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Muslim Denomination Map 8, September 2011

Posted by in Islam.
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I always like a good map.

Hat tip: MS


The Spread of Wahhabism 12, May 2009

Posted by in Saudi Arabia, Yemen.
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Here’s a link to a fascinating post by US Professor Brian Ulrich on his excellent blog Brian’s Coffeehouse. He quotes from a book on tribal order in Yemen on the odd reasons that lie behind the spread of Wahhabism in what one might assume to be areas where it would not penetrate.

One of the remarkable features of the Sunni-Wahhabi movement was that it flourished in the birthplace and heartlands of Zaydi-Shi’ism. This was largely because it tapped a hitherto dormant resentment of key tenets of Zaydi doctrine still manifest there – especially the sayyid claim to religious authority and social superiority on the grounds of religious descent, which Wahhabis felt contravened Islamic ideals by promoting inequality.

The most public and active converts to Wahhabism in Razih were shibab (young men -ed.) from some qabili and most ‘butcher’ families (lower states -ed.). These young men, who were struggling to find work and marriage payments, and were traditionally subordinate to their elders and ‘betters,’ were attracted to Islah (which they equated with Wahhabism) by its welfare program, and to Wahhabism by its egalitarianism. They credited their education for their conversion. In contrast to their mostly illiterate fathers, who had depended on religious specialists for guidance, they had attended the first secondary schools (which opened in Razih in the 1980s), and had studied the Sunni texts then flooding Yemen and formed their own opinions…

Al Wahhab’s Jewish origins – according to Saddam 10, April 2008

Posted by in Middle East, Saudi Arabia.
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It is well known that Saudi Arabia was born out of an agreement between the Muhammed ibn Abd Al Wahhab and Muhammed Ibn Saud in the 18th century. Ibn Saud would provide the means and protection for Al Wahhab to spread his word, and he would in turn provide religious sanctification of Saud’s rule. This particular deal is still intact today. Because of the central nature of Wahhabism to Saudi Arabia and of the central nature of Saudi Arabia to modern politics (because of its masses oil and its provision of the majority of the 9-11 hijackers if nothing else) Wahhabism has been well documented. However, some new infHormation has been found on this suggesting that the grandfather of Muhammad ibn Abd Al Wahhab was, in fact, from Jewish origin in Turkey.

Perhaps at this stage, before anyone gets angry about this, I ought to say that this new information comes from a recently translated and declassified Iraqi intelligent report from the Saddam era. Indeed, there are ‘questions’ as to the veracity of this report and, I would suggest, one need only think of Comical Ali, the former Iraqi spokesperson to get an idea of just how much truth and fiction intermingled under Saddam.

Bernard Haykel over at MESH where I found this story makes two interesting points. Firstly, that just such a spurious story would perfectly dovetail with the Iraqi’s desperate desire to vilify and denounce Wahhabis. Indeed, he goes on to suggest that this is yet more evidence that strongly supports the notion that Al Qaeda (quasi-Wahhabi in origin) had nothing whatsoever to do with the Iraqi regime, being as Saddam patently hated such groups: hence the report. Secondly, he says that this document “echoes a well-known Turkish conspiracy theory—probably fabricated by one Ayyub Sabri Pasha—which claims that the British sought to weaken the Ottoman empire by creating the Wahhabi movement.”

N.B – There are some interesting (apparantly) true conspiracy theories over at the Times.