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Uncomfortable Contradictions (part 1)

by Abu Hashim

The Hidden Problem Within Modern Salafism in Relation to Takfir Part 1 of Series of Translated Extracts from the Durar al-Saniyyah

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Kind
Salutations and Blessings Be Upon Our Master Muhammad, His Family & Companions


This is part 1 of an intended series seeking to present to English speaking Muslims documents in Arabic being highlighted as part of a current debate in Saudi Arabia regarding the extreme takfiri mindset of the Scholars of Najd Movement (SNM) founded by Shaykh Muhammad bin Abdul Wahab.   The current debate is demonstrating that condemnations of ISIS by modern Salafi scholars belonging to the SNM are problematic as their own founding fathers were engaged in similar activities as ISIS.

A Bit of Background

Muslims possessing a sound intellect from all walks of life across the world have been appalled and horrified by the phenomena of ISIS which has manifested in the Middle East.  The pronouncements and actions of this organisation have caused concern due to the extreme and bloodthirsty interpretation of Islam which it has projected to the world.

These recent events have not gone unnoticed in scholarly circles, with figures such as the Saudi scholar Dr Hatim Sharif al-Awni leading the way in highlighting that ISIS members are almost exclusively Salafi in their outlook (though not mainstream Salafi) and refer to the works of the Najdi ulema movement founded by Shaykh Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahab.  The debate he and other moderate scholars have initiated in Saudi Arabia is long overdue and deserves recognition and attention of other Muslim scholars.  Dr Hatim has presented numerous quotes thus far of the extreme takfir based nature of movement of the scholars of Najd which he argues must be considered alongside any "good" they brought about.

A recent interview of his  presented the following extract from the collection of works by scholars belonging to the movement of Shaykh Ibn Abdul Wahab entitled Durar al-Saniyyah as an example of the extreme blanket takfir of large numbers of people and legalising their murder, behaviour very much in line with organisations such as ISIS. 

This takfiri mindset it could be argued is a result of the understanding of Islam presented by the "Scholars of Najd Movement" (SNM) and needs to be tackled head on.  Dr Hatim does point out that there has been some moderating of the stances of recent scholars who ascribe to the SNM but the tension still remains with the clear contradictions between what their earlier scholars stated and what some recent scholars who have moderated the stances on takfir.  That being said, Dr Hatim mentions that there are still some within Saudi who are promoting views in line with what we will present below, though they may not move to implement such views.

Please note:  The vast majority of Salafis in the West and Arab world are peaceful law abiding citizens, however the scholars whom they study, quote and honour from the SNM are little different to the extremists of ISIS whom they condemn.

Durar al-Saniyyah (1/287 onwards)
Synopsis:  Takfir of the Ottomans?

The political leader Saud bin Abd al-Aziz who was aligned with the SNM wrote the following letter to the Ottomans where he admits that in his previous correspondence he addressed them in the same manner as he would to disbelievers by refusing to address them with the phrase Assalamu Alaikum.

Durar al-Saniyyah


"From Saud bin Abd al-Aziz to Sulayman Pasha, to proceed:

Your letter has reached us and we have understood what it contains, such as what you mentioned of our letter which was sent to Yusuf Pasha [which in your view] was not in accordance to that which Allah and His Messenger have commanded in relation of how to address Muslims; rather it was addressed to persons regarded as disbelievers and idol worshippers…"

Durar al-Saniyyah (1/312 Onwards)
Synopsis: The Continued Threat

Saud bin Abd al-Aziz ends his letter with a threat to continue his violence against the Ottomans for their perceived "Shirk".

Durar al-Saniyyah 1/312


"If you persist in this state of yours and do not repent from the shirk which you are upon, and do not adhere to the religion of Allah which he sent His Messenger with, and do not leave shirk, bidah and newly invented matters, then we will continue to take military action (fight) until you return back to the upright religion of Allah…"

Durar al-Saniyyah (1/314)
Synopsis:  Legalising Killing

The following validating letter was signed by a number of Meccan scholars who were not Salafi and did not belong to the SNM.  It legalises the shedding of blood of Muslims who engaged in tawassul/istighatha type practices and is an example of extreme blanket takfir.  The signatories need further investigation as they may have signed this document under duress, not least when they include figures who were undoubtedly Sufi.  A brief search online claims that Saud Abd al-Aziz took control of Mecca in the early 1800s, which if correct would explain why Meccan scholars might have written such a document.



"All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds:

We -the scholars of Mecca - bear witness by placing our signatures and seals upon this document, that this religion, which has been promoted by Shaykh Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahab (Allah Most High have mercy on him) and which has been called to by the Imam of the Muslims:  Saud bin Abd al-Aziz, relating to the Tawhid of Allah and the negation of Shirk which he has mentioned in this book, is the truth regarding which there is no doubt.

Likewise that which took place previously in Mecca, Madinah, Egypt, Shaam and other lands  up to this time, from the types of shirk mentioned in this epistle are disbelief (kufr) which makes lawful the shedding [of such a person's] blood and appropriation of personal property.  Likewise it  necessitates [those who practiced this shirk] entering the hellfire for eternity.

He who does not enter in to this religion, nor act upon it, nor provide support to its people,  nor show enmity against its opponents,  according to us is a disbeliever (kafir) in Allah, and the last day.

It is obligatory (wajib) upon the Imam of the Muslims, along with Muslims themselves to fight and kill such a person until he repents to Allah from that which he is upon, and then proceeds to practice this religion."


“I bear witness to this, written by the one needy of his Lord Most High:  Abd al-Malik bin Abd al-Munim al-Qali' al-Hanafi.  Mufti of Makkah al-Mukarramah, may Allah pardon him and forgive him.”

Other signatories:

Muhammad Salih bin Ibrahim, the Mufti of the Shafi'is in Mecca

Muhammad bin Muhammad Arabi al-Banani, the Mufti of the Malikis in Mecca.

Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Maliki

Muhammad bin Yahya, the Mufti of the Hanbalis in Mecca

Abd al-Hafiz bin Darwesh al-Ujaymi

Zayn al-Abidin Jamal al-Layl

Ali bin Muhammad al-Bayti

Abd al-Rahman Jamal

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