Wahhabism is often thought to be a conservative interpretation of Islam , however it rejects the core commandments of the Prophet Mohammad . Deobandism and Salafism differ slightly from the Wahhabism practised in Saudi Arabia ; nevertheless they are almost exactly the same in beliefs .
Wahhabism was founded in the 18th century by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab . He formed his belief system in a small village , Uyainah , in Najd ( part of modern-day Saudi Arabia ). His ideas were so heretical that he was forced into exile and denounced by his own family .
Abd al-Wahhab lived in an era when the Ottoman Empire was in decline and people in the Arabian peninsula were coming to terms with a changing world in which the conditions were not necessarily in their favour . For some discontented Muslims , Abd al-Wahhab ’ s ideology was appealing .
Abd al-Wahhab gained followers quickly because he seemed to offer them a solution to their troubles . He claimed that their social and economic issues were a sign from God that they had deviated from true Islam . He declared that Wahhabism was a ‘ reformed ’ Islam and that Sufism ( mystical Islam ) was the corrupted version of Islam that was responsible for the troubles Muslims were facing . He said that by effacing Sufism from Islam ( by any means he deemed necessary ) and adopting Wahhabism , the Muslims would be ushered into a new ‘ Islamic Golden Age ’ in which they would rule the world . In doing so , he gave them scapegoats to blame and release their frustrations on : the Sufis .
It was not just the Sufis the Wahhabis hated ; soon they grew to despise all those who did not adopt Wahhabism , whether or not they were Muslims .
Unlike Sufis , Abd al-Wahhab did not respect the Prophet Mohammad or his teachings . He suggested that to think about Prophet Mohammad during Salat ( a form of prayer ) was a sin and that his followers would be better off directing their thoughts towards donkeys . [ SIRAT-E-MUSTAQEEM , P . 86 ] He rejected the existence of spirituality altogether . This was despite what the Koran says to the contrary in , for example , chapter 39 . [ KORAN 39:22 ]
One of the reasons Wahhabism has become the monster we see today is because of the support of the Saudi Royal Family . When Abd al- Wahhab was preaching his ideology , he formed an alliance with an ancestor of the Saudi Royal Family , Muhammad ibn Saud . Ibn Saud was the leader of a warrior tribe that would loot and plunder neighbouring villages . Soon , Wahhabism became the ideology ibn Saud used to justify this long-held custom . With military backing , Abd al-Wahhab freely promoted his beliefs across the Arab World . When Saudi Arabia was formed , a pact was made between the House of Saud and the Wahhabis to always support one another ; the House of Saud would handle the matters of state while the Wahhabis would have full control of the religious sector in Saudi Arabia . Since the holy cities of Mecca and Medina are located in Saudi Arabia , the Wahhabis would thus have influence over to the entire Muslim nation .
Wahhabism has grown exponentially and it is practised in almost every country of the world .