The word “Wahhabi” comes from the name of a grand scholar who fought to establish tawheed on the Arab peninsula, Al Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab. Etymologically, the term “Wahhabi” consists of two words, “Wahhab”, which means, “The Bestower”; this is among the most beautiful names of Allah, and the letter “i” (letter ‘ya’ to show a reference to) that is a letter that indicates a group.
The epithet of “Wahhabi” often used by the innovators and the leaders of shirk to those who strive to enjoin people to tawheed, vanish the shirks, and enliven the sunnah and blowing off the innovations. They said that such actions are the theme of actions pioneered by Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab. Beside that, they also added other evil accusations to the Wahhabi, such as detesting the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-, against the pious figures, denying the miracles, and prohibiting people to visit the graves.
From the explanations above, it can be concluded that the title “Wahhabi” came from those who hated the enjoin of Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab, and not an official name established by his followers. It shows that at the beginning, it has no name, because this movement pioneered by Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab was only aimed, in essence, to enjoin people to return to the purity of Islam based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
The main goal of the enemies of this enjoin in using this title was to scare people so that they would be prevented from joining this tawheed call. By this notorious and awkward title, people would be cautious to join it, and the leader of innovations would be easier to corner the preachers who enjoined people back to tawheed and sunnah.
There’s one question that we should ask: is this title given and other accusations of the enemy of Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s enjoin true? Thus, it is important for us to understand the history of his enjoin, to recognize the mistakes and lies of the accusations above.
There are some notes about the misuse of the title to refer to the enjoin pioneered by Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab:
First: From the etymological perspective.
If it was given to refer to “the group of Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab”, it supposed to be “Muhammadi” and not “Wahhabi”, for his name is Muhammad and not Wahab. Hence, the title “Wahhabi” is a mistaken name that unfits the name of it’s pioneer.
Second: From the meaning of the word “Wahhabi”
The term “Wahhabi” is derived from “Al Wahab”, which means “The Almighty Giver”. The word “Al Wahab” is one of the beautiful names of Allah (asma’ul husna). Whereas the suffix ‘i’ of this word gives an additional meaning of “group”. Hence, the term “Wahhabi” from etymological point of view means ‘the group of Al Wahab’, or in the other word, “the group (the follower) of Allah the Exalted”.
If the sufi refer themselves to a group of people who wore suf (wool) clothes, then “Wahhabi” should be referred to Al Wahab, that is Allah, Who has given His blessing in the form of tawheed and bestow victories by tawheed.
Third: From it’s goal.
knowing the meaning of “Wahhabi”, we may see that in essence, it is a compliment for those who are titled with “Wahhabi”, because by it, they are acknowledged as the follower of Allah. Hence, this title is a compliment and not a humiliation. Whereas the goal of the enemies of the enjoin of tawheed and sunnah was to mock and corner the preachers of tawheed and sunnah.
Thus, some sunni scholars are proud of this title, even some of them said,
إنْ كان تابعُ أحمدٍ مُتوهِّبا
فأنا المقِرُّ بأنني وهّابي
“If the follower of Ahmad (Prophet Muhammad -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him) merely the Wahhabi, then I admit that I am a Wahhabi.”
Fourth: From the shari’a perspective.
Giving title to other muslims is forbidden in Islam. Allah decreed,
وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ
“Nor revile one another by nicknames.” (QS. Al-Hujurat/The Rooms: 11)
(See: “Minhaj Al-Firqah An-Najiyah wa Ath-Thaifah Al-Manshurah”, by Muhammad bin Jamil Zainu)
The First to Use the title “Wahhabi”
It is evident that England was the first western country to title this tawheed enjoin by “Wahhabism”. Because this enjoin at that time has reached one of the most precious of England’s colonies; India. There were plenty of India scholars who embraced and supported the enjoin of Imam Ibn Abdil Wahab. And England also has witnessed the profuse growing and advancement of this enjoin whose followers has influenced some famous scholars throughout the world.
During that time, England also nurtured the Qadiyani sect to repress the stream of Islamic ideology. (See: “Tashih Khatha’ Haula Al-Wahabiyah”, page 47)
They were eager to expand their authoritative states in India, by using the sect they’ve made by their own, Qadiyani, a sect that was created, nurtured, and protected by England. This sect made no call about jihad (holy war) to repel the troops of England invaders in India.
Thus, when the enjoin of Imam Ibn Abdil Wahhab started to spread in India, which brought the slogan of “jihad against the foreign invaders”, England got more restless. They began to call this enjoin and it’s followers by Wahhabi, to shrink the hearts of India’s muslims who wanted to join it, wishing that the fight against the England would not become stronger. There were a lot of scholars who supported this enjoin got oppressed, even killed or imprisoned.
W. Wilson Hunter in his book titled ‘The Indian Musalmans’ noted that during the rebel of Indians in the year 1867, the group the British feared the most was the resurrection of muslims “Wahhabi” against them. Hunter wrote in his book,
“There is no fear to the British in India except from the Wahhabis, for they are causing disturbances against them, and agitating the people under the name of jihad to throw away the yoke of disobedience to the British and their authority.”
Author: Abu Salma Rachdie
Article of www.whatisquran.com
- W.W. Hunter. The Indian Musalmans (Cetakan 1). 1871. London: Trűbner and Co.
- W.W. Hunter. The Indian Musalmans (Second Edition). 1945. Calcuta: Comrade Publishers.
- W.W. Hunter. The Indian Musalmans (Reprint). 2002. New Delhi: Rupa & Co