As I sat on a sofa during a class-break, I wondered about me being here experiencing the so-called 'Wahabbism' first hand.
I wondered why people back home or outside Saudi are worried about it. Is it true, that it is the source of extremism, cause for terrorism, backwardness in modernity and cause for disunity among the Muslim Ummah, as what have been pointed out by Liberal Islam and some conservative groups?
The fact is that there is nothing of that sort and only Allah knows what their motives are behind such thwarted facts.
What is mainly taught here is about the importance of Monotheism and to be aware about anything that may jeopardise it, to stay away from innovation in religion and to embrace innovation that is allowed according to Islam i.e. Modernity, progress and advancement in science and technolgy etc.. and to live with the guidance of the Qur'an the Sunnah and the values and way of life shown by the Prophet's companions and scholars who lived shortly after.
Islam is simple and should not be made harder than it is or interpreted excessively and should be left as it is understood by the 'salafussoleh' as they have the best understanding of it. This is also the way that our Prophet (peace be upon him) recommended and the understanding of many other scholars even the four main Muslim scholars.
This way, Muslims will then have more time and energy to focus on other important issues in life on earth and to practice Islam moderately as recommended; to be able to strike a good balance between life for here and the hereafter.
If this way of understanding is practiced, the Ummah will be stronger and possibly, insya Allah, will lead a successful life.
Now the question is, why then, aren't many of those who are practicing this form of understanding, which can be termed as 'salafism'(following the ways of Prophet's companions and scholars who lived shortly after), especially here in Saudi, do not portray excellence or a progressive way of life?
There are many factors to this and they all point to the same reason of not applying what they are representing as a whole i.e. Salafis who portray values that don't reflect the sunnah or in other words, not practicing what they have learnt, in all aspects of life..They may excel at some good attributes but sorely lack in others.
For instance, a lack of success or progress in science and technology, poor work ethics, being backward in most industries and business is not due to Salafism and what it teaches, but due to humans and their imperfections..
A country with citizens having a negative mindset, poor work ethics and habits will never improve even with a correct understanding of Islam without applying it. If the people themselves won't change and the government generally neglects their part in trying harder to act on it and improve, then they will never change.
We can't blame Salafism and what it teaches if people go around accusing others of apostasy, show bad manners, live backwardly, hold an extreme view towards anything that is against or towards it and decided to terrorize others!
These are all negative values that are disliked and condemned in Islam.
Here, condemnation against terrorism and poor, unhealthy values, to always live up to the sunnah and to practice moderation at all times, is always propagated in schools, newspapers etc.
Now where is the consistency in the reports and views that 'Liberal Islam' groups or some conservatives claimed which are totally opposite?
They even made use of the misgivings of some 'black sheeps' in Salafism and propagated as if that is truly what it stands for.
It is a fact that even Saudis themselves are puzzled as to how the term 'Wahabbism' have been plastered on them!? The term is somewhat negative and history shows that it was formerly a term used for a group of 'Khawaarij' muslims (a devient sect which holds extreme views and have a dark history) which have no links whatsoever to thier stand and creed.
It is also important to note that many who accuse Salafism as negative are plainly ignorant about it. We may have found out a little about it through people or sources that hold similar views as us, but if we only find out from a one-sided point of view, how much of it is actually true? What do we know of the history behind all of this? What was the situation then, that started it in Saudi? What does it stand for? How and when did the term Wahabbism came up? Does all the negative points that are said to happen in Saudi or propagated by Salafis true?
If all these are taken into context and extent research is done on views from both sides, only then, a fair judgement can be made and whether you agree with any sides or not after that, then that will be your own choice and not a blind one, following others' perceptions.
So, I'm inviting all to keep an open mind and research if whatever that i've stated here have some truth in it. It's not about sparking off a debate or to say 'hey, i'm right!' but for all, to seek a clear view and truth for ourselves towards gaining a better understanding of Islam, to be sure in our choices and hopefully, to eventually practice Islam the way Allah would like us to..insya Allah.
May we all be guided to the right path, Ameen, insya Allah.
And Allah Almighty knows best.