Qadi of Tunisia refutes Muhammed bin Abdul Wahhab

The following are two letters exchanged, the former by the leader of the Wahhabi sect and the latter is a response to it by the official mufti within the Tunisia region.

Muhammed bin Abdul Wahhab’s letter to the people of Maghrib:

“In the name of God the merciful, we ask for his support and forgiveness and call on him to protect us from our bad deeds. He who calls for God’s help is in no perdition but he who shuns God and his Prophet shall know no felicity … there is no God but Allah… He who obey s the sovereign Lord and his Prophet shall be saved but he who ignores him and his Prophet shall perish for he will only wrong himself not the Lord … God said: “If you love Allah follow me I shall protect you and forgive your sins”(Quran 3:31). God also said: “Take what the Prophet has brought you and avoid what he forbad you” (Quran 59:7 ). God said: “Today I have perfected my religion for you and have bestowed my grace upon you” (Quran 5:3). Thus spoke the almighty .” The Sovereign God has enjoined us to follow his injunctions, to abandon the Bid’a and sectarianism (Wa tark al-bida’ wa al-tafarruq wa al-ikhtilaf…). God said: “Follow what has been bequeathed on you but do not abandon the Lord for the Awliy a’…” (Quran 7 :3).  

The Prophet… has warned his community that it would disintegrate into seventy –three sects all doomed to hell with the exception of one which would follow the Sunna … If you are aware of that, than you must surely be aware of the problem of associationism (al-Ishrak bi Allah) that is rampant among us, that of asking the dead for victory and favors (al-Tawajjuh ila al-mawta…) and other prayers that cannot be answered by anyone but God… The problem of premonitory animal immolation and other offertory dedicated to the dead with the purpose of divination and fortune telling (Wa al-isti’ana bihim fl kashf alshada’id wa jalb al-fawa’id …). To allow some of our prayers to be diverted to anyone else but Allah is pure idolatrousness, for God expects our total devotion… those hypocrites who call on the angels and the prophets to intercede in their favor will not obtain the divine absolution for they are liars and apostates… God said: “He who invoques intermediaries (Wasa’it) for the purpose of intercession is only deifying them … Only God is the dispensator of grace on whomever he chooses” (Quran 39:44, 2:255: 20:109; 21:28; 7 2:18). “If Prophet Mohammed the perfect intercessor cannot intercede without Allan’s permission how then could other prophets succeed?”  

Hence, what we have just enunciated is in no way contradicting what the ‘Ulama’ are saying. It has been in fact unanimously agreed upon by the Salaf… including the four Imams… What we are witnessing today in terms of the cult of intercession, the glorification of mausoleums (Ta’zim al-qubur) and the erection of cupolas (Bina’ al-qibab), their embellishment and illumination, the performance of devotional duties near them … are all innovations which the Prophet had predicted and explicitly warned his community against…” The Prophet did his utmost to protect the unitarian doctrine (Hama janib al-tawhid a’zam himaya…). He has proscribed the construction of any monument on tombs as it is stated in Muslim’s Sahih… and most ‘Ulama’ agree that to contravene the Prophet’s prescriptions is to err…  

This is then what has pitted us against the people, thus incurring their malediction and their wrath … but God has given us victory … this is why we have organized our armed resistance after using every possible mean to convert people using the book of God as our proof (Hujja) as well as the Prophet’s Sunna and that of the glorious Salaf… God said: “You shall wage war on them, so that the Fitna can be extirpated and the religion be said in the name of the Almighty (Quran 8:30)… Thus he who does not answer our call peacefully shall be enjoined forcefully … we command virtue and forbid vices…” This is our belief… He who follows our doctrine shall be considered our Muslim brother… we also believe that the community of Prophet Mohammed… cannot agree on error … and that there still is a faction of his community that is in the truth… Salutation.”

Qadi Abu Hafs ‘Umar, the Mufti and secretary of the Bey of that time responds to Muhammed bin Abdul Wahhab:

You have conveyed us a letter in which you claim to be the defender of the faith (Taz’am annak alqaim bi nusrat al-din)… and pretend to be a Muqallid and a Muttabi’… you also imply that you have been appalled at the way the believers were conducting themselves… However we believe that you are what God has described as a deceiver who uses Allah’s name to further his worldly ambitions… Allah hates the initiators of evil… (Quran 2:204, 205).  

You also claim that Muslims have introduced numerous innovations in their cult and pretend that many have taken dead Awliy a’ (Wa ashraku bi Allah min al-amwat…) and have called for their intercession,… that they have frequented the tombs of saints to whom they have asked God pleasing gifts and by doing so have been guilty of poly theism, thus justifying y our wrath, to kill and plunder what the words of God call sacred and untouchable… we shall refer you to the book of God…  

By Allah you have deviated from the words of God by spreading lies and fear and by casting a libel on the believers (Laqad shanna’ta … wa ramayta al-mu’minin bi al-fasad fi alard) we are thus forced to call to y our attention the words of God and that of the exemplary Salaf…  

As for the crimes you have already committed in attacking the believers, and terrorizing the inhabitants of the Haramayn, and murdering those who were closely following the injunction in the Shahada, by constantly initiating conflicts against the believers (Wa adamtum idrab al-harb bayn al-muslimin)… we declare that you have committed a mortal sin (Waqa’tum bidhalik fi al-kaba’ir al-mutakathira)… for you have divided the Muslim community and have done away with obedience and religion… God said: “Those who believe in God must greet those who speak in his name and must not anathemize those who utter the Shahada… their blood and earthly belonging cannot be touched… only God can judge their actions (Quran 4:94).  

If you are actually basing your judgment on the Book of Allah and on the pillars of the Sunna how could you then declare licit (Tastahill) the blood of those who also base their belief on the Quran and the Sunna?… How did you propel yourself to the path of disbelief (Wa kayf qadhaftum anfusakum fi mahwat al-ilhad)?  

As for what you have qualified as being polytheism, that is those who perform the pilgrimage to the dead … and those who ask God’s friends to intercede in their favor … and if you claim further that their actions are pre-Islamic … we are telling you that if indeed… they were worshipping the dead as pagans do with their idols … then surely the ‘Ulama’ would have reacted vehemently (La tanhad ilayhi wilat ai-amr) and brought the culprit to the right path…  

If however they are being anathemized as unbelievers on the fact that they ask God for favors through a prophet then you have gravely erred (Akhta’ta kha a’an mublnan), for intercession is neither forbidden nor disapproved… the Holy Scripture is filled with examples that makes it permissible… Please answer me bedouin brother (ya akha al- ‘arab), would you denounce the greatest among the believers, Omar b. al-Khattab as a heretic (for having performed the prayer of Istisqa’?… I ask you and may God be my witness, would you consider Omar’s action an act of unbelief?… Whoever believes it is himself a schismatic… and a sinful hypocrite… From where have you drawn your religion?  

Thus if a pilgrim asks for the mediation of the virtuous one… since the Awliya and the ‘Ulama are like martyrs, alive in their graves but have moved from the abode of nothingness to the abode of eternity (Intaqalû min dâr al-fana’ ill dâr al-baqâ’)… what objection would you have to such v isit?… What kind of dissension are you trying to foment?… Perhaps you are one of those innovators (Wa la’allaka min al-mubtadi’a) who denies the power of intercession… If you recant the miracle that God has attributed to the chosen ones… you are straying from the Sunna. When you say that no believer is in contradiction with your tenet you are committing a heathenish act… for every believer must acknowledge the mediation of prophets… Even the Mu’tazila in their restrictive interpretation of intercession recognize the Prophet’s propitiatory power…  

In regard to y our destruction of cupolas built over the graves of the Awliy a’… there is no bigger sin than to forbid God’s name from being engraved Had you consulted the Imams…their answer would have been against the destruction of any property belonging to a believ er… that such edifice invites the believer to religious fervor (Wa fi dhâlik al-binâ’ manfa’a li al-zâ’ir taqiyya)… so how could you be so bold as to enter this slippery path and take the liberty of destroying every gravestone in sight… At any rate the decision belongs to the ‘Ulama’ through the process of Ijtihad…  

With respect to tomb visitation (ijâz ziylrat al-qubûr) what accusation of blameworthy innov ation could be brought against it if the Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessing be upon him) himself introduced it… He visited the Baqi’ al-Gharqad… and the grave of his mother Amina b Wahb (at Mulla, Mecca)… his example was followed by the Sahaba… and later by the ‘Ulama… Moreover Fatima did visit the gravesite of her uncle and has gone from Madina to Uhud without incurring the wrath of the Sahaba… Are you going to claim that they were innovators? (Afataj’al ha’awla’ aydan mubtadi’in?)… By God certainly not… We must follow the consensus of the community . As for animal sacrifices… they would be wrong if not addressed to God… but we have observed no one contravening the law…  

If you observe an irregularity in the accomplishment of the faith then ask the knowledgeable… why kill and wage war? (Fa ay da’iya li al-harb wa al-qital?)… What is in the heart of people is for God to determine… you have to assume that the believers are performing their devotional duties in good faith… The destruction of emblazoned tombstones which the Prophet had ordered Ali b. Abi Talib to carry out and which you cite, was only intended against catacombs that existed in the Jahiliyya…There is a clear difference between the two… You cannot claim to have found the truth… Relinquish what is not yours to claim for you cannot inherit that right by force… you are as far removed from the truth as east is from west…  

People of these areas who have the good fortune of living on these lands are worthier to the title of brothers for they have adhered to the teachings of the Sunna… you have perturbed and dismayed the unity of the community … and I urge you to repent… If you do, we shall admit you once again in our midst as a believer… but if you persist in your error… and stab those who come before you, then your cousins who also possess lances… shall extinguish the fire of the offenders until they return to Allah’s command. Salutation.        



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