Salafi and Wahhabism

· Islam

Salafi and Wahhabism

Salafi (Arabic: سلفي‎)

A Salafi is a devotee who follows the teachings of the “early founding fathers of Islam.” They believe that the early founding fathers held the purest views of the tenets of Islam, uncorrupted or untainted by any selfish or warped views of human weaknesses. So Salafis viewed the first three generations as the truest and purest interpretations of orthodox Islam. These first three Muslim generations are referred to as:
(1) The Sahabah (Companions),
(2) The Tabi’un (Followers),
(3) The Tabi’ al-Tabi’in (Those following the Followers.)

Salafis therefore accepted that these three generations would have the truest and purest understanding of the tenets and the texts of the Prophet Muhammad, and thus would be the model of how Islam should be practised for all  Salafi Muslims. The noted Salafi Islamic scholars who codified and refined these beliefs are:
(1) Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d.240 AH:855 AD)
(2) Taqi ad-Deen Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 AH : 1328 AD) and
(3) Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (d.1206 AH : 1792 AD)

Salafi jurisprudence is based directly on the Qur’an and Sunnah (Hadiths) as practised by the first three generations of Muslims. The Salafi interpretation is based on the “Athari theology” a strict form of Islam.

Salafis promote that the Sharia Law (Islamic Law) take precedence over civil or state laws. [1]

It is a apparently clear that Salafis follow a very strict orthodox fundamental Islamic traditions.




A Salafy is not of the Khawaarij. Khawaarij are those who consider the
Muslims to be Kaafirs (non-believers) due to their committing major sins, and make
lawful the taking of their wealth and blood. A Salafy is not of the Shi’ah (Shi’ites)
because the Shi’ah hate and curse the Prophet’s Companions, claim them to be apostates,
declare that the Qur’an has been altered, reject the authentic Sunnah and worship the
Prophet’s family, peace be upon them. A Salafy is also not of the Qadariyyah because
they deny Qadr (the Divine Decree). He is not of the Murjiah because they claim Imaan
(Faith) to be only in words and not in deed. Likewise, he is not of the Asharriyah who
deny Allah’s Attributes, and not of the Sufis who worship graves, saints and claim Divine


Many Muslims today, regretfully,
believe that the Salafis or “Wahhabis” are supporters of the monarchy in Arabia. This is
because of the 1745 alliance between Muhammad bin Abd Al-Wahhab and Muhammad
Ibn al Sa’ud.

When Ibn al Sa’ud saw the great influence of Shaykh Mohammad, he decided to take
advantage of him for political reasons. The two leaders agreed that political sovereignty
should rest with Ibn al-Sa’ud, whereas religious authority should belong to Muhammad
bin Abd Al-Wahhab and his followers. This alliance enabled the two to control most of
the Arab tribes in the area, and they were able to reunite parts of Arabia once again.

The reason for Shaykh Abd Al-Wahhab accepting the Saud family as leaders was that he
believed that as long as the Sharia is the law and the Ulama have power and a say in the
government, then this government is acceptable. He reached an agreement with the Saud
family which allowed this, and which brought Arabia much closer to a true Islamic

However, what most people do not know is that this alliance did not last long. When
Great Britain arrived as a colonial power in the region, they presented a protectorate plan
to Ibn Al Sa’ud against the other European colonizers. However, in exchange they asked
Ibn Al Sa’ud to terminate the Wahhabi sweep across Arabia.

Sheikh Muhammad bin Abd Al-Wahhab refused the British offer for the reason that he
wanted the whole region an Islamic State. He wanted to continue expanding and spread
Islam and the beliefs of the Prophet and Salaf by the Qur’an and Sword throughout the
entire world and not limited to “Saudi Arabia”.

After many failed attempts to convince Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab’s movement to cease their
efforts of spreading Islam, Ibn Al Sa’ud finally imprisoned and killed Abd Al-Wahhab’s
followers who went against him, and began a solid alliance with Great Britain.

Since then Al Saud have been able to remain in power by not tolerating any opposition.
Pure Salafys in Saudia Arabia made several attempts to remove the monarchy, the latest
of which was in 1979. A group of Salafys, fully armed, attempted to take over Saudi
leadership in the Haram during Hajj and declare a Khalifah like the times of Abu Baker
and Omar radi allahu anhum. As people began to give them commitment the Saudis
brought French and U.S. commandos inside the haram next to the Ka’bah to get them out.
Many Muslims today believe the rumours which Al Sa’ud spread to defame them. One of
these rumours what that this group called one of those present with them “The Mahdy”.
They were all killed in this attempt.

The Beleifs of Shaykh Abd Al-Wahhab:

Shaykh Abd Al-Wahhab denounced a number of beliefs and practices prevailing among
the Muslim society in his time. Muhammad bin ‘Abd Al-Wahhab condemned the
intercession, tawassul, which was applied and practised by a large number of Muslims
during their prayer to God. He warns the believers against showing excessive devotion to
saints and against the use of saints’ graves as places of worship for tawassul. He considers
these external elements polytheism, shirk.

According to Shaykh Muhammad bin Abd Al-Wahhab, attendance at public prayer is
obligatory, smoking of tobacco is forbidden and subject to punishment, shaving the beard
and the use of abusive language are also to be punished.

He also denounced visiting the tombs of dead people to gain Allah’s favour, and seeking
intercession from any except Allah (swt). These are clearly deviations and unwelcome
innovations to our religion, and must be strongly denounced. But this tough stance
against deviation has gained the Salafy (Wahhabi) movement a hatred from the Shia
sect, which still practices these deviations. His strong stance against tawassul has greatly
angered the Shia sect, who perform tawassul regularly. They also pray at the graves of
Ahl el Beit, and kneel before them asking them in dua.

These dangerous innovations and un-Islamic practices continue not only in Shia society,
but also in countries like Egypt where people pray to saints and say dua to them instead
of Allah. Much of this does not come from ideology or belief, it is only ignorance,
custom and superstition.

Shaykh Abd Al-Wahhab, and the Salafy “Wahhabi” movement, want to revive Pure
Islam. The Islam which existed during Prophet Mohammad’s time, the time of the
Khulafa and the time of As-Salaf As-Salih. They want to eliminate all alien and un-
Islamic practices and customs, which are only there because of ignorance. They aim to
eliminate all bida’, and to return the Islamic world to Islam as it is in the Qur’an and
Sunnah of Rasool Allah (pbuh).

The Salafy movement is not just one group of the Muslims. Every sincere and honest Muslim who believes in the Qur’an and the Sunnah is part of this movement whether they realize it or not. It is part of the world wide Islamic revival, and part of the Islamic movement that wants to re-establish Islam, Khilafah and the Islamic Shariah in the Muslim lands. [2]


[1] Salafi:
[2] Wahhabism:

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