it is imperative to study and explore his writings in the existential condition in which they were produced otherwise one is not only likely to misunderstand but also misinterpret them. His Mardin fatwa (which is the subject-matter of the book under review) is a good example. Mardin, as the author explains, is a Turkish town which “occupies a strikingly strategic location. It is dominated by a fortress reputed to have been unassailable, from which the view reaches deep into the vast plain of upper Mesopotamia.” (p1) And although the precise date of this fatwa is not known, Ibn Taymiyyah issued it in response to a request to clarify whether Mardin was a domain of peace (dar al-salam) or domain of war (dar al-harb).

In his own words, “Is [Mardin] a domain of war or of peace? It is a [city of a status] composite (murakkab), in which both the things signified [by those terms are to be found]. It is not in the situation of a domain of peace in which the institutions (ahkam) of Islam are implemented because its army (jund) is [composed of] Muslims. Nor is it in the situation of a domain of war, whose inhabitants are unbelievers. Rather, it constitutes a third type [of domain], in which the Muslim shall be treated as he merits, and in which the one who departs from the Way/Law of Islam shall be combated as he merits.” (p65)

Ibn Taymiyyah’s refusal to say whether Mardin was a domain of war or peace is most significant, not least because in the West he is increasingly considered to be the real inspiration behind many radical groups including al-Qa’ida.

In addition to Western writers like Gilles Kepel (Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam, Cambridge, 2002) and Malise Ruthven (A Fury for God: The Islamist Attack on America, London, 2002), the US 9/11 Commission Report identified him as an intellectual champion of contemporary Islamic radicalism/militancy. But is he the real inspiration behind these radical groups? His refusal to say whether Mardin was a land of war or peace proves, if proof was required, that his religious ideas and thoughts were far from being black and white. Indeed, according to Michot, “Crass howlers about Ibn Taymiyyah have long been in circulation – one might think as far back as the tittle-tattle about him hawked around by Ibn Battuta. Since 9/11, however, the situation has worsened. The most ignorant untruths are reproduced apace, not only in the media but even in supposedly serious studies.” (p123) He then takes prominent academics and writers like N J Delong-Bas (Georgetown University); Bernard Haykel (New York University); Menahem Milson (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Guy Sorman (University of Paris) to task for disseminating untruths about Ibn Taymiyyah.

If Ibn Taymiyyah is grossly misunderstood by Western scholars and writers, then many contemporary Islamists have also failed to understand and appreciate his ideas and thoughts, argues Michot . He proves his case by examining six modern Muslim readings of Ibn Taymiyyah’s Mardin fatwa; he shows how five of the six writers and activists (namely, Muhammad Abd al-Salam Faraj, Abdullah Azzam, Muhammad al-Mas’ari, Abd al-Aziz al-Jarbu and Zuhayr Salim) have singularly failed to understand the full thrust and complexity of his religious ideas and thought. A closer examination of Ibn Taymiyyah’s vast corpus of writing demonstrates, argues Michot, he was in favour of resisting foreign invaders but completely rejected internal rebellion and insurgency. So, far from being a champion of religious radicalism, he was a sophisticated and pragmatic Islamic scholar and thinker, argues Michot . If this is true, why is he so readily misunderstood and misinterpreted – both by the Western scholars as well as the Islamists?

Michot, who is a lecturer at Oxford University and prominent authority on Ibn Taymiyyah, argues both the Western scholars and the Islamists have advertently or inadvertently emphasised his political thought at the expense of his moral and ethical teachings . This has led to the increasing politicisation of his complex and sophisticated writings on Islamic moral, ethical and legal thought. This raises an interesting question, namely, were there two different Ibn Taymiyyahs, an “Islamic reactionary and jihadist” or Islamic thinker and pragmatist?

Michot has no doubt that he was a pragmatist who carefully examined the ideals and realities of his time before he authorised military action or issued a legal decree to the contrary. To him, Ibn Taymiyyah was a multi-dimensional Islamic scholar and thinker, whose writing needs to be studied and explored in their totality if one is to understand and appreciate them fully. Although I could not agree more, it may nevertheless be possible to argue, for instance, that Ibn Taymiyyah the jurist was very different from Ibn Taymiyyah the critic. The reason for this is because his Islamic moral, ethical, legal and economic thoughts are much more polished and restrained in their tone than, for instance, his refutation of the Sufis, falasifah, mantiq’in, qadariyyah, the Christians, etc. Thus, as a polemicist, he was not only uncompromising but also very dogmatic. This naturally led to his incarceration on more than one occasion, but Michot is right to say Ibn Taymiyyah bore all his trials and tribulations with great patience and dignity. He eventually died in prison in 1328.

Having said that, Yahya Michot should be congratulated for writing this book; it is a powerful and cogent defence of Ibn Taymiyyah against the charge of radicalism/militancy. Originally written in French and meticulously translated into English by Jamil Qureshi, Ibn Taymiyyah’s Mardin fatwa is rigorously referenced. The author’s commentary and exploration of the fatwa is both extensive and enlightening, even if at times one feels he is all too eager to give Ibn Taymiyyah the benefit of the doubt.

End of book review

So it seems that we face with Ibn Taymyya the same dilemma we face with any religious or legal scholars who has strong political opinion. There are two sides, a moral/ethical/jurisprudence side and an advocate side. And in many cases, the two sides at opposite polls of each others. If I may add my two cents worth (or perhaps less than that), I would argue that it is in the nature of each side. The moral/ethical/jurisprudence side requires polish and demands a great deal of sophistication since the target audience is a much larger conceptual (Islam itself, the Law, other scholars and judges). The political side, on the other hand, requires that whatever call issued, or book written, be composed in a blunt populist language of the day so that the public or the ruler heed the warning, and act against this “dangerous” sect or “un-orthodox” practice. There is no excuse in that. It is simply the nature of politics, and the character of the communication media of every day and age.

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August 3rd, 2010, 6:34 am


215. Off the Wall said:

Dear Husam,

My response to LEOLIONI is probably a very rough approximation of what i meant by scientific methods. But we must not rely only on long-gone Muslim philosophers and scholars in performing the analysis. There have been significant developments in Ethics, in management of qualitative uncertainty, in decision making and in sociology. Some of these are yet to find their way into our analysis. Ibn Taymiyya’s and Ibn Hanbal’s gravest error was that they rejected any source of tools that are not based on pure salaf (the first three generations of Islam). Ibn Hanbal in fact thought that there is no need for any analysis and the only thing necessary for muslims is to listen to Quran and to listen to others recite the Sira and Hadiths, without any analysis. Yet, both have advocated that one must consider contemporary issues.

Also, Husam

It seems to me that you have misread my first paragraph in (#160). I meant no threats or bullying, in fact, it was merely a brotherly appeal based on my own experience. It was the only paragraph addressed to you. I should have separated the rest of the post by clearly indicating that it was not addressed to you only, but merely one of my rather general post (some people call them rants, and they would not be far from being correct)

However, this is how you quoted my paragraph when you wanted to make the point that you took it as a threat and intimidation ““Husam, Be careful, you are pinning yourself in a corner by siding with Almasri….You will fare no better, etc.. ”. What you replaced with dots between Almasri (the actual word I used was “one poster”, but that is irrelevant) and “You will fare no better”, was the entire context of my appeal for you not to be enthralled by his approval of your comments by attempting to relay my own experience with fanatics. Your portray of my comment to you was not accurate, and it gave me the impression that you were being rather selective in attempting to respond to me. I believe that you rushed to conclusion. Still I am not offended, but I was a little disappointed. As for Almasri to insinuate that I am the real intellectual bully, I can only laugh my …. off.

As for your assertion that Elie should take the dialog to appropriate forum, I beg to disagree. This is an appropriate forum devoted to a country with large proportion of its citizens worshiping according to various shades of Sunni traditions including moderate and fundamentalist ones. And if the so called scholars of the modern day fundamentalist islam have any thread of real concern about the soul of Islam, they should be combing the web and getting on board these discussions to explain to us “ignorant secularist” where are we wrong. With all due respect, neither you, shami, myself, ghat or almasri qualify as scholars, especially when some of us rush into posting most damaging fatwas just to silence the opposition and intimidate them. I would argue that their absence from these discussions indicate that they are either afraid of demonstrating their failure to have a civil dialog, as leoleoni has pointed out, or that they prefer to remain arrogant and self possessed in their righteousness and resort to the comfort of their own web sites where they are peddle outdated fatwas and rigid tribal interpretation to those seeking their knowledge with great, un-islamic reverence.

Another correction I would like to make, there are no holly men in Islam.

You see husam, many of us secularists have much more respect to Islam than many islamists. If any one needs an example, they just have to read Norman’s posts. I believe that you can recognize that in some of my own posts as well. However, I am a skeptic, and as such I hold the ideas of no one person as sacred and do believe that every one of these scholars is a fair game for criticism, and some make themselves even fair game for occasional well deserved ridicule. The fact that they studied in a recognized institute, and that they recite verses of the Quran or parts of the hadiths as they weave ridiculous fatwas does not make their fatwas legitimate, or their persona, respectable.

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August 3rd, 2010, 6:37 am


216. Off the Wall said:

Dear Elie
Thank your for the kind words. I would like to bounce some ideas with you. My motivation stems from the fact that I am a conflict averse person, which may not be the right thing to do on occasions.

A While ago, I wrote a post that was rather critical of our strategy as secularists (with you exemplifying us) and our methods for calling for reforms in Islam. My critique was not of the need for reform but of advocating these reforms as the mechanism to improve our society and for continuously citing the western example, in which such reforms meant, at practical level, the conceptual death or retirement of God from public life.

I am thinking that to liberate our societies, we should not necessarily go after religion itself, but for infusing new methods into our analysis, and more so go after grass root efforts based on civil rights, the concept of civil state, and the constitution to build a momentum for reducing the damaging interference of fundamentalist (of all creeds) and tribal thinking on the lives of the citizens and the progress of the country. My argument is that if Secularists focused our attention on issues that many consider as core aspects of their religion, then we are in a battle where the language of the discourse and its tools are framed by the adversaries of progress. This will gain us no hearts and minds as it would be sufficient for any of those self proclaimed Ulama to argue that none of us is as knowledgeable about Islam as are Ulamas and that we do not have “proper Islamic training” to base our argument on. This is precisely what you see happening here. I recall saying that calling for reforming Islam gives Muslims a false choice between their religion and modernity, and we all know that their choice would be the religion. In fact, it may even galvanize moderates along side fundamentalists as both would feel threatened without recognizing that what we are advocating is the normalization of what is already the norm in Syria or in most countries with Islamic majorities. However, framing the argument as a civil society argument and relying on the constitution to initiate required reform of civil laws leading to true liberation of women and of free thinkers would be much more feasible. Framing the dialogue in civil rights and civil society puts it back where it belongs, and it is our language and terminology and they have no standing. It then pits their strict draconian version of Sharia against common sense and human decency. There argument that sharia must be used even when it trumps basic civil rights would, within a very short time, expose them for what they are, and show how deviant their interpretation of Islam would be to the majority of people.

Just consider how ugly and repulsive to most Muslims was the response of one Syrian lawyer to Bassam Alqadi’s argument regarding banning marriage of children. Many of my devout friends who have teenage daughters were repulsed and were ready to support an immediate law prohibiting the practice simply as the ugliness of his response and the violent threats of his message not only turned people off, but exposed him for all to see. Similarly, consider how ugly and vulgar was one of the fatwas regarding niqab that was presented earlier during this discussion linking women’s private parts with their faces and hairs. I recall the father of one of my friends, who was a leading figure and a former minister representing the old elitist party of people (7izb al sha3b), when he told us of his party’s strategy against the Muslim Brotherhoods (then the most extreme) in the mid forties and early fifties. He said, we just let their words indict them (da3ou alsinatahum tudinuhum).

Without focusing on Hadiths or otherwise, do you think it is possible to change the strategy by calling for life in prison for “honor crimes”, which in fact is a crime punished by death under Sharia. Can calling for throwing in jail for a long long time anyone who marries his daughter off at any age less than 18 as well as the person who marries that child. Can we call for strict enforcement of equality, guaranteed by the constitution staring with removing the abhorrent guardianship for anyone over 18 or say 21 (male of female). Is it possible to ask for strict applications of laws, already on the books, that punish un-registered marriages, which is how most second marriages occur, and not provide any leniency in that enforcement. Note that if the woman knew that she would be a second wife, she should also face jail term. Off course, solutions that do not punish the children of these marriages must be identified. I fact, one may use the analyses provided by many women scholars, no less knowledgeable than men (perhaps more), who near unanimously consider polygamy not as Sunna (better to do if you can), but as the exception (better not do unless under very extreme situations). One could start by requesting that since in Syria, monogamous marriages are the norm, there is no need to have four pages for wives in the family identification book (is it still the case?). This is simple, but doable and it has psychological effect. The rights of women and civil state and society are not religious issues. They are political issues, and politics, as we all know, is the art of the possible.

The opposition will claim religion and sharia, but we have country, common sense, and decency on our side along with the majority of Muslims, who are more moderate than we give them credit for.

I am eager to know of your response. Again, intellectually, I do firmly believe that we need reforms, but if we are to ask for reform in religion, there is no prediction how would these reforms end. Many of the most fundamentalist churches in the US are offshoots of the protestant church, which liberated Europe from the yoke of the catholic church, but now threatens to put the us under the yoke of Sarah Palin. In fact, if one is to think of most Salafi movements in Islam, they would appear to be intellectual predecessors to the protestant movement, they aimed, then, to liberate Islam from palace theologians of their age by going back to the roots of the religion. Ibn Hanbal teachings and Ibn Taymiyya’s anti innovation philosophy are examples of puritanical reforms. Like any political, intellectual, or religious movements, with time, religious reforms become an oppressive set of rules in the hand of those who worship the religion, not the god of that religion.

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August 3rd, 2010, 6:49 am


217. Elie Elhadj said:


thanks for your constructive contribution.

Your statement makes considerable sense: “we should not necessarily go after religion itself, but for infusing new methods into our analysis, and more so go after grass root efforts based on civil rights, the concept of civil state, and the constitution to build a momentum for reducing the damaging interference of fundamentalist (of all creeds) and tribal thinking on the lives of the citizens and the progress of the country”.

I believe in “(da3ou alsinatahum tudinuhum)”. However, there is a need to supplement such an approach by exposing the ulama’s non-scientific, illogical, and irrational explanations. With a little bit of courage, it is not too difficult in this day in age to discredit whatever defies common sense and rational thinking, especially with the level of education the masses have these days. Indeed, Islam condemn priests and rabbis (5:63, 9:31, 9:34…). It is not too difficult to show that the ulama class evolved to be in many respects as obtrusive and interfering in the detail of the faithful’s life as the Catholic clergy were before the Lutheran revolution.

Had Luther failed to face the Catholic clergy head on, his mission would probably have failed. In their hold on the faithful, the clergy would have continued to enslave the minds of their followers, invoking God this and God that and “go ask God”.

Martin Luther destroyed the foundation upon which the Catholic clergy’s authority was built. The Catholic clergy practiced their power as representatives of Christ on the Earth based on Christs’ purported declarations that: “He [Christ] said unto them [the eleven disciples]: Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature . . . In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues” (Mark 16: 15 and 17). And, that Christ delegated to the disciples his own authority: “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18).

The Lutheran revolution succeeded because Luther succeeded in denying the authority of the pope. He abolished the mass, broke the priests’ control over access to salvation, created radically new systems of Christian doctrine, and founded new churches. Luther’s Protestantism shook the hierarchical, sacerdotal, sacramental church to its foundation. Luther eliminated the distinction between priest and laymen. In its place he taught his conception of a priesthood of all believers (The Columbia History of the World, 1981, p. 518, 520, 521).

Devoid of intermediaries between God and man, Luther’s conception of the relationship between his followers and God became essentially identical to the original conception of the relationship between God and man that Islam is supposed to have established. In that relationship, the ulama are merely learned religious scholars, not intermediaries, nor representatives of God on the Earth. However, as discussed in “Why Reforming the Hadith is so difficult” on SC on July 3, 2010, the ulama’s success in enshrining the Sunna traditions as a source of law equal to the Quran thrusted themselves into the tiniest details of Muslims’ daily lives, all the same.

Interestingly, Christians, the followers of a religion based on priesthood, evolved under the Lutheran influence into a group that was less controlled by Christian clergy, while Muslims, the followers of a supposedly non-church-based religion, became controlled by the ulama class.

While it is true that the Islamic ulama have no central worldwide authority to organize their activities, they nonetheless became organized on a country-by-country basis in governmental bureaucracies, employed in the ministries of education, in the ministries of Islamic endowments (awkaf), in the councils for Islamic jurisprudence (or some similar offices), and in the Shari’a courts systems. Doctrinally too, the Sunni ulama, in guarding and defending traditional dogma from innovation, have, for a thousand years, been effectively acting as a central authority preventing doctrinal change.

Similarly, but on a different level, a Shi’ite marjaa, in his individual capacity as a representative of the Hidden Imam, exercises absolute authority over his followers. The Khomeini wilayat al-faqih construction in Iran created a formal central authority for Shi’ism in Iran.

Like the Christian clergy before the European Reformation of the sixteenth century, the Muslim ulama have been exploiting their hold on the Muslim faithful for centuries. One need not go beyond perusing the religious advice sections of most Arabic newspapers and magazines and watch television shows and radio programs that advise people on the Islamic way of life. The masses seek ulama’s guidance on every imaginable worldly and spiritual matter, from personal hygiene, diet, and healthy living, to good manner, family affairs, and religious rituals. The airwaves and newspapers are filled with questions on whether, for example, is it permissible to have a tattoo, colour one’s hair, thin or darken a woman’s eyebrows, wear a silk tie or a silk garment, wear a gold ring, how to greet a guest, what to say to a person who sneezes, what to eat, how to eat, etc. The ulama’s hold on the Muslims is akin to slavery.

Unless this hold is relaxed, secularism in Syria, and elsewhere in Arab societies will remain a dream.

To be effective, we must pursue a combination of your prescription as well as appeal to the minds of people to work their brains in order to sort out the common sense from the dogma, the logical from the miraculous, the natural from the supernatural, the possible from the predestined.

It would be much easier and less traumatic for every body to “not necessarily go after religion itself, but for infusing new methods into our analysis, and more so go after grass root efforts based on civil rights, the concept of civil state, and the constitution to build a momentum for reducing the damaging interference of fundamentalist (of all creeds) and tribal thinking on the lives of the citizens and the progress of the country”.

I am 100% with you on that. But, such an approach on its own will be anemic. It needs bolstering. Since the stakes in religious reform are huge the methods of evolving religious reform would have to be varied and of significance too.


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August 3rd, 2010, 12:03 pm


218. Husam said:

I read all of your few last comments. Thank you.

I began to answer Elie, OTW, etc… on the past several points, then I decided not to:

1) I need to start packing for my 1 week vacation which starts tomorrow after not having one since 2 years!!

2) I feel that many of us pose a question or serious issue in form of dialogue and suddenly people just drop out of an exchange without any closure or at least an understanding of respectable difference (I did not say all, I said many). Perhaps they are busy. So, it is hard to know who will answer and who will not, and you are left with “Geeeez, I think I just wasted an hour of time”. I think we have all been there.

3) Almasri and I are not the only ones that disagree with Elie’s articles, many felt the same way and either made one comment or none at all as no one has time to correct or point out errors in statements which are present in each and every comment Elie makes. But of course, not all of you see that. And that’s ok.

4) About OTW suggesting Ulama, Scholars, etc… coming here (SC) to debate against a secularist who’s mind is engraved with his own philosophy and errors… it won’t happen. Why? Because there are thousands of sites, blogs full of distortions. Their time is better spent elsewhere (no offence intended).

4) I do find OTW, Jad, Ghat, yes Almasri, and some others very interesting to read.

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August 3rd, 2010, 3:36 pm


219. Husam said:


I did not forget you. I have printed the article you pasted for me and I will read it as soon as I am sitting on a lounge chair.


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August 3rd, 2010, 3:42 pm


220. Ghat Al Bird said:


Will you be inviting your troubled friends in DC along with E.E. to address the proposals in the best seller in Israel, titled “The King’s Torah”

Book about killing gentile children becomes bestseller in Israel

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – A Jewish rabbi has issued a book giving Jews permission to murder non-Jews, including babies and children, who may pose an actual or potential threat to Jews or Israel.

“It is permissible to kill the Righteous among non-Jews even if they are not responsible for the threatening situation,” Rabbi Yitzhak Shapiro, who heads the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva…( as quoted in EU Information news website.s

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August 3rd, 2010, 5:07 pm


221. Elie Elhadj said:

To Ghat,

Please, Ghat, tell your friends in D.C. that in supporting their Wahhabi clients lies a mortal danger. The extremist religious foundation upon which 9/11 was built is still intact, alive and well. The havoc in Afghanistan/Pakistan today is the product of years of Wahhabi money, schooling, and indoctrination of the poverty stricken people there. To eliminate a terrorist cell or a thousand cells will not root out terrorism. Not only must the material and the financial infrastructure of terrorism be destroyed, but also the religious foundation upon which jihadism rests, starting with Wahhabism.

Please, Ghat, and every concerned citizen, tell your friends in Washington D.C. that less support from D.C. to the Saudi regime, much more pressure from D.C. on the Saudi regime to crack on Wahhabi clerics, and much more pressure from D.C. on Saudia to modify Wahhabi educational curricula would go some way towards fighting the spread of extremism. Please do not forget that Saudia is a client state and cannot afford to defy Washington.

Your reference to E.E. in 219 is misinformed, offensive, and unfair.


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August 4th, 2010, 2:09 am


222. Badr said:


Isn’t there a tacit understanding between the Saudi regime and the Wahabi clerics not to stir trouble against each other?

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August 4th, 2010, 3:44 am


223. Elie Elhadj said:


Thanks for the question: “Isn’t there a tacit understanding between the Saudi regime and the Wahabi clerics not to stir trouble against each other?”

In answer, I would like to elaborate a bit on the coalition between the Al-Sauds and their palace ulama. Such elaboration is useful. It sheds light also on similar coalitions between Arab ruling families and their own palace ulama, albeit to a lesser degree than in the Saudi case.

To legitimate his rule King Abdulaziz Al-Saud collaborated with the descendants of the eighteenth-century founder of Wahhabism, Muhammad Bin Abdulwahhab.

The Al-Saud claim to legitimacy does not stem from a relationship of Al-Saud clan to the family of the Prophet, or to his Quraish tribe. The Al-Sauds are often alleged to be descended from the Masalikh of Banu Wa’el, a part of the northern Aniza tribe of camel herders (Madawi Al-Rasheed, A History of Saudi Arabia (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003, 15). The Al-Saud’s claim to legitimacy derives from the opinion of certain scholars, including Al-Ghazali (d. 1111), Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), and Ibn Jama’a (d. 1333), who believed that seizing power by force was sufficient to legitimate the authority of Islamic rulers.

In its zealous enforcement of the Wahhabi creed, the Saudi regime employs a powerful state machinery to indoctrinate the citizenry into believing that Islam is the perfect religion, that Wahhabism is the most truthful representation of true Islam, and that the Al-Saud family is the most ardent protector and promoter of Wahhabism. The Wahhabi ulama brainwash the populace into believing that submission to Islamic authority is at the core of the Islamic faith and that blind obedience to the Saudi king is a form of piety. Fusing blind obedience to the regime with Islam translates all opposition into “deviation from the true Islamic path,” a serious condemnation in a system based on religious dogma.

The partnership between Saudi politics and Wahhabism is one of convenience. In this partnership, because the politicians control the wealth of the nation and its armed forces, the men of God serve the men of politics as junior partners. In case of disagreement, the ulama prove to be flexible; should one of them hesitate to issue the “right” fatwa, others often find ways to oblige. In return for their cooperation, the men of God and their families have enjoyed fabulous wealth and social stature.

As an example of what happens to those who defy the king, Abdulaziz Al-Saud destroyed his loyal, fanatic Wahhabi soldiers, known as the Ikhwan, or brothers, when they became a political liability. The Ikhwan were young tribal men indoctrinated in Wahhabi fervor to the point of “martyrdom”. They were the predecessors of the jihadists who crashed airplanes into buildings on September 11, 2001. The Ikhwan were instrumental in bringing Ibn Saud to power. Their insistence, however, on spreading Wahhabism into neighboring countries, over the objections of Ibn Saud, led to their demise. Iraq and Jordan were under British rule at that time, and Ibn Saud had signed a friendship and border recognition treaty with Britain on December 26, 1915. The treaty obligated him to respect the borders of Britain’s protectorates along the length of the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, from Kuwait to Bahrain, Qatar, the Trucial States (today’s United Arab Emirates), and Oman. In 1928, leading ulama from the Najd region issued a fatwa allowing Ibn Saud to destroy the Ikhwan.

More recently, several senior Salafi clerics were dismissed from their official positions following a public letter they signed in December 1992, criticizing King Fahd for failing to understand that the clergy had a religious duty to advise all Muslims, including the Saudi royals, of their duty to abide by God’s principles.

The Saudi Minister for Islamic Affairs made clear the relationship between the Saudi ruler and his religious establishment. When Crown Prince Abdullah, now King Abdullah, warned clerics to tone down their sermons in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 atrocities, the minister proclaimed publicly that his duty and the duty of his Wahhabi colleagues was to obey the Al-Saud rule: “Our duty to our guardians is to listen and obey properly within the limits forced upon us by God.”

Further, the palace ulama are always available to support their benefactors. When King Saud was deposed in favor of his brother Faisal in 1964, the decision was made by seventy-two princes. Twelve ulama from the Najd area, four of whom were from the Al-Sheikh family—the descendants of Muhammad Bin Abdulwahhab were on hand to support the decision.


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August 4th, 2010, 9:34 am


224. Off the Wall said:

I hope you are enjoying your vacation. One issue though regarding your comment

About OTW suggesting Ulama, Scholars, etc… coming here (SC) to debate against a secularist who’s mind is engraved with his own philosophy and errors

errors : yes, probably plenty, I am human, and not only capable of errors, but also able to embrace may capacity for error as part of being human.

philosophy : Absolutely not. I am far too unqualified to have philosophy attached to anything I write, really far too unqualified. I do not take philosophy, a very serious intellectual human endeavor as lightly to even accept my rants being described as such. (no offence intended)

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August 5th, 2010, 2:26 pm


225. Nasir said:

I believe that as long as Syria or any other Arab country sticks to the Traditional Islam, it will always remain safe. It is the essence of Imaan that gives strength to face the enemy of Islam. Remove that essence and you have just a zombie. This is evident to the enemies of Islam and their supporters. Hence the turmoil in the Islamic world.

Secondly, I find it strange that of all the people those knowing Arabic language should fall a prey to the Wahabbi teaching. Very strange indeed. What happened? I can understand we being fooled in the subcontinent of India and Pakistan where only a few know the language. But Arabs? Can’t they understand the Qur’an, the Hadith, the works of the Classic Ulema down 15 centuries, all of which preach Peace, Love, Tolerance on the general level, and war only in self-defence!

Please excuse me for these passing thoughts, that’s all!

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January 23rd, 2012, 10:36 am


226. Mahomed Saleem Moorad said:

in reply to the post above
its NOT Traditional Islam

it the orders of Allah ta’ala & the sunnah of rasullullah (SAW)-100%practical deen.

not just restricted to the musjid or the home.
islam is a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year deen.

we DO NOT need to look towards the kuffaar for anything.
many muslims suffer from an inferiority complex & somehow think the west has a better lifestyle than what islam teaches us.

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May 8th, 2013, 5:19 pm


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