Saudi Wahhabi Sheikh Calls On Iraq's Jihadists to Kill Shiites

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Saudi Wahhabi Sheikh Calls On Iraq's Jihadists to Kill Shiites (Photo: Reuters)

On April 23, Saad al-Durihim, a Saudi Wahhabi sheikh, posted a tweet on Twitter in which he said that jihadist fighters in Iraq should adopt a "heavy-handed" approach and kill any Shiites they can get their hands own, including children and women. This is so that the "rawafid" — a term used by Wahhabi Salafists to refer to Shiites — will fear them.

This tweet sparked sharp criticism on Twitter. Many considered it to be incitement to murder and contrary to the tolerance of Islam, which forbids the killing of women and children in battle, even those of infidels and polytheists. 

Sheikh Durihim had previously posted a tweet in which he said that the people of Najd [in central Saudi Arabia] were the "saved group", meaning they alone were the only ones who would enter Paradise on Judgment Day among all humans, including other Muslims. Najd is the region of Saudi Arabia where Wahhabism originated. 

Daraihim's statements denouncing the Shiites as apostates — in accordance with Wahhabi Salafist doctrine — are not the first of their kind. Takfir (the idea of Muslims renouncing other Muslims as nonbelievers) goes back to fatwas issued by Sheikh Taqi ad-Din bin Taymiyyah, a Syrian sheikh from the Hanbali school of jurisprudence born in 1283 A.D. in Harran, a city near the Turkish-Syrian border. Sheikh Taymiyyah considered Shiites to be deluded heretics. He accused Shiite scholars of blasphemy and considered the general Shiite populace to be ignorant and misguided. This led his followers — in particular Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1700-1791), the founder of Wahhabism — to denounce all Shiites, regardless of sect, as nonbelievers. They also authorized killing Shiites, holding their women captive, and stealing from them. This goes against the words of the Prophet Muhammad: "The whole of a Muslim is inviolable for another Muslim: his blood, his property and his honor."

Talk of a "saved group" goes back to to a hadith (a statement attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) — "My people will be divided into 73 groups, one will enter Paradise and 72 will enter Hell." Some Muslims have taken this statement — which is unconfirmed and illogical — as fact, without regard to its content or authenticity. 

The aforementioned hadith has appeared in various forms, and has been a topic of controversy and debate among hadith scholars and experts in Islamic jurisprudence.

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By Haytham Mouzahem

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