The Ottoman Empire
Mohammed Abdul Wahhab
The Turks had conquered Constantinople, now Istanbul, in 1453, establishing the Ottoman Empire, and had carried out significant expansions into Europe. However, by 1683, the Turks’ campaign against the Europeans was curtailed, when they were decisively defeated in Vienna. The Empire had reached the peak of its expansion. Nevertheless, the Empire continued to command significant amounts of territory, and still held sway in regions where the British colonialism was hoping to expand. Therefore, following their typical strategy of “divide and rule”, the British, through their Masonic agent, sought to undermine the Ottoman Empire from within, by pitting against their own brothers in Islam, the Arabs of the peninsula.
It was not legal in Islam for a Muslim to fight another Muslim. Therefore, in order to rile the Arabs against their Turkish brethren, it was necessary to first create a new interpretation of Islam that would sanction such murder, but under the guise of Jihad. This new interpretation came to be known as Wahhabism, and was founded by British agent, Mohammed Abdul Wahhab.
Mohammed ibn Abdul Wahhab was born in 1703, in the small town in a barren wasteland called Najd, in the eastern part of what is now called Saudi Arabia. Ominously, Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, had already refused to confer blessings on the region, claiming that from it would emerge only “disturbances, disorder and the horns of Satan”. Abdul Wahhab’s father was a chief judge, adhering to the Hanbali school of Islamic jurisprudence, traditionally prevalent in the area. Yet, both he and Abdul Wahhab’s brother, Sulayman, detected signs of doctrinal deviance in him from early on. It was Sulayman who would first come out with a lengthy denunciation of his brother.
Following his early education in Medina, Abdul Wahhab traveled outside of the peninsula, venturing first to Basra. He then went to Baghdad, where he married a wealthy bride and settled down for five years. According to Stephen Schwartz, in The Two Faces of Islam, “some say that during this vagabondage Ibn Abdul Wahhab came into contact with certain Englishmen who encouraged him to personal ambition as well as to a critical attitude about Islam.” Specifically, Mir’at al Harramin, a Turkish work by Ayyub Sabri Pasha, written between 1933 and 1938, states that in Basra, Abdul Wahhab had come into contact with a British spy by the name of Hempher, who “inspired in him the tricks and lies that he had learned from the British Ministry of the Commonwealth.”
The details of this relationship are outlined in a little known document by the name of The Memoirs of Mr. Hempher: A British Spy to the Middle East, said to have been published in series in the German paper Spiegel, and later in a prominent French paper. A Lebanese doctor translated the document to Arabic, from which it was translated to English and other languages. The Memoirs outlines the autobiographical account of Hempher, who claims to have acted as a spy on behalf of the British government, with the mission of seeking ways of undermining the Ottoman Empire. Because, as recorded by Hempher, the two principal concerns of the British government, with regards to its colonies in India, China and the Middle East, were:
- 1. To try to retain the places we have already obtained;
- 2. To try to take possession of those places we have not obtained yet. For we are the sort of people who have developed the habit of taking a deep breath and being patient.
Hempher claims to have been one of nine spies sent to the Middle East for such a purpose. He reports, “we were designing long term plans to wage discord, ignorance, poverty, and even diseases in these countries. We were imitating the customs and traditions of these two countries, thus easily concealing our intentions.” The pretext Hempher was offered for his actions was:
The Muezzin’s Call to Prayer by Jean-Leon Gerome
We, the English people, have to make mischief and arouse schism in all our colonies in order that we may live in welfare and luxury. Only by means of such instigations will we be able to demolish the Ottoman Empire. Otherwise, how could a nation with a small population bring another nation with a greater population under its sway? Look for the mouth of the chasm with all your might, and get in as soon as you find it. You should know that the Ottoman and Iranian Empires have reached the nadir of their lives.
Therefore, your first duty is to instigate the people against the administration! History has shown that “The source of all sorts of revolutions is public rebellions.” When the unity of Muslims is broken and the common sympathy among them is impaired, their forces will be dissolved and thus we shall easily destroy them.
In 1710, the Minister of Colonies sent Hempher to Egypt, Iraq, Arabia and Istanbul, where he learned Arabic, Turkish and Islamic law. After two years, first returned to London for briefing, before being sent to Basra, a mixed city of Sunni and Shiah, where Hempher met Abdul Wahhab. Recognizing his insolence towards the Koran and traditions of Islam, Hempher recognized him as the ideal candidate for the British strategy. To ensure his corruptibility, he had a temporary marriage arranged, known in Islam as Muttah marriage, and not considered legal, with a Christian women sent by the British government to seduce the Muslim men. As he had been told, “We captured Spain from the disbelievers [he means Muslims] by means of alcohol and fornication. Let us take all our lands back by using these two great forces again.”
Hempher was then called away to parts of Iran, and then to Baghdad. In the interim, he was concerned that his pupil would be brought back to the fold by those more knowledgeable than he. And so, Hempher advised Abdul Wahhab to venture in the mean time to Iran, an area where the Shiah dominated, and which, according to Hempher, was plagued with ignorance, and therefore, less of a challenge to Wahhab’s heterodoxy.
Wabbab did travel to Iran, territory of Shiah, a tradition contrary to his own, which was Sunni, and for which he later engendered quite a hatred. Therefore, his journey can only be explained as having been in the service of Hempher, who specifically advised him, “when you live among the Shiah, make Taqiya; do not tell them that you are Sunni lest they become a nuisance for you. Utilize their country and scholars! Learn their customs and traditions. For they are ignorant and stubborn people.” Because, as remarks Hamid Algar, in Wahhabism, A Critical Essay:
If indeed he undertook such a journey despite his antipathy for Shi’ism, the motives that inspired him to do so are a mystery. There is no mention of Muhammed b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab in the Persian sources of the period, which may mean always supposing that he indeed visited Iran that his attempts at propagating his notions of rectitude were disregarded there as significant or that he contradicted himself by making provisional use of the Shi’i practice of taqiya (meaning to shield or guard, the practice that permits the believer to deny publicly his Shia membership for self-protection, as long as he continues to believe and worship in private).
Hempher was then again called back to London. This time his authorities were pleased with his activities, and agreed with his appraisal of Abdul Wahhab. He was then introduced to certain secrets, many of which were contained in a thousand-page book that outlined the deficiencies of the Muslims, and prescribed ways to destroy them. The book notices that, despite commandments to the contrary in Islam, the Muslims’ weak points are as follows: sectarian divisions, illiteracy, and poor hygiene making them vulnerable to disease. They are ruled by unjust dictatorships, there is poor infrastructure, general disorderliness, where rules of the Koran are almost never put into practice. They exist in a state of near economic collapse, poverty, and retrogression. The military is weak, and weapons employed are out-of-date or obsolete. Women’s right are commonly violated.
What the book recommends corresponds closely with British and then American covert strategy in the Third World into the twentieth century. It recommends, in order to undermine the Muslims’ strong points, to popularize their other shortcomings, according to the following methods: foment discord and publish literature to further incite controversies. Obstruct education, and encourage forms of otherworldliness like mystical Sufism. Encourage oppressiveness among emperors. Encourage secularism, or the need to separate religion from state affairs. Aggravate economic decline through sabotage. Accustom statesmen to such indulgences as sex, sports, alcohol, gambling, and interest banking. Then, in order to make the new generation hostile towards their rulers and scholars, expose them for their corruption.
In order to spread the misconception that Islam is chauvinistic towards women, they must encourage the misinterpretation of the verse in the Koran which state, “Men are dominant over women,” and the saying, “The woman is altogether evil.” Most importantly, they ought to introduce fanaticism among Muslims, and then criticize Islam as a religion of terror.
The means of popularizing these vices were determined as having spies appointed as aides to Islamic statesmen, or passed off as slaves and concubines to be sold to their close relatives. Missionary projects are to be carried out in order to penetrate into all social classes of the society, especially into such professions as medicine, engineering, and bookkeeping. The publication of propaganda was to be issued using as fronts churches, schools, hospitals, libraries and charitable institutions in the Islamic countries. Millions of Christian books were to be distributed free of charge. Spies were to be disguised as monks and nuns, and placed in churches and monasteries, and appointed leaders of Christian movements.
Arabs crossing the desert of Najd by Jean-Léon Gerome (1824-1904)
Eventually, the British administrators decided to come straight with Abdul Wahhab about their intentions for him. He agreed to cooperate, but on certain terms. Stipulations were that he was to be supported with adequate financing and weaponry, to protect himself against states and scholars who would certainly attack him after he would announce his ideas. And, that a principality ought to be established in his native country of Arabia.
Finally, Hempher joined Abdul Wahhab in Najd, who was imparted with the obligations of declaring all Muslims, that is, all who did not follow him, as disbelievers, and announce that it is permitted to kill them, to seize their property, to violate their chastity, and to enslave them and sell them at slave markets. He was to discourage Muslims from obeying the Sultan in Istanbul, and provoke revolt against him. He is to allege that all sacred sites and relics are idols, and that respect of them is tantamount of polytheistic and apostasy, and that they ought to be demolished. He is to do his best to produce occasions for insulting the Prophet Muhammad, his Khalifas, and all prominent scholars of Madhhabs, differing schools of legal interpretation. Finally, he was to do his utmost to encourage insurrections, oppressions and anarchy in Muslim countries.
Ultimately, the reforms issued by the British through the mouth of Abdul Wahhab were designed to instigate the Muslims against other Muslims, and more specifically, against the Ottoman Empire. Thus, despite the very grave problems that were plaguing the Muslim world, as well and the encroachment of non-Muslim powers on traditional Muslim lands, Abdul Wahhab sought to identify the ills troubling the Muslims, in according to the stipulations of the plan, as their practice of visiting mausoleums and asking intercession from “saints”, or deceased holy men.
Muslim worshippers were often in the habit of visiting the graves of holy men, and asking them to pray on their behalf. To fulfill his obligation to the British, Abdul Wahhab used this pretext to argue that, by asking help from someone other than God, they were actually “worshipping” these holy men, and were ignorantly committing an act of idolatry that caused them to forfeit Islam and become apostates. It was then permitted, he argued, to fight them. This was the pretext used by the British, through the mouth of Wahhabi, to incite the Arabs against the Turks.
To further his argument, Wahhab suggested that all the world of Islam was mired in a state of ignorance, which could be likened to Arabia prior to the arrival of Islam. There are several instances in the Koran where God calls attention to the hypocrisy of a man who will pray to God alone when he is faced with some calamity, but that, once he is free of distress, returns to his idols. Abdul Wahhab declared then, that the Muslims were similar, and that, despite otherwise insisting they were worshipping the one God, they were nevertheless also idol worshippers. Thus, Abdul Wahhab fulfilled the prophecy of the Prophet Mohammed, who warned there would come a group who would “transfer the Koranic verses meant to refer to unbelievers and make them refer to believers.”
Mongol siege of Baghdad (1258)
Finally, Abdul Wahhab declared it incumbent upon his followers to wage “Jihad” against all the Muslims, and that it was permitted for them to enslave their women and children. This approach was derived from the influence of Ibn Taymiyyah, who remains to this day an important influence guiding the principles of Islamic terrorism. It is strange that, of all the Muslim scholars throughout history that he could have chosen from, that Wahhab, and all modern Muslim “reformers” after him, emphasize the importance of Ibn Taymiyyah, whose orthodoxy was questionable, and who in his own time was repeatedly in conflict with the leading scholars and the ruling establishment.
Ibn Taymiyyah’s life was marked by persecutions. As early as 1293, he came into conflict with local authorities for protesting a sentence, pronounced under religious law, against a Christian accused of having insulted the Prophet. In 1298, he was accused of having criticized the legitimacy of the Islamic scholarly establishment, and of anthropomorphism, or ascribing human characteristics to God, despite a tradition in Islam of avoiding all such allusions. Ibn Battuta, the famous traveler and chronicler, reported that while Ibn Taymiyyah was preaching in the mosque, he said, “God comes down to the sky of this world just as I come down now,” and descended one step of the pulpit.
Opinions about Ibn Taymiyyah varied considerably. Even his enemies, like Taqi ud Din al Subki, were ready to concede to his virtues: “Personally, my admiration is even greater for the asceticism, piety, and religiosity with which God has endowed him, for his selfless championship of the truth, his adherence to the path of our forbearers, his pursuit of perfection, the wonder of his example, unrivalled in our time and in times past.” And yet, he was chided by one of his own students, the famous historian and scholar, Al Dhahabi, who said, “Blessed is he whose fault diverts him from the faults of others! Damned is he whom others divert from his own faults! How long will you look at the motes in the eyes of your brother, forgetting the stumps in your own?” It was for his intemperance that Ibn Battuta declared that Ibn Taymiyyah had a “screw loose”.
During the great Mongol crisis of the years 1299 to 1303, and especially during their occupation of Damascus, Ibn Taymiyyah led a party of resistance, and denounced the faith of the invaders which he considered suspect, despite their conversion to Islam. Until the Mongol invasion, Ibn Taymiyyah had lived in Harran, the seat of the occult Sabian community, and may have come under their influence. Their texts expounded on anthropomorphic visions of the cosmic Adam, in a manner similar to the Kabbalistic idea of Shiur Khomah. During the ensuing years, Ibn Taymiyyah was also engaged in intensive polemical activity against the Sufis and Shiah. In 1306, however, he was summoned to explain his beliefs to the governor’s council, which, although it did not condemn him, sent him to Cairo. There, Ibn Taymiyyah appeared before another council on the charge of anthropomorphism, and was imprisoned for eighteen months.
If he adhered to such ideas, as was customary among Ismailis, he shared them only secretly with select disciples advanced to higher grades. Abu Hayyan, who knew him personally, held him in great esteem, until he was introduced to a work, in which Ibn Taymiyyah offered anthropomorphic descriptions of God. The book had been acquired deceptively by a man who had pretended to be among his supporters, in order to receive the instructions that Ibn Taymiyyah reserved only for his inner-circle of initiates. This demonstrates that Ibn Taymiyyah had one doctrine he espoused in public, and more esoteric doctrine he confided only to initiates, a doctrine similar to occult ideas.
Ibn Taymiyyah’s repudiation of praying to saints was perceived by him as an attempt to purify Islamic monotheism. The pillar of Islamic belief is the unity of God, or monotheism. Islam began as a message that confronted the paganism of the Arabs, and called for a return to the worship of the one God, the same worshipped by the Prophets of the Old Testament. Therefore, worshipping any being or object other than God was considered tantamount to apostasy. This idea Abdul Wahhab carried to the extreme.
The Saudi Family
Ruins of Dariyah
Eventually, the British Ministry of Commonwealth managed to acquire for Wahhab the support Mohammad Ibn Saud, the Amir of Dariyah. It was agreed between them that, from then on, power would be held among their descendants, with the Saudis maintaining political authority, and the Wahhabis administering the cult. The Saudis are an important Illuminati family, being secret Jews, like their Doenmeh counterparts in Turkey. According to Mohammad Sakher, who was apparently ordered killed for publishing his findings, Ibn Saud, though pretending to defend the reforms of Abdul Wahhab, was of Jewish origin. In the fifteenth century, Sakher maintains, a Jewish merchant from Basra, named Mordechai, immigrated to Arabia, settling in Dariyah, where he claimed to belong to the Arabian tribe of the Aniza, and there assumed the name of Markan bin Dariyah.
The Aniza tribe, to which the Saudis belong, as well as the ruling Sabah family of Kuwait, originally issued from Khaybar in Arabia, and there are well documented traditions about descendants of Jews from the region, who were supposedly forcibly converted to Islam. More specifically, according to modern occult legend, the Aniza are regarded as being the source of the European Witch Cult, through the person of Abu el-Atahiyya. These legends were popularized by Gerald Gardner, the founder of the modern cult of Wicca. Gardner was also a close associate of Aleister Crowley, as well as a Co-Freemason, the irregular branch of French masonry, co-founded by Annie Besant, which admits women to the 33rd degree.
Gardner was also the friend and teacher of notorious charlatan Idries Shah, whose book on Sufism is disguised Luciferianism. Idries Shah described the “Maskhara” Dervishes who were also known as the “Revellers” and the “Wise Ones”, whose leader was Abu el-Atahiya. The name Aniza, he maintains, means goat and el-Atahiya was commemorated by the “Revellers” with the symbol of a torch burning between the horns of a goat, in obvious allusion to the Baphomet of the Templars. After Atahiya’s death, a group of his followers migrated to Moorish Spain.
In the early eighteenth century, the Aniza had entered the Syrian Desert where they established themselves as a powerful and influential tribe. German traveller Carlsten Niebuhr referred to them in 1761 as the strongest tribe in the Syrian Desert. Today the Aniza remain one of the largest Arabian tribes, having branches in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
The Saudi family was primarily engaged in banditry. This pitted them in conflict against the Ottoman state. This, however, notes Schwartz, “also created a propensity for them to ally with the British, who were then taking control of the richer and more valuable parts of the Arabian Peninsula: the coastal emirates from Kuwait to Aden.” By declaring them all apostates, in 1746, the Wahhabi Saudi alliance made a formal proclamation of “Jihad” against all who did not share their understanding of Islam, thus legalizing their former practice of pillaging.
In Islam, it is a very serious charge to accuse another Muslim of apostasy. A tradition claims that when one makes such an accusation, then surely either the accused or the accuser is an apostate. Such a dire warning did not deter Abdul Wahhab from declaring all those outside of his reforms as unbelievers.
In 1746, even before he had aligned himself with Ibn Saud, Abdul Wahhab sent a thirty-man delegation to the Sharif of Mecca, to seek permission for he and his followers to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. The Sharif discerned an ulterior motive, of his desire to exploit the opportunity to disseminate his heresy, and therefore organized a debate between them and the scholars of Mecca and Medina. Abdul Wahhab’s emissaries failed to defend their views, and the Qadi, or chief judge, of Mecca, instead pronounced them unbelievers, declaring that they had been unjustified in declaring others as such.
The Arabian Peninsula
From then on, the Wahhabi movement was characterized by maliciousness towards the Muslims, despite the encroachments the “infidel” British were making in the region. Motivated by a concern for their Indian enterprise, in 1755 Britain made an initial but unsuccessful attempt to pry Kuwait from the Ottomans. Ten years later, Mohammed Ibn Saud died and his son Abul Aziz became ruler of Dariyah. During the following two decades, the Wahhabis extended their sphere of influence, paralleling infiltration by the British. Britain again moved against Kuwait in 1775, seeking protection for their mail service through the territory, and attempted unsuccessfully again to seize it, when they were defeated by the Ottomans.
Nevertheless, the following year, Abdul Wahhab declared himself leader of the Muslims of the world, in direct opposition to the authority of the Sultan in Istanbul, reinforced by a Fatwa ordering “Jihad” against the Ottoman Empire. And, significantly, in 1788, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud was joined by British forces in occupying Kuwait.
In 1792, Abdul Wahhab died, and Abdul Aziz assumed the leadership of the Wahhabi movement, and extended raids over the next three years into the city of Medina, and the regions of Syria and Iraq. In 1801, the Wahhabis attacked the Shiah holy city of Karbala, in Iraq, slaughtering thousands of its citizens. They ruined and looted the tomb of Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. As a result, it seems that Abdul Aziz was murdered in 1803, most likely by a Shiah avenger. His son Saud ibn Abdul Aziz then succeeded him. After sacking Karbala, the Wahhabis moved against Mecca. The Ottoman governor of Mecca failed to negotiate a peace, and retreated into the fortress in the city of Ta’if, where he was pursued by some 10,000 Wahhabis.
In the taking of Ta’if, the Wahhabis then set about destroying all the holy tombs and burial grounds, followed by the mosques and Islamic madrassas. It is even said that the leather and gilt bindings of the Islamic holy books they had destroyed were used by them to make sandals. Al Zahawi, an Islamic historian of the time, recounted:
They killed everyone in sight, slaughtering both child and adult, the ruler and the ruled, the lowly and the well-born. They began with a suckling child nursing at his mother’s breast and moved on to a group studying Koran, slaying them, down to the last man. And when they wiped out the people in the houses, they went out into the streets, the shops, and the mosques, killing whoever happened to be there. They killed even men bowed in prayer until they had exterminated every Muslim who dwelt in Ta’if and only a remnant, some twenty or more, remained.
These were holed up in Bait al Fitni with ammunition, inaccessible to the Wahhabis’ approach. There was another group at Bait al Far numbering 270, who fought them that day, then a second and third day, until the Wahhabis sent them a guarantee of clemency; only they tendered this proposal as a trick. For when the Wahhabis entered, they seized their weapons and slew them to a man. They induced others to surrender with a guarantee of mercy and took them to the valley of Waj where they abandoned them in the cold and snow, barefoot, naked and exposed in shame with their women, accustomed to the privacy afforded them by common decency and religious morality. They then plundered their possessions, wealth of any kind, household furnishings, and cash.
They cast books into the streets, alleys, and byways to be blown to and fro by the wind, among which could be found copies of Koran, volumes of Bukhari, Muslim, other canonical collections of Hadith and books of Islamic jurisprudence, all mounting to the thousands. These books remained there for several days, trampled upon by the Wahhabis. None among them made the slightest attempt to remove even one page of Koran from underfoot to preserve it from the ignominy of this display of disrespect. Then, they razed the houses, and made what was once a town a barren waste.
Mohammed Ali Pasha
Next, the Wahhabis entered the holy city of Mecca. Ghalib, the Sharif of the city, repelled them, but Wahhabi raids then turned against Medina. Saud ibn Abdul Aziz addressed the people saying, “there is no other way for you than to submit. I will make you cry out and vanish as I did the people of Ta’if.” In Medina, they looted the Prophet’s treasure, including books, works of art, and other priceless relics that had been collected over a thousand years. Finally, while in control of these two holy cities, they imposed their version of Islam, barred pilgrims from performing the Hajj, covered up the Kabbah with a rough black fabric, and set about the demolition of shrines and graveyards.
Wahhabi perniciousness against the Ottoman Empire continued to serve British interests. During this period, Britain acquired as a client in southeast Arabia, the state of Oman, with sovereignty over Zanzibar in Africa and parts of the Iranian and neighboring coasts. Britain also expanded its influence northward into the area of the United Arab Emirates. The British also eventually seized control of Aden, on the southern coast of Yemen. Despite these encroachments into Muslim lands, by a hostile non-Muslim power, the Wahhabis would let nothing distract them from their “Jihad” against Islam.
The Wahhabis persisted in their violence in Arabia until 1811, when Mohammed Ali Pasha, the viceroy of Egypt, was engaged by the Ottoman Sultan to address the Wahhabi nuisance. He appointed his son Tosun Pasha commander, but his forces were badly defeated. Ali Pasha then assumed command, and in 1812, swept through Arabia, eradicating the Wahhabi problem. Two of the worst Wahhabi fanatics, Uthman ul Mudayiqi and Mubarak ibn Maghyan, were sent to Istanbul, paraded through the streets, until they were executed.
Ali Pasha also sent troops under his second son, Ibrahim Pasha, to root the Wahhabis out of Syria, Iraq and Kuwait. Those Arabs that had suffered at the hands of the Wahhabis rose in revolt, joining Ali Pasha’s forces. In 1818, the Wahhabi stronghold of Dariyah was taken and destroyed, though some of the Saudis received protection from the British in Jeddah. Saud ibn Adbul Aziz had died of fever in 1814, but his heir, Abdullah ibn Saud, was sent to Istanbul, where he was executed along with other captured Wahhabis. The rest of the Wahhabi clan was held in captivity in Cairo.
Despite their initial defeat, the Wahhabis regrouped in Najd, establishing a new capital in Riyad. Within a few decades, the Wahhabis began a renewed expansion which, as noted by Hamid Algar, “was fortuitous in that it ultimately brought the Sauds into contact with the British who were not only seeking to consolidate their dominance of the Persian Gulf but also beginning to lay plans for the dismemberment of the Ottoman State.”