Last time the ideas of the ringleader of Wahhabi cult Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and his link with the founder of the Saudi regime Muhammad ibn Saud were briefly discussed.

It was also said that from the very beginning the authorities and power were divided so that invitation and propagation were at the hands of the Wahhabi family (al Sheikh) and politics and government were at the disposal of the Saudi family (al Saud).

The bond between the Wahhabi family and the Saudi family had a mediator namely Britain. The Wahhabi thought faced with at least three main obstacles. First, the public opinion and the Islamic scholars who saw that ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s ideas were in explicit contrast with the basics of the Islamic teachings. This trend was so clear that he was strongly opposed and banished even by his brother and father. Secondly, the local rulers were opposed to this current. The two emirs of Riyadh and Uyaynah were at loggerheads with the Wahhabis and Riyadh was exchanged among the Saudi and other tribes. Thirdly, the emirs of Mecca and Medina and the Pashas of Egypt, who ruled under the Ottoman Empire, were strongly against the Wahhabi cult due to its blatant opposition with the Islamic instructions.

According to the historical evidence Wahhabis could never resist against these opposing currents and hence their political and ideological system was twice totally dismantled. The Egyptian army even sent the Saudi emir and family members to Istanbul and they were beheaded in different regions. But the idea which had faced utter failure in its cradle grew and flourished in exile.

In the wake of the 20th century, Britain realized that the era of old colonialism and direct presence had passed. Therefore, it changed the method of colonialism in the Islamic countries. One of the main methods of the neo-colonialism is to create discord among Muslims and stage wars and conflicts among Islamic sects. Britain pursued this policy in two axes. First, it tried to find persons who could materialize the colonialist goals via shaping fake sects. Secondly, it supported deviated and anti-religious currents in the Islamic world such as the liberalists, nationalists and Salafis. Now the question is: Had the Wahhabi cult been forged by the British colonialism or it was forged after the start of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s invitation?

For sure, even if the role of Britain can be denied in formation of the Wahhabi cult and training its ring-leader; its role in the revival of this sect cannot be ruled out. There is ample evidence that Britain had close links with Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab during his training and before disclosing his invitation. Memoirs of Mr. Hempher, The British Spy to the Middle East is a documented book on the relations of this spy with Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. Some people have tried to deny the authenticity of this book but it has been translated to many languages and accepted in many academic centers due to the historical realities. Whether Britain had created the Wahhabi cult or just revived it makes no difference in the result. In other words, this fabricated ideology has fully materialized the colonialist goals in the Islamic lands.

The 20th century was a prosperous century for Britain. The puppet regimes and agents of Britain had been properly arranged in West Asia and the Persian Gulf. As it was mentioned earlier, Britain chose indirect presence in the region via finding friends and allies to maintain its goals. Thus, through enticing and threatening the sheikhs, rulers and tribal leaders, Britain vehemently sought invisible domination over West Asia (Middle East as the Westerners call it). Yet, there was an important bulwark against the British penetration and dominance in the Islamic world, namely the aged and fatigued Ottoman Empire. Britain tried to put the final nail to the coffin of this empire.

Apart from the British influence in the regional countries like Iran, Iraq and the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms, the Arabian Peninsula was divided into several regions. The Western region, including Mecca, Medina, Jeddah and Taef, was ruled by the Sharif of Mecca. They were apparently under the Ottoman caliphs but were in fact interested in relations with Britain. In the South (Bab al-Mandab), which was the course of the British ships commutation to its colony India, there were the British military to maintain the security of their ships laden with the pillaged riches of India. The Eastern section, including al-Ahsa and Qatif, was under the local rulers who had tendencies toward the Ottoman Turks. The Central region, including Nejd and its surrounding, was the place of the al-Rashid rule. Al-Rashid, who had destroyed the Wahhabi movement and become the undisputable rulers of Nejd, were the allies of the Ottomans and adopted similar stances with them against Wahhabis.

The British were well aware of the role of the Arabian Peninsula in the equations of the region in future; especially given the existence of the two holy shrines of Muslims in the region.

Although the links of Britain and al-Saud had started as of 1282 AH; what defined the British relation with Abdul Aziz were the two basic objectives of Britain in the Arabian Peninsula. First, Britain tried to find an ally to secure its interests in the heart of the peninsula and dominate the entire peninsula in future. Secondly, Britain was in pursuit of struggling against the Ottoman influence in the region with al-Rashid and the Sharifs of Mecca and Medina as their apparent representatives. In such circumstances, Wahhabism with al-Saud as its ringleader was the best option for Britain. Next time you can listen to the rest of the discussion.


Feb 18, 2016 08:36 UTC