Wahabization-Salafization of Pakistan and Muslim Ummah
Fighting the Terrorists But Supporting Their Ideology
By: Syed B. Soharwardy
Within the last two weeks more than 200 innocent Pakistani Muslims have been killed by the suicide bombers. When I heard the news that the terrorists have attacked the military headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi,Pakistan, I was shocked but not surprised. A week ago, forty Pakistani Muslims were killed in the Sawat Valley by the suicide bombers. Few days ago five more suicide bombings in Lahore and Peshawar killed more than 35 Pakistan Muslims. The daily killings of innocent civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere is becoming so routine that people have stopped paying attention to these atrocities. The abnormal and inhumane behaviour of fanatics is becoming normal for many people.
Many people see these attacks a reaction towards the illegal occupation of Muslim lands and interference in the affairs of Muslim countries by the United States and its allies. I whole heartedly oppose the occupation of Muslim countries and the interference in the affairs of the Muslim countries by the US and its allies. It is in the interest of America and its allies to end the occupation and stop interfering in the affairs of the Muslim countries. However, the suicide bombings and killings of innocent civilians must be a bigger concern for all Muslims.
As a Muslim I know that killing another Muslim is a major sin and a crime in Islam. Then the question arises, why the Taliban, Al Qaeda OR any other “so called Muslim” groups are killing innocent Muslims? Why would a Muslim kill another Muslim knowing that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has said that the life, property and the honour of a Muslim is HARAAM (forbidden) on the other Muslim. Why a fanatic who happens to be a Muslim will not eat pig because it is “Haraam” but will be willing to kill a fellow Muslim, which is a bigger “Haraam” in Islam? According to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) the honour of a believer is holier than the Ka’ba – the holiest place for all Muslims in Makkah. Then why would a Muslim suicide bomber randomly kills Muslim children, women, elderly and ordinary citizens? Lets find out.
Eliminating the Opposition
In 18th century, a clergyman made an alliance with a tribal chief in Najd in Arabian Peninsula and formed an army to establish a kingdom in the Arabian Peninsula. He used the political influence of the tribal chief and the power of religion (Islam) to fight against his opponents. Coincidently, his opponents were not Christians, Jews OR Polytheists. His opponents were all fellow Muslims. He wanted to eliminate his opposition. He needed a religious excuse to fight against his enemies. So he found excuses in the early history of Islam.
During the Khilafah of Hazrat Usman ibn Affan (May Allah be pleased with him), the 3rd Caliph of Islam, a rebellion movement was established by a group of people who became responsible for dividing the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They created misunderstandings among the companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). These misunderstandings created wars among the companions (Sahabah).
The companions and the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) called this group Khawarij OR Khawrjees OR Khawrjites. Khawarij means “the outsiders”. These outsiders (Khawarij) considered themselves the most righteous Muslims, while the true most righteous Muslims (the companions and the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)) were attacked by these people. The Khawarij martyred Hazrat Usman, the 3rd Caliph of Islam. They martyred the 4th Caliph of Islam, Hazrat Imam Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Khawarij killed hundreds of companions and the family members of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They issued Fatwa against the most honourable and the most respected early scholars of Islam. They called themselves the most righteous Muslims but they hated Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) family and the companions (peace upon them). The Khawarij called several companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) including the most beloved Hazrat Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib a MUSHRIK (apostate) and BID’ATEE (innovator). Khawarij claimed they understood Islam better than the progeny and the companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They hated those who loved and honoured Allah’s last Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him). They fought and killed those who loved Allah’s Messenger and his family. In fact, the Khawarij were the terrorist of their time. They used Islam as a scapegoat just like today’s terrorists.
The Modern Khawarij
The self-proclaimed righteous clergyman of Arabia followed the foot steps of Khawarij and revived the Khawarijism. He saw that his opponent Muslims do not hesitate to show their love and loyalty with Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), his progeny and his companions (May Allah’s peace upon all of them). For centuries Muslims had been visiting the holy shrines built over the graves of the companions and the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). For centuries Muslims were safeguarding the holy relics of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), his progeny and his companions (peace upon them). Muslims visited the historical Islamic sites (Islamic heritage) and sought blessings from Allah. The clergyman of Arabia saw that the Muslims would stand up just to show respect for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when they send salutation on him. They would celebrate Prophet’s birthday (peace be upon him) called Meelad Sharif. He did not like the love for the prophet just like the Khawarij did not like this love.
The clergyman of Arabia issued Fatwa and declared his opponent Muslims apostates for practicing the above mentioned traditions. He declared “Jihad” against them. This clergyman and his army destroyed the holy shrines, relics and the historic Islamic sites. The clergyman declared the traditional Islamic practices as an innovation (distortion) in Islam and declared his opponents, BID’ATEE (innovators). He did not consider fellow Muslims as Muslims. The ideology this clergyman formed is called SALAFISM OR WAHABISM, the modern form of “Khawarijism”. The foundation of Salafism/Wahabism is based upon one simple rule. “Anyone who disagrees with you is not a Muslim and must be eliminated”. This clergyman was Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahab who helped in forming the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahab called himself a Sunni Muslim but he killed Sunni Muslims who opposed him. The denomination of Sunni Muslims is called Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t. Although, Salafis/Wahabis also consider themselves Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t but mainstream Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t do not consider them as a part of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t. They are recognized as a separate sect called Salafis/Wahabis. To clarify further, the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t I am referring here are the followers of Sufis. They practice Tasawuf (Sufism). For Salafis/Wahabis, Sufism is an apostasy.
Salafism/Wahabism is an ideology of killing, hate and intolerance, which started in Saudi Arabia. It has now slowly spread all over the world. In Salafism / Wahabism killing a Muslim who does not join the group has more reward from God than killing an infidel who fights against Islam.
Wahabization-Salafization of Pakistan and the Muslim World
In Pakistan the massive penetration of Salafism was started in early 70s when Pakistanis started going to Saudi Arabia for jobs. The oil boom brought development in Saudi Arabia as well as jobs for Pakistanis and others. However, during the time of General Zia ul haq this Salafism / Wahabism started penetrating into the armed forces of Pakistan. At that time the Afghan Jihad had started. With the American weapons and Saudi petro dollars the Salafi/Wahabi ideology was inserted into the minds of hundreds of Muslims. This Wahabi/Salafi ideology came from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan. It was impossible for Pakistanis and Pakistan’s Armed Forces to protect themselves from the influence of this ideology.
I was born and raised in Pakistan in a very religious family who loved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) more than anything else. We stand up to express our respect when we send our salutation on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). We celebrate his birthday, called Eid Milad un Nabi (peace be upon him). My brother and I used to accompany our father when he used to go to various places including the Bases of the Armed Forces for Meelad Sharif gatherings (honouring the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)). I remember, in Karachi, hundreds of members of Pakistan’s Armed Forces (Military, Air force and Navy) used to come in civilian dresses in several trucks to attend the annual Mehfil-e-Naat (signing rhymes to praise Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)). Mehfil-e-Naat still continues but they stopped coming. Wahabis/Salafis do not allow Mehfil-e-Naat.
Beside several slogans, “NA’RA-E-HAIDARY”, “YA ALI” used to be one of the most frequently used slogans in Pakistan Armed Forces. It’s no more allowed. Wahabi/Salafi ideology considers “NA’RA-E-HAIDARY”, “YA ALI” an apostasy. The long Islamic traditions have now been abandoned due to the fact that the Pakistani Armed Forces have embraced the Wahabi/Salafi ideology due to the influence of Saudi Arabia and the blessings of the Afghan “Jihad”.
Mosques in Pakistan
I do not have the official stats regarding the affiliations of mosques in Pakistan with different denominations but I can analyze this based upon my own observations. I have calculated the following stats based upon the number of Eid prayers held in different places across the country. In Pakistani newspapers Eid prayers are identified by the sects and people know what mosque belongs to what sect.
Until the late 70s, in Sind, Punjab, and Azad Kashmir, 70% mosques belonged to Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t (Sufis), 21% belonged to Deobandi, 1% belonged to Salafis, 7% belonged to Shi’a and the rest were others. In the Frontier and Baluchistan provinces 52% mosques belonged to Deobandi. 40% mosques belonged to Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t, 1% Salafis, 6% mosques belonged to Shi’a and the rest were others.
(Note: Deobandis are very close to Salafi/Wahabi ideology. Most of the Taliban belong to Deobandi sect. The Pakistani Taliban are either Deobandi OR Salafi).
The demography of mosques within Pakistan has changed significantly since then. Currently, in Sind, Punjab, and Azad Kashmir, more than 55% mosques belong to Deobandi, 30% belong to Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t, 6% belong to Salafis, 8% belong to Shi’a and the rest are others. In the Frontier and Baluchistan provinces 60% mosques belong to Deobandi, 20% mosques belong to Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t, 10% mosques belong to Salafis, 8% mosques belong to Shi’a and the rest are others.
Armed Forces Mosques
Until the late 70s, the mosques located at the Armed Force Bases (Military, Air Force and Navy), were 90% Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t (Sufi), 8% Deobandi, and 0% Salafi. Currently 85% of the mosques are Deobandi OR Salafi and less than 10% are Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t. What a shift! There are only a few Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t Imam left to serve Pakistan Armed Forces mosques.
This dramatic shift in mosques affiliations was due to the huge financial backing by the Wahabi/Salafi organizations, government of Saudi Arabia and escalated propaganda by the Saudi government institutions against the beliefs of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t. When Muslims go to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage, they are brainwashed by the employees of the Saudi government. They openly preach and force Wahabi/Salafi beliefs on pilgrims. They spend millions of dollars on the distribution of Salafi/Wahabi literature around the globe.
Wahabization – Salafization of Muslim Ummah
Throughout history, in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan there has never been a Wahabi/Salafi mosque. Now 90% mosques are controlled by Wahabi/Salafi Imams. In Indonesia, Malaysia and other Far Eastern Muslim regions a Salafi/Wahabi mosque hardly existed before 70s. The overwhelming majority of the mosques were Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t. Today, you will hardly find an Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t mosque in these regions. The majority of mosques are now controlled by Wahabi/Salafi Imams. The reason is the huge financial support from the Salafi/Wahabi organizations of Saudi Arabia.
In the United States 90% of the mosques are run and operated by Deobandis/Salafis. In Canada 95% of the mosques are run and operated by Salafis/Deobandis.
In the Greater Toronto Area out of approximately 150 Sunni mosques and musallahs (makeshift places for worship) only 11 belong to non-Deobandi/Wahabi. The overwhelming majority of mosques and musallahs are run by Deobandis/Wahabis. The reason is not that the majority of Muslims is Wahabi/Salafi rather it is because the majority of Muslims do not have access to petro dollars that are needed to control and run mosques.
Support for Wahabi/Salafi Ideology
On one side we fight against terrorists and on the other side we allow and support the ideology that creates terrorists. On one side, Pakistan’s Army is fighting the extremists and on the other side Pakistan’s Army has handed over all of its mosques to Deobandi/Salafi clergymen whose ideology is based upon intolerance.
Pakistanis can not have peace in their country unless peace preaching Imams return to their mosques. With Salafis/Deobandis controlling the majority of the mosques in Pakistan, it will be extremely difficult to have peace in mosques, in the communities and in Pakistan.
The Real Danger to World Peace
The real danger to the world peace is due to two things.
The Western greed to control the Muslim countries and their resources.
The increase in religious intolerance due to the Wahabi/Salafi ideology.
Western greed is one of the major contributors in spreading the Wahabi/Salafi ideology. All Western countries including Canada and the USA want good economic and political ties with the Wahabi/Salafi institutions due to oil and investments. Saudi Arabia is now a member of the G20. How can anyone stop Wahabism/Salafism now? Due to the western ties and interest with the Salafis/Wahabis, the governments in the West ignore the dangers of this hateful ideology. The Western countries are fighting the terrorists but they are supporting the ideology that creates terrorism. Western countries can not have both ways. In order to eliminate terrorists you need to stop the brain washing ideology that creates terrorism.
The neo-cons and the Islamophobes blame Islam for the atrocities carried out by the suicide bombers and the terrorists. They wrongly quote verses from the holy Qur’an. They badmouth about Islam and our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They blame Muslims for the crimes of Salafis/Wahabis. The reality is that the Wahabi/Salafi ideology creates fanatics and extremists, not Islam
In other words, Wahabis/Salafis among Muslims are same as Islamophobes among non-Muslims. Both spread hate and intolerance. Just like several talk show hosts, politicians and experts in Christian and Jewish world who purposely create hate against their opponents, there are people in the Muslim world who create hate against their opponents.
Few months ago, an Islamophobe talk show host in Canada was trying to make fun of the word “Muhammad”. On the same day another talk show host on an Arabic TV channel was trying to make fun of “Holocaust”. The Canadian talk show host calls himself a “Christian” and the Arabic TV talk show host calls himself a “Muslim”. In my opinion, they are the KKKs of two different religions. But when you talk to them both will deny that they are KKKs.
In Islam there is peace for everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims. However, we must be educated and intelligent enough to differentiate between Islam and Wahabism/Salafism. Although, the followers of both may look a like and pray the same way, one can easily differentiate between them. The followers of Islam will show the utmost respect for the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his progeny and companions (peace upon them), while the followers of Salafism/Wahabism will refer to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as an ordinary man. The followers of Islam have always organized the gatherings of “Meelad Sharif” to honour the prophet (peace be upon him) while the followers of Wahabism/Salafism call this apostasy. Followers of Islam have always believed in the intercession of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on the Judgment Day, while the followers of Wahabi/Salafi depend on their own deeds. Followers of Islam have always shown respect towards Aolia Allah (Sufis), while Salafis/Wahabis insult them. Followers of Islam love Allah’s creation and have always respected the difference of opinions but Salafis/Wahabis can not tolerate any disagreements.
The followers of Islam believe that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last and the final Prophet and Messenger of Allah and Qur’an is the final divine book from Allah.
Unless the Pakistani government brings back Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’t into the mosques and supports them, the elimination of fanatics and extremists will be impossible. The same goes for Canada and all western countries. The extremist ideology will breed extremism only. It is our responsibility to stop any ideology that creates hate against fellow citizens. Although, the Islamophobes and Salafis/Wahabis are two very different groups but what creates similarity between the two is the greed to control and intolerance for difference of opinion. “Khawarij” and “Crusaders” did exist in the past and they are reviving themselves in the modern times.
May Allah keep us safe from the evil of extremists and fanatics. Ameen.