Breaking the seige initiated by Abdul Wahab to Ghazzah

Developing Just Leadership

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Jumada' al-Akhirah 21, 1431 2010-06-04

Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,

Allah has instructed us to think, behave, plan and strive as a consolidated body of people in world affairs. The oft repeated ayah

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا

And be fortified by the extension of Allah to you and be not divided… (Surah Aal Imran verse 103)

The Prophet of Allah says a Muslim is a brother of a Muslim. He treats him not with injustice, nor does he frustrate him. He doesn’t put him or give up on him. And there are other ayaat and other ahadith that impress on us/teach us/orient us/mould us into a solidified and unified body of people when we make up our public mind. But then we look around at the real world and we realise there are divisions. Where do these divisions come from? We have spoken about the issue of Muslim togetherness and Muslim separatism in previous khutbahs. In this khutbah on this day of Jum’ah with the central issue of taqwa- which is supposed to dominate our consciousness, infiltrate our hearts and grip our minds- we take another look through the book of Allah and the teachings of His Prophet at the affairs of this world today. What we want to speak about in particular is where much of the political/social/humanitarian attention is focused i.e. the flotilla of ships- the humanitarian aid that is trying to make its way to a-million-and-a-half Muslims and Palestinians who have been barely living and some of them dying because of political and military decisions of Zionists and Imperialists and their client regimes of that Holy area of the world. What has taken place in the previous weeks/months in preparation for this assistance to these Muslims is that the Government in Turkey has taken it upon itself to try and assist Muslims who are in need. This brings us to an area that no Muslim wants to speak about. You’ll probably hear it here before you hear it someone else. This has to do with “why are Muslims so divided and cannot come together on a cause/issue that should unite all of them?” This has to do with a 200-years plus of an irritant and a break away attitude that has for all practical purposes monopolised its control of the Islamic Centers, Masajid, Makkah and Al Madinah for the past around two centuries. We are going to take a look- relying on Allah’s word and His Prophet’s words- towards this phenomenon that has been responsible for the division of Muslims throughout these years and it continues to be a barrier to Islamic solidarity/common purpose/cause.

During the 18th century, (we’re talking about the Christian calendar), or during the 12th century if you want the Islamic calendar there were movements in the Muslim domain. These movements had problems and positions towards the Ottoman’s state which was in Istanbul. Some Muslims refer to it as the Khilafah Government in Istanbul- we don’t want to get sidetracked by semantic arguments here. There were objections from some Islamic personalities/leaders towards Ottoman rule of the Muslim countries. Before we get into what Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab said pertaining to the Ottoman’s who- with all the problems that went into that history that they were responsible for in a certain sense- were doing whatever they could do to try to keep the Muslims together, we want to say that it wasn’t only Muhammad ibn Abdil Wahab who had problems with the Islamic form of governance in Istanbul. We also had Sufi tendencies/figures who had problems with the Government in Istanbul. We’re just going to quote one of these Sufis said- this is Ahmad ibn Muhammad Al Mahdi who was battling in Sudan against British Colonialist power there. (These are his words verbatim in the Arabic language. What is he saying to us in English?) He said “he saw a dream and in that dream/vision/ru’ya: Indeed the Messenger of Allah has instigated me to fight the Turks and to do jihad against them because these Turks cannot be cleansed/purified by moral lessons. The only thing that can cleanse/purify them is the sword.” We are not in the process of trying to evaluate on the scale of Islamic governance where the Ottoman State was, but here we see a person who for his own credit was fighting against British Colonialism in Sudan at the same time when the Ottoman State was fighting against the combination of Colonialist forces across Europe. In addition to the Sufi trends, there is also the Senusiyah Movement in Libya that had the same attitude towards the Ottomans in what is called today Turkey and other geographical areas/ Muslim countries that it used to rule. The Ottoman’s themselves had their own type of tasawwuf. This tasawwuf by-and-large was a formal/traditional tasawwuf. It did not have the rationality, the philosophies, the depth of the mutasawwifa or the Sufis. Some Muslims prefer to describe these people as Mujaddideen- whether they were Sufis like Al Mahdi in Sudan or counter-Sufis like Muhammad ibn Abdil Wahab in Arabia- these types began without taking a closer look at what tasawwuf means. If they had just read what Muhideen ibn Arabi- a very well known tasawwuf figure in Islamic history- had to say about a Muslim approach to Allah i.e. what he had to say/explain about the ayah in the Qur’an

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ

And if My subjects query you about Me, I am near… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 186)

leaves no room for the high ranks of the Sufi Shuyukh during the time of Ottoman reign- but these individuals did not bother themselves to go into the depth of what at tasawwuf means. They took what was happening in the Ottoman realm which was, to put it mildly, shallow tasawwuf and they began, especially Muhammad ibn Abdil Wahab, an assault on at tasawwuf. Brothers and sisters- we are not trying to go into the details of history as much as we’re trying to have you informed about the past 200 years- these years that describe the policies/decisions/strategies of certain Governments and nation-states in the Holy area in Arabia and Syria- to be more particular- in Al Hejaz and Palestine.

Muhammad ibn Abdil Wahab was born in Najd- a very simple/primitive/nomadic area in Arabia. He went to Al Madinah where he acquired some knowledge; from there he went to Southern Iraq where for the first time he began to realise that Muslims have their own local understanding of Islam. What he saw did not agree with his simplistic way of life. There’s nothing wrong with having a person with a simple way of life. We’re not saying this in a derogatory manner. Actually, Islam is to be understood for beginners as a simple approach to Allah- so there’s nothing wrong with that, (in and of itself). But when this person began to realise that there are other Muslims in other places outside of Arabia that have a different approach/definition of Islamic history or some of the ayaat or some of the ahadith, he began to say “these people are guilty of shirk.” He said “the shirk that these people are guilty of is more serious than the shirk that was predominant in the days of Allah’s Prophet.” We will quote ibn Abdul Wahab as he explained this by saying “the shirk in his time was a shirk that extended through good times and bad times whereas the shirk in the time of Allah’s Prophet was only limited to good times. In bad times, their conscious would wake up and acknowledge Allah;” then he takes the ayah from Surah Al Isra’- and this ayah was revealed in the first instance to speak to the Arabians of Al Hejaz and the Peninsula and this can be applicable to other peoples who meet the same conditions- obviously it is not limited to them- and says to them

وَإِذَا مَسَّكُمُ الضُّرُّ فِي الْبَحْرِ

If you are inflicted or afflicted by harsh and death defining times i.e. when you are in the open seas… (Surah Al Isra’ verse 67)

You become desperate and there’s no help to come to you. If you are in that state of mind and when you are about to perish because of the imminent danger on the high seas (because) you are taken out of the sands of Arabia and now you are in dangerous territories because you are not used to these seas- the waves becoming choppy. There are storms and you feel you are about to die.

ضَلَّ مَن تَدْعُونَ إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ ۖ فَلَمَّا نَجَّاكُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ أَعْرَضْتُمْ ۚ وَكَانَ الْإِنسَانُ كَفُورًا

… everyone you call upon is in the wrong direction or place and cannot respond to you and you become conscious of that during those moments of danger and peril. But when Allah rescues you to the land you turn away from Him and man is apt to deny Allah. (Surah Al Isra’ verse 67)

There is a tendency in man to deny Allah. So ibn Abdil Wahab understood from this ayah that if these Mushrikin at the time of the Prophet were forced into life threatening conditions their conscience would wake up and acknowledge Allah. So in bad/dangerous times they acknowledge Allah, but when they are in times of comfort/socially relaxed they deny Allah. Abdul Wahab says “look at the people of our time. They are in denial of Allah whether they are in bad times/socially relaxed in good times. However way you look at them- they are in denial of Allah. They equate others with Allah. There are parallels in their minds/lives to Allah.” He mentions/becomes specific, (he doesn’t just leave it in these general terms), “look around at some of the Muslims who are in Ottoman controlled territories and look at how they consider…” (He mentions two names. Both of them are Sufis. One of them is called Ma’ruf Al Kharkhi and the other is Abdul Qadir Al Jilani/Gilani- it’s pronounced both ways.) “…and look how these Muslims consider these Shuyukh…” In Muhammad ibn Abdil Wahab’s mind, and we don’t deny that because of ignorance and the general conditions that some (Muslims) inherited, they are guilty of misdiagnosing these personalities; but the generalisation that ibn Abdil Wahab did was the fault that we are still suffering its consequences. He even said “there are people who are more important then Ma’ruf Al Kharkhi and Abdul Al Qadir Al Jilani like Zayd ibn Al Khattab and Az Zubair. There are people in Arabia who adore these two individuals so much that they elevate them to an area that competes with the divinity of Allah.” Obviously we’re paraphrasing his words. He said “there’s even someone more important than these who these people are respecting and regarding into adulation and even worship i.e. the Prophet of Allah himself. Some Muslims have moved him out of his humanity and into areas of deification.” He goes on. We don’t want to follow him but it’s enough for us to understand the gist of it.

We, the Muslims, have in our history a rational burst that lived on for at least a couple of centuries. It is called the Mu’tazilah. Curious enough, Muhammad ibn Abdil Wahab could not take on the rationality of the Mu’tazilah. Because Muhammad ibn Abdil Wahab built his notion of Islamic teachings around at tawhid, if he had a rational working mind, he would have realised that Al Mu’tazilah were so concerned with the tawhid of Allah that they said the Qur’an is makhluq because they did not want people to carry the notion that if the Qur’an is not Makhluq, it becomes a rival with Allah who by everyone’s definition is not created. If you can remember in this historical back-and-forth/give-and-take among Muslims between the Ash’aris and the Mu’tazilis, the Ash’aris said the Qur’an is not makhluq and the Mu’tazilis said the Qur’an is makhluq because if the Qur’an is created it can no longer in the sense of pure tawhid rival with Allah to which this concept of tawhid belongs. Muhammad ibn Abdil Wahab even rejected Al Qiyas and furthermore, he rejected At Ta’wil. He began his life in Khuraymala, then he went to Uyayna and then he went to Ad Dar’eeyah. All of these are small towns in Najd and when he began his accusations of other Muslims of being kafirs he began by destroying a dome that was known as the dome of Zayd ibn Al Khattab in a place called Jubayla in one of these towns in this same general area. He went there and destroyed it. When he realised that there is going to be public backlash against him the alliance between Muhammad ibn Abdil Wahab and the ruler in Uyayna was undone because of the public opposition to this assault on a place they considered belonged to a man of God. Then Muhammad ibn Abdil Wahab goes to Ad Dar’eeyah and he meets ibn Saud. Ibn Saud is considered to be the founder of the current nation state/client of the United States i.e. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They saw that they had a lot in common so they agreed to pool their tribal resources and bring the inhabitants of Najd together. That was considered the nucleus of what is today the modern nation State of Saudi Arabia. So Muhammad ibn Abdil Wahab was in this new alliance the central figure. He used to contact the Muslim scholars/decision makers/noblemen who used to come to the Hajj from different parts of the world and speak/discuss/dialogue with them about Islamic issues. If the same Saudi Government today were to find the founder of their nation state in Makkah they would probably either throw him in prison or execute him. The exact same thing that Muhammad ibn Abdil Wahab was doing in Makkah i.e. what was halaal for him is now haraam for Muslims. They can’t go to Makkah, meet the Ulema’ there and discuss the issues with them. So Muhammad ibn Abdil Wahab went on his tangent in accusing all Muslims of being guilty of shirk- and he has his own definition of shirk and we spoke about that previously- and thus he ruled that all the Muslims are kafirs and the foremost kafir of all of the rest of the Muslims- remember he and the tribal numbers that were around him were the only Muslims in the world; all other people were kafirs- was the ruler in Istanbul i.e. what is called the Ottoman Khalifah. You see brothers and sisters: the difficulties we have in our time can be traced back to these seeds of divisions. When a person doesn’t understand what al kufr and ash shirk means, he gives it his own slant and he goes on with his broad-brush to tar the rest of the Muslims in the world as kafirs. Then, he says “the principle in Islam about Al Amr Bi Al Ma’ruf and An Nahi An Al Munkar demands from every Muslim of their types to kill other Muslims.”

Ten years after Muhammad ibn Abdil Wahab dies, (that was the year 1801), ibn Saud moves with the army that he has from the people of Najd, its surroundings, also from the South of Arabia, Hejaz and Tihama at this time, (obviously the Wahabi movement had picked up adherents and followers in that area), to Karbala’’. Its not enough that he designated the Ottoman ruler in Istanbul as being enemy number one of all the Muslims- a kafir and a Mushrik- who should be killed, now he goes to Karbala’’. Ibn Saud who now is the centre of the Wahabi movement goes to Karbala’’ and fights the people of Karbala’’. He breaks through the city and kills about 2,000 Muslims of Karbala’’. He has this obsession with domes! Something is wrong with these domes! This particular dome of Al Imam Al Husayn in Karbala’’ was decorated with jewellery- emeralds/sapphire/rubies- that’s true. It’s a historical fact, but the problem is not in a decorated dome. And there is a problem. Brothers and sisters- don’t think that because we’re trying to look at ibn Abdil Wahab that the Muslims didn’t have their problems. Of course we did, but the problem you overcome is not by coming and telling people “you are kafirs.” When all the Prophets of Allah came to their people they never said “Oh kafirs believe in Allah!” They always used to say “Yaa Qawmi/O my people.” There’s a difference between approaching people with an understanding/something you have in common and then draw them into the correct understanding of Islam rather than from the first step saying “you are the enemies of Allah, His Prophet and I’m going to kill you!” Where did this come from?

In the year 1805 this same outfit of warriors led by ibn Saud went to Al Madinah and took over it. And there also, having the fix on these domes they went and destroyed all of these domes that were in Al Madinah.

In the year 1806 he managed to rest control of Makkah and was given the bai’ah by the Emir of Makkah. At that point, ibn Saud expelled from Makkah everyone who was representative or had any relationship with the Ottoman State. Now the two harams in Makkah and Al Madinah came under this iron clad control of these kill other Muslims Wahabis. They added to Makkah and Al Madinah and Al Hejaz, Tihama, Najd, Asir and other areas in Arabia. They brought/made a central issue that “the Kilafah/leadership/governance of the Muslims belong to the tribe of Quraysh” as if we don’t have enough problems, now they instigate this tribalistic/nationalistic issue trying to get back at the Ottoman Turks saying “you have no authority and legitimacy because you do not come from the tribe of Quraysh.” Of course, this can be traced backed to the opinion of Ahmed ibn Hambal. OK- that’s an opinion but because of an opinion you don’t go out there and legitimise killing other Muslims/delegitimizing other Muslims especially when the Ottomans were taking all the hits from the powers of Colonialism at that time. These Wahabis didn’t care, so there were internal wars. The Wahabi Movement embarked on skirmishes/battles/warfare with the Ottomans and the Ottomans had to defend themselves not only from the powers from Europe but these trouble-makers from Arabia. We are not putting the Ottoman rulers on a pedestal, we’re looking at these developing/unfolding conditions within the details/circumstances/conditions at the time. Most of the times the Ottomans were defeated by these Wahabis until finally the Ottomans requested the military assistance of Muhammad Ali Pasha in Egypt. He comes to Arabia and defeats these Wahabis and Ad Dar’eeyah fell on 8/11, (not 9/11), 1880 after about three quarters of a century of it practising its power and then, it was going to re-emerge later on when the Ottomans were to be exhausted by the European wars, especially the First World War and then they would have the nation state like right now that stands behind the claim that other Muslims are not Muslims. With this type of background, imagine the Turks/ Muslims in Turkey today. Having suffered through all of this in their history, why should they care about these people in Gazzah?! They have enough information about the Muslims in Gazzah and their connections with the rulers in Arabia. That could be enough argument/justification for them to say “well- we wish you well but there’s nothing we can do.” Have they done anything like that? To the contrary, they’ve overcome this history and regardless of the hurt/lives they lost and the treachery that was to be committed during the First World War when those tribal chieftains in Arabia listened to British Colonialism that told them “when we get rid of the Turks you are going to be masters of your own future/destiny . You are going to be the Rulers/Kings of all Arab countries.” The British were lying to them. They listened to British lies. They stabbed the Ottoman Muslims in the back and even though the Muslims in Turkey are aware of this, they didn’t counter the vile/hostility/accusations coming out of Arabia by Arabians in the same manner and in the same way. They saw a humanitarian cause. They were motivated by the Islamic feelings to help their brothers and sisters in Gazzah regardless of this history/injuries/assaults/insults that have gone into the relationships between the Muslims in Turkey and the Muslims in Arab countries. They’ve overcome all of that. What do we have? How are the Arabians of today, especially those who rule in Makkah and Al Madinah helping? They’re a shame/blot/embarrassment to every Muslim in the world. They look and see all of this happening and some of their media is justifying the Israeli-Zionist position. The Government in Egypt has just introduced a course for those who are going to be khutaba’/A’immah/ preachers/religious scholars. Brothers and sisters: you wouldn’t believe this, but this is true. This course teaches Muslims that they should honour their neighbours. OK- that’s fine. We know how much Rasulillah was concerned with his neighbours. The Prophet continued advising and counselling towards a persons neighbour until we thought that the neighbour would become an inheritor and share in the inheritance of his neighbour. That’s how much emphasis there is on good neighbourliness; but these people are taking the issue out of context and placing it in the wrong context said “the Egyptians should honour their neighbourly relationships with Israel.” We want Muslims to think about the ayaat and the Prophet’s ahadith on that scale but not to think about that in the wrong way such as is the case here. But this is what we have. This is real life. This is what has been going on. It is a course that these khutaba’/A’immah have to learn. There is no exam/grade on the course but it has been interjected into their curriculum and we know where it comes from. You can trace all of these back to Washington and Tel Aviv. Regardless of all of that, we have to acknowledge the ihsan/good gestures/virtues of people when they are responsible for it and the Muslims in Turkey are to be acknowledged for what they are doing- especially when we know that this is not just a simple political act/a spur of the moment gesture by the Muslims in Turkey towards the Muslims in Palestine. There’s much more attached to it than what meets the eye.

Brothers and sisters, dear Muslims…

What has been said in the khutbah was said with a heavy heart. We carry no feelings of revenge. We don’t get personal in these issues. We ask Allah to show us our mistakes of the past so that we do not go through the motions/consequences of those mistakes again. The regime in Saudi Arabia’s hostility, animosity and antagonism, (which is the air of the Wahabi notion that other Muslims are not Muslims), towards Muslims who consider themselves followers of Madh’ahib, towards Muslims who express their affection for the Prophet and his family, towards Muslims who are of the Sufi persuasion has brought us to where we are today. Is it any wonder that those who are ruling in Arabia have never ever engaged the Israeli-Zionists in war? It is little known fact that a very slight area of the nation state of Saudi Arabia is occupied by Israel. Usually when the media says “Israel is occupying other Arab territories it means Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon” but it doesn’t mean Saudi Arabia. That is a nice way to step back from Islamic responsibilities towards other Muslims; but even if we go beyond that- what is it in their book/understanding of Islam that makes it impossible for them to help other Muslims out when other Muslims are dying from flagrant aggression/bloodthirsty policies and then begin to argue. One of these scholars in the past week has been saying “it is alright for men and women to share the same classroom? It is alright for men and women to speak in public?” Then one of them, (this same mentality that is over 200 years old), turns to him and says “you are propagating a bid’ah.” And this goes on and on. They take us away from these issues where power and authority should be relegated to Allah to having us understand the words kufr and shirk around the graveyard! As if it doesn’t belong in the world of Al Mashreq wa Al Maghrib, Al Mashriqayn wa al Maghribayn, Al Ula wa Al Aakhirah, Al Ins wa Al Jinn. There is an expansive world that is included in tawhid, but because of the limit of their horizon they put it in the cemetery and around graves and this stuff; and along these lines they divided the Muslims and they are living with these divisions and it seems like they are comfortable with it from now until the end of their days.

Oh Allah you see them, you know what they are all about.

Here they have been for 27 years running dividing the Muslims. They’ve stolen Makkah and Al Madinah. They’ve taken over Islamic Centres and Masajid with their shallow thinking. We recognise (that) it is a part of human life that some people are shallow and we can live with that but we cannot live with fanaticism, exclusion, accusation and broad labelling of kufr that they throw at all other Muslims in the world.

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