Wahhabism apt to criticize Shia political manifestations: Activist

Wahhabism apt to criticize Shia political manifestations: Activist

Tue Sep 6, 2016 8:34AM

A large number of Muslim clerics attending a conference in Grozny in August disassociated Sunni Islam from Salafism and Wahhabism – the ideology used by Saudi Arabia to justify the barbaric acts of Takfiri terrorists waging wars in the Middle East and elsewhere. Press TV has talked to Hazem Salem, an activist and political commentator from Cairo, about the Saudi clerics’ reaction to what happened at the Grozny conference.

Press TV: What do you make of the fact that this conference with about 200 prestigious Sunni scholars excluded Salafism and Wahhabism from Sunni Islam?

Salem: This statement which has been claimed to be expressing the Ash’arite and the Sufi traditions in Sunni Islam has already been there. The debate between Sufism and Salafism has been there for a very long time in the Muslims’ history. The fact is the traditions of Azhar has been rather inclusive to the Hanbalis and to the Wahhabis and to the Salafis even before, despite [the fact] that Azhar is traditionally Ash’arite and has an inclination towards Sufism. So, the reaction has been expected and even the comments by the Sheikh of al-Azhar, who retreated from endorsing the statement, has also been expected.

The real thing is that Wahhabism now is inclined more not to criticize Sufism, but to criticize Shi’ism and the political manifestations of Shi’ism in the Muslim world. This is the problem that has been there. So, it is not [about] Sunni Islam debating Salafism versus Sufism. It is the Salafism [according to] Saudi Arabia interpretation that is geared against Shi’ism. This conference, which is more inclined to Sufism, is closer to the Shia tradition rather than the Salafi-Wahhabi tradition.

The real need of the Muslim world is to have a dialog on Sunnism and Shi’ism, and to have a dialog even about the reinterpretation of Salafism that can integrate Sufism and vice versa. The real question here is to see how Muslim clerics can communicate with one another and get to the moderates from the Sunni school.

Press TV: There is another view of this conference saying that it’s not so much about Wahhabism versus Sufism or even Shi’ism as you called it. It is more the case of what Salafism and Wahhabism stand for, the manifestation of which we are seeing in, for example, the rise of Daesh, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban.

Salem: That’s a fact. There has been a strong statement by Daesh, al-Qaeda and so forth, that they are inclined to Wahhabism and that they are deriving their ideas from there. But Wahhabism is not the only tradition in Sunni Islam. Sunni Islam here in Grozny has been trying to make a statement about another tradition that is more inclusive. But being excluded has been expected. The real thing about the activism of Islam in the 21st century is that it can develop a resistance movement. It can develop a revolutionary ideology [away] from whatever brings Islam to the world as a manifestation of terrorism.

Let’s remember that resistance is represented in both Sunni and Shia ways against Israel by Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They are all united as Muslims for the cause of liberating al-Quds. This is the tradition that is supposed to be entrenched throughout the Muslim world. Because even the Sufi Sunni tradition is not doing much for the Palestinian issue the way Iran is doing. So the fact is we need more dialog and we need a campus to lead the nation to liberation, to freedom and to revolutionary [measures] against the West. In fact there has been even a worse interpretation, saying that the Grozny conference is more pro-Russia. So the other side is pro-United States. [But] Russia and the United States are not supposed to decide for the Muslims how to [have] dialog with one another.