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Wahhabism and its Origins

Wahhabism and its Origins

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Published by Ben Rogaczewski
A paper dealing with Wahhabism, its origins and its ties with "modern jihad".
A paper dealing with Wahhabism, its origins and its ties with "modern jihad".

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Published by: Ben Rogaczewski on Jun 27, 2010
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09/21/2010

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Wahhabism
Ben Rogaczewski
Modern Middle East Dr. Kramer
Due February 25, 2010
 
 Within the span of religious history, the puritanical idea of strictly adheringto ones beliefs and traditions has poked its primordial head through the waters of our existence on several occasions. In the west Christianity had its plentiful issueswith iconoclasm, and heretics arguing over the very nature of their deity, andpilgrims left England in order to save their souls from the devilish Anglicanchurch. However, my main journey of puritanical knowledge spans far fromEngland, and even farther than Istanbul. I am speaking of course about the MuslimMiddle East, and specifically referring to the area now called Saudi Arabia, and thetheological idea known to many in the west as Wahhabism.Before Saudi Arabia was settled under the Saud family, it was simply knownas the Arabian Peninsula, or Arabia. The region known as Yemen was in the south,andOman in the east. Inhabiting the Arabian Peninsula, were several Bedouin tribesof Arab descent. There was no real notion of unity amongst tribes until the 7
th
 century when a religious leader named Muhammad came out of the Hijaz region of Arabia began to spread a new monotheist religion known as Islam. It based upon theworship of their one god, Allah, and after the death of Muhammad, this religiousleader became known as the Prophet, or Messenger of Allah. During the 8
th
and 9
th
 centuries, the muslims were responsible for the capturing of Byzantine territories innorth Africa, the holy lands around Jerusalem, and Safavid territories in Persia.Around the 14
th
century, there was a shift in power and Ottoman Turks began togain control of territories in Syria and Anatolia. Soon the Ottoman Turks overtook the Byzantine Empire and made their new capitol Constantinople, under the new
 
name Istanbul. The Ottomans had adopted Islam as the imperial religion, and sonow Islam was worshipped by one of the most powerful empires of the world. It isout of this empire that we begin to see the origins of what people in the west calledwahhabism.Around the beginning of the 18
th
century, Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhabwas born within the Najd region of central Arabia. It was said that he memorized theQuran at the age of ten, and continued his education at the HanbaliSchool of law.The Hanbaliwere known to be more conservative of law, placing precedence uponwhether or not the Quran or the
Sunnah
(teachings of the Prophet) spoke against something. While at the Hanbali School, Wahhab learned from the writings of IbnTaymiyah, that it was polytheist, or
shirk 
, to venerate prophets, saints and angelswithin prayer.
1
Within the Hanbali dogma of Islam, one could only venerate Allahthrough prayer, and no one else.Wahhab taught that it was
shirk 
to venerate tombs, and those that do sodeserved death. He also professed that attendance at public prayers was obligatory,smoking tobacco was forbidden, along with shaving of the beard, and the use of abusive language.
2
On top of all that, Wahhab is said to have stated that theutterance of the Islamic creed did not make a man a true believer. From his
Book onMonotheism
, Wahhabstates:
3
 Pronouncement alone does not ensure immunity of lifeand propertythe property and life of a man are
1
Richard Bonney,
 Jihad: From Qur'an to bin Laden
(New York, New York: PalgraveMacmillan, 2007). p. 156.
2
Ibid. p. 157.
3
Ibid. p. 162.

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