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Wahhabism is a rigorously puritanical fundamentalist form of Islam founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab (1703 - 1792). It is the predominant form of Islamist Islam in the world today.

The basic text of this form of Islam is the Kitab at-tawhid (Arabic, "Book of Unity"). Members of this form of Islam call themselves Muwahhidun ("Unitarians"); Non-Muslims refer to followers of his sect as Wahhabis.

Wahhabism aims to cleanse Islam of what its adherents view as innovations, deviances, heresies and idolatries. In his view, by following his theology and practice, a Muslim would return to the original form of Islamic faith that Allah originally had intended all of mankind to follow. Most historians (both Arab and non-Arab), however, hold that Wahhabism is in fact a new form of Islam, containing many changes in both theology and practice.

Wahhabi Islam forbids the use of gravestones as tending toward idolatry and the use of minarets (see mosque) because they are not known to have been used in the time of Muhammad. Smoking is forbidden as a religious offense. Wahhabism is the official practice of Islam in Saudi Arabia; Saudi Arabia considers it a state crime to convert to any other form of Islam, or to convert to any other religion.

The spread of Wahhabism

This section will discuss the spead of this form of Islam across the Middle-East, throughout most Mosques in Europe (especially in The United Kingdom) and the spread of Wahhabi Islam in America.

Wahhabism, as a totalitarian ideology, sought to completely supplant traditional Sunni Islam and dominate the Islamic world. This process began in the aftermath of the fall of the Ottoman Empire. In 1924 the Wahhabi al-Saud dynasty conquered the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, creating the Saudi state. This plan to dominate Islam has been greatly assisted by billions of dollars of Saudi oil revenues.

The Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian Islamist organization, received financial support from the Saudis in the 1950s, in order to act as a counterweight to the secular Arab nationalism of Egypt's leader Abdul Nasser. This caused the Muslim Brotherhood to turn in the direction of Wahhabism. Most Islamist terrorist organizations are Wahhabi organizations - for example the terrorist group Hamas is a Palestinian descendent of the Muslim Brotherhood. The exception is the Shi'a Hizballah organization.

Wahhabism is now the predominant form of Islam preached in American mosques. In 1999 a prominent moderate American Muslim leader, Sheik Hisham Kabbani, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of America, offered testimony on Wahhabi influence in American during a State Department hearing. He estimated that 80 percent of America's mosques have been taken over by Imams (Islamic clergy) who are either Wahhabi, or Islamist.

Relationship to other forms of Islam

Wahhabis consider Wahhabism to be the only true form of Islam. They are particularly hostile to Sufism.

Relationship to other religions

(to be written.)

See also: Islam, Islamist

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