The Wahhabi Myth (2nd Edition) – Dispelling Prevalent Fallacies and the Fictitious Link with Bin Laden By Haneef James Oliver
The ‘Wahhabi’ Myth by Haneef James Oliver clarifies many of the gross inaccuracies and outright lies that have been attributed to the belief of the Salafi Muslims (often referred to as “Wahhabis”). Although some reporters have been vigilant enough to rebut some of these widespread fables, most have fallen headfirst into what one discerning reporter called, “the neo-conservative line that the whole conspiracy against America can be traced back to Wahhabism and the government of Saudi Arabia.”
The author of The ‘Wahhabi’ Myth outlines the principles of the Salafi creed in an easy to understand manner. Using many different sources, he carefully presents the arguments of the critics of Salafism and successfully addresses the misconceptions that are contained within these criticisms. Specifically, he addresses the commonly held belief that Osama Bin Laden is a Salafi/”Wahhabi”. He compellingly dispels this myth and unveils the sect that has provoked Bin Laden to become the leader of a terrorist movement.
Karen Armstrong speaks about the difference between Osama bin Laden’s sect (Qutbism) and Salafism/”Wahhabism” in a Guardian article entitled “The label of Catholic terror was never used about the IRA”:
“Bin Laden was not inspired by Wahhabism but by the writings of the Egyptian ideologue Sayyid Qutb, who was executed by President Nasser in 1966. Almost every fundamentalist movement in Sunni Islam has been strongly influenced by Qutb, so there is a good case for calling the violence that some of his followers commit “Qutbian terrorism.” Qutb urged his followers to withdraw from the moral and spiritual barbarism of modern society and fight it to the death.
Western people should learn more about such thinkers as Qutb, and become aware of the many dramatically different shades of opinion in the Muslim world. There are too many lazy, unexamined assumptions about Islam.”
Excerpt from The “Wahhabi” Myth:
The word “Wahabism” is in fact nothing but a meaningless appellation which is used by people in two cases: The term “Wahabism” is often used to describe those who closely stick to the verses of the Qur’an and the narrations of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah raise his rank and grant him peace) in all religious affairs. Consequently, instead of directly attacking Islam for those things that do not appeal to their desires, they call anyone who follows these texts “Wahabis.”
Another different and contemporary usage has appeared for this term. Anybody who belongs to any of the current Qutbist type groups or movements that call for political overthrows, endless blind purported Jihads which are based upon principles other than those found in Islam and led by people who have no knowledge based background in Islamic scholarship, are entered into a giant umbrella group called “Wahabism.” This is done even though these followers of Sayyid Qutb despise the Salafi/”Wahabi” scholars and their creed.
Hence, in the first case, “Wahabism” is used to mean “anything I don’t like about Islam,” and in the second case, “anything I don’t like about what the contemporary Qutbist movements do; things that have no basis in Islam.”
The media and general population are invited to actually begin to study the principles of Salafism/”Wahabism” and report about it accurately, especially as it seems that the “War Against Terrorism” seems to slowly be turning into the “War Against Wahabism.”
Some Western intellectuals are doing something to contest this trend, but they are few and far between, and their knowledge of the nature of Salafism is limited. Gary Leupp, a history professor and coordinator of the Asian Studies Program at Tufts University, posed the following question concerning this current of thought: “In Saudi Arabia itself, is “Wahabism” really the threat posited by some neocons? John Esposito, director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, suggests otherwise.”
Professor Leupp quotes Esposito as saying: “Even conforming to an ultra-conservative, anti-pluralistic faith does not necessarily make you a violent individual.” Leupp adds: “There are of course millions of peaceable if ultra-conservative, anti-pluralistic Christians.”
Driving in his point, Leupp cites F. Gregory Gause III, a professor of political science at the University of Vermont, when he warned the House Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia about the “dangerous trend” of linking “Wahabism” with terrorism, wherein he explained that this phenomena “is not Saudi or ‘Wahabi’ in any exclusive sense. It is part of the zeitgeist of the whole Muslim world right now. It is undoubtedly true that the al-Qa’ida network was able to recruit many Saudis. But it would be a mistake to attribute this simply to some purported affinity between ‘Wahabism’ and al-Qa’ida’s message of jihad.”
Stating that although “some Saudi clerics and intellectuals have supported al-Qa’ida’s message [note: the supporters of Sayyid Qutb, the Qutbists],” he adds that “the vast majority have condemned it [note: the Salafi/”Wahabi” scholars].”
“Moreover,” he says, “Al-Qa’ida has been able to recruit both fighters and intellectual supporters from many countries – Egypt and Pakistan, to name but two – where ‘Wahabism’ is not a prominent intellectual current.”