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Origins of Wahhabism from Hanbali Fiqh +PDF

Wahhabis are not considered to be part of the four major madhāhib due to the great contrast between their approach in methodology and the methodologies of the Hanbalis and other madhāhib.

Wahhabism”  is,  by  no  means,  the  term  of  choice  for  the  Wahhabis  them-selves. Rather, they refer to themselves as Salafis, muwaḥḥidūn (monotheists) or muslimūn (Muslims) and are most closely linked with the Hanbali madhhab (school of thought) in terms of fiqh. By using the phrase “Wahhabi,” the opponents of Wahhabism sought to link such individuals to the 18th century C.E. scholar, Muḥammad ibn ‘Abdi’l-Wahhāb (d. 1206 A.H./ 1791/2 C.E.). Thus, Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Wahhāb was viewed as the founder of a new madhhab. Wahhabis are not considered to be part of the four major madhāhib due to the great contrast between their approach in methodology and the methodologies of the Hanbalis and other madhāhib. Numerous issues in fiqh (jurisprudence) separate Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Wahhāb from previous Hanbali scholars. Here the focus will be on Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Wahhāb’s claim that those who engaged in what he deemed “superstitious” practices at graves (such as kissing or wiping graves or calling upon the deceased for help) were misguided and in some cases (like seeking help from the deceased) had apostatized and were therefore deserving of death. If one looks at earlier Hanbali sources, it is possible to see the gradual development of  the  Hanbali madhhab concerning  this  issue  (as  well  as  other  matters  in fiqh),culminating in Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Wahhāb’s controversial language, which was capable of dismissing a large percentage of Muslims as being disbelievers.

It is only appropriate to ask how and why Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Wahhāb derived these rulings that separated him and his sympathizers from other Hanbalis. Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Wah-hāb and the early Wahhabi historians from the late 18th and early 19th centuries prefer to focus on the degradation of Muslim practice and the numerous shrines that had been erected for the worship of respected figures. The Wahhabi movement, they argue, was therefore the natural outcome of the deviance of Muslims at large. A closer examination of his life, however, reveals that Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Wahhāb’s teacher, Muḥammad Ḥayāt al-Sindī (d. 1163 A.H./ 1749/50 C.E.), greatly influenced his stance ontaqlīd(adhering to the opinion of another scholar) and “superstitious” practice. But perhaps  the  greatest  factor  contributing  to  the  creation  of  the  Wahhabi  movement was the writing of Taqī al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 A.H./ 1327/8 C.E.).

As will be demonstrated shortly, before Ibn Taymiyyah, certain acts that were performed near graves, such as seeking blessings from the graves of righteous individuals or prophets, were either implicitly encouraged or considered to be of questionable merit. Earlier Hanbali scholars, though, did not forbid such acts. Ibn Taymiyyah expressed the differing opinions in Hanbali thought and stated his personal opinion, arguing that these acts were forbidden. Therefore, while he provided his own  opinion  on  these  matters,  it  is  clear  from  his  works  that  such  issues  were  far from settled during his time. Ibn Taymiyyah would also occasionally write that such acts constituted shirk, though he did not explicitly state that those guilty of these acts were to be treated as apostates.

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Bibliographic Information

Title: Origins of Wahhabism from Hanbali Fiqh

Author: Cameron Zargar

Published in: UCIA J. Islamic & Near E. L. 65 (2017)

 Language: English

Length: 51pages

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