The Salafi Anomaly
Things in this world never being simple, the issue of the Salafi must be seen on two levels – at least.
Firstly, to get it out of the way, kafir media portray the Salafi as the militant enemy of America. Their official silhouette is of terrorist extremists who wish to impose the Islamic Shari’at. This version in turn defines the Shari’at in terms of stoning adulterers, amputating limbs and covering women in black garbage bags. It often defines this as a desire to go back to a primal past, fifteen hundred years ago. Built into this media and “think tank” version is the use of the word ‘extremist’. The implication being that this grisly version is what Islam REALLY is – so don’t be taken in by these nice moderate, or good Muslims, for the Salafis are coming. Subsumed under this security analysis are listed the extremists in Tunisia, Egypt, Arabia and Somalia, and of course, the dark underworld of Nigeria’s Boko Haram and the tomb raiders of Mali.
Secondly, however, comes the term as known to our ‘ulama. I would then like to propose a third, historical and political view based on the second.
The intellectual Muslim view of the Salafis is simple, in fact. The Salafis claim that they want a return to the pure Islam of the Salaf, that is, the first Community of the time of the Rasul’s presence among them, Allah’s blessings and peace be on him. Ironically, the term did not emerge in a primal urge to purify the Deen. The term came at the end, not at the beginning of a desert reform movement in Arabia. We know this, but let us re-capitulate for clarity.
Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab emerged, an Islamic Savonarola, calling for a pure worship of Allah sweeping aside not only the shi’a and – to him – Sufi tomb worship, but also the Osmanli monarchic rule from Istanbul, still called Constantinople.
The radical reform called, therefore, for a rejection of almost all functioning ‘ulama of the time – since they owed obedience to the Hanafi Turkish rulers. So – out went the four Madh-habs, and the rule of their Imams. Only the Book of Allah, and with reservations, the great Hadith collections – where they did not contradict the cleansed doctrines. The enormous resistance of the world’s Hajjis and the Indian ‘ulama forced the Wahhabis to accept one Madh-hab, so they settled for Ibn Hanbal. The choice was because he was all but devoid of fiqh judgements. What was abolished by the Wahhabis was the FIQH which, in reality IS the Shari’at. For the Shari’at is not a module of hadd punishments for crimes, that is only a near peripheral aspect of it. The Shari’at as a living reality is the practice of FIQH. That is the ‘Amal of the Muslim society. That is every single material and commodity exchange that can happen between Muslims and the world.
The ‘Amal divides in two: the worship of Allah, that is ‘Ibada – the five Pillars, and the rules of exchange and contracts.
This dual system demands an Amir to authorise ‘Eids, collect Zakat, and surpervise the transactional world of exchange.
The Wahhabis abolished this dual power – or rather they split the two powers in two. Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab ruled the ‘Ibada and Aqida. The civic power was to be vested in the hands of the tribe of ibn Saud.
With the coming of oil, the Saudis chose wealth over theology. They crushed and massacred the Wahhabi forces. With the disempowered Wahhabis sidelined, they re-defined themselves as an underground movement which would emerge with a punishing intensity.
Ibn Saud went from the arms of ibn Abd-al-Wahhab – who had given him Arabia (and oil!) – into the arms of Roosevelt who gave him a wheel-chair and paper money.
Thirdly: this allows us to examine the historicity of the Wahhabis. After the period of token influence, limited and monitored, by the Aramco controlled Kingdom of Arabia, they rose again to try to seize power from their Saudi masters. The attack on the Haram in Makkah was a devastating exposure of a movement that had NO, simply NO, political understanding. Why? Because they had abolished the Fiqh, and with it political discrimination. The attack on the Haram revealed their ignorance of their own enemies.
Fahd simply called in the best strike force available, the French elite military who cleaned up the Haram, booted and efficient, in the shortest time.
Still devoid of that civic training embodied in the Fiqh, their response was not to acquire that Islamic education. Instead they tuned into the greater enemy’s dialectic, and came up with the doctrines of the kafir dispossessed – terror and secrecy. Thus the once reformists of yesterday became the irrational and embittered rebels of today.
Let us admit that no one can call a single Islamic Community on the world stage an Islamic entity – the three largest are Indonesia, Pakistan and India. So – how could one recover the historical purity of the Salaf? It would mean recovering a modus operandi in tune with all the benefits of modern living.
It is there – waiting for us. The primal Madh-hab – dominant over the other four, yet sourced in one of them – the ‘Amal of the Ahl al-Madinah.
The Salaf in power, like the modernist Ikhwanis, are already going hat in hand to the banking institutions for their loans – in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Devoid of fiqh, and so, devoid of leadership.
Oh Salafis – if there is any gravity in you – you must have Zakat collected on you. Thus a door to leadership. The way lies through Madinah – which you ignored!
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