Desert Storm

How Saudi Arabia is making the world unsafe

12/1/2016 7:09:52 PM
written By : Ashali Varma Print

What do the recent spate of terror attacks in Bangladesh, Turkey and Iraq have in common? They are all inspired by the Wahhabi sect of Islam. The bestial beheadings, the killings of infidels, the demand for a caliphate and the preachers and madrasas that radicalise the youth  all show the influence of Wahhabi teachings.

The Saudi kingdom is a twin arrangement between the king and the clerics. The 18th century preacher Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab was the founder of Wahhabism. His  puritanical version of Islam continues to be  practised in Saudi Arabia. A lonely preacher shunned by  many tribes, he found favour with the then chieftain Ibn Saud whom he promised to help unite the tribes. The preacher said he would be the moral authority behind the Saudi raids. Thus started  the raids  and conversions of other Bedouin tribes to the puritanical version of Islam in the late 18th century.

Later, after he tribes were united, huge reserves of oil and gas were found in the desert. Then, with the oil money, Saudi Arabia was able to finance Wahhabi teachings all over the Middle East as well as other countries including Pakistan, India, Malaysia and Brunei. They even helped to spread it to parts of Africa.

The American author and journalist, Steven Coll, has written how Abd al-Wahhab, the  austere and censorious disciple of the 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyyah despised “the decorous, arty, tobacco-smoking, hashish-imbibing, drum-pounding Egyptian and Ottoman nobility who travelled across Arabia to pray at Mecca.”

Abd al-Wahhab did not consider them Muslims; in his view, they were impostors and heretics. Nor, indeed, did he find the behaviour of the local Bedouin Arabs much better. He despised them for honouring saints and building monuments to them.

The strategy adopted by Abd al-Wahhab and his followers  — like that of ISIS today — was to bring the people they conquered into submission. They aimed to instil fear. Ibn Saud’s clan, seizing on Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine, now could do what they always did -- raiding neighbouring villages and robbing them of their possessions. Only now they were doing it under the banner of jihad. Ibn Saud and Abd al-Wahhab also reintroduced the idea of martyrdom in the name of jihad, as it granted those martyred immediate entry into paradise.

In 1801, they attacked the Holy City of Karbala in Iraq. They massacred thousands of Shiites, including women and children. Many Shiite shrines were destroyed, including the shrine of Imam Hussein, the murdered grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

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