Wahhabi

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
Save to active project

Wahhabi

Wahhabi or Wahabi (wähä´bē), reform movement in Islam, originating in Arabia; adherents of the movement usually refer to themselves as Muwahhidun [unitarians]. It was founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahab (c.1703–1791), who was influenced by Ibn Taymiyya and taught that all accretions to Islam after the 3d cent. of the Muslim era—i.e., after c.950—were spurious and must be expunged. This view, involving essentially a purification of the Sunni sect, regarded the veneration of saints, ostentation in worship, and luxurious living as the chief evils. Accordingly, Wahhabi mosques are simple and without minarets, and the adherents dress plainly and do not smoke tobacco or hashish.

Driven from Medina for his preaching, the founder of the Wahhabi sect went into the NE Nejd and converted the Saud tribe. The Saudi sheik, convinced that it was his religious mission to wage holy war (jihad) against all other forms of Islam, began the conquest of his neighbors in c.1763. By 1811 the Wahhabis ruled all Arabia, except Yemen, from their capital at Riyadh. The Ottoman sultan, nominally suzerain over Arabia, had vainly sent out expeditions to crush them. Only when the sultan called on Muhammad Ali of Egypt for aid did he meet success; by 1818 the Wahhabis were driven into the desert.

In the Nejd the Wahhabis collected their power again and from 1821 to 1833 gained control over the Persian Gulf coast of Arabia. The domain thereafter steadily weakened; Riyadh was lost in 1884, and in 1889 the Saud family fled for refuge into the neighboring state of Kuwait. The Wahhabi movement was to enjoy its third triumph when Ibn Saud advanced from his capture of Riyadh in 1902 to the reconstitution in 1932 of nearly all his ancestral domain under the name Saudi Arabia, where it remains dominant. Wahhabism served as an inspiration to other Islamic reform movements from India and Sumatra to North Africa and Sudan, and during the 20th cent. has influenced the Taliban of Aghanistan and Islamist movements elsewhere.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Wahhabi
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?