Tuesday, March 07, 2006

All leads point to Wahhabism

[Update: see photos below.]

This article appeared last month in the Egyptian daily El Masry El Yom. I thought the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia wouldn't be too happy about the news it reported, but it was only later in that day that I learned of the explosion of this golden-domed mosque of Iraq that supposedly held the remains of the Imams Hassan and Hussein. Ever since, the Iraqi Sunnis and Shias have been engaged in this tit-for-tat mini civil war...

The article talks of a conference that was held in Al Azhar by the Sufi 'Azmiya sect, which called for the internationalization of all the sites in Saudi Arabia which had to do with the holy pilgrimage and Islamic heritage, which it said belonged to all the world's Muslims, with all their different sects, and not to the "extremist Wahhabis" alone, "who were dividing the world's Muslims from within, and weakening them abroad".

More importantly, and this was the essence of the conference, it called for the protection of these holy sites that were related to the lives and burial places of the Prophet and his family. Why, you may ask? Because the Wahhabis, ever since they came to power, have been intent on destroying them! According to them, all sanctification of these sites is considered a form of idolatry.

Wahhabism is the culture of the cave. Nothing runs there, from "post-Islamic" "inventions" of how to say hello, to even, as I suspect, terrorist leader and doctor-gone-mad Ayman El Zawahri's own inventive poetry from the cave.

Wahhabism - the degradation from all material means - is not invalid as a concept in itself. However the self-proclaimed fundamentalists of all the ages and creeds - Jewish, Christian and Muslim - have failed to grasp the idea that monasticism, while proving a necessary and even desirable path for the spiritual leaders of the faiths, was never meant to be set as a way of life for the multitude.

So in essence, the civil strife we see in the Islamic world today, from the furor over the cartoons, to the brewing civil war in Iraq, comes down to the very simple/tragic tenet of Wahhabism - that of idolatry. Both campaigns, I believe, are directed from above by few governmental and terrorist entities, but this doesn't change the fact that their malicious exploitations rest on the rock of this archaic and now misunderstood concept.

Egyptians celebrate Mulid El Rifaei

Women attendees

Together at the mosque of Ahmad El Badawi

Muslims celebrate the Mulid of the Virgin Mary

El Leila El Kebira

* Photos by Sherif Sonbol, from "Mulid! Carnivals of Faith".


Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Thanx for mentioning the bit about the destruction of the Muslim Historic Sites. Even though I am an ex-Catholic atheist and have been discussing/challenging Islam on my blog, I am someone with a love of history and a reverence for the 'things of history.'

You might, btw, have mentioned that the Selafis are claiming 'idolatry' as the reason, but also 'just happen' to be building large hotels on the sites. Admittedly, they need the rooms for Hajis, but they'll also get a 'small' amount of cash out of the deal.

Seneferu said...

Jim, I don't see why you should be concerned with "challenging Islam" any more than you should be with challenging Judaism or Christianity. I assure you that Islam to the average Muslim is what Judaism and Christianity are to the average Jew and Christian: a means of worship to which they belong.

If you want to challege the extremist Wahhabis, then go right ahead. But while you are at it don't forget to challenge the fundamentalists of the other religions as well. Including atheism itself.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

First 'fundamentalist atheists.' Nice snappy phrase, but I'm damned if I know what you mean by it.

And, in fact, the last post I put on my blog -- I keep on being distracted by all these great Egyptian blogs (including yours despite my disagreements here) and spend so much time there I forget to post my own -- discussed the general problems with Fundamentalism/Literalism. My next one in the series will discuss the particular and different problems in Islamic F/L thinking. The point is that most Muslims that I have run into or discussed Islam with treat the Qur'an as the 'final revelation dictated by Allah to Mohammed.' There is a difference between F/L and 'extremism.'

And the reason i am challenging Islam in particular -- besides the fact that i read the news and read moderate Islamic bloggers who complain about the events they witness in their own countries is because I DO believe that Islam is different from Judaism and Christianity. (Not that they are not open to criticism as well.)

I believe -- and am hoping I can be shown to be wrong -- that there are certain inherent problems with islam that have any number of negative effects, and that reforming these problems is not possible without creating something that can't be called Islam. (See my lengthy question in BPs blog today -- a comment under his discussion of the picture of the decomposed body. I really am hoping someone can answer it, but i tend to doubt it.)

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Err, blush, I see I used the term 'fundamentalist atheist' in my own post. I still don't know what it means, or what i was talking about when I used it, but errr, oooops.

Seneferu said...

Jim, if you go down to the fundamentals of Judaism and Christianity you will be faced with the same problems you speak of here regarding Islam.

Thanks for the compliment to the blog.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

No, I WON'T. Find the same problems in Fundamentalist Christianity and Judaism as I do in Islam, that is. (I have PLENTY of problems with them, but there is little comparison -- except that both groups share the same gullibility and lack of critical thinking, important but minor.)
These groups do not attempt to enforce their fiats violently. They do not, seriously, attempt to take over countries and shape opinion in them to match their own -- Israel remains secular, and the 'religious parties' may have an influence over some parts of life, but women are free, gays are free and even accepted in the Army. Maybe you find a difficulty in shopping on Saturday or buying a pork roast, but that is it.)

There is nothing like the apostasy rules in fundamentalist Judaism or Christianity. If there were, I wouldn't be in trouble, but my wife would. The area we live in is predominantly Orthodox Jewish -- with the main Pakistani area being only a few blocks away. My wife is Jewish, technically, but is more stridently atheist than I am, and her family was as well. Not only is she not ostracized, neither she nor her parents have problems with the neighbors.
There are definitely unpleasant rules for women in these fundamentalisms, but no 'hijab-nijab' nonsense, nor do they react violently against those who do not choose to obey these rules. (And there is NO equivalent to the use of rape and sexual abuse as a punishment that I thought was limited to Pakistan until I saw Nora's 'Year in Review" post.)
They might complain against 'indecency' or 'irreverence,' but they don't burn down buildings or kill people for them, nor do any of these groups attempt to take over the countries they live in and enforce the rules against non-believers. They may want political power -- as is any group's right, but they accept they are a 'fringe element' in the Spectrum of their religions.

Senefru -- and sorry this has been so disjointed, domestic necessities intervened -- I have to wonder if you ever have read the Testaments. I'd guess you haven't -- and if I'm wrong, I apologize. But if I'm right, it might be beneficial and even entertaining if you spent some time looking at a selection of the books. (Just avoid NUMBERS unless you need instant sleep). Try ACTS, a gospel, an epistle, JOB and at least one other prophet, and maybe EXODUS or LEVITICUS, and one of the histories. I think you'd be surprised at the differences in tome, dignity, coherence, even charm. (I've read them, the Qur'an, and even parts of the BOOK OF MORMON and the ZEND AVESTA -- Zoroastrian, and much more a source for Islam than many people think.) I'll be curious as to your response.