Wahhabis


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Wahhabis

 

followers of a religious and political movement in Islam that spread in the Nejd (Central Arabia) at the end of the 18th century. The founder of Wahhabism was Muhammad ibn abd al-Wahhab (1703-87). The main dogma of the Wahhabis is belief in an indivisible god, whom they conceive anthropomorphically, hence their self-designation as Muwahhidun (Monotheists). The Wahhabi reject the innovations of every sort that have appeared in the process of Islamic development, such as the cult of saints and dervishism, and they are opposed to relics of pre-Islamic cults. They adhere to a rigid simplicity of customs and give great importance to jihad, the holy war against the infidels.

The political essence of Wahhabism consists of striving to unify the tribes and small principalities of Arabia and of liquidating tribal feuds and feudal anarchy in the interests of the great feudal lords and merchants. At the beginning of the 19th century almost the whole Arabian Peninsula was unified in a feudal state by the Wahhabis, but the state disintegrated after its conquest by Egypt (1811-18). In 1821 the Wahhabi state was reestablished within the confines of the Nejd and lasted until the last quarter of the 19th century. It was restored at the beginning of the 20th century. As a result of the unification wars which were waged in the 1920’s under the leadership of Ibn Saud (1880-1953), the Wahhabi state was enlarged to its present boundaries. It has been called Saudi Arabia since 1932.

In Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism is the official ideology. The ideas of Wahhabism have been spread to some extent to India, Afghanistan, and Indonesia and to some African countries.

REFERENCES

Vasil’ev, A. M. Puritane islama? Moscow, 1967 (With bibliography.)
Pershits, A. I. Khoziaistvo i obshchestvenno-politicheskii stroi Severnoi Aravii v 19-1 -i trei 20 v. Moscow, 1961.
Rihani, Amin. Tärikh Nagda al-hadith (History of the Modern Nejd). Beirut, 1927.
Burckhardt, J. L. Notes on the Bedouins and Wahabys, vols. 1-2. London, 1831.

Z. I. LEVIN

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