John L. Esporito in his book Islam ‘The Straight Path’, describes Wahabiizm as the most influential revivalist movement of the 18th century not least in respect of its impact on present day revivalism. Like his predecessor Ibn Taymiyyah, /2015/03/05/more-ibn-taymiyyah-jihad-the-mongol-invasion-acceptance-or-retaliation/ Wahhab was drawn to the Hanbali School of Islamic principles. He believed the Arabic world had deviated from the true path of Islamic values and that a ”moral revolution” based on the Quran was required. He and his friend the local tribal chief Muhammed ibn Saud gathered their forces in order to reinstate a state of Muwahiddun (strict monotheism) and a holy war was waged.
Referring to themselves as al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun or the Muslim Brotherhood they targeted Muslims who did not agree with their philosophy just as Islamic State does in Raqqa, Syria. Of course Their motives were multiple though Ibn Saud did wish to subdue rival tribes in order to gain control in the region. This was in contrast to his descendent of the same name who who took wives from each feudal family and sired many children. The new movement wished to rid the Ulama of all the legal and philosophical reforms, which occurred after the death of the Prophet and as such destroyed Sufi shrines and tombs.
It didn’t stop there as they were said to have plundered some of the shrines of the prophet and his companions in Mecca and Medina. These were flagrant acts of war, which saw also the sacking of the tomb of Husayn at Karbala a pilgrimage centre for Shia Muslims /2015/01/19/more-pics-of-lebanon-beirut-dr-bashar-shia-moments-run-up-to-the-ashura-festival-balbek-and-sur/. Their victory was decisive as other local tribes were subdued and this, along with the rejection of the Ottoman empire as defender of the faith, paved the way for British colonisation and exascerbated the on-going rifts between Sunni and Shia Muslims particularly in the Gulf region.
The Hanbali school
It’s difficult to find a general account of Hanbali doctrine, so is best discussed through the interpetration of ibn Taymiyyah and other subsequent followers. Suffice to say, that the Hanbali school of jurisprudence was one of the five traditional Islamic schools. After the death of its founder in 855 it lost popularity but was revived in the late 13th and early 14th century by the theologian, ibn Taymiyyeh, in the 18th century by Muhammed al-Wahab and in the 20th century by Hasan al-Banna.
After the death of the prophet Mohammed the interpretation of the Hadiths, his revelations as recorded by his companions, were expanded upon or even distorted as memories faded. By the 9th century many other scholars had contributed substantially to the philosophical and legal debate. The Hanbali school rejected these interpretations as it adhered strictly to the word of the prophet and his companions.
the Ijtihad refers to the interpretation of issues not included in the Qu’ran and the Hadiths. In the early days after the prophet all original thought was encouraged and legal scholars who theorised on new issues were known as the Mujtahids. According to the ‘Encyclopedia Britannica online’ during the Abbasid Dynasty 566–653 legal colleges were established, the ”gates to the Ijtihad” were closed and the status of Mujtahid rendered obsolete. This didn’t deter many later scholars from entitling themselves as such, ibn Taymiyyeh being just one of them.