Globalizing Wahhabism

[Independent-UK] Johann Hari - The champion of globalization is in fact a puritanical desert-nomad from the sands of Arabia who died in 1792, and the evidence was there in this week's Islamic panic front pages. Mohamed ibn Abd al-Wahhab had a dream. He dreamed of an Islam stripped down to a cold list of mechanical rules, strictly enforced, severely upheld. He ordered whippings and beheadings of Muslims to "purify" the faith. He smashed up and burned down the worship places of the softer, more mystical Muslims all around him. And - his smartest move - he cut a deal. He met the chief of the desert bandits who lived in nearby Najd - a man named Mohamed Saud - and offered him his allegiance, in return for enforcing his severe, new brand of Islam. The Saud ruling family and the Wahhabi doctrine have been locked in a stiff waltz ever since. More than two centuries later, oil was discovered under the territory of these bandits, and billions of dollars began to soak into the kingdom. True to their ancestor's deal, the House of Saud used this black gold to promote the ideas of Wahhab across the world. By paying for thousands of schools, mosques and trained imams, they dispersed the reactionary preacher's ideas to every continent. Slowly, steadily, they are succeeding in eroding other, gentler forms of Islam. They are globalizing Wahhabism - and your petrol purchases are paying for it. In Sweden, almost every Islamic school is either funded by the Saudis or seeking out their cash, according to the investigative program "Kaliber." In the U.S., 80% of imams are trained by the Saudis, and in France 70%. In Pakistan, there were 246 madrassas at the time of independence in 1945. Today, there are 6,607 - the majority using Saudi textbooks provided for free.

2007-02-09 01:00:00

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