Wahabis & Sunnis

Q665 :In countries of the Indian Subcontinent, there are two groups of Muslims who call themselves Wahabis and Sunnis. They are always engaged in vigorous arguments which may sometimes lead to fighting. Nevertheless, their worship is very similar. Could you please explain the difference between the two?

A665 : No group actually calls itself Wahabis. However, people may call some of those who express certain views as Wahabis, which is a name supposed to refer to the followers of Imam Muhammad ibn Abdulwahhab who was a great reformer and scholar. He lived in Najd over 200 years ago and worked hard to eradicate all innovations from Islamic worship. Such innovations had crept into the practices of Muslim communities due to ignorance and long periods of decline undergone by Muslim communities. He maintained that the example of the Prophet i.e. the Sunnah should be followed diligently. There is no disagreement among scholars that this is required of every Muslim. It is unfortunate that some of the practices which Imam Muhammad ibn Abdulwahhab spoke very strongly against still persist in some Muslim communities. These include such terrible practices as visiting the graves of supposedly saintly people and asking the dead to intervene with Allah on behalf of the visitor for any purpose. Such a practice Islam shuns, since it is a manifestation of associating partners with Allah. Imam Muhammad ibn Abdulwahhab belonged to the Sunni Muslims who, by virtue of their name, should follow the Sunnah, or the example, set by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) with diligence. Hence, it is wrong to classify Muslims as Wahabis and Sunnis, since the followers of Imam Abdulwahhab belong to the Sunni group of Muslims. The vigorous arguments and fighting you have spoken of are certainly deplorable. This happens, nevertheless, because people are sometimes too rigid in their views. Those who insist on following the Sunnah of the Prophet diligently should have the patience to teach their fellow Muslims, with respect and compassion, that some of their practices are unacceptable from the Muslim point of view. Had they done so, they would find better response by other Muslims.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )