In Selected Opinion

By MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) – 

In the years after the 9/11 attacks, the teachings of 14th century Islamic jurist Ibn Taymiyyah have been propagated by jihadi groups in order to advance their cause. In a recent article, Indian Islamic scholar Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi examined how the teachings of Ibn Taymiyyah spread in India through the writings of Ibn Wahhab, the founder of Wahhabism.

The article, titled “How Did The Extremist, Supremacist, Xenophobic And Violent Theology Of Ibn Taymiyya And Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab Spread In India”, was published in Urdu and English by the Indian website, which advances a pluralist view of Islam.

Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is a classical Islamic scholar who graduated from Jamia Amjadia Rizvia, a leading Islamic seminary based in the northern Indian town of Mau in Uttar Pradesh state. Dehlvi also holds a Diploma in Koranic Arabic from Al-Jamiat-ul-Islamia, which is based in the town of Faizabad, and is an M.A. student in comparative religions at the Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi.

Following are excerpts from the article:

“With An Aim To Purge Islam Of The Later Customs And Accretions, He [Ibn Taymiyyah] Also Forbade Greek Philosophy, Aristotelian Logic And Speculative Thinking, As Is Laid Out In His Book Minhaj al-Sunnah

“The 14th century Islamic scholar Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyyah propounded a complete Islamic theology of radicalism, religious exclusivism, violent extremism and puritanical fundamentalism. He was vehemently opposed to the pluralistic and multicultural Islam that was being preached by the Islamic mystics and Sufi saints at that time, declaring them misguided Muslims indulging in shirk and bid’ah (polytheism and innovation) and fitnah and fasad (religious corruption).

“Therefore, he called for returning to the ‘pristine purity’ of Islam, in conformity with his interpretation of the Koran, hadith and ijtihad [consensus by reasoning as a source of law in Islamic shari’a]. With an aim to purge Islam of the later customs and accretions, he also forbade Greek philosophy, Aristotelian logic and speculative thinking, as is laid out in his book Minhaj al-Sunnah. He believed that there can be no more progression in the vision of Islam, as he advocated the return to the ‘pristine’ Islamic doctrines bypassing the historical growth and progress of human life (Fatawa ibn Taymiyyah, 29 Vol. in Arabic).

“After Ibn Taymiyyah’s demise, his closest student and disciple, Ibn Qayyim Al-Jauziya preached his theology. However, it was Muhammad ibn Abd Al-Wahhab Najdi of Eastern Arabia who gave the most powerful impetus to Ibn Taymiyyah’s theology of radical Islam turning it into an influential religio-political movement which spread across the world.

“Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab was born in the Najd of Arabia in 1704 into the family of Musharraf of the tribe of Tameem. His father was an Islamic jurist (faqeeh) and probably the greatest scholar in Najd. He was an authority in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) with voluminous books on various topics of Islamic jurisprudence to his credit. Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab studied Hanbali jurisprudence from his father. However, he carried out a self-study of books on tafseer (Koranic exegesis) and hadith, with a special focus on Tawheed (Islamic monotheism).

“In the process, he was exposed to the books of Ibn Taimiyyah and Ibn Al-Qayyim that discuss the doctrine of Tawheed at great length. He was particularly enchanted by the books of Ibn Taimiyyah, which he himself transcribed. Some of those manuscripts are still available at the British Museum.

“It is noteworthy that Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab was first exposed to Ibn Taymiyyah in his young and impressionable age while in Najd, as Abu Sulaiman writes in his book, ‘Khasaais Al-Tafkeer Al-Fiqhi ind Al-Shaikh Muhammad ibn Abdil-Wahhab.’ In Najd, Ibn Taymiyyah was greatly honored among the scholars of the Hanbali school of thought. As a result, the impact of Ibn Taymiyyah was deeply embedded in Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab’s thoughts which, later, became the main theological basis for his own writings, fatwas and letters. For instance, his most controversial book ‘Kitabul Tawheed’ and the collection of his fatwas ‘Majmuatul Fatawa al-Aamma’ are particularly considered ideological reflections of Ibn Taymiyyah’s theology.”

“The Impact Of Ibn Taymiyyah On Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab Can Be Seen In Almost All His Writings; Much Of His Thesis In Al-Insaaf Is Drawn From Ibn Taymiyyah’s Conclusions”

“The impact of ibn Taymiyyah on Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab can be seen in almost all his writings. Much of his thesis in al-Insaaf is drawn from ibn Taymiyyah’s conclusions. Similarly, in the entire collection of Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab’s writings‘Muallafaat al-Shaikh al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab’, collected by Abd Al-Azeez Al-Roomi, there are many issues in which he summarized Ibn Taymiyyah’s views from his writings. Apart from fatwas and jurisprudential issues, he based his theology on Ibn Taymiyyah’s writings in topics such as the Koranic exegesis (tafseer), Islamic fundamental beliefs (aqeedah), Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) and so forth.

“Besides expanding his exclusivist views on Tawheed as expounded in his book Kitab at Tawheed, he also wrote on the seerah [the biography of the Prophet Muhammad], hadith, aqeedah and usul al-deen (fundamentals of Islam). Some of his other works include Mukhtasar Seerat Al-Rasool, Majmuatul Ahadith, Usool Al-Iman and Fadayal Al-Islam. By delving deeper into the writings of Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab developed a totally different meaning of Tawheed (oneness of Allah), which he saw completely missing from the belief and practice of mainstream Muslims across the world. This study made him realize that the religious affairs of the Muslims around him were not consistent with the teachings of the Koran and Hadith.

“Therefore, he launched a big reform movement, popularly known as Wahhabism, to revive the ‘puritanical’ Islam in the world starting from Saudi Arabia. He considered his movement to be an effort to purge Islam of the common Muslim beliefs and practices which he declared as akin to polytheism (shirk) and religious innovation (bid’ah). By all his rigorous efforts and writings, he tried to take Muslims to what he believed the most puritan Islam.

“Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab’s campaign to ‘purify’ Islam from subsequent accretions was not confined to Saudi Arabia alone. The influence of his violent, intolerant, supremacist, xenophobic theology started spreading in other parts of the Muslim world too. The Sanusi movement in North Africa, the Fulani movement in Nigeria, the Mahdiyah movement in Sudan, the Salafi Ikhwan Al-Muslimeen [Muslim Brotherhood] in Egypt, the Paduri and Masjumi movements of Indonesia, the jihad movement in the Indian subcontinent, the Fara’idi movement in Bengal, and the Jamaat-i-Islami in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh share the common allegiance to supremacist Wahhabi-Salafi ideology.

“In India, the Ahl-e-Hadisi/Salafi/Deobandi/Jamaat-e-Islami movements can be traced back to the very supremacist ideology propounded by Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab in the eighteenth century. All these revivalist Islamic movements appeared on the scene to further the ends of Wahhabi movement. Worryingly, they have made far-reaching impact on the Indian Muslim community which had originally been introduced to Islam by inclusivist Sufi saints.”

“The Most Helpful Role In Preaching Wahhabism In The Rural Muslim Populace In India Was Played By The Tablighi Jamaat, Which Primarily Concerned Itself With Purging Whatever Indigenous Influences Islam Has Imbibed From The Composite Indian Culture”

“In India, the biggest follower of Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab Najdi was Maulana Ismail Dehlvi, who wrote a book ‘Taqwiatul Iman’ (strengthening faith) with the same line of thinking that was laid out in Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab’s ‘Kitabul Tawheed,’ in which he declared all non-Wahhabi Muslims mushrik (polytheists). Until today, Deobandis consider Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab Najdi and Maulana Ismail Dehlvi as their religious ideologues and teach their books in their madrassas as textbooks under the subject of Aqaid (beliefs).

“An even greater exponent of Wahhabi puritanism than Ismail Dehlvi was the Deobandi jihadist Maulvi Syed Ahmad ‘Shaheed’, who fought a jihad war against the Sikhs. Nearly all Deobandis and even Ahle Hadisis venerate him and remember him as a ‘Shaheed’ (Islamic martyr), because he waged militant jihad against non-Muslims. This has been lucidly explained in an authentic book, ‘Mauj-e-Kausar, Musalmanon Ki Mazhabi Aur Ilmi Tarikh Ka Daur-e-Jadid’, a history text book included in many Deobandi madrassas, written by Sheikh Muhammad Ikram.

“The most helpful role in preaching Wahhabism in the rural Muslim populace in India was played by the Tablighi Jamaat, which primarily concerned itself with purging whatever indigenous influences Islam has imbibed from the composite Indian culture. This has reduced Islam in India into a cult of rigid dogmas, shorn of spiritual and universal values. The Deoband movement which originated as an orthodox branch of Sunni Islam in India in 1867 epitomized the Wahhabi puritanism in its fullest sense.

“[The] people of Deobandi Tablighi Jamaat have been very active in their call for Islamic puritanism in the entire Subcontinent [of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh]. Strangely enough, many other Sunni denominations, which were sometime essentially inclusive because of following the Sufi orders, gradually began to tread along the path of religious exclusivism. As a case in point, the Deobandi group of Sunnis was itself adherent of Sufism in the past.”

Photo: Ibn Taymiyyah (Source:
Source: (India), September 15, 2015. The original English of the article has been lightly edited for clarity and standardization.

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