Many people today have heard about the Wahhabi movement in Islam, but few have any actual information about the history and ideology of this puritanical movement.

Many have a sense that these teachings, emanating from Saudi Arabia, are responsible for much of the extremist teachings around the world, but have a hard time figuring out why and how the Wahhabis are engaged in displacing indigenous and local Islamic practices and interpretations worldwide.

In order to answer these questions, I recently offered a lecture, along with a slide show of relevant images.  In it, I examine the ways in which the Wahhabi ideology, linked with the Saudi royal linkage, is responsible for demolishing, destroying, and bulldozing over 90% of Islamic monuments in Mecca and Medina.

The powerpoint slideshow and the talk on history of Wahhabi movement can be accessed and downloaded here.    Feel free to share.


Categories: Beliefs


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Omid Safi

Omid Safi

Omid Safi is a Professor of Islamic Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in contemporary Islamic thought and classical Islam. He leads educational tours to Turkey every summer, through Illuminated Tours:


    • Qalb Ali ibn Yadullah

      Actually, to give the neo-salafist or wahabbis some credit… as disturbed as they are, they would never approve of suicide attacks because suicide is strictly Haram in Islam. There is an ideaology called Qutbism, you should look into. But make sure to learn the difference between authentic Islam and pseudo-islam. There is a saying, “Islam is in the books, Muslims are in the graves”.

  1. Edgar Francis

    Thank you for posting your slides and lecture. I intend to share these materials with my students in my “Islam in the Modern World” course–with all due credit to the author, of course!

  2. Prof. Safi. or someone else knowledgable,
    (1) Is the Hanbal in Ahmad ibn Hanbal name the same as (or similar to ) Hannibal the Phoenician name? (2) If, yes. Ahmad being the Iraqi area, was Ba’al worshipped in the area prior to Islam? (3) Are there any books you would recommend dealing with pre-Islamic Arabia or non-muslim accounts concering Islam their interaction with the faith the first 200-300 years of its creation?

    • Omid Safi

      dear Charles, there is no relationship between the words Hanbal and Hanibal. For looking at pre-Islamic Arabia, read the relevant chapters in my Memories of Muhammad book, and then Toshihiko Izutsu’s God and Man in the Koran. All the best, omid

  3. JStraithhairne

    So, you cast aspersions on the entire bin Laden family because of the actions of one man, Usama? That is perhaps one of the worst examples of imbalance in this lecture. It is also incredibly misleading, to say the least.

  4. May i recommend this as a read, perhaps it will really open up the reality of that region in terms of the application and the effects of the Wahhabi doctrine.
    Written by the Shafi’i Scholar, Sayyid Yusuf ibn Al-Sayyid Hashim al-Rifa’i:

  5. nillalitzell

    A couple of years ago a Saudi imam issued a fatwa declaring that its legal to marry a one (1) year old girl, as long as you wait several years to have intercourse with her.

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