Wahhabism to ISIS: Who was mainly responsible for the birth of ISIS?

Today ISIS has turned out to be the biggest threat for our country and the world. They are described as the most brutal people on earth who butcher innocents mercilessly in a horrific way. The ISIS has recently gained momentum and is spreading its brutality throughout the world.

But not many people know how the concept of Jihad and ISIS came into existence. We can call Saudi Arabia was mainly responsible for this concept. It all started in the mid 18th century, when Saudi Arabia was facing socio-economic crisis. Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab who was the Sheikh wanted to bring a new rule where all people came under one philosophy. So he brought the concept of Wahhabism in partnership with a local emir, ibn Sa’ud. They called it Wahhabism.

Wahhabism revolves around the concept of one rule, one God as the sole creator of the Universe. This is called the Tawheed. According to this rule, whoever disobeys the doctrine of Wahhabism, is set to be punished severely and the punishment can extend upto death.

Honoring saints, building tombs was considered against Wahhabism. There were strict rules made against playing music, painting and many recreational activities. All this behavior, Abd al-Wahhab denounced as bida, forbidden by God.

Abd al-Wahhab believed that the time when Prophet Mohammed’s stay in Medina was the most prosperous and ideal time for Muslims. A man called Taymiyyah, who existed before Wahhab, had raged war on Shi’ism, Sufism and Greek philosophy. He never wanted Muslims to visit the tomb of Prophet, celebrating Prophet’s birthday considering those behavior similar to Christianity.

Wahhab also implemented such rules that anyone who had doubts on Wahhabism or refused to follow the ideology should be deprived of all benefits and made to suffer throughout his life. Wahhab denounced all the Muslims who honoured the dead, saints, or angels. Henceforth, prayer to saints and dead loved ones, pilgrimages to tombs and special mosques, religious festivals celebrating saints, the honoring of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s birthday was all banned. This was called the takfir. Under Takfir, Wahhab and his followers had supreme power to take action any person who was found to be disobeying Wahhabism laws. Those who did not obey or respect the laws, were killed, their wives and children taken away and all the possession was acquired.

Later the rules became more and more stringent and the concept of single Muslim leader was born. Wahhabism said that all Muslims should accept and pledge their support to single Muslim ruler. Those who did not accept this, were killed. They refused any innovations in the science world. Therefore he rejected all the finding of the scholars and asked Muslims to interpret the texts for themselves.

Muhammad Ibn Saud, a chieftain of Najd, was a follower of Wahhab and Wahhab believed that he will be the next person to take forward the concept of Wahhabism. But soon rift broke out between the two as Wahhab refused few ideas of Muhhammad Saud which was using Jihad for dominating the land. But Wahhab wanted Jihad to be used only during military conquest and not for personal benefit.

Muhhamad wanted to implement killing of prisoners of war, destruction of property and the slaughter of civilians, including women and children, but Wahhab did not find it convenient. Md Saud also started the concept that whoever fought for Wahhabism were granted high place in heaven.

So two types of Wahhabism started to emerge in which Muhhamad Saud used sword along with Wahhabism principles to establish his dominance.

The two forms of Wahhabism completely cornered the basic principle of Quran which said “There must be no coercion in matters of faith” (2:256), ruled that Muslims must believe in the revelations of all the great prophets (3:84) and that religious pluralism was God’s will (5:48).

In a way, it became the base for the birth of ISIS. There is no difference between the ISIS and Wahhabism. The ISIS was against one rule of Wahhabism of accepting “One Ruler, One Authority, One Mosque.” The ISIS which refused this rule was based on Sunni philosophy.

As the centuries passed, the Wahhabism completely rejected all other forms of Islam which were followed in Bradford, England, and Buffalo, New York, Pakistan, Jordan and Syria. So the people who came to Saudi in 19th-20th century, in search of job and livelihood carried back home the Wahhabism preaching and rejected their older belief.

So the understanding of Islam from time to time kept changing with negative view of other faiths and religion and an intolerantly sectarian understanding of their own. Around 1980s, unqualified people like Osama bin Laden and other extremists came into existence giving their own conclusion of the religion. The Saudis realised that the Wahhabism philosophy was completely modified by everyone who wanted to be authoritarian and  put out their ideas in Islam. Arabs tried to stop the radicalization, but it was too late. The Arabs also tried to join young men who were joining the Al-Queda in Afghanistan into main stream but the men were attracted to Al-Qaeda.

But the preaching of the terror groups was so intense that young men started to follow ISIS which lured them with money and women. People found it was easy to kill people and acquire wealth than following truth means.

So ISIS follows hard core Wahhabism, with ultra radical rules made to suit their needs. If ISIS today is opposing the Saudi King’s legitimacy, then its not a surprise but it is a return to the true ideology of Wahhabism. The ISIS brutality has no limits, the only principle they follow is spread of Islam forcibly and butchering those who oppose it.

It only shows how any policy made with no basis or principles will only bound to collapse or get misused in an unimaginable way which will turn to be a threat to entire humanity!

Aishwarya S