آحمد صبحي منصور في الأحد 02 يناير 2011
Reform the Wahaby culture from inside Islam,
To confirm and to conform to the Human
Rights Culture and the Islamic Values
For more than two decades, the writer has struggled to discuss the untouchable side of Muslim tradition in order to reform it to conform to the real Islamic values of peace, justice, tolerance and freedom of speech and belief. This angers the hardest hard-line Sunni Muslims, known as Wahabis. The writer’s efforts so enraged the fanatics that he had to escape to the U.S. in order to disseminate his message.
Coming to the U.S he finds the Islamic Sunni schools – as he expected – are influenced by the Wahabi fanatical culture. The writer saw similar influences at the religious courses in Egypt. When he tried to reform these courses, a project sponsored by the Ibn Khaldoun Center in Cairo, Wahabists forced the cancellation of the project. It is worrisome to the writer to see the same fanaticism at work in the Islamic schools here in the midst of the world’s most open society.
The main purpose of this proposal is to offer alternative Islamic teachings which confirm and conform to the Human Rights culture to the Saudi State to reform its Wahabi Salafi culture which is tarnishing the name of Islam and victimizing the Saudi State and all the Muslims around the world, and to encourage Muslim scholars to discuss this issue and to undertake reform themselves. AS this reform has become the real responsibility of all the intellectuals in Muslim and Arab World, they are invited to discuss this proposal and other insights to pave the way of reform.
Ahmed Subhy Mansour
June 16, 2004
The Saudi State and its Wahabi faith
At a quick Historical glance
1-The first Saudi State and its Wahabi faith
The first Saudi state was established by the agreement in 1745 between Ibn Abdel Wahab, the zealot Sunni scholar who revolted against the Sufi and Shiite Muslims in the 18th century, and Ibn Saud, the prince of Al Dare’iah in Najd, north of the Arabian Peninsula. Under this accord, the Saudi Prince received from Ibn Abdel Wahab the religious justification to conquer his neighbors and occupy their lands under the banner of Jihad. Creating Wahabi dogma from the most extreme of Sunni tradition, the first Saudi State used the name of Islam and Jihad to occupy most of the Arabian Peninsula and to invade and massacre Shiites and Sufi Muslims in Iraq and Syria. In response, the helpless Ottoman Empire asked the Egyptian strongman Mohammed Ali to defeat the Saudi menace. After seven years of fierce battle, Mohammed Ali destroyed the first Saudi State and its capital in 1818.
2- The military defeat strengthens the Wahabi cult
The defeat of 1818 destroyed the first Saudi State, but also strengthened the zeal of the Wahabists. In the Arab world, military action against an ideology only adds to public support. The Wahabists set about helping the house of Saud to establish a second state in Najd for a short time in the last decades of the 19thcentury. Even though the second Saudi state collapsed quickly under internal conflicts, Wahabism grew. Wahabi scholars insulted other Muslim Sects, accusing them of being idolaters; the other sects were unprepared to defend themselves rhetorically from the Wahabists. Seeing that the others lacked a strong counter-argument, hundreds of thousands of Muslims switched their support to Wahabism.
3-Al Ikhwan built the third Saudi State for Abdel Aziz, then revolted against him
Abdel Aziz, son of Abdel Rahman [Ibn Saud], founded the third Saudi State – which exists to this day -- with the help of fanatic guerrilla soldiers known as Al Ikhwan, or “The Brothers”. For more than 20 years the Ikhwan fought for Abdel Aziz to reestablishing the Saudi State, [1905 – 1925]. It was ultimately named the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. The Ikhwan, who were lawless, tough Bedouins, were steeped in Wahabi dogma, believing it to be the real forgotten Islam, to be enforced with swords and Jihad.
After adding the Hejaz and the Muslim Sacred Mosques to their conquered territory, the Ikhwan wanted to continue their jihad by invading Iraq and Syria where they had committed many massacres. This was a threat to the mighty British Empire and its allies. Abdel Aziz saw this and made a strategic decision to distance himself from the Ikhwan, thereby keeping his kingdom secure by avoiding conflict with the British.
This was the first time the Saudi political authority and its religious authority were at odds. Al Ikhwan, who believed in a continuous Jihad, condemned Abdel Aziz. They accused him of being an accomplice of idolaters [the Egyptians] and the infidels [the British]. Abdel Aziz tried to eliminate this dissension, but the Ikhwan used their Wahabi teachings to bolster their condemnation of Abdel Aziz, calling on statements made by Wahabism’s founder and the oldest imams, Ibn Taymeya and Ibn Hanbal.
4- Abdel Aziz’s policy: Protect the state rather than reform Wahabi faith;and the result of his policy
It was clear even in the early 1900s that Wahabi doctrine needed reforming, but the helpless Saudi scholars were incompetent at doing so. There was a peaceful attempt to reunite Abdel Aziz and his Ikhwan in Riyadh conferences in 1927 and 1928; but it failed to head off a brewing conflict.
Abdel Aziz realized he had to fight his own brothers [Ikhwan], and defeated them in 1929. But he could not defeat their dogma, nor could he reform it. So the problem was left unsolved for decades, until the present day. This is how it has become a danger to the Saudi State, the Muslim World and the Western World as well.
Abdel Aziz lefted reformation for another day, and chose instead to protect his new state from its internal and external enemies. Shiite Muslims stood at the borders in Iran, Iraq, and Syria and in Yemen; they also were inside the Kingdom, in the Eastern region and in Al Hejaz.
The King’s plan was to focus on non-Shiites: He wanted to persuade all Sufis to convert to Wahabism, especially in Egypt and India, home to the biggest oppressed Sunni and Sufi populations. He would then use Wahabi doctrine as a religious motive to revolt against their Christian oppressor, the British Empire.
Once Abdel Aziz took control of Al Hejaz and the Sacred Mosques 1925, he had the perfect opportunity to recruit his converts and spread the Wahabi faith.
By 1928 the Muslim Brotherhood [Al Ikhwam Al Muslemeen] was created in Egypt by Hassan El Banna and his spiritual master Rasheed Reda, Abdel Aziz’s agent in Egypt. From 1928-1948, Hassan El Banna established fifty thousand branches of the Muslim Brotherhood throughout Egypt, while creating an international organization and a secret military organization. The Muslim Brotherhood partnered in fomenting the Egyptian Revolution, which changed the history of Middle East. After the Revolution they came into conflict with Gamal Abdel Nasser, the leader of the Revolution. Most escaped to Saudi Arabia, and waited till Anwar Al Sadat was in power to return to Egypt. Sadat gave them the authority to control Egypt’s education and culture, which they used to create public and secret organizations. Their plan was to take over Egypt, which involved a member of one of their secret organizations assassinating Sadat. The Muslim Brotherhood produced two infamous leaders, Sheikh Omer Abdel Rahman, the blind cleric currently in a U.S. prison, and Ayman Al Zawahiri, the right hand man of Usama Bin Laden. Another Brother was Mohammed Atta, ringleader of the September 11 attacks.
Returning to the early 20thcentury, Abdel Aziz found it easy to recruit Indian Muslims to his plan. They hated the British and the majority of their fellow Indians; and they found in the Wahabism the justification to revolt and divide India into two countries. Thus Pakistan was created as one of the greatest mistakes of the 20thcentury. Pakistan, with the help of the Saudi State and its [Madaris] or Islamic schools created the Taliban, which later took over Afghanistan.
Instead of modernizing Wahabism after his clash with his Saudi [Ikhwan], Abdel Aziz preferred to export Wahabi teachings in their original medieval form to the rest of the Muslim world; this created bloody religious turmoil from Algeria to Indonesia and from Sudan to Russia, and finally to the West and the U.S.
5- The Saudi State keeps its founder’s policy
Following Abdel Aziz, his sons, King Saud, Faisal, Khaled and Fahd have maintained Wahabism in their kingdom; spurred by new oil wealth, they aspired to make their owned family-state the leader of the intire Muslim World. Because of political and economic interests, the West -- especially the U.S. – accommodated this Saudi policy. Moreover, facilities were given to the Saudis to create Islamic Centers in the West to spread Wahabi dogma as the real religion of Islam. This gave Wahabis the opportunity to influence Muslim communities in the West.
Many new Islamic schools and centers were opened with Saudi money and were controlled by Wahabists. They controlled ancient Muslim centers, schools and mosques with Saudi funding; they introduced Wahabi books and cultural resources as the “pure” Islamic teachings, publishing them in both Arabic and English.
This campaign began as early as 1970. After ten years I became an active reformist inside Sunni groups in Egypt; I was persuaded by the Saudi propaganda that America would completely convert to Islam by the 21stcentury. One might argue that, upon failing to reach this grandiose goal, their response was September 11.
Oil wealth gave the Saudis the ability to modernize the material life of their people while their religious, social and cultural life remained controlled by backward Wahabi dogma. This created a huge contradiction, exacerbated by a strategic decision by the house of Saudi to ally itself with the infidel Western countries instead of waging Holy War on them.
6- The Saudi State becomes victim of its policy
Failing to modernize Wahabi teachings has resulted in the Saudi State becoming a victim to its religious ideology. On the first day of the 15thcentury of the Muslim calendar [November 22, 1979], some fanatical groups led by Johayman Al Otayby occupied the Sacred Mosque of Mecca, declaring the Saudi State to be the enemy of Islam and the ally of the infidel west. In his preaching Johayman used the teachings of Ibn Abdel Wahab and the oldest scholars of fanatical Muslims to bolster his claim that the Saudi State was anti-Islam. As was its custom, the Saudi monarchy used military power to remove and eliminate Johayman and his group, while the official government Wahabi scholars were - and still are - unable to rebut Johayman’s arguments. The only way the Saudi State could respond was by banning and confiscating Johayman’s books and messages.
Johayman was just a simple religious Wahabi scholar; the current Wahabi opposition, born after the Gulf War of 1990, is very different. It includes many different intellectuals of varied backgrounds. Most of them have graduated from Western universities and some still live in the West, but they are ardent enemies of the West and its culture. From the membership of this opposition came the Saudi men who volunteered for Usama Bin Laden’s terror attacks.
This irony requires some explanation. The fanatics who comprise the current Wahabi cult did not become extremists because of their Western educations. sRather, most of them belong to ancient tribes shamefully defeated by Abdel Aziz. While studying in the West, they came to realize the extent to which the Saudi royal family suppresses their human, social and political rights. Upon returning to their homeland, they were reminded of their humiliating lower status. They wanted to oppose the regime, but could not do so with help from the West. So their only hope the Wahabi faith, which offered them the platform for challenge: That is, to destroy the Saudi state by declaring it to have no religious legitimacy.
The first Saudi state was destroyed after 73 years by a foreign military action; the second Saudi state was destroyed after decades by internal Saudi conflicts. Now it is clear that the third Saudi State will be destroyed by the Wahabi faith fostered by its own royal family, unless the house of Saudi chooses to reform the faith from inside Islam to make it conform to the values of a human rights culture. This is the real Islam as it is stated in the Holy Quran and the real history of the prophet Mohammed.
7- The Wahabi faith spreads the culture of dictatorship in the Arab Muslim World
The Wahabi faith gives the Muslim ruler unlimited political authority, which is why the Saudi royal family maintains it as the official religion: it keeps those demanding democracy at bay. But there is also a contradiction: while Wahabism supports absolute authority by the Muslim ruler [or Caliph], Wahabis condemn the current Saudi government as the enemy of Islam.
Other Wahabists elsewhere in the Muslim World -- or so-called Islamists -- have the same schizophrenic feeling toward despotic military regimes. They too condemn them as allies of the infidel west, seeking to overthrow them. So while the political activists in other parts of the globe oppose tyranny by demanding democracy, human rights and freedom of speech and belief, the Wahabists oppose the Infidel West and its democratic culture.
The despotic regimes in the Muslim world support the Wahabi opposition to some degree, to scare the non-fanatical intellectual opponents of tyranny, along with the masses. In doing so they send the message: Which is worse, us or them?
In the Muslim world, the only mighty power that can truly oppose tyranny is the Wahabists who use Islam to overthrow these regimes. There is a bloody history of this in Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, and even inside Saudi Arabia itself. Confronted with violent examples in history, intellectuals are forced with a distasteful choice: the corrupted despotic military regimes or the terrorist religious regime. The despotic regimes are terrible, but the fanatic terrorist regime is even worse. These fanatics are victimizing innocent people along with some courageous peaceful writers and intellectuals. In many cases the military regime is using the fanatics to intimidate and even silence peaceful reformers.
As a result, the wave of democracy is bypassing the Muslim world while sweeping through other regions that lack similar levels of sophistication and culture.
8- Why the “Muslim Street” is hostile to the U.S and the West
These two oppressive forces [the Arab regimes and the Wahabi opposition] have hatched endless corruption and chaos in the Muslim World. To distract the masses, the regimes and the Wahabi oppositions convince them that the Infidel west, as the ardent enemy of Islam, is to keep Muslims lagging behind all other peoples. This conspiracy paranoia is the driving obsession of the Wahabis. It divides the entire world into two warring camps, the believers and the infidel. It is their rationalization for holding on to their medieval Wahabi culture (and their Jihad as the only way to deal with the West.)
Under the banner of battling the West, the fanatical Wahabis throughout the Muslim world are rallying the masses. Their central aim is to create one united Islamic Nation [Ommah] to be governed by one ruler, the Khalifa, who will confront the West by Holy War or Jihad. To achieve this aim, they are working to take over Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan; these three states, once overtaken, would be the foundation on which to build the One Islamic United Nation to defeat the Christians and Jews.
9- Should we let the Saudi State collapse or help it survive?
In the Wahabist political literature (banned by the Saudi government), the Wahabis envision that, after they destroy the Saudi state and topple the royal family, they will establish their Islamic Ommah with its capital in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Hejaz, and Islam’s holiest shrine. They call this “the Base”, or “Al Qa’eda”. Usama Bin Laden has borrowed this term for his terror network. Knowing that this is the plan of the Wahabis, one can see the need to defend the Saudi State and help it survive.
Furthermore, there is longstanding enmity between peoples of the Najd and Al Hijaz regions. These are Saudi Arabia’s two biggest provinces, rife with various restive, angry religious sects and tribes. If the Saudi monarchy were to collapse, the Arabian Peninsula – the religious heart of Muslim World and the resource of the world’s oil industry - would become a fireball of war and chaos.
It’s the interest of the civilized world to keep the Saudi monarchy stable and to save it by pushing for it to reform its religious problem. It’s also imperative for the United States to push for this reform, because it will lead to the reform of Islamic schools in the U.S.
10- September 11 is the product of uncontrolled Wahabism and a harbinger of a potential third world war.
I would argue that September 11thwas the beginning of the Third World War.
Unlike the prior two world wars, military action alone will not win the day. Perversely, it will strengthen the fanatics and increase the number of innocent victims. This should instead be a peaceful intellectual war against terrorism – waged by Muslims. To save the Saudi State, the Muslim world, the West and millions of innocent people, the Saudi State has to reform Wahabism from inside Islam.
How to reform
1-The new kind of the Wahabi War
According to the Wahabist religious vedicts [Fatwas], Al Jihad means to hate and to fight the enemy of Islam. The “enemy” includes all Christians, Jews, non-Muslims and Muslims who are not Wahabis. It’s permissible in their wars to kill not only soldiers, but children, women and even pets. The killer [Al Mujahed], should he die in the process, is said to go straight to paradise, where he will see God and have a special rank before Him on the Day of Judgment. This rank allows him to intercede for his family and friends.
It’s easy to prove this from their history and tradition, but the current suicide bombers are the manifest proves of their kind of Jihad.
Mohammed Abdel Wahab, the sacred Imam of the Wahabis, wrote in several of his books advocating this kind of Jihad. He distorted interpretations of the Quran and used false quotes from the Hadeeth, or Sayings of the prophet Mohammed. He directed Sunni scholars to establish this as official Wahabi dogma. A careful reading of the true Quran and Hadeeth shows that Abdel Wahab writings are in conflict with true Islam.
2-Some facts on how to reform
To save the world from the danger of Wahabist extremism and reform Islam from the inside, it is useful to consider the following:
2-1-Wahabist doctrine springs from the minds of Muslim scholars based on their circumstances and culture of their lives during the middle Ages. It was an era of Crusade and Holy Wars and religious persecution. The Wahabist reaction to these circumstances was wrong and contradicts the core of any pure religion. But the times were what they were: People used religion to serve their political aims. The great values of peace, tolerance, freedom and justice, which form the core of all religions, were ignored. People chose war and oppression, and abused the name of the religion in order to commit heinous crimes.
2-2- The Wahabis, to preserve the preeminence of their ideology, always ban the freedom of speech and belief and confiscate the books of any other faith. Any Muslim intellectual who tries to discuss their teachings is doomed as an apostate; it is declared that he should be killed under the banner of Islamic Jurisprudence. These are the laws of a medieval culture -- a hangover from a dark period of the world.
2-3- Wahabism does not represent all Muslims. There are three main sects: Sunnis, Shiites and Sufis. Among the Sunnis are four sub-sects. Hanabelah are the hardest line of the Sunni; Ibn Taymeyah and his people are the hardest line among the Hanabelah; then Wahabis are the hardest line among the followers of Ibn Taymeyah.
The number of Wahabists is relatively small. Minute sect becomes by the Saudi State, the representative of the religion of Islam. Today there are more than a billion
Muslims in the world, most of them Sunni and Sunni Sufi, followed by Shiites. Generally, most Muslims are peaceful people who believe in superstitions and the miracles of the Imams and the sacred tombs. The Wahabi cult is definitely a minority in terms of followers; but it’s the biggest cult in terms of organizations, leaders, strength and activists. Wahabis are ardent activists in spreading their faith and plotting the takeover of secular regimes in the Muslim World. There are roughly a few million followers of Wahabism, meaning about 3% of Muslims. But this 3% is hijacking Islam for their own selfish designs. At times they were supported by the U.S. government, though no longer; however, their culture is still supported by the Saudi state and most regimes in the Muslim world. The real problem, then, is not the number of followers: it’s the Wahabist culture and its influence.
2-4- One could easily argue the fallacies of Wahabi dogma, and Wahabi leaders know this. That’s why they use their power to ban and confiscate any writings that contradict them, and persecute anyone who dares to discuss their doctrine.
The writer of this proposal has more than two decades’ experience discussing this fanatic culture and the untouchable side of Muslim tradition. He has the knowledge and commitment to continue, but the fanatics forced him to flee to the U.S to save his life and be able to exercise his freedom of speech and belief.
Now he is offering up his knowledge to help reform the Wahabi faith from inside Islam.
The key question, though, is this: Is the Saudi State willing to save itself -- or not?
3-The Role of the Saudi State
U.S.government support for reform is not enough. The commitment and knowledge of this writer and other Muslim thinkers and reformers is not enough -- unless the Saudis themselves willingly support this proposal and activate it in practical steps.
The Saudis have spent billions of dollars to spread Wahabi dogma; as a result, the entire worlds – and the institution of Islam – are in peril. Now it’s the Saudis’ religious duty and their obligation to the international community to neutralize this danger in a peaceful manner.
The Saudis spent billions of dollars to spread Wahabi dogma using tens of TV channels and newspapers, along with hundreds of institutes, schools and centers.
Now they need to spend a few million dollars and devote a few TV channels, newspapers and centers to eliminating the poisonous tree they have planted.
They certainly have the rhetorical weapon they need: Islamic facts are very clear in the Quran, and Wahabi dogma is so weak that it would wither under the glaring light of discussion. It’s in the interest of the Saudi government to undertake this, if only for their own survival. These days they now face a stark choice: Wahabi dogma or their state and lives. Should they embark on reform, they can use the explanation that Wahabism is no longer suitable for this day and age.
The intellectual efforts and writings in the cause of reform are already available, but it must be remembered that the Saudi State used its influence inside Egypt and other Muslim countries to confiscate and to ban all this and persecute the free thinkers.
This persecution scared the peaceful intellectuals who want merely to live in safety. There are many such intellectuals in numbers in Egypt and other Muslim and Arab countries. From 1995 to 2000, many came to the writer’s weekly forum at the Ibn Khaldoun center in Cairo. The writer received a wealth of commentary from Quranic scholars outside Egypt as well. But then the media outlets of the fanatics threatened them, accusing the Ibn Khaldoun center of being a den of enemies of Sunna and the prophet Mohammed. This campaign led to a wave of arrests in Egypt. Many of the writer’s staffers were arrested and the writer himself eventually fled All of those free thinkers who once were actively involved with the Ibn Khaldoun center are now so scared that they are trying to deny their faith. The Saudis also have bribed other intellectuals to get them to defend Wahabism and attack their former colleagues.
The Saudi crown family, therefore, must undertake a dramatic change in the way it does business. It must: 1- Uphold the first Islamic value, the freedom of speech and freedom of belief, giving unlimited freedom of thought and belief to all people in the kingdom. This will allow Shiites and Sufis to practice their beliefs and discuss Wahabi dogma. 2- Give equal opportunities to all Muslims in mass media and other public platforms in religious, cultural and social life. 3- Continue a genuine but gradual reform in the political, economic and social spheres. 4- Encourage free thinkers throughout the Muslim World to participate in this reform.
This is not a call to ban Wahabi doctrine, but to establish equality among all Muslim cults, and to give freedom of belief and speech for all of them, and to make all doctrines open to public examination.
This kind of climate will create a competition of sorts, in which the people will choose for themselves which Islamic faith is best for them.
4- The Practical Steps of this proposal
As mentioned earlier, the writings of reform are available, as is the commitment of silenced intellectuals throughout the Muslim World; they are eager to support this project but they are scared.
The real problem is to the financial support for establishing an international organization to implement the project, and protect the safety of the intellectuals involved. It needs a formal arrangement with the U.S., Saudi, Egyptian and allied governments. The writer knows personally from experience at the Ibn Khaldoun center that any reform needs official support, directly or indirectly.
There are many official American efforts to reform the Muslim culture in the realm of education and religion. We –of course - welcome these efforts, but we need to reform our religious problems by ourselves. What we need is American support.
American support will reform the American image in the Muslim World.
American policy is usually distorted by the Muslim media and misunderstood by the Muslim masses. The dictators of this region direct the anger of the masses toward America and explain their own failures as a product of the “Western Conspiracy against Islam and Muslims”. But with this project, the fanatics will be forced to spend their time not fighting the U.S. but defending themselves and their dogma. The dictators will be forced to enact some reforms as a compromise to stay in power. The Muslim masses will finally get a chance to hear more than one opinion and several points of views. They will finally discover that their real enemy is the fanatics and the dictators, not the U.S. and the West.
It will not be easy to achieve this; it will be a painful struggle. But it is worth it to save Islam and save millions of lives in wars and terrorist actions.
This is the true peaceful intellectual Jihad as The Almighty God mentioned in the Holy Quran:[25:52]
To pursue this mission, the writer of this proposal hopes to find an American entity that can help establish a company specializing in media to publish books and produce, stage and television programs in English, Arabic, and other Islamic languages. These would be disseminated throughout the Muslim World and the Muslim communities in the U.S. and the European Union.
The writer and his colleagues know how to attract and impress the Muslim masses. The writer had to struggle alone for more than ten years against the Egyptian regime and Muslim fanatics; through this struggle he has established a new trend, the Quranic trend: the intellectuals who believe in Islam as the religion of peace, tolerance, justice, human rights, and freedom of expression. This is a trend of people who believe that their real enemy is not the West or the U.S. but the fanatics and the dictators of Muslim World. If the Quranic people throughout the Muslim world find a home in this U.S.-sponsored entity, it will be lead to greater security for the U.S. and the rest of the civilized world.
The American Constitution protects the freedom of speech, so the only way to reform the Islamic schools in the U.S. is to give American Muslims an alternative ideology and let them choose which they prefer. With the books and broadcasts of this sponsored entity, Muslims will have the materials to discuss Wahabi teachings and see the contradictions between Wahabism and the true interpretations of the Quran. They will have access to other Islamic teachings which confirm and conform to American values and the Human Rights culture. Members of the American Muslim community and students at Islamic schools in the U.S. will be able to compare ideologies, then think and choose for themselves.
This is an essential way to prevent the formation of an American Taliban.
|بلد الاقامة||:||United State|