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Wahhabism and Modern Islamic Ideology. From Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab to Sayyid Qut’b. Wahhabism and Modern Islamic Ideology. Wahhabism: A conservative 18th century reform movement of Sunni Islam Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab--(1703–1792). Born in Najd, Arabia.

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wahhabism and modern islamic ideology

Wahhabism and Modern Islamic Ideology

From Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab to Sayyid Qut’b

wahhabism and modern islamic ideology2
Wahhabism and Modern Islamic Ideology
  • Wahhabism: A conservative 18th century reform movement of Sunni Islam
    • Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab--(1703–1792). Born in Najd, Arabia.
    • Was from a line of scholars of the Hanbali school of jurisprudence
      • The Hanbali school of jurisprudence stressed reliance on the Qur’an as the preeminent source of Islamic law (Sharia)
      • The next most reliable source was the Hadith, or sayings of the Prophet, that reflected the way the early community (umma) interpreted the message of Muhammad.
wahhabism and islamic ideology
Wahhabism and Islamic Ideology
  • Wahhabi stressed the following:
    • The “oneness” of God (monotheism)
    • All acts of piety and deference toward the Prophet and other Muslims, dead or alive, as idolatry.
    • Jihad (holy war) against such Muslims who violated this principle
    • No blind adherence to the interpretations of Islamic scholars
    • Responsibility to learn the “way of the Prophet” (the sunnah), i.e. the Qur’an and Hadith, fell upon the individual Muslim (to be educated in Madrassas, or ‘holy schools”
wahhabism and islamic ideology4
Wahhabism and Islamic Ideology
  • Islam had endured through several centuries of political leadership that had diluted its pure message (The Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties).
  • Islam needed purification
  • What was needed was a revival of itjihad (independent reasoning) within the Muslim, not a reliance on accepted teaching (this movement became known as Salafism).
  • Muslims should avoid shirk:
    • Major shirk, which relates to the aspects of worship, intention, obedience and showing fidelity to people.
    • Minor shirk, which relates to the act of showing off
    • Hidden shirk, in which a believer may fall inadvertently, modes of dress, associating with idolatrous Muslims, adopting western styles, or customs
the muslim brotherhood6
The Muslim Brotherhood
  • British Colonial rule 1882-1922
  • Indirect Control 1923-52 during which Egypt was ruled by a monarchy
  • Ottoman Caliphate abolished in 1924
  • Egyptian politics during this period dominated by the struggle between Egyptian nationalists,the monarchy and the British
  • Egypt used by the British as an operations base during World War II
  • 1948 Arab-Israeli war (Brotherhood sends volunteers)
the muslim brotherhood8
The Muslim Brotherhood
  • Born in Mahmudiyya, north-west of Cairo
  • Importance of Sufism (Hasafi tariqa)
  • Moved to Cairo in 1922 and studied to become a primary school teacher
  • Graduated in 1927 and moved to Ismailiyya, on the Suez canal
  • Founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928
  • Back to Cairo in 1932, grassroots organizing
  • In 1948 Prime Minister al-Nuqrashi assassinated
  • In 1949 Hasan al-Banna assassinated by security forces
the muslim brotherhood9
The Muslim Brotherhood
  • the social organization of the tariqa (to which he took an oath of allegiance at 18)
  • levels of understanding (khassah vs. ‘ammah)
  • importance of helping the poor
  • belief as social practice
  • opposition to Christian missionary


the muslim brotherhood10
The Muslim Brotherhood
  • Islamic decline and renaissance
  • Westernization and colonialism, especially as seen in education
  • Social and political justice
  • The function of the ‘ulama
  • Islam as a comprehensive system
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The Muslim Brotherhood
  • The propagation of Islam as an all-encompassing solution to political and social problems: The Qur’an is the answer
  • The mosque as a center of socialization, the institutional heart of an Islamic revolution: a school, a hospital, a spiritual base
  • The importance of organization and moral probity: rejection of colonialism, imperialism, secularism and the West
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The Muslim Brotherhood
  • Distinct from the Salafi movement of Afghani, Abduh and Rida: Banna was from a different social class and was no ‘alim
  • Primary interest was in social organization, not in theoretical speculation
  • Brotherhood and ‘ulama in competition for the masses
  • Superiority of turath to modernity
the muslim brotherhood13
The Muslim Brotherhood
  • Spirituality in the East
  • Islam the solution, defined by the Qur’an
  • the pros and cons of patriotism and nationalism
  • Ideologies of racial superiority fraudulent
  • The Brotherhood supports debate, difference, and gentleness
  • Qur’an and Sunna and a strong determined leadership are the answer
sayyid qutb15
Sayyid Qutb
  • Continuity of Qutb’s thought? Different phases
  • Q8.53: “Truly God does not change the state of a people until they change that which is in themselves”
  • The full implications of submission and servitude to God
  • We must see ourselves as though we were of the Prophet’s generation
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Sayyid Qutb

Quote: “…in our capacity to reconstruct and relive the abundance of the feelings, comprehensions, and experiences accompanying the revelation (of the Qur’an) and the first generation of Muslims, who received the Qur’an in the thick of the struggle. Theirs was an environment of jihad (striving) – jihad against the self, temptations, and people . . . The ambiance of the emerging Muslim community and its nascent social system was a reflection of a lively friction between feeling, interests, and principles.”

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Sayyid Qutb
  • Islam was corrupted and distorted by philosophy, leisure and the ulama
  • only those who take up the position of the vanguard (and thus the place of the Prophet and his Companions) can interpret the Qur’an
  • The implications of God’s lordship
sayyid qutb18
Sayyid Qutb
  • The Renaissance was the beginning of the end: man over God, reason over scripture
  • The West’s focus on materialism: Darwin, Freud, Marx, no room for spirituality
  • All Western ideologies have exploited humanity: Feudalism, Capitalism, Marxism, Nazism
  • Capitalism: destruction of the soul and the individual
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Sayyid Qutb
  • Tawhid: submission to God in all realms, no difference between ibadat and mu’amalat
  • Man, as vice-regent of God, measure of all things
  • The limitations of reason and technology
  • Islam is the solution for alienation and spiritual malaise
  • Qutb an independent thinker, with fully articulated theory by 1962, same time Nasser brings the Azhar under state control
sayyid qutb20
Sayyid Qutb
  • The Qur’an a dynamic, revolutionary document
  • Mecca and Medina: 1) patience and oppression, 2) political formation and expansion (importance of jihad in its fullest meaning)
  • Enemies: International Zionism, Crusaderism and Communism
  • Vanguard: the poor, weak (Nasserism?)
  • Egypt in a state of jahiliyyah -> jihad
  • Interpretation in the hands of the vanguard, not the ulama
  • Dynamic fiqh, not paper fiqh, but first an Islamic State
sayyid qutb21
Sayyid Qutb
  • What do we make of Sayyid Qutb?
  • Hasan al-Hudaybi (d. 1973)’s Missionaries not Judges, and the shift of the Brotherhood towards moderation and gradualism
  • Influence on other Islamist groups
the iranian revolution
The Iranian Revolution
  • The Question of Succession: The Rightly Guided Caliphs
    • Abu Bakr (632-34)
      • father of the Prophet’s favorite wife ‘A’isha
      • the ridda wars
    • ‘Umar (634-44)
      • father of the Prophet’s wife Hafsah
      • vast expansion of Muslim rule, Jerusalem falls
    • ‘Uthman (644-56)
      • Married to the Prophet’s daughter Ruqayya
      • Murdered in his house while reading the Qur’an
    • ‘Ali (656-61)
      • Married to Fatima al-Zahra, the Prophet’s daughter
      • The Prophet’s cousin, first male convert to Islam
important battles
Important Battles
  • 656: Battle of the Camel
    • Talha, Zubayr and ‘A’isha against ‘Ali
  • 657: Battle of Siffin
    • ‘Ali vs. Mu’wiya (cousin of Uthman, son of Abu Sufyan and Hind) -> 661 Umayyad caliphate
    • Arbitration: some of ‘Ali’s followers desert him (Kharijites)
  • 661: ‘Ali assassinated by a Kharijite

Second generation after the Prophet

  • 680: Karbala
    • Ali’s son Husayn is killed by Mu’wiya’s son Yazid
  • -> this defeat central to later Shi’a identity, commemorated on 10th of Muharram (Ashura)
distinguishing characteristics of post formative shi ism
Distinguishing characteristics of post-formative Shi’ism
  • Muhammad designated ‘Ali his successor -> ritual cursing of first caliphs
  • belief in God’s guidance of the Prophet’s family -> Imams are protected from error
  • division into three major groups, Zaydis (5ers), Ismailis (7ers), Imamis (12ers)
  • different legal and theological canon than Sunnis -> distinct ritual practices
  • importance of ‘Ashura -> example of Husayn
  • Shi’a states: Fatimids, Buyids, Safavids
ayatollah khumayni
Ayatollah Khumayni
  • A sayyid and mullah
  • Status advanced to marja in 1963; clash with Shah (Khurdad 15 movement] move to Iraq
  • Forced to leave Najaf for Paris by Saddam in 1978
  • Becomes spiritual head of Iran after revolution
  • Dies of heart failure in 1989
the iranian revolution29
The Iranian Revolution
  • Shah’s Iran in the ‘70s: secular modernism, nationalism based on national myth going back to pre-Islamic Persia
  • Khomeini, one ayatollah among many, exiled in 1964 for criticizing the Shah
  • Social classes opposed to Shah: devout middle classes (bazaar), working classes
  • Student opposition: Marxism vs. the socialist Shi’ism of Ali Shariati (d. 1977)
  • The political and economic independence of the ulama in Iran
the iranian revolution30
The Iranian Revolution
  • Rational explanation of the importance of God’s Law
  • The necessity of the ruler to exhibit the following qualities: knowledge of law and justice
  • Citation of relevant ayas and traditions that justify the central role of the faqih
  • Enayat’s argument that Khumeini downplayed the importance of the return of the 12th Imam; and brought the Shi’a closer to Sunnis by stripping the Imam of supernatural qualities
the iranian revolution31
The Iranian Revolution
  • Khomeini’s doctrine of wilayat al-faqih (guardianship should include all issues for which Prophet of Islam and Shi'a Imam have responsibility, including governance of the country)
  • This view opposed by most other ulama
  • Economic downturn in the late 1970s, Khomeini drew on Shariati’s concept of the “disinherited” (mustadafeen)
  • Attack on Khomeini in 1978: demonstrations for a year, Shah flees in January 1979
  • Liberal and religious rivals sidelined by the 80s
  • Iran-Iraq war 1980-88
  • The legacy of Hussein at Karbala: a culture of martyrdom in the context of war
  • A harsh critique of moral authority of the West
iranian exportation of the revolution
Iranian Exportation of the Revolution
  • Lebanon: balance between Sunnis, Shi’a, Maronite Christians, Druze; political roles distributed according to demography
  • Civil War begins in 1975, Syrian presence since 1976, Israel invades in 1982 to throw out PLO
  • Imam Musa Sadr (d. 1978 ?) from Iran in 1974, founds Amal (Hope); thought is similar to Shariati
  • 1982 and on: in response to Israeli invasion, Hizballah is established, Fadlallah recognized by them as spiritual advisor