Wahhabism = post-hijra Islam = Islam 101
Islam is Islam….and post-hijra Islam 101 abrogates the prior, more peaceful statements of Mohamed when Islam was in its infancy, and thus just a minority faction in Mecca. There is no need to nuance it, there’s very little difference between the post-hijra factions of Salafists/Wahhabists/Sufism and even with the myriad of sects of Shi’ism from a Western perspective. Generalizing Islam is in fact prudent.
FORCE AND FANATICISM: WAHHABISM IN SAUDI ARABIA AND BEYOND
Is “Wahhabism” a complete distortion of Islam?
Note: In what follows, Shillman Fellow Raymond Ibrahim reviews Force and Fanaticism: Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia and Beyond, by Simon Ross Valentine. A shorter version of the book review first appeared in the Middle East Quarterly (Fall, 2016, vol. 23, no. 4).
Valentine, a British Methodist pastor and teacher who taught in Saudi Arabia, has written a useful book about the desert kingdom. Most interesting is its exploration of how the monarchy is “the single greatest force in spreading Islamic fundamentalism”; it “has spent as much as $100 billion to spread Wahhabism in the West,” yet “America and Britain have been, and are continuing to be, implicit supporters of Wahhabism.”
Valentine discusses the background of how this “unholy alliance” came about. He warns: “If the West simply ignores it, Saudi Arabia’s role in international terrorism seems likely to worsen rather than conveniently disappear.” This is troubling considering that “ISIS is Saudi Arabia’s latest monstrous contribution to world history.”
The author explores important topics, including the mutawwa, or religious police, and provides useful historical context, discussing the origins of “Wahhabism,” its alliance with the House of Saud, and the oil discoveries that changed everything.
The book’s primary defect is standard. Valentine regularly insists that “it is of the greatest importance to distinguish between Wahhabism and Islam generally.” Anything good, positive, tolerant and peaceful is ascribed to Islam; anything bad, negative, intolerant, and violent—misogyny, draconian punishments, execution of apostates, intolerance for and discrimination against non-Muslims—is ascribed to “Wahhabism.”