The following was originally published here.
What could possibly drive people to murder innocent civilians on such a large scale? What would lead a man to sacrifice his own life to take that of another? Why are these terrorists so filled with hate and animosity towards us, that their hate even overshadows their willingness to live? Many questions remain unanswered. Though some politicians would have us believe that the answers to these questions lie in US foreign politics, I believe that there is another force at hand: Wahhabi Islam.
Wahhabi Islam is a term commonly given to a strict Sunni sect of Islam. Followers of Wahhabi Islam do not refer to their religion as “Wahhabi” (Anon., Justifying; Bijlefeld; Hardy). Many merely call themselves “Muslim,” for according to their beliefs they are the only true Muslims. Some Wahhabists refer to themselves and their religion as “al-Muwahhidun,” “Salafi,” “Salafi Da’wa,” or “Ahlul Sunna wal Jama’a” (Anon., Justifying; Bijlefeld; Hardy). Depending on the region and dialect in use, other names also exist. For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to this religion as “Wahhabi Islam” and it’s followers as “Wahhabists.” By “Wahhabi Islam”, I am referring to the forms of Islam that share the strict revivalist vision and beliefs that were preached by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in the late 1700’s.
Wahhabi Islam counts among its adherents such names as Osama Bin Laden and Saudi Prince Nayef (Cline; Haykel; Smith; Hardy). Various groups such as Al-Qaeda, Pakistan’s Jamaat-I Islami, The Islamic Salvation Front, and al-Jihad have also adopted Wahhabism as their official religion (Ahmed; Cline; Haykel; Smith; Hardy). The extremist religion offers many a theological justification and mandate to kill those they deem to be infidels. One should note that according to Wahhabism, the vast majority of Muslims (over 99%) are also to be considered “infidels, heathens, and enemies” (Haykel; Smith; Lopez).
Wahhabists have made their presence known worldwide. From the beheading of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan to the beheading of countless Russian soldiers in Chechnya, from the beheading of Nick Berg in Iraq to the beheading of Paul Johnson in Saudi Arabia 2 days ago, Wahhabists have shown a willingness to use television and the internet to display their gruesome acts of barbarism. To truly understand those that we must fight in this battle against terrorism, one must learn more about Wahhabi Islam and it’s extremist teachings.
The Origin and History of Wahhabi Islam
Wahhabism started as a movement within Islam founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792). To fully understand the militancy of Wahhabi Islam, it is important that one learns of the warlike nature of Wahhabi Islam’s founder and the brutal times of war in which he lived. (Ahmed; Anon., Wahhabism; Bijlefeld; Haykel; Hisham; Metz, Kuwait; Metz, Saudi)
Having been born in a small oasis town in central Arabia, al-Wahhab grew up studying Hanbali Law, one of Sunni Islam’s strictest and most conservative schools. He lived and studied with his grandfather until he was in his early teens, at which time he left his home to move to the holy city of Medina, where he continued his Islamic studies.
After completing his studies in Medina several years later and now a young man, al-Wahhab traveled to a city in what is modern day Basra, Iraq. There, he taught Islamic law for approximately four years. Al-Wahhab then traveled to Baghdad where he continued teaching Islamic law. There, he met and later married an affluent woman. She later died and left al-Wahhab a large inheritance, which he used to travel the region. (Ahmed; Anon., Wahhabism; Bijlefeld; Haykel; Hisham; Metz, Kuwait; Metz, Saudi)
The early 1730’s found al-Wahhab residing in Iran. It was here that he first started to preach his new and radical thoughts on Islam. Al-Wahhab virulently attacked the customs and beliefs of the tribes in the region, many of whom were Sufi Muslim. He also extended his criticisms to the practices of the Twelver Shia, such as paying respect at the tombs of holy men. (Ahmed; Anon., Wahhabism; Bijlefeld; Haykel; Hisham; Metz, Kuwait; Metz, Saudi)
With the growing unpopularity of his criticisms against Sufi Islam in Iran, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab moved back to his native town of Uyaynah in the late 1730’s. Upon his return to his birthplace, al-Wahhab began writing the Kitab at-Tawhid, which would later become the main text of Wahhabi Islam’s doctrines. It was about this time that al-Wahhab begun to gather a larger amount of followers. (Ahmed; Anon., Wahhabism; Bijlefeld; Haykel; Hisham; Metz, Kuwait; Metz, Saudi)
Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s extremist views and doctrines led to controversy in Uyaynah. Many of the town’s leaders were not fond of his fundamentalist approach to Islam. After all, merely invoking the name of the Muslim prophet Muhammad was, by al-Wahhab’s standards, a grave sin. In 1744, he was expelled from Uyaynah. Al-Wahhab then settled in Ad-Dir'iyah, which was under the control of a powerful tribal leader named Ibn Sa'ud. Ibn Sa’ud became a believer of Wahhab’s doctrines and the two formed a strong alliance. Al-Wahhab and Ibn Sa’ud swore a Muslim pledge with each other in which they vowed to establish a new state that would operate under al-Wahhab’s strict interpretation of Islamic Law. (Ahmed; Anon., Wahhabism; Bijlefeld; Haykel; Hisham; Metz, Kuwait; Metz, Saudi)
And thus began a military campaign that would shake the Arabian Peninsula to its core. The Wahhabi faith provided Ibn Sa’ud with the justification he needed to raid and conquer nearby settlements. Though these settlements were Islamic (and traditional Islamic law prohibits Islamic states from attacking each other), the Wahhabi doctrine viewed all non-Wahhabists as infidels and not true Muslims. It was thus that Ibn Sa’ud found a legitimate purpose to bring the nearby settlements under his control, to spread “true Islam” to the infidels. (Ahmed; Anon., Wahhabism; Bijlefeld; Haykel; Hisham; Metz, Kuwait; Metz, Saudi)
The Wahhabists were indiscriminate in their killings of Muslims and non-Muslims alike. They soon garnered a reputation as brutal and fanatical warriors. These Wahhabist warriors were described as being so fanatical that they had little regard for their own lives … their sole purpose, it seemed, was to kill the enemy. By the time of his death in 1765, Ibn Sa’ud had managed to gain control over most of the region and had spread Wahhabism to those conquered lands. (Ahmed; Anon., Wahhabism; Bijlefeld; Haykel; Hisham; Metz, Kuwait; Metz, Saudi)
Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab died in 1792 but the spread of Wahhabism continued under the leadership of Ibn Sa’ud’s son, Abd al Aziz. Abd al Aziz continued the Wahhabi campaign and managed to sack the Shia holy city of Karbala and Sunni towns in Hijaz. The Wahhabists were brutal in their treatment of captured lands and brought destruction upon those who had opposed them. In the early 1800’s, the Wahhabi army even managed to gain control of Mecca and Medina. Viewing the acts of commemorating dead holy men and praying to saints as unholy acts, the Wahhabists destroyed monuments and gravesites in the holy cities. By doing this, they sought to imitate the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s smashing of pagan symbols when he returned to Mecca in 628. Access to the holy sites in Medina and Mecca were severely limited to outsiders. (Ahmed; Anon., Wahhabism; Bijlefeld; Haykel; Hisham; Metz, Kuwait; Metz, Saudi)
Shortly after the capture of Mecca, Abd al Aziz died. His son, Sa’ud, assumed leadership of the army but also died shortly after. Sa’ud’s son, Abd Allah ibn Sa’ud was then left in charge of the movement. (Ahmed; Anon., Wahhabism; Bijlefeld; Haykel; Hisham; Metz, Kuwait; Metz, Saudi)
The majority of Muslims were appalled and horrified at the brutal tactics used by the Wahhabists. Furthermore, the wanton destruction of what was to them holy sites and monuments incensed the overall Muslim community. It was then that the Ottoman Turks, one of the most powerful forces in Islam at the time, united with Muslim forces in Egypt to launch a bloody retaliation against the Wahhabists. Facing such an overwhelming force, the Wahhabists didn’t stand a chance. They immediately lost control of Mecca and Media and by 1818 had lost control of the majority of their territories. They were left a mere shamble of their previous power. (Ahmed; Anon., Wahhabism; Bijlefeld; Haykel; Hisham; Metz, Kuwait; Metz, Saudi)
The Wahhabists managed to make a slight comeback by 1833, but were once again beaten back. By 1889, the Wahhabi forces were annihilated and the Sa’ud family had fled to Kuwait for refuge. Many hoped that this final victory over the Wahhabi forces would mark the end of the extremist religion once and for all. However, the Sa’ud family would find an unlikely ally in Britain. (Ahmed; Anon., Wahhabism; Bijlefeld; Haykel; Hisham; Metz, Kuwait; Metz, Saudi)
By 1920, the Sa’ud family and their Wahhabi forces had built themselves back up. In 1927, the British, who at the time controlled much of the Arabian Peninsula, saw the Sa’ud family as allies from their WWI fight against the Turks, who were allied with Germany. The British signed a treaty with the Sa’ud family in which the Sa’uds assumed control over the Gulf sheikdoms. In 1932, the Sa’uds gave this land the name “Saudi Arabia.” And so was born the Wahhabist kingdom that bears the same name to this very day. (Ahmed; Anon., Wahhabism; Bijlefeld; Haykel; Hisham; Metz, Kuwait; Metz, Saudi)
Beliefs and Doctrines of Wahhabi Islam
With his strict Hanbali upbringing and militant nature, it comes as no surprise that al-Wahhab’s teachings espoused a very extremist interpretation of the Quran. In addition to supporting strict and uncompromising societal obedience to Shariah Law (Anon., Wahhabism), Wahhabi Islam has additional rules and beliefs that set it apart from other forms of Islam. Some of these doctrines are:
True Muslims – The only true Muslims are those who follow the teachings of al-Wahhab. All other “Muslims” are non-believers and infidels. (Anon., Wahhabism; Cline; Haykel; Lopez; Metz, Saudi)
Tahwid (the essential oneness of God) - Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab championed the notion that people must never, under any circumstances, question the essential oneness of God. He took this notion to its extreme by claiming that prayer or observance to any saints or holy men was a form of raising up human figures to the level of God’s power. His belief was that the observance and honoring of the dead, saints, and/or angels detracted from the complete subservience one must feel towards God and only God. Wahhabi Islam thus bans any 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, and even prohibits the use of gravestones when burying the dead. (Anon., Wahhabism; Bijlefeld; Cline; Metz, Saudi)
Any Muslim who does not follow these rules is to be considered an infidel (Anon., Wahhabism; Lopez). In the mind of the Wahhabist, this automatically places the far majority of Muslims, who indeed do celebrate their prophet Mohammad’s birthday and do mention him and various saints in prayer, into the category of non-Muslim infidel. It was thus that al-Wahhab made it a point to destroy all Muslim shrines that he came upon in conquered territories. Upon conquering the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, al-Wahhab even attack the prophet Mohammad’s gravestone and shrine. In his own fanatical mind, al-Wahhab compared this to the prophet Muhammad's destruction of pagan idols when he reentered Mecca in 628. (Haykel)
Bayah (the oath of allegiance) – According to al-Wahhab’s teachings, all Muslims must individually pledge their allegiance to a Muslim leader. As long as this leader follows the laws of Islam (as determined by Wahhabi Islam) completely, the individual must give him his unquestionable allegiance. The Wahhabist must make this pledge to ensure his redemption by God after death. The purpose of the bayah is to merge religion and politics into one, ensuring that all Muslims dedicate their lives to following a “pure” leader who upholds all the tenets of Islam while at the same time ensuring that every leader must follow the laws of Islam completely. The Muslim community is thus to become the living embodiment of God’s laws and dictates. It is the responsibility of the leader to ensure that all people who live under his control know and follow the laws of God. (Metz, Saudi)
Conformity – Wahhabi Islam demands conformity. All people must dress similarly (you may notice in Saudi Arabia, most men wear the same white cloths), behave similarly, pray at the same time, use the same rituals in prayer, and speak in a similar manner. Adherence to the “true faith” is demonstrable in physical and tangible ways. The Wahhabists believe that they can judge a person’s faith by observing his actions and level of conformity to the Islamic ways. It is thus the responsibility of each Wahhabist to constantly observe his neighbors and friends in search of unholy actions and behavior. (Metz, Saudi; Mortimer)
The Struggle against Jahiliyya – Taken literally, the word Jahiliyya is a reference to a state of barbarism and ignorance. But al-Wahhab used it in a different context. In Wahhabi Islam, all societies that do not follow the true ways of Islam are considered to be in a state of Jahiliyya. All “infidels” are Jahili. Used in this context, Jahiliyya can more accurately be described as a representation of what Wahhabists consider to be the unholy, polytheistic, barbaric, corrupt, and evil state of Arabia before the coming of Islam. Jahiliyya is a representation of the culture that Mohammad fought against and destroyed with the inception of Islam. By so closely comparing their struggle against Jahiliyya with Mohammad’s fight against the polytheists of his time, Wahhabists see the struggle as one of the most holy actions they can take. (Cline; Idris; Metz, Saudi)
According to al-Wahhab, it is the duty of all true Muslims to fight Jahiliyya and the Jahili. Though conversion to “true Islam” is an option, Wahhabists are permitted by their doctrine to “rob, murder, and sexually violate” Jahili (Lopez). We can find an example of Wahhabi Islam’s brutal treatment of what they consider to be Jahili in the gruesome beheadings of such people as Paul Johnson, Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg, etc. . (Cline; Idris; Metz, Saudi)
Wahhabists also use many verses from the Quran to support their views on the struggle against Jahiliyya. Two verses commonly used by Wahhabists as justification for their battles are: "Fight those who do not believe in Allah ... until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection," (Quran 9:29) and “fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should be only for Allah" (Quran 8:39). (Olasky)
One indication of the strict standards that Wahhabists apply to societies can be found in their current view of the Saudi government. Even though Saudi Arabia’s government is by Wahhabi standards Islamic in almost every way, the fact that they allowed “infidels” onto the holy land after the first gulf War, in the eyes of many Wahhabi Clerics, made the Saudi Arabian government Jahiliyya. Some radical Wahhabi proponents such as Osama Bin Laden now even call for the overthrowing of that government. (Haykel; Phares)
Original Grandeur of Islam - Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab believed that the Islam of his time was not Islam at all. His contention was that the original purity of Muhammad’s teachings and the Quran were watered down and greatly altered from their original form. According to his views, the more time that passed after the writing of the Quran, the more unknowledgeable Muslim scholars got about its true meaning. It is thus that al-Wahhab believed in the original grandeur of Islam. He preached that the Islamic community should return to a strict interpretation of the principles enunciated by the Prophet Muhammad. Al-Wahhab accepted only the authority of the Quran and Sunna along with the issues clearly settled by early jurists. All later reinterpretation of issues and the Quran were to be rejected. Islam would return to the form it had taken shortly after the time of Muhammad. Wahhabists do not believe in reinterpreting issues of Islamic law that were already settled at that time. (Cline; Hisham; Metz, Saudi)
With this strong stance against any reinterpretation of Islamic law issues already settled, Wahhabi Islam leaves absolutely no room for any reform (Cline; Hisham; Metz, Saudi). Wahhabists are thus left with customs and beliefs from ages long ago. Among some of these issues that may not be reinterpreted and reformed are:
1) Women’s rights – Women have almost no rights in Wahhabi culture. They are forced to dress in certain ways (usually covered from head to toe in either black or blue), are not allowed to drive, may not speak, not allowed in public without a male chaperone, have no custody of their children, and so on. (Ahmed; Mortimer)
2) Dietary laws – Like many other Muslims, Wahhabists may not eat pork or drink wine. They do however follow even stricter guidelines in the form of not being able to drink any alcohol at all or consume any stimulants (i.e.- smoking cigarettes). (Ahmed; Mortimer)
3) Exhibition of Wealth - Wahhabists are forbidden to wear any jewelry, including gold, or silk clothing. (Ahmed; Mortimer)
4) Culture – Listening to music, dancing, pictures, paintings, loud laughter, and demonstrative crying are strictly prohibited. Men are not permitted to trim their beards shorter than a certain length and are not allowed to grow their hair longer than a certain length. (Ahmed; Mortimer)
5) Wahhabi Islam’s doctrine of original grandeur thus leaves the Wahhabist in a state of following customs and cultures of ancient times with no possibility of such customs and rules ever being reformed and changed. (Cline; Hisham; Metz, Saudi)
The Influence and effect of Wahhabi Islam
One can easily see the strict and uncompromising nature of Wahhabi Islam. Not only does it entail conformity among people, the observance of ancient customs, a strict and unforgiving interpretation of the Quran, but Wahhabi Islam also glorifies the struggle against Jahiliyya. This leaves the Wahhabist in a position of feeling that the majority of people are infidels and it is his duty to wage war against such Jahili. So it comes as no surprise that Wahhabi Islam has had a significant influence on the world.
Wahhabi Islam has a tremendous effect on all those who live under it’s auspices. The individual is first bombarded with the teachings of al-Wahhab as a young child. According to the rules of bayah, it is the responsibility of the leader to ensure that all people who live under his control know and follow the laws of God (Metz, Saudi). And so, the rulers will make religious education a large part of children’s lives. In Saudi Arabia, mandatory Wahhabi studies account for over 35% of most schools’ curriculums (Smith). Parents also have the option of sending their child to a madrassa, in which 100% of the studies are religious in nature. (Smith)
Wahhabi studies seek to indoctrinate the young children with religious extremism at an early age (Smith). One quote from the official school textbook used in many Saudi Arabian schools states:
"The last hour won't come before the Muslims would fight the Jews and the Muslims will kill them so Jews would hide behind rocks and trees. Then the rocks and tree would call: oh Muslim, oh servant of God! There is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only "Gharkad" tree, it is of Jews' trees." (Smith)
Wahhabi Islam views the majority of Muslims as infidels (Cline; Idris; Metz, Saudi). It supports violent struggle against all infidels and the young children are indoctrinated with these beliefs from an early age (Cline; Idris; Metz, Saudi; Smith). Ali al-Ahmed, a Muslim who grew up in Saudi Arabia, shares his experiences of the state funded schools:
“The religious curriculum in Saudi Arabia teaches you that people are basically two sides: Salafis [Wahhabis], who are the winners, the chosen ones, who will go to heaven, and the rest. The rest are Muslims and Christians and Jews and others.
“They are either kafirs, who are deniers of God, or mushrak, putting gods next to God, or enervators, that's the lightest one. The enervators of religion who are they call the Sunni Muslims who ... for instance, celebrate Prophet Mohammed's birthday, and do some stuff that is not accepted by Salafis.
“And all of these people are not accepted by Salafi as Muslims. As I said, "claimant to Islam." And all of these people are supposed to be hated, to be persecuted, even killed.
“Bin Laden learned this in Saudi Arabia. He didn't learn it in the moon. That message that Bin Laden received, it still is taught in Saudi Arabia. And if he dies, and this policy or curriculum stays, we will have other bin Ladens.” (Smith)
In this culture, young children are taught that anyone who is not a Wahhabist is a Jahili and is supposed to be “hated” and “persecuted” (Smith). It becomes clear why terrorist organizations are able to find so many recruits. Recruits are being raised in Saudi Arabia and indoctrinated by the school system (Smith). It is no coincidence that 15 of the 9-11 hijackers were Saudi Arabian.
The environment in which the child grows into a man is also one that leaves no other option open except conformity and religious extremism. The entire student body dresses and behaves in a similar manner. There is no music to entertain the young teenager in his spare time. There are no school dances. There is no mingling with the opposite sex. There are no opportunities to find creative outlets. The young man is left with no other tangible alternative but to turn to Wahhabism as the driving force in his life. Wahhabism teaches the young man hate and intolerance, which become molded into his psyche. (Ahmed; Metz, Saudi; Mortimer)
The Wahhabist is also taught to constantly observe his neighbors and friends in search of unholy actions and behavior (Metz, Saudi; Mortimer). He is also aware of the fact that his own actions are being observed. The constant presence of Mutawwiin, “enforcers of public morals” who roam around the towns and cities in search of anyone who violates the cultural rules of Wahhabism (i.e.- someone playing music, not praying at the right time, someone with a beard that is too short, etc), help to sink into the Wahhabist’s psyche the notion that he constantly has to be on the lookout (Metz, Saudi; Mortimer). He is in a constant state of having to prove himself and thus acts in an even more devout manner.
We can clearly see that Wahhabi Islam has a huge influence on the individuals who live in such a society. They have little choice but to turn to the extreme and intolerant teachings of Wahhabi Islam as the only viable outlet to their energy. The individual who lives in a truly Wahhabi society is one who is indoctrinated in extremism from an early age.
Wahhabi Islam’s influence on culture is also a noticeable one. Al-Wahhab’s teachings support a drive towards extreme conformity (Metz, Saudi; Mortimer). And so we find Wahhabi culture to be severely lacking in individuality. Everybody dresses, behaves, and even prays in a similar manner (Mortimer). One could easily recognize the traditional and plain white garment worn by almost every man in Saudi Arabia.
Wahhabi Islam’s concept of original grandeur makes its effects known in culture. With the ancient jurists banning music, loud laughter, dancing, alcohol, and even paintings, (Ahmed; Hisham; Mortimer) the Wahhabi artistic and entertainment culture is a bland and boring one. There is little that can truly be called “culture” in Wahhabi society. It is mostly tradition and rules that must be abided by.
Another aspect of culture that Wahhabi Islam has had an influence on is the treatment of women (Ahmed). In this day and age, women in Wahhabi culture are still treated very poorly. They are forced to dress from head to toe in either black or blue garment, are not allowed to drive, may not speak unless spoken too, are not allowed in public without a male chaperone, have no custody of their children, and are even subjected to beatings from the Mutawwiin (Ahmed; Hisham; Mortimer).
Wahhabi culture dictates the mandatory pledging of an unquestionable allegiance to one’s ruler, bayah (Metz, Saudi). It would seem as though after stripping people of any true form of culture, Wahhabism also strips them of any sense of ownership of their own body and mind. By pledging the allegiance, they give up that last bastion of control over their destiny.
Wahhabism has had a significant, yet unfortunate, influence on culture by stifling the creative arts, treating women badly, annihilating any sense of individuality/personal worth, and driving its people to a form of extreme conformity.
One need not look past the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 to realize the influence and effect Wahhabi Islam has had on the rest of the world. The extremist religion has indoctrinated hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Muslims into a system of hate and violence (Alexiev). With its glorification of violent struggle against Jahiliyya (Cline; Idris; Metz, Saudi) and the millions of extremists it has created (Alexiev), it should come as no surprise that Wahhabi extremists have been waging a war of religion since the time of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab himself.
There has not been a time in its existence that Wahhabi Islam was not in some form or another at war with what it considers infidels. The origins and history of Wahhabi Islam, described earlier in this essay, show the violent and brutal nature it took before the formation of Saudi Arabia. Groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood of the 1940-50’s, Al-Jihad and Gamaa Islamiya of the 1970-80’s, The Front for National Salvation in Algeria, the Taliban and Mujahideen that fought the Soviet forces in Afghanistan, al Qaeda, etc have kept the violent Wahhabist jihad against what they consider to be Jahiliyya alive to this very day (Ahmed; Alexiev; Cline; Smith; Hardy). The violent killing of “infidels” is an influence of Wahhabi Islam that has haunted the rest of the world.
The United States of America has been thrust into a global war against terror. We fought the Taliban in Afghanistan and are now in Iraq. This is no doubt an effect of Osama Bin Laden’s Wahhabi theology (Cline; Haykel; Smith; Hardy). But we are not the only ones who have felt the sting of Wahhabi terrorism. Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Chechnya, and Bosnia are just a few of the other countries to feel the wrath of Wahhabists (Alexiev). The war against terrorism will be a long and hard war indeed.
The doctrines of Wahhabi Islam are playing another role in this war … for they are influencing the culture of war itself. Wahhabists are permitted by their doctrine to “rob, murder, and sexually violate” Jahili (Lopez). Wahhabi extremists are taught from a very young age that all “non-believers” are worthless and subject to persecution and death (Cline; Idris; Lopez; Smith). This extremist Wahhabist view of “infidels” has led the terrorists to use gruesome and hateful methods. On September 11, mass quantities of innocent civilians were killed. And yet this would mean nothing to them, for the civilians were merely Jahili (Smith). The lives of civilians are normally valued and protected in times of war. Wahhabi Islam influenced a major change in those values of war. It is now permissible for our enemies to slaughter and even behead civilians (Smith). Violent Jihad against the “infidels” is not only permissible to the Wahhabist; it is mandatory (Alexiev).
Wahhabists and the Saudi government continue to fund Wahhabi madrassas worldwide. A recent figure estimates that the Saudi government alone has spent over 70 billion dollars funding such extremist schools (Alexiev).
The full influence of Wahhabi Islam has yet to be felt by the world. With so many extremists being churned out of Saudi Arabia and its madrassas worldwide, things only appear to be getting worse. The real solution would be to implement some major changes in Saudi Arabia itself. Though some minor changes have been taking place (i.e.-they are cooperating with us more on arresting terrorists), the real changes that need to be made are not ones that Saudi Arabia would be willing to take by itself. For such changes would involve altering the very nature of Wahhabism itself. The Saudi clerics would not stand for such meddling by their own government. So we are unfortunately stuck in this hard place of having to fight terrorists in far away lands with no real end in sight.
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