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Breaking through Wahhabi myth

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    Breaking through Wahhabi myth By Hassan Khaja http://www.dailytargum.com/news/709035.html?mkey=618643 The Daily Targum - Opinions Issue: 9/2/04 In the mad rush
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2004
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      Breaking through Wahhabi myth
      By Hassan Khaja
      The Daily Targum - Opinions
      Issue: 9/2/04

      In the mad rush after Sept. 11 to find out why the terrorist attacks
      took place, various explanations were provided for what could drive a
      person or persons - in this case, Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda - to
      commit such an act. The quick answer was all religions have their
      crazy fanatics, extremists or fundamentalists - the terrorists
      represent a segment of fanaticism.

      Thus emerged the most popular term used to describe Osama bin Laden,
      al-Qaeda, the Saudi "hate factory," and every guy with a beard -
      "Wahhabi." Now, I don't identify myself as a Wahhabi, but enough
      people have called me one to grant me some kind of authority on the
      term. I was first exposed to this term when the Islamic Society of
      Rutgers University was accused of being an Arab-Wahhabi organization.
      This occurred, ironically, the same year they hosted a very large-
      scale and widely publicized event with Hamza Yusuf, who is very well
      known as a moderate Muslim President George W. Bush embraced after
      the Sept. 11 attacks.

      It would be logical to say a Wahhabi is best defined as one who
      adheres to the religious thought of Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahhab, a 19th
      century scholar from Najd, in present-day Saudi Arabia. In reality,
      no one actually calls himself a Wahhabi. Rather, this is a term used
      by others to refer to his followers. No so-called Wahhabi considers
      himself anything other than an average, everyday Muslim.

      Now, when people discuss the Wahhabi movement and call Muhammad bin
      Abdul-Wahhab a man who spawned terror, no one actually quotes bin
      Abdul-Wahhab. It might be difficult to do so, considering few of his
      works have been translated into English. So the question must be
      posed, "Did Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahhab teach terror?"

      One might argue his followers preach terror. But, does this really
      reflect the teachings of Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahhab? How often has it
      been claimed there are followers of every religious teaching with
      extremists who misinterpret the texts of that teaching? Certainly,
      there are Wahhabis who condemned the actions of Osama bin Laden. In
      fact, the former Saudi mufti, Abdul-Azeez bin Baaz wrote, "So my
      advice to ... bin Ladin ... and all those who traverse [his] way is
      to leave alone this disastrous path."

      A closer study of Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahhab's works reveals a lack of
      calls to the kind of terrorism perpetrated by al-Qaeda. His more
      popular works, "Kitab At-Tawheed" ("The Book of Monotheism")
      and "Usool ath-Thalaathah" ("The Three Major Principles"), are
      beginner's books on theology with no reason for anyone who is not a
      Wahhabi to be intimidated. In fact, they merely consist of verses
      from the Quran and sayings of Muhammad. The job of interpretation is
      left to the peace-loving or hate-mongering reader.

      Another theory that has advanced regarding the ideology of al-Qaeda
      is the group is made up of ardent followers of Sayyid Qutb, a 20th
      century writer and one of the intellectual fathers of the Muslim
      Brotherhood. This seems more sound because the Muslim Brotherhood
      movement was a political movement - like al-Qaeda - whose primary
      interest was to establish the Islamic state. The political nature of
      al-Qaeda explains its acceptance of working, albeit alleged with
      Shiite, a concept students of bin Abdul-Wahhab's school of thought
      would never stand for. Additionally, al-Qaeda's arbitrary
      declarations of heresy against corrupt Muslim regimes failing to
      implement Islamic law are more in line with Sayyid Qutb's similar

      Unfortunately, misunderstandings about the true ideological leanings
      of Osama bin Laden helped people to sow fear among unsuspecting non-
      Muslims about Muslims living in America. Clearly the last thing Saudi
      Arabia would think of doing is spreading an ideology similar to Osama
      bin Laden's, which ultimately calls for an overthrow of all
      governments, including its own. So it says much to Abdul-Wahhab's
      credit that the founder of Saudi Arabia, Ibn Saud, granted Muhammad
      bin Abdul-Wahhab protection, and the alliance still exists today.
      Primarily because the present-day Saudi monarchy has a lot of oil
      money to throw around, they are able to fund the construction of
      mosques and Islamic schools around the world, including within the
      United States.

      The common misconception that Osama bin Laden is a follower of
      Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahhab gave fodder to Muslim-bashers for their
      attacks. Due to the perception the Saudi government might use money
      to sow its ideological roots -- which are falsely perceived to be
      those of Osama bin Laden's - the charge is launched against mosques
      that they are used to spread terror as well.

      Because of the relative ease of studying at the International Islamic
      University of Medina, the accusation has been made that this
      institution was used to spread an ideology similar to Sayyid Qutb's.
      This conveniently opened all the imams and sheiks, who studied at the
      University to suspicion that they, too, promote terror.

      In times of fear, any explanation is considered the right
      explanation. However, if a war against extremist ideologies is to be
      fought, it's only right that reason can't be suspended in the quest
      to fight that ideology.

      Hassan Khaja is a Livingston College senior majoring in political
      science. His column, "Moment of Clarity," appears on alternating



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