Ask Imaam

I would like to know what are the fundamental differences between Sunnism and Wahhabism?

In the name of Allah al-Rahman al-Rahim

Sunnism is the fulfilment of the Prophetic ahadith:

The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said: “My ummah will separate into seventy three sects, all of them in the fire, except one.” The Sahabah (ridwanAllah alayhi ajma’in) asked, “Which is it O RasulAllah?” The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him)replied, “That which I am upon and my companions”.

[Sunan al-Tirmidhi Hadith 2641]

It is the way of the vast majority of the Muslims of the world:

The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) is reported to have said: “Verily my Ummah will not gather upon a misguidance (dalalah) so when you see difference then cling to the vast majority (al-Sawad al-A’zham).”

[Sunan Ibn Majah Hadith 3950]

It is the way of the collective body of the Muslims since the time of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him):

The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said: “Whosoever diverged from the Jama’ah (congregation) the amount of a hand-span then he has relinquished the yoke of Islam from his neck.”

[Sunan al-Tirmidhi Hadith 2863]

In a further hadith of the Sunan of al-Tirmidhi it is mentioned: “The support of Allah is with the Jama’ah, whosoever deviated, deviated into the Fire.”

[Sunan al-Tirmidhi Hadith 2167]

Thus Sunnism, the way of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah is personified by being the way of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and the Sahabah (Allah is pleased with them all), being the way of the saved group (al-Firqah al-Najiyah) and being the way of the vast majority (al-Sawad al-A’zham) such that it is the way of the congregational body of the Muslims (al-Jama’ah) since the Prophetic era.

Wahhabism or Najdism (including its sister sect in the Indian sub-continent: Deobandism which shares many of its views) is a bid’ah which reared its filthy head in modern times and some of its (Najdism-Deobandism) salient features in opposition to the Ahl al-Sunnah are as follows:

- Adoption of Tajsim (anthropomorphism: giving Allah likeness to His creation) and Tanqis (degradation) in relation to Allah’s Divine Attributes and Divine Actions. For example: establishing a direction and place for Allah or claiming that Allah can lie.

- Adoption of Tanqis (degradation) with respect to the status of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). For example: Considering the the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) as having ceased and mixed with the soil and denying the Prophetic Knowledge of the Unseen.

- Adoption of Kharijism, (the way of the Khawarij), with respect to the living. For example: Wholesale takfir (anathematisation) of the Muslim Ummah through false accusations of Bid’ah, Shirk and Kufr.

- Adoption of the way of the Mu’tazilah, (ultra rationalist separatists), with respect to the deceased. For example: Denying the benefiting of the deceased by the actions of the living.

In general it is noted concerning this corrupt sect that it is in opposition to what has been agreed upon and accepted by the ulama of this Ummah from the time of the salaf until its birth at the hands of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab al-Najdi. It considers as bid’ah, shirk and kufr principles which have been agreed upon by the salaf of this ummah such as Tawassul (seeking a means of approach) whilst considering as sunnah, tawhid and Islam that which the salaf of this ummah have agreed upon as being bid’ah, shirk and kufr such as Tajsim (anthropomorphism).

Al-Shaykh Muhammad Ahmad al-Misbahi (hafizahullah) highlighting how this corrupt sect severed the unity of the Ummah states:

“Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab al-Najdi and Isma’il al-Dehlawi fractured the unity of the Muslims by innovating a new sect and labelling the early ulama as deviants, until this sect evolved into multiple sub groupings; wahhabiyyah, deobandiyyah, hadithiyyah ghayr al-muqallidah, tablighiyyah, mawdudiyyah and they strongly opposed Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah who remained firm upon the old methodology, accusing them of kufr and shirk on the basis of their false conjectures and flimsy arguments.”

[Huduth al-Fitan, pg 102]

Al-Sayid al-Imam ibn ‘Abidin al-Shami (rahmatullah alayi) has mentioned regarding the emergence of this wicked sect:

“So it is sufficient (in calling a group khawarij) their belief that those they are revolting against are disbelievers, like what befell in our time with the followers of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahabb who came out from Najd and overcame the two holy sanctuaries and outwardly claimed to follow the Hanbali School but they believed that they were the only Muslims and whoever opposed them were disbelievers and they made permissible the killing of Ahl al-Sunnah and its Ulama until Allah broke their might and destroyed their dwelling places and the Muslim army gained victory over them in the year 1233 A.H.”

[Radd al-Muhtar , 4/262]

May Allah protect the Ulama of Ahl al-Sunnah and its people.

Allah knows best.

Answered by Mawlana Ibrar Shafi