Abd al-Wahhab, shirk, and the destruction of Islam

Wahhabism or Wahhabi mission is a sect, religious movement or branch of Islam. It has been variously described as “ultraconservative”, “austere”, “fundamentalist”, or “puritan(ical)” and as an Islamic “reform movement” to restore “pure monotheistic worship” (tawhid) by devotees, and as a “deviant sectarian movement”, “vile sect” and a distortion of Islam by its opponents. The term Wahhabi(ism) is often used polemically and adherents commonly reject its use, preferring to be called Salafi or muwahhid. The movement emphasises the principle of tawhid (the “uniqueness” and “unity” of God). It claims its principal influences to be Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780–855) and Ibn Taymiyyah (1263–1328), both belonging to the Hanbali school, although the extent of their actual influence upon the tenets of the movement has been contested.

Wahhabism is named after an eighteenth-century preacher and activist, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792). He started a reform movement in the remote, sparsely populated region of Najd, advocating a purging of such widespread Sunni practices as the intercession of saints, and the visitation to their tombs, both of which were practiced all over the Islamic world, but which he considered idolatry (shirk), impurities and innovations in Islam (Bid’ah). Eventually he formed a pact with a local leader Muhammad bin Saud offering political obedience and promising that protection and propagation of the Wahhabi movement mean “power and glory” and rule of “lands and men.”

The alliance between followers of ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Muhammad bin Saud’s successors (the House of Saud) proved to be a durable one. The House of Saud continued to maintain its politico-religious alliance with the Wahhabi sect through the waxing and waning of its own political fortunes over the next 150 years, through to its eventual proclamation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, and then afterwards, on into modern times. Today Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab’s teachings are the official, state-sponsored form of Sunni Islam in Saudi Arabia. With the help of funding from Saudi petroleum exports (and other factors), the movement underwent “explosive growth” beginning in the 1970s and now has worldwide influence. The US State Department has estimated that over the past four decades Riyadh has invested more than $10bn (£6bn) into charitable foundations in an attempt to replace mainstream Sunni Islam with the harsh intolerance of its Wahhabism.

The “boundaries” of Wahhabism have been called “difficult to pinpoint”, but in contemporary usage, the terms Wahhabi and Salafi are often used interchangeably, and they are considered to be movements with different roots that have merged since the 1960s. However, Wahhabism has also been called “a particular orientation within Salafism”, or an ultra-conservative, Saudi brand of Salafism. Estimates of the number of adherents to Wahhabism vary, with one source (Mehrdad Izady) giving a figure of fewer than 5 million Wahhabis in the Persian Gulf region (compared to 28.5 million Sunnis and 89 million Shia).

The majority of mainstream Sunni and Shia Muslims worldwide strongly disagree with the interpretation of Wahhabism and consider it a “vile sect”. Islamic scholars, including those from the Al-Azhar University, regularly denounce Wahhabism with terms such as “Satanic faith”. Wahhabism has been accused of being “a source of global terrorism”, inspiring the ideology of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and for causing disunity in Muslim communities by labelling Muslims who disagreed with the Wahhabi definition of monotheism as apostates (takfir) and justifying their killing. It has also been criticized for the destruction of historic shrines of saints, mausoleums, and other Muslim and non-Muslim buildings and artifacts.

A widely circulated but discredited apocryphal description of the founding of Wahhabism known as Memoirs of Mr. Hempher, The British Spy to the Middle East (other titles have been used), alleges that a British agent named Hempher was responsible for creation of Wahhabism. In the “memoir”, Hempher corrupts Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, manipulating him to preach his new interpretation of Islam for the purpose of sowing dissension and disunity among Muslims so that “We, the English people, … may live in welfare and luxury.”

Among the criticism, or comments made by critics, of the Wahhabi movement are:

  • That it is not so much strict and uncompromising as aberrant, going beyond the bounds of Islam in its restricted definition of tawhid (monotheism), and much too willing to commit takfir (declare non-Muslim and subject to execution) Muslims it found in violation of Islam (in the second Wahhabi-Saudi jihad/conquest of the Arabian peninsula, an estimated 400,000 were killed or wounded according to some estimates);
  • That bin Saud’s agreement to wage jihad to spread Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s teachings had more to do with traditional Najd practice of raiding – “instinctive fight for survival and appetite for lucre” – than with religion;
  • That it has no connection to other Islamic revival movements;
  • That unlike other revivalists, its founder Abd ul-Wahhab showed little scholarship – writing little and making even less commentary;
  • That its rejection of the “orthodox” belief in saints, which had become a cardinal doctrine in Sunni Islam very early on, represents a departure from something which has been an “integral part of Islam … for over a millennium.” In this connection, mainstream Sunni scholars also critique the Wahhabi citing of Ibn Taymiyyah as an authority when Ibn Taymiyyah himself adhered to the belief in the existence of saints;
  • That its contention towards visiting the tombs and shrines of prophets and saints and the seeking of their intercession, violate tauhid al-‘ibada (directing all worship to God alone) has no basis in tradition, in consensus or in hadith, and that even if it did, it would not be grounds for excluding practitioners of ziyara and tawassul from Islam;
  • That its use of Ibn Hanbal, Ibn al-Qayyim, and even Ibn Taymiyyah’s name to support its stance is inappropriate, as it is historically known that all three of these men revered many aspects of Sufism, save that the latter two critiqued certain practices among the Sufis of their time. Those who criticize this aspect of Wahhabism often refer to the group’s use of Ibn Hanbal’s name to be a particularly egregious error, arguing that the jurist’s love for the relics of Muhammad, for the intercession of the Prophet, and for the Sufis of his time is well established in Islamic tradition;
  • That historically Wahhabis have had a suspicious willingness to ally itself with non-Muslim powers (specifically America and Britain), and in particular to ignore the encroachments into Muslim territory of a non-Muslim imperial power (the British) while waging jihad and weakening the Muslim Caliphate of the Ottomans; and
  • That Wahhabi strictness in matters of hijab and separation of the sexes has led not to a more pious and virtuous Saudi Arabia, but to a society showing a very un-Islamic lack of respect towards women.

The first people to oppose Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab were his father Abd al-Wahhab and his brother Salman Ibn Abd al-Wahhab who was an Islamic scholar and qadi. Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s brother wrote a book in refutation of his brother’s new teachings, called: “The Final Word from the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the Sayings of the Scholars Concerning the School of Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab”, also known as: “Al-Sawa`iq al-Ilahiyya fi Madhhab al-Wahhabiyya” (“The Divine Thunderbolts Concerning the Wahhabi School”).

In “The Refutation of Wahhabism in Arabic Sources, 1745–1932”, Hamadi Redissi provides original references to the description of Wahhabis as a divisive sect (firqa) and outliers (Kharijites) in communications between Ottomans and Egyptian Khedive Muhammad Ali. Redissi details refutations of Wahhabis by scholars (muftis); among them Ahmed Barakat Tandatawin, who in 1743 describes Wahhabism as ignorance (Jahala).

In 1801 and 1802, the Saudi Wahhabis under Abdul Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn Saud attacked and captured the holy Shia cities of Karbala and Najaf in Iraq and destroyed the tombs of Husayn ibn Ali who is the grandson of Muhammad, and Ali (Ali bin Abu Talib), the son-in-law of Muhammad. In 1803 and 1804 the Saudis captured Mecca and Madinah and demolished various tombs of Ahl al-Bayt and Sahabah, ancient monuments, ruins according to Wahhabis, they “removed a number of what were seen as sources or possible gateways to polytheism or shirk” – such as the tomb of Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad. In 1998 the Saudis bulldozed and poured gasoline over the grave of Aminah bint Wahb, the mother of Muhammad, causing resentment throughout the Muslim World.

Shi’a Muslims complain that Wahhabis and their teachings are a driving force behind sectarian violence and anti-Shia targeted killings in many countries such as Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Yemen. Worldwide Saudi run, sponsored mosques and Islamic schools teach Wahhabi version of the Sunni Islam that labels Shia Muslims, Sufis, Christians, Jews and others as either apostates or infidels, thus paving a way for armed jihad against them by any means necessary till their death or submission to the Wahhabi doctrine. Wahhabis consider Shi’ites to be the archenemies of Islam.

Wahhabism is a major factor behind the rise of such groups as al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram, while also inspiring movements such as the Taliban.

One early rebuttal of Wahhabism, (by Sunni jurist Ibn Jirjis) argued that “Whoever declares that there is no god but God and prays toward Mecca is a believer”, supplicating the dead is permitted because it is not a form of worship but merely calling out to them, and that worship at graves is not idolatry unless the supplicant believes that buried saints have the power to determine the course of events. These arguments were specifically rejected as heretical by the Wahhabi leader at the time.

The Syrian professor and scholar Dr. Muhammad Sa’id Ramadan al-Buti criticises the Salafi movement in a few of his works.

Malaysia’s largest Islamic body, the National Fatwa Council, has described Wahhabism as being against Sunni teachings, Dr Abdul Shukor Husin, chairman of the National Fatwa Council, said Wahhabi followers were fond of declaring Muslims of other schools as apostates merely on the grounds that they did not conform to Wahhabi teachings.

Among Sunni Muslims, the groups and organizations worldwide that oppose the Wahhabi ideology include: Al Ahbash, Al-Azhar, Ahlu Sunna Waljama’a, Barelvi, Nahdlatul Ulama, Gülen movement, and Ansar dine.

The Sufi Islamic Supreme Council of America founded by the Naqshbandi Sufi Shaykh Hisham Kabbani classify Wahhabism as being extremist and heretical based on Wahhabism’s role as a terrorist ideology and labelling of other Muslims, especially Sufis as polytheists, a practice known as Takfir.

According to at least one critic, the 1744–1745 alliance between Ibn Abdul Wahhab and the tribal chief Muhammad bin Saud to wage jihad on neighboring allegedly false-Muslims, was a “consecration” by Ibn Abdul Wahhab of bin Saud tribe’s long standing raids on neighboring oases by “renaming those raids jihad.” Part of the Najd’s “Hobbesian state of perpetual war pitted Bedouin tribes against one another for control of the scarce resources that could stave off starvation.” And a case of substituting fath, “the ‘opening’ or conquest of a vast territory through religious zeal”, for the “instinctive fight for survival and appetite for lucre.”

A study conducted by the NGO Freedom House found Wahhabi publications in mosques in the United States. These publications included statements that Muslims should not only “always oppose” infidels “in every way”, but “hate them for their religion … for Allah’s sake”, that democracy “is responsible for all the horrible wars… the number of wars it started in the 20th century alone is more than 130 wars,” and that Shia and certain Sunni Muslims were infidels. In a response to the report, the Saudi government stated, “[It has] worked diligently during the last five years to overhaul its education system” but “[o]verhauling an educational system is a massive undertaking.”

A review of the study by the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) complained the study cited documents from only a few mosques, arguing most mosques in the U.S. are not under Wahhabi influence. ISPU comments on the study were not entirely negative however, and concluded:

American-Muslim leaders must thoroughly scrutinize this study. Despite its limitations, the study highlights an ugly undercurrent in modern Islamic discourse that American-Muslims must openly confront. However, in the vigor to expose strains of extremism, we must not forget that open discussion is the best tool to debunk the extremist literature rather than a suppression of First Amendment rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Concern has been expressed over the fact that U.S. university branches, like the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and the Northwestern school of Journalism, housed in the wahabbi country of Qatar, are exposed to the extremist propaganda espoused by wahabist imams who preach at the Qatar Foundation mosque in Education City. Education City, a large campus where U.S. and European universities reside, hosted a series of religious prayers and lectures as part of a month-long annual Ramadan program in 2015. The prayers and lectures were held at the new lavish mosque in Doha’s Education City, which shares the same campus as prestigious schools in the U.S. like Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon. Among those who attended the lectures was a Saudi preacher who has described the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris as “the sequel to the comedy film of 9/11 “and another cleric who says, “Jews and their helpers must be destroyed.” The mosque in education city has also been known to host extremist anti-semetic wahabbi preachers who speak against “Zionist aggressors” in their sermons and called upon Allah “to count them in number and kill them completely, do not spare a [single] one of them.” There are further allegations which suggest that Qatar sent professors back to America for being Jewish and that students attending American Universities in Qatar are required to dress in a manner that is respectful to Wahhabism.

There has been much concern, expressed in both American and European media and scholarship, over the fact that Wahhabi countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been financing mosques and buying up land all over Europe. Belgium, Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy have all noted the growing influence that these Wahhabi countries have over territory and religion in Europe.

The concern resonates at a local level in Europe as well. In 2016, the citizens of Brussels, Belgium overturned a 2015 decision to build a 600-person mosque next to the Qatari embassy. Fear largely emanates from the fact that Belgian citizens see the mosque as an opportunity for a Wahhabi country to exert control over Muslims in Europe, thus spreading the more extreme sect of Islam.

Several articles have been written that list the Cork Islamic Cultural Center as an example of one of many properties throughout Europe, paid for by the Qatari government, in an effort to spread an extreme and intolerant form of Islam known as Wahhabism.

The Assalam Mosque is located in Nantes, France was also a source on some controversy. Construction on the mosque began in 2009 and was completed in 2012. It is the largest mosque in its region in France. The mosque is frequently listed among examples of Qatar’s efforts to export Wahhabism, their extreme and often intolerant version of Islam, throughout Europe.

Some of the initiatives of the Cultural Islamic Center Sesto San Giovanni in Italy, funded by Qatar Charity, have also raised concerns due to its ties to Wahhabbism. The Consortium Against Terrorist Finance (CATF) said that the mosque has a history of affiliation and cooperation with extremists and terrorists. CATF notes that Qatar Charity “was named as a major financial conduit for al-Qaeda in judicial proceedings following the attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania”, supported al-Qaeda operatives in Northern Mali, and was “heavily involved in Syria.”

Munich Forum for Islam (MFI), also known as the Center for Islam in Europe-Munich (ZIEM), was another controversial initiative largely financed by the Wahhabi Gulf country of Qatar. In 2013 German activists filed a lawsuit in opposition to the construction of the mosque. These activists expressed fear that the Qatari government aimed to build Mosques all over Europe to spread Wahhabism. But the government squashed the lawsuit. In addition to this 2014 ruling, another court ordered an anti-mosque protester to pay a fine for defaming Islam when the protester claimed that Wahhabi Islam is incompatible with democracy.

The Islamic Cultural Center in Luxembourg was also funded by Qatar in what some note is an attempt by Qatar to spread Wahhabism in Europe.

Destruction of Islam’s early historical sites

The Wahhabi teachings disapprove of “veneration of the historical sites associated with early Islam”, on the grounds that “only God should be worshiped” and “that veneration of sites associated with mortals leads to idolatry”. However, critics point out that no Muslims venerate buildings or tombs as it is a shirk. Muslims visiting the resting places of Ahl al-Bayt or Sahabah still pray to Allah alone while remembering the Prophet’s companions and family members. Many buildings associated with early Islam, including mazaar, mausoleums and other artifacts have been destroyed in Saudi Arabia by Wahhabis from the early 19th century through the present day. This practice has proved controversial and has received considerable criticism from Sufi and Shia Muslims and in the non-Muslim world.

The destruction of sites associated with early Islam is an ongoing phenomenon that has occurred mainly in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, particularly around the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The demolition has focused on mosques, burial sites, homes and historical locations associated with the Islamic prophet Muhammad and many of the founding personalities of early Islamic history. In Saudi Arabia, many of the demolitions have officially been part of the continued expansion of the Masjid al-Haram at Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina and their auxiliary service facilities in order to accommodate the ever-increasing number of Muslims performing the pilgrimage (hajj).

Much of the Arabian Peninsula was politically unified by 1932 in the third and current Saudi State, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The military campaign led by King Abdulaziz ibn Saud and his Bedouin army of tribesmen conquered the Hejaz and ousted the ruling Hashemite clan. The new Najdi rulers, nomadic Arabs largely tribal and illiterate, found themselves at the reins of a highly sophisticated society. A cohesive political structure based on the Majlis al-Shura (consultative council) system had been in place for centuries. A central administrative body managed an annual budget which allocated expenditure on secondary schools, military and police forces. Similarly, the religious fabric of the Najd and the Hejaz were vastly different. Traditional Hejazi cultural customs and rituals were almost entirely religious in nature. Celebrations honouring Muhammad, his family and companions, reverence of deceased saints, visitation of shrines, tombs and holy sites connected with any of these were among the customs indigenous to Hejazi Islam. As administrative authority of the Hejaz passed into the hands of Najdi Wahabi Muslims from the interior, the Wahabi Ulama viewed local religious practices as unfounded superstition superseding codified religious sanction that was considered a total corruption of religion and the spreading of heresy. What followed was a removal of the physical infrastructure, tombs, mausoleums, mosques and sites associated with the family and companions of Muhammad.

In 1801 and 1802, the Saudis under Abdul Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn Saud attacked and captured the Shia holy cities of Karbala and Najaf in today’s Iraq, massacred parts of the Muslim population and destroyed the tomb of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad and son of Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law. In 1803 and 1804, the Saudis captured Mecca and Medina and destroyed historical monuments and various holy Muslim sites and shrines, such as the shrine built over the tomb of Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad, and even intended to destroy the grave of Muhammad himself as idolatrous, causing outrage throughout the Muslim world. In Mecca, the tombs of direct relations of Muhammad located at Jannatul Mualla cemetery, including that of his first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, were demolished. The initial dismantling of the sites began in 1806 when the Wahhabi army of the First Saudi State occupied Medina and systematically levelled many of the structures at the Jannat al-Baqi cemetery. This is the vast burial site adjacent the Prophet’s Mosque (Al-Masjid al-Nabawi) housing the remains of many of the members of Muhammad’s family, close companions and central figures of early Islam. The Ottoman Turks, practitioners themselves of more tolerant and at times mystical strains of Islam, had erected elaborate mausoleums over the graves of Al-Baqi. These were levelled in their entirety. Mosques across the city were also targeted and an attempt was made to demolish Muhammad’s tomb. Widespread vocal criticism of this last action by Muslim communities as far away as India, eventually led to abandoning any attempt on this site. Political claims made against Turkish control of the region initiated the Ottoman-Saudi war (1811–1818) in which the Saudi defeat forced Wahhabi tribesmen to retreat from the Hejaz back into the interior. Turkish forces reasserted control of the region and subsequently began extensive rebuilding of sacred sites between 1848 and 1860, many of them done employing the finest examples of Ottoman design and craftsmanship.

On 21 April 1925 the mausoleums and domes at Al-Baqi in Medina were once again levelled and so were indicators of the exact location of the resting places of Muhammad’s family members and descendants, as it remains to the present day. Portions of the famed Qasida al-Burda, the 13th century ode written in praise of Muhammad by Imam al-Busiri, inscribed over Muhammad’s tomb were painted over. Among specific sites targeted at this time were the graves of the Martyrs of the Battle of Uhud, including the grave of the renowned Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, uncle of Muhammad and one of his most beloved supporters, the Mosque of Fatimah Al Zahraa’, daughter of Mohammad, the Mosque of the Two Lighthouses (Manaratayn) as well as the Qubbat Al-Thanaya, the cupola built as the burial place of Mohammad’s incisor tooth, which was broken from a blow received during the Battle of Uhud. In Medina, the Mashrubat Umm Ibrahim, the home of Mohammad’s Coptic Egyptian slave Mariah and birthplace of their son Ibrahim, as well as the adjacent burial site of Hamida al-Barbariyya, mother of Imam Musa al-Kadhim, were destroyed during this time. The site was paved over and is today part of the massive marble esplanade beside the Mosque. The government-appointed permanent scholarly committee of Saudi Arabia has ordered the demolition of such structures in a series of Islamic rulings noting excessive veneration leading to shirk.

The twenty-first century has seen an increase in the demolition of sites in Mecca and Medina by Saudi authorities, alongside expansion of luxury development.

As the annual hajj continues to draw larger crowds year after year, the Saudi authorities deemed it necessary to raze large tracts of formerly residential neighborhoods around the two important mosques to make way for pilgrimage-related infrastructure. In 2010, it was forecast that developers were going to spend an estimated $13 billion on the largest expansion project in the city’s history.

While there is widespread agreement for the need of facilities that can accommodate greater numbers of pilgrims, the development of upscale hotels and condominium towers, restaurants, shopping centres and spas has caused some to criticize the over-commercialization of a site which many consider to be a divinely ordained sanctuary for Muslims.

The rapid influx of capitalist investment in Mecca and Medina leads many to believe that money and economic growth are the ultimate reason for Saudi authorities. Critics argue that this monetary focus works with Wahhabi state policy that imposes a massive cultural and social deletion within the Holy Cities, erasing any elements that encourage practices counter to the Wahhabi creed.

According to The Independent, the House of Mawalid where Muhammad is said to have been born is about to be replaced by a huge royal palace, as a part of a multibillion-pound construction project in Mecca which has resulted in the destruction of hundreds of historic monuments.

The Saudis have renovated the tomb of the founder of their Wahhabism sect, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, turning his birthplace into a major tourist attraction and an important place of visitation within the kingdom’s modern borders.

Below is an incomplete list of destroyed sites:

Mosques

  • The mosque at the grave of Sayyid al-Shuhada’ Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib.
  • The Mosque of Fatima Zahra.
  • The Mosque of al-Manaratain.
  • Mosque and tomb of Sayyid Imam al-Uraidhi ibn Ja‘far al-Sadiq, destroyed by dynamite on August 13, 2002.
  • Four mosques at the site of the Battle of the Trench in Medina.
  • The Mosque of Abu Rasheed.
  • Salman al-Farsi Mosque, in Medina.
  • Raj’at ash-Shams Mosque, in Medina.

Cemeteries and tombs

  • Jannat al-Baqi in Medina, leveled, still open access for men and women.
  • Jannat al-Mu’alla, the ancient cemetery at Mecca.
  • Grave of Hamida al-Barbariyya, the mother of Imam Musa al-Kazim.
  • Grave of Amina bint Wahb, Muhammad’s mother, bulldozed in 1998.
  • Graves of Banu Hashim in Mecca.
  • Tombs of Hamza and other casualties of the Battle of Uhud were demolished at Mount Uhud.
  • Tomb of Eve in Jeddah, sealed with concrete in 1975.
  • Grave of the father of Muhammad, in Medina.

Historical religious sites

  • The house of Mawlid where Muhammad is believed to have been born in 570. Originally turned into a library, it now lies under a rundown building which was built 70 years ago as a compromise after Wahhabi clerics called for it to be demolished.
  • The house of Khadija, Muhammad’s first wife. Muslims believe he received some of the first revelations there. It was also where his children Fatimah and Qasim were born. After it was rediscovered during the Haram extensions in 1989, it was covered over and it was made into a library.
  • A Hilton hotel stands on the site of the house of Islam’s first caliph, Abu Bakr.
  • House of Muhammed in Medina, where he lived after the migration from Mecca.
  • Dar e Arqam, the first Islamic school where Muhammad taught. It now lies under the extension of the Masjid Alharam of Mecca.
  • Qubbat’ al-Thanaya, the burial site of Muhammed’s incisor that was broken in the Battle of Uhud.
  • Mashrubat Umm Ibrahim, built to mark the location of the house where Muhammad’s son, Ibrahim, was born to Mariah.
  • Dome which served as a canopy over the Well of Zamzam.
  • Bayt al-Ahzan of Sayyida Fatima, in Medina.
  • House of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, in Medina.
  • Mahhalla complex of Banu Hashim, in Mecca.
  • House of Ali where Hasan and Husayn were born.

Ironically, despite Wahhabi destruction of many Islamic, non-Islamic, and historical sites associated with the first Muslims, Prophet’s family, his companions and a strict prohibition of visiting such (including mosques), Saudis renovated the tomb of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, turning his birthplace into a major tourist attraction and an important place of visitation within the kingdom’s modern borders.

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