by Tahir Mustafa (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 39, No. 1, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1431)
Apart from external instruments used against Muslims, imperialists have mastered their ability to infuse fifth columnists inside the Muslim Ummah. Not only have we observed the phenomenon of injecting poisonous ideologies into the Muslim Ummah whose real intentions became evident almost immediately, there are also those whose appearance, rhetoric and ambitions appear on surface to be based on the primary sources of Islam. The unfortunate reality is that in the Ummah there are people, organizations and groups that inflict great damage on Muslims because of their political, social and academic simplicity and narrow-mindedness. It is the naivety of such groups that is used to impose the war of terror on Muslims by the forces of global arrogance.
The regrettable reality is that the global Islamic movement, the respected scholars of Islam, and the vanguard of the Islamic resistance did not even begin to address the stagnation imposed by these fringe groups on the wider Muslim Ummah. So far the polemics and discussions have remained within a narrow sectarian framework and have not extended into the wider Islamic discourse on solving this important problem. However, the events instigated in Gaza by “Jund Ansar Allah” in mid-August 2009, if properly analyzed and presented to the wider Muslim Ummah may instigate the much needed discourse and open the eyes of many Muslims that will lead to a non-sectarian solution to the problem.
The historic roots of the alliance between Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab and the House of Saud in 1746 will not be analysed here. A brief reference to it, however, is necessary to understand its contemporary repercussions. The movement that emerged as a result of the alliance of a pseudo-scholar with a power hungry clan has managed to put Islam at the service of power while jurisprudentially and historically, it is power that must serve Islam. The greatest manifestation of the Saudi distortion of Islam in its contemporary mode was observed in 2005 when King Abdullah took the throne. During the widely televised inauguration, Saudi scholars from different cities pledged allegiance to the king. About a week prior to Abdullah’s accession to power, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was inaugurated as President of Iran. During his inauguration one fact upon which the world media focused was how in Iran every President pledges allegiance to Islamic law and the Supreme Leader who represents the law and who himself is an Islamic jurist-consult. These two distinct practices of correlation between Islamic law and government is one of the root causes why deviant organizations within the Muslim Ummah are easily manipulated by the corrupt regimes.
Parts of the Muslim world that are not completely blacked out of Islam, those representing the Saudi agenda with an Islamic veneer, can be easily exposed. There are enough scholars and Islamic scholarly sources to refer to in order to clarify such matters. However, in places like the former USSR where Muslims were totally banned from practicing their religion, the Saudi school is beginning to penetrate some segments of society. One of the primary reasons for this is that Saudi control of Makkah and Madinah provides them a false perception of legitimacy. In most Muslim countries of the former USSR, a majority of Muslims has very superficial information about the political events in the Muslim world. Therefore, whatever comes with a stamp of Makkah and Madinah is accepted at face value.
Another factor in facilitating the penetration of Saudi instigated ideas into this region is the war in Chechnya. When the Chechen resistance managed to stall Russian imperial ambitions, many Chechen leaders were “recruited” into the Saudi orbit. Since the Chechen resistance of 1994–1996 was unanimously supported by all Muslims in the former USSR and its leaders were viewed as role models, due to the absence of legitimate local leaders, the Saudi version of Islam gained a powerful foothold through the phenomenon known as “the Chechen field commander.” To make matters worse, many legitimate and charismatic Muslim leaders in the former USSR were eliminated in a treacherous manner thus making Chechens the only alternative role models that were fighting the common enemy — the hated imperial Russia. The unsuspecting adherence of some Chechen leaders to Saudi ideology conferred legitimacy on it for the wider Muslim population in the former USSR. Through the legitimate aspirations of the Chechens for independence, Saudi distortions of Islam gained legitimacy in the former USSR.
An additional contributing factor to the marginal success of Saudi advocates was the fear of Islamic Iran among the Muslim regimes of the former USSR. The ruling elites realized that Saudi-backed preachers were under Saudi government control and that the regime would not instigate major changes in their societies without US consent. Since many of those regimes themselves are sustained in power through US backing, they correctly calculated that the advocates of Saudi distortions could easily be reined in with Saudi and US backing. Thus, such activities were tolerated to a certain degree in order to counter the growing Iranian influence.
Thus far, the political consequences of the Saudi ideology commonly referred to as Wahhabism, have been aimed mainly at Shi‘i Muslims. However, the earlier referenced event in Gaza shows that the Saudi sponsored school of thought with deep historical connections to British secret service is beginning to spoil the achievements of all Islamic resistance movements. The fact that people claiming to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah, raised weapons against an Islamic movement fighting for the liberation of Palestine when the Zionist armed occupiers were only a few kilometers away, signals a major problem which must be addressed on a deep and practical level.