For the purpose of this essay, we shall restrict our discussion to Wahhabi Islam and its influences on current Islamic fundamentalism and the society as a whole. This especially involves Islamic terrorism since Wahhabi Islam is considered to be the premier fundamentalist religious movement supporting it and still incorporates religious beliefs and principles from Koran not found anywhere else in the world.
Mohammad ibn bd ul-Wahab was a reformist born in 1703 in Central Arabia in Bani Tamim tribe. He learned literature at a Hanifite school, Islamic law at Medina, and then after few years in his hometown, commenced working as an Islamic teacher after returning to Nejd. Influenced by his examination of luxuries of life, superstitious pilgrimages, worship of Prophet Mohammed and other saints rather than the God and use of omens, he was repulsed and began to pronounce simplicity of early religion as per Koran. Thus began a sect now known as Wahhabism.
There was considerable difference in religious texts and actual situation on ground in practical Islam. He was amazed at the importance given to practices like pilgrimages, saints, sacrifices while non-adherence to Islamic law, indifference to conditions of women, widows and children, lack of ritual prayers and non-inheritance of family share to women. He began to preach against jahilliya, which meant ignorance of Islamic laws. Jahilliya was a term in Islam referring to barbarism and ignorance that existed before Islam was founded. Paradoxically, while Wahhab recognized himself with Prophet Mohammed in principles, he connected his society with he same evils that the prophet attempted to overthrow. (Cline, 2003)
Because so many Muslims lived (or so he claimed) in jahiliyya, Abd-ul Wahhab accused them of not being true Muslims at all. Those who followed the strict teachings of al-Wahhab were proclaimed as true Muslims during the period because only they still followed the path laid out by Allah. Accusing someone of not being a true Muslim is significant because it is forbidden for one Muslim to kill another; but if someone is not a true Muslim then killing them (in war or in an act of terrorism) becomes legitimate. It would be hard to underestimate the importance of this principle to modern terrorists and extremists.
He also based his preachings on principle of uniqueness of God and his students were called as Muwahuddin (Unitarians). The basic text of Wahhabis is the Kitab at-tawhid or the book of unity. Their critics called them Wahhabis who mainly concentrated against Shia ideologies. While this word was originally used in a derogatory context, it has now become commonplace and is used by even people in Nejd. Most Wahhabis today live in Saudi Arabia. However, with passage of time and influx of notorious money, their influence has spread in many other countries of the middle-east, central and South Asia.
Implementation of Wahhabism
Mohammed Ibn Abd'ul Wahhab's directions for implementation of Islamic law as per his interpretation of Koran were strict and non-tolerant. All non-believer Islamists as well as non-Islamic people were to be put to death immediately. Soldiers of Islam were promised immediate entrance into Paradise and, unbelievably, each soldier had a written order from Ibn Abd-ul Wahhab for the gatekeeper to admit him in heaven forthwith. Wahhab died in 1791, and Wahhabism spread until it was broken down by Mehemet