Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wahabis, the Nawasib and the Rawafid

By Dr. Hamad Al-Majid

Are all of the above terms an example of insults and name-calling? The answer is yes, and for one simple reason, and that is that nobody likes to be branded with such names. It is impossible to get to know others, or create a healthy environment for dialogue, or develop a platform for understanding or communication, whilst branding others with names that they do not like being called and consider insulting.

Of the three terms mentioned above, let us bear in mind that the term "nawasib" is the most insulting because it is untrue. The term "Nawasib" comes from the root word "Nasibi" meaning to declare hostility against, and in this context means those who declare hostility against Ahl al-Bayt [Household of the Prophet]. This is a term used by some Shiite extremists when referring to Sunnis; however this is a huge fabrication, for all Sunnis without exception love and respect Ahl al-Bayt. As for the [original] Nawasib who were hostile towards Ahl al-Bayt for political reasons, they are all extinct.

In my opinion, the term Rawafid is less offensive than this, and it comes from the root word "rafid" meaning to reject, and it is used to indicate those Shiites who rejected Zaid Ibn Ali Ibn al-Hussein for not disowning Abu Bakr and Omar Ibn al-Khattab. When Zaid Ibn Ali's followers asked him to denounce the two caliphs as usurpers, he refused saying they were Companions of the Prophet [pbuh], this resulted in some of Zaid Ibn Ali's followers responding by saying "In that case, we reject you" which is where this term originates. To be frank, the majority of Shiite's reject the position of Imam Zaid, however the main reason that this term should not be utilized is simply because Shiites do not like to be referred to as Rawafid.

As for the term Wahabi, this is different and has been the subject of popular misconception. As Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz mentioned in his important article in the Al-Hayat newspaper published on 29/3/2010, Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahab's teachings did not constitute a new doctrine or ideology. I would add that it is a credit to the followers of Sheikh Abdul-Wahab that they are dissatisfied with the term "Wahabism" however if this ideology was truly new, it would be an honour for anybody to be associated with the individual who effected this change. If sanctity or sainthood – according to the Salafist belief – was applicable to individuals, then the least that could be done to glorify Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahab would be to name his disciples and followers after him, calling them Wahabis.

There is no insult or stigma in being a follower of Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahab, unlike those associated with the term Rawafid or Nawasib. The primary reason that those who are called Wahabis are unhappy about this is that this gives the impression that this is a new doctrine, and this is simply not true. I should also stress that any wrongdoing on the part of followers of Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahab's ideology should not wrongfully be ascribed to the teachings of this venerable Imam.

Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahab is among a handful of the most instrumental reformers in modern history due to the profound impact that his teachings have had not just in the region, but across the entire Islamic world. The success that Imam Abdul-Wahab's teachings have achieved has given rise to bitterness in the hearts of his enemies, and [in his article] Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz said that Sheikh Abdul-Wahab's ideology was being deliberately distorted by a number of parties who are not pleased with the influence that his pure teachings enjoy. This is true, for the remarkable conjoining that occurred between the ruling power and the Wahabi teachings produced a State which has broken all the long-established natural laws, such as those mentioned in Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah, namely that states, like human beings, are born, age, and die, and that they live only once.

This is because the conjoining of Islam and politics occurred in Saudi Arabia, but collapsed with the First Saudi State, however this experience was brought about once again in the Second Saudi State before collapsing once more, however this is something that emerged for a third time in a rare and unparalleled experience in modern Saudi Arabia. During the third Saudi State, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has achieved a strong regional and international position due to this Islamic – political bond. Enemies of this experience everywhere today are trying to break up this close relationship, including by spreading false allegations and lies that aim to defame the teachings of Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahab and create a dangerous rift between politics and religion in Saudi Arabia.