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Journal of Islamic Studies 14:2 (2003) pp.

127148 Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies 2003

WAHHABI INFLUENCES, SALAFI RESPONSES: SHAIKH MAHMUD SHUKRI AND THE IRAQI SALAFI MOVEMENT, 17451930 1
HALA FATTAH
Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies, Amman, Jordan

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From the mid-eighteenth to early twentieth centuries, very similar social, economic, and cultural currents inuenced Iraq, Arabia, and the Gulf. In trade, regional linkages were the norm: merchants from inland Najd travelled as far as India to sell their horses; commercial houses from Aleppo set up shop in Basra as well as Bombay; and Kuwaitis took to the sea to ship their wares across the Indian Ocean. Mercantile links between the desert and the town drew together ports and caravansaries, date plantations and horse farms. In fact, regional inuences can be traced even today in the architecture of mosques and family houses in the Hijaz, Najd, and eastern Arabia.2 But of course, trade was not the only leitmotif of the region: cultural linkages were also important. Generally speaking, however, the cultural developments affecting eighteenth- to early twentieth-century Iraq, Arabia, and the Gulf have rarely been examined from a regional perspective. While there are

This paper was rst presented at the Second Mediterranean Social and Political Research Meeting, Florence, 215 Mar. 2001, under the sponsorship of the Mediterranean Programme, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute. I wish to thank the Robert Schuman Centre for making my presentation possible. I also wish to thank the chairpersons and panelists of my panel for their valuable suggestions. My gratitude and thanks go to M. Edouard Metenier, who is rapidly becoming the foremost scholar of the Al-Alusi family in Europe, for his tireless support and trenchant critique. Last but not least, I am grateful to the Journals two anonymous referees for their penetrating comments. All omissions, mistakes, and lapses are mine alone. 2 G. R. D. King, Islamic Architectural Traditions of Arabia and the Gulf, in University Lectures in Islamic Studies, vol. 1 (London: Al-Tajir World of Islam Trust, 1997), 85107.

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instances of transnational movements affecting great changesuch as the rapid expansion of Su brotherhoods in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Islamic world, or pan-Islamic reform movements in the Ottoman Empire and beyondfor the most part movements of religious reform or spiritual regeneration have been conned to their places of origin, and studied in situ. Perhaps because they are believed to have affected specic political dynasties or attached themselves only to certain cities, movements for the intellectual regeneration of the Arab East have been treated as urban phenomena, the by-product of literate, orderly societies. After all, a certain school of thought believes that Islam in all its aspects was the life and soul of the city. And yet, revolts from the periphery calling for the renewal of Islamic law and society have had resounding successes throughout the long span of Arab/Islamic history. More to the point, networks of scholars and preachers far from the established centres of urban power have been able to connect their places of origin to the wider world beyond, and create ripples of intellectual solidarity among neighbouring districts and states. The Wahhabi (or, more correctly muwaAadd; ) movement is a case in point. In general, it has been the recipient of a limited and narrow investigation by scholars primarily interested in charting the rags-toriches story of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Even though the WahhabiSaudi experiment in state-building has enlisted its fair share of sympathetic histories, some written by ex-colonial ofcers or oilcompany executives, this most transformative of movements has not been seen as a regional phenomenon. Again, most historians of Saudi Arabia prefer to see it as a prologue, if indeed a necessary one, to the making of modern-day Saudi Arabia. And yet the transregional impulses governing the birth and later development of Wahhabism were instrumental in, on the one hand, reinvigorating an early Islamic tradition (sala Islam) that was beginning to attract a regional audience once more in late eighteenth-century Iraq, Arabia, and the Gulf and, on the other, reviving the feisty debates between Susm and orthodoxy that had seemingly been reconciled early on in the Islamic era. The principle of an absolute and unwavering monotheism in the face of doctrinal laxity exposed the theological and, more signicantly, the political distance between Su-inuenced government ofcials and the more literalist 6ulam:8; the conviction that even orthodox Muslims could be considered unbelievers in the context of the true faith may have legitimized the notion that violence was a necessary tool in the pursuit of Islamic re-education; and the notion that a religiously inspired preacher could be the inspiration for, and founder of an enduring state: these three were all important

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assumptions of the Wahhabi movement, and they radically affected the political, cultural, and even economic climates of the time. At the same time, Wahhabism did not completely alienate its regional audience. We know, for instance, that in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a small number of important shaykhs in Iraq endured the ostracism of their fellow 6ulam:8 to proclaim their adherence to the Wahhabi credo, even though they were eventually to suffer for their independence of mind.3 This ambivalent responsehostility on the one hand, sympathy on the otheris best captured in the expansion of the rst Saudi state. In an effort to understand the important unities as well as disjunctures that accompanied the rise and development of the Wahhabi da6wa (call), the following article will chart the movements impact on the world outside of the Arabian peninsula, especially as this related to Iraq, and discuss the continuities that tied this subregion together, from 1745 to the 1930s.

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UNITIES AND DISUNITIES BETWEEN THE WAHHABI MOVEMENT AND THE SUNNI ESTABLISHMENT IN PRE-MODERN IRAQ AND ARABIA
Before we enter into the history of the Wahhabi movements expansion across Arabia and into neighbouring Iraq and the Gulf, it is important to note that the ideology that the movement gave rise to has not been seen in an entirely unfavourable light. Among present-day Saudi historians, in fact, the movement has been viewed as a dramatic watershed, a culmination of three centuries in which the growth of agriculture, the development of towns, and the spread of literacy ushered in invigorating and powerful currents that led to the creation of a state with strong economic, social, political, and ideological roots in Najd. In fact, a leading Saudi scholar of Wahhabi Islam, Uwaidah Al-Juhany, portrays the movement in a heroic cast. He points out how it developed: in the fteenth century, the instability caused by chronic clan violence and tribal migration, as well as the economically unproductive conditions that had militated against the rise of a stable state and society, gave way to the beginning of resettlement and urban development. Large tribes began to come together and to found towns. As sedentarization
3 Abu Thana Mahmud Shihab al-Din Al-Alusi, Ghar:8ib al-ightir:b wanuzhat al-alb:b al-dhih:b wa-al-iq:ma wa-al-iyy:b (The Book of the Marvels of Expatriation and the Promenade of Essence in the Departure, Residence, and Return) (Baghdad: Shahbander Press, 1909), 16.

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increased, population grew and there was a growth in religious learning. New social, political, and religious circumstances appeared, spurring new expectations. Al-Juhany sums it up in this manner:
The genius of Ibn Abdul-Wahhab perceived the religious, social and political problems of his society and the critical conditions through which the Najdi people were passing. Thus he dedicated his life and enthusiastic energy to bringing about a comprehensive solution to the various problems of Najdi society through the establishment of a strong central government that would enforce the Shar;6a and impose peace and order in the land. Ibn Abdul-Wahhab was prepared for the great task by his own education and training, and was assisted by the particular religious and political conditions of Najd in his time.4

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And yet, when all is said and done, the rush to reform in the Saudi state was not always welcomed. In fact, the mixed responses produced by the spread of the Wahhabi movement are a signicant marker of the intellectual debates of the period. We may well ask why the movement generated such strong passions. In its essence, the hesitant reaction to the muwaAadd; challenge sprang from different interpretations of core Islamic values, tajd; d (renewal) and iBl:A (reform).5 The consensus among historians of Islam is that both concepts are fundamental components of Islams worldview, rooted in the Qur8:n and Sunna of the Prophet . . . [and both] concepts involve a call for the return to the fundamentals of Islam [the Qur8:n and Sunna] . . .6 Combining a tradition of moral leadership with a far-reaching agenda for collective spiritual renewal, generations of activist Muslim scholars and preachers have emerged from within their own societies calling for a return to the basic principles of the faith as exemplied by the pristine ideals of the early Muslim community. This Qur8anic mandate7 of renewal and reform enjoins revivalists not only to apply the essential convictions and tenets of Islam but also to reinterpret them in the light of the principle of ijtih:d. According to John Esposito, The purpose of reinterpretation (ijtihad) was not to accommodate new ideas but to get back to or reappropriate the unique and essentially complete vision of Islam as preserved in its revealed sources . . . Islamic revivalism is not so much an attempt to re-establish the early Islamic community in a literal
4 Uwaidah M. Al-Juhany, Najd before the Sala Reform Movement: Social, Political and Religious Conditions during the Three Centuries Preceding the Rise of the Saudi State (Ithaca Press in association with the King Abdul-Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives: Reading and Riyadh, 2002), 156. 5 John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 11418. 6 Ibid. 115. 7 Ibid.

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sense as to reapply the Qur8:n and Sunna rigorously to existing conditions.8 The Eanbal; school was particularly emphatic in its espousal of this philosophy. Following Ibn Taymiyya, the fourteenth-century scholar of tawA; d (unitarianism), certain currents of reformist circles began to make their appearance in the region in the eighteenth century. Reformists such as the salayya were, for the most part, Sunni orthodox shaykhs and scholar-preachers who advocated the way of the salaf al-B:liA, the pious Muslims of the early Islamic period. The salas believed that only by going back to the origin of the religion as it was revealed to the Prophet would a more just and righteous society appear. Of all the Sala movements that gripped the region in that period, the Wahhabis were the most radical of the Shar;6a-centred revivalist movements. Buttressed by the military power of the Saud family, Shaykh Muhammad ibn AbdulWahhab (d. 1792) proclaimed a jih:d against all unbelievers (kuff:r) and polytheists (mushrik<n), and all those who joined with them in obscuring the true message of the Qur8:n by associating others in worship with God.9 This last instruction applied to the conservative as well as to the more heterodox Su fraternities and the practitioners of magic, who posed a danger because of their claim to knowledge beyond human understanding and to [their] assuming powers over the natural world.10 Tomb worship, the veneration of rocks and trees, and the seeking of divine intercession through anyone other than the Prophet (and the stricter Wahhabis even had qualms about that) were thus totally forbidden. While the Wahhabi movement may have rescued Najd from its history of senseless feuds and chronic warfare, the movement also created disaffection and resentment within both the Arabian peninsula and the region as a whole because of its unwavering attitude to kufr (unbelief). While condemnation of kufr had long been central to the teaching of Islam, there had been limits imposed on calling People of the Book unbelievers. And while the practice of labelling ones enemies (even if they were Muslim) unbelievers and therefore outside of the pale had many precedents in Islamic history, the Wahhabis restated the principle with greater force. The Wahhabi movement created dissension in Iraq, Arabia, and the Gulf in part because it sought to purify Islamic societies through violence.

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Ibid. 116. Elizabeth Sirriyeh, Wahhabis, Unbelievers and the Problems of Exclusivism, BRISMES 16/2 (1989), 125. 10 Ibid. 25.
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Wahhabism was not, of course, the only Islamic-revival movement that based itself on the sala way. It must be noted that there had long been a sala tradition in Iraq.11 Many of the Iraqi shaykhs who explained the way of the Prophet were salas. A half-century before the Wahhabi revival in 1745, ij:zas (certicates of scholarly achievement awarded to 6ulam:8 by their professors) are in existence to show that sala teachers in Iraq such as shaykh Nasir ibn Sultan alJuburi, the teacher at the Qadiri mosque was advising his students not to stray from the straight and the narrow. In 1742, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab sent a letter to the 6ulam:8 of Basra asking them to accept the Wahhabi call. He was answered by shaykhs rejecting his summons to join the Wahhabi da6wa. Undeterred, Shaykh Muhammad next sent letters to the Mamluk Pasha Suleiman the Great (r. 17801802). These letters were answered on behalf of the Pasha by Shaykh Abdullah alRawi, whose actions in turn initiated a correspondence with the Imams grandson, Shaykh Suleiman ibn Abdullah ibn al-shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab. This correspondence, also a critique of Wahhabi principles, was nally published a century later in Cairo under the title Al-tawdh;A 6an tawA; d al-khil:q jaw:b ahl-al-6Ir:q.12 But while this rebuttal of Wahhabi teachings may have been a majority opinion in Iraq, it was not a unanimous one. Evidence suggests that, under Wahhabi prompting and with the assistance of important tribally based shaykhs such as Abdullah Beg al-Shawi, head of the loyalist Ubaid tribe, the Wahhabi da6wa was spread in Iraq. In the 1740s, the Mamluk government, fearful of its inuence, demanded that Iraqi 6ulam:8 counter the spread of this innovation. Some did, while others, we are led to believe, continued to give credence to the Wahhabi call in secret.13 But it was the fateful alliance between the sala Shaykh Ali al-Suwaidi and the Mamluk Pasha Suleiman the Little (r. 180710) that really roiled the waters. Under al-Suwaidis inuence, the Pasha ordered that from then on, religious ofcials were to be paid a xed and fair salary (instead of the charity doled out under previous regimes), and only Shar;8a taxes were to be levied on the populace.14 Of course, in all this the difference between the salayya and the Wahhabiyya may not have been very clear except to initiates. In fact, it seems fairly obvious that political
11 The following discussion is taken from Abbas al-Azzawi, Dhikr: ab; than:8 al-al<s; : 6ABrahu wa-mujtamai6hu wa-Aayy:tahu al-6ilmiyya wa-l-adabiyya wa-lt:r; khiyya wa-l-siy:siyya wa-mu8allif:tahu (In Memory of Abi Thana Al-Alusi: His Age, his Society, his Intellectual, Literary, Historical and Political Life, and his Publications) (Baghdad: Tijara and Tiba6a Press, 1958), 3540. 12 Ibid. 35. 13 Ibid. 378. 14 Ibid.

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considerations had a hand in muddying the waters. In other words, the whole notion of a Wahhabi threat was exaggerated to such an extent by pro-Mamluk historians that the theological differences between both currents of thought, never very large in the best of times, were overstated to make a political case. Nonetheless, in the insecure climate of eighteenth- and early nineteenthcentury Arabia, Iraq and the Gulf, Wahhabism became a force to be reckoned with, especially when the Imam Muhammad ibn AbdulWahhab followed up his rst epistles to the region by labelling other Muslims kuff:r (unbelievers) and even mushrik<n (polytheists) because of their long-held Su inclinations and corrupt practices. For the Mamluk Pashas of Basra and Baghdad and the powerful Sh;6a inuenced tribal confederations of eastern Arabia, the challenge of the unitarian da6wa was as much political as it was religious, and they set about confronting the movement with ideological ammunition of their own. It was in these circumstances that the anonymous author of Lam6 alShih:b, an anti-Wahhabi manuscript written most probably by a chronicler from Al-Ahsa in Eastern Arabia, descends into polemics when describing the Imams message. According to the author, not only is the Wahhabi message bid6a (innovation) but its proponents were attempting to start an entirely new religion, and not to reform existing Islamic practices.15 Moreover, he claimed that this new religion was established to lead Muslims astray or, in the authors words: wa-inna MuAammad ibn Abdul-Wahh:b at: bi-bid6at kufran wa-qaBada takf; r al-muslim; n (and Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab came with a message of innovation and unbelief, and aimed to make unbelievers of the Muslims).16 No less furious were the state historians of Mamluk Iraq. Ibn Sanad and al-Kirkukli, both pro-Mamluk historians, called the Wahhabis mughafall<n (dupes) and f:sid<n (corrupt), among other epithets. They questioned their opponents sincerity, levelling the same charges of kufr and shirk (polytheism) at the Wahhabi forces that the latter had long deployed in their ideological arsenal against the armies of Ottoman Iraq and the Banu Khawalid of al-Ahsa.17 In fact, the accusation against Shaykh Muhammad Abdul-Wahhab that he was starting a new religion is a non-issue, a red herring, for even in Imams own time, sensible
Anon., Kitab lam6 al-shih:b f; s; rat MuAammad ibn abdul-wahh:b (The Book of the Gleam of Fire in the Biography of Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab), ed. Shaykh Abdul-Rahman ibn Abdul-Latif ibn Abdullah al-Shaykh (Riyadh: Dar al-Malik Abdul-Aziz, 1974), 224. 16 Ibid. 24. 17 Hala Fattah, The Politics of Regional Trade in Iraq, Arabia and the Gulf, 17451900 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997), 4355.
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observers of the Wahhabi movement took pains to discount it. The historian J. L. Burckhardt, for instance, commented in his book Notes on the Bedouins and Wahabys that the argument was patently false and possibly the result of Ottoman propaganda.18 Despite the views of sensible observers, accusations have continued down the centuries. There should be recognition of the very real struggles taking place in eighteenthand early nineteenth-century Iraq, Arabia, and the Gulf. The efforts by some contemporary historians to produce oversimplied versions of the nature of these disputes gloss over an important intellectual and theological debate. Clearly, these literary and historiographical confrontations must be viewed in their proper context in order to be understood at all. It is an undoubted fact that political, economic, and religious motives were at play in the disputes between the Wahhabis and their enemies. From the very inception of the rst Saudi state, the monopoly of trade routes into the peninsula gured very prominently in Saudi economic strategy. The Wahhabi-Saudi attacks on peninsular society were focused not only on the submission of the ignorant (al-jahala) to the unitarian credo but on the very real state function of revenue collection. For instance, the Saudi am; rs (commanders) established a new policy (for peninsular society, at least) whereby the tribal khuwwa or tolls on the roads of Najd were stopped, and travellers, pilgrims, and merchants were forced to pass by a narrow corridor controlled by Saudi allies, at the end of which they would pay one toll at Dar8iyya, the Saudi capital.19 At sea, the Saudi campaigns ended in the defeat and submission of, at various times, the shaykhs of eastern Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen, and the pirate coast. The attempted monopoly of the land and sea trafc in the region resulted in the wide disruption of regional networks of trade, forcing the rerouting of commercial channels and the creation of different markets. As a result of the Saudi-Wahhabi wars in Iraq and the Gulf, trade routes shifted, as did political alignments: Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait owe their existence in no small part to the disturbed conditions prevalent in the period. Then, too, the impact of the Wahhabi movement on Iraq, Arabia, and the Gulf redrew the parameters of the region in a political sense. Saudi attacks against, and eventual control of, the Hijaz in 1805 showed up the ctive suzerainty of the Ottoman Sultan in the Holy

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18 J. L. Burckhardt. Notes on the Beduins and Wahabys Collected during His Travels in the East by John Lewis Burckhardt (London: Coburn & Bentley, 1930), 113. 19 Anon., Kit:b lam6 al-shih:b . . . 52.

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Places, and Saudi military incursions threatened the fragility of the Mamluk Pashalik of Baghdad and Basra. Saudi attacks even had an inuence on the political alliances of the tribal principalities in southern Iraq and the northern Gulf, whose paramount shaykhs (those especially of the Muntaq district in south-central Iraq) either supported the Iraqi Mamluks military campaigns by leading tribal armies against the Saudi im:ra or, conversely, rallied to the Saudi cause when opportune. Perhaps the best illustration of the contentious debate surrounding the Wahhabi movement is the sack of Karbala in 1801 which gave rise to divergent traditions and myths in the region.

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EARLY TWENTIETH-CENTURY CONTINUITIES


In the early twentieth century, the on-again, off-again entanglements of the tribal Houses of peninsular Arabia, Iraq, and the Gulf with local as well as external powers were to lead to further conict but also to cooperation. Whether it was Abdul-Aziz ibn Sauds relations with the Ottomans, the British encroachment on the northern Gulf, and the Rasheed Amirs struggles with the Saudis on the one hand, or other tribal contenders to the Im:ra of Ha8il, Sharif Hussein ibn Alis unceasing claims on wider sovereignty in the Hijaz, or Shaikh Mubarak of Kuwaits plots against the Ottoman governor of Basra on the other, the stage was set for a change in the regional politics of the time. But in a very real sense, it was yet again the reinvigorated Wahhabi challenge that had some of the most profound implications for the development of the budding dynasties and fragile nation-states of the area. Particularly in the transitional period falling between the collapse of Ottoman authority and the end of the British mandate of Iraq, Wahhabism was once again faced with a renewed sala movement that attacked Wahhabi excesses while claiming for itself a more purist outlook. What is notable, however, is that, unlike the eighteenth century (when historians of Mamluk Iraq and Wahhabi Arabia excoriated one another over a frontierless region), in the early twentieth century the Wahhabi-sala struggle emanated from within two embryonic nations that had yet to become durable states. Created out of wartime exigencies, the Hashemite monarchy of Iraq spent its early years ghting the tribal impulses within its borders and those without (of which more later). Considered inimical to state formation, the tribes had to be curbed, settled, and controlled; the British idea was that they would remain an important, if reactionary, bulwark of the state, entirely dependent on tribal law but unintegrated in civil

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authority. British-inuenced Iraq also restructured its civil-administration, educational, and judicial regimes and gave further impetus to all property-owning males, both urban effendiyya and rural shaykhs, to run for parliament. The ex-Sharian ofcers who had risen in the Ottoman ranks, and seceded from the army at the beginning of World War I to join the forces of Amir Faisal ibn al-Husayn (rst in the Hijaz and then in Syria), became the backbone of the new nation-state. The more politicized Sh;6a joined with the Sunn; minority in power to refashion more representative political institutions.21 Tribal revolts remained a threat long after the bloody end of the 1920 uprising; and even while the uprising ushered in a more autonomous Iraqi regime, political, economic, religious, and ethnic grievances continued to make themselves felt, whether in Parliament or the press. It was a transitory age in which the crumbling institutions of Ottoman power were sometimes reappropriated by the British colonial authority, while at other times (as with British support for a reconstituted tribal hierarchy) propped up altogether to suit different purposes. Most important of all, even though ideas of liberty, equality, pluralism, and democracy became the common currency of the new administration, Iraqis of all classes, ethnicities, sects, and religions continued to mobilize for the end of British domination and the emergence of an independent state. Culturally, these divergent trends and voices made for a mixed landscape. This was particularly so for the religious and sectarian groups in Baghdad. For example, the 1920s and 1930s witnessed the emergence of literary clubs and festivals that attempted to draw together Iraqis of all backgrounds in similar undertakings. The Friday meetings at Father Anastase Marie al-Karmalis house is one example; it grouped Sunn;s, Sh;6a, Christians, and Jews in a weekly seminar on all aspects of Arab culture, with the exception of politics and religion.22 Moreover, secular schools were gaining ground. For example, the Jewish minority, long a preponderant inuence both physically and economically in Baghdad, continued to send its sons and daughters to Alliance Israelite schools which taught a French-inspired curriculum. Meanwhile, in the early years of the monarchy, Sh;6; education in Karbala and Najaf underwent changes, becoming more open to new inuences at the same time as it became more disciplined
Charles Tripp, A History of Iraq (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 37, 52. 21 Ibid. 40, 65. 22 Yusif Izzaldin, Al-yaqCa al-kriyya al-6Ir:q (The Intellectual Awakening in Iraq) in Majallat al-majma6 al-ilm; , vol. 32, pts. 3, 4 (1981), 308. See also Abdul-Razzaq al-Hilali, Dir:s:t wa-tar:jim 6Ir:qiyya (Iraqi Studies and Biographies) (Baghdad and Beirut: Nahda Press, 1972), 10425.
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in format, and non-denominational schools, developing out of the rushdiyya Ottoman tradition, became more widespread.24 At the same time as these new inuences were being felt, older traditions were still eliciting support among the population. Among these, the two most powerful religious, literary, and political strains were represented by the Su movements, and the salayya trend. The Su brotherhoods, especially the Qadiriyya, but eventually the Naqshbandiyya and the upstart Rifa8iyya as well, were an inuential presence in the provinces of Iraq. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries there were, broadly speaking, two kinds of mystic organizations: the conservative or orthodox brotherhoods that claimed spiritual descent from the pious ancestors and early jurists of Islam, insisting that they differed from the more literalist 6ulam:8 only because of their belief in both exoteric and esoteric meanings of the Qur8:n and Sunna. There were also the baser 3ar; qas, accused by their opponents of perverting the meaning of Islam by focusing on arcane practices, while disregarding the Qur8:n or Shar;6a altogether. Generally speaking, the appeal of Susm was universal and, to its followers, indispensable: Su masters brought solace and comfort to their audience and reinterpreted the Qur8:n and the Sunna in a more direct and personal way, frequently attracting the initiate with ecstatic poetry that moved him to tears.25 But there was another more rigorous Islamic tradition battling for the high ground. The upsurge in sala awareness in Iraq can be traced to a long line of neo-Eanbal; shaykhs, many of whom had travelled in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to the Hijaz, Egypt, and India, and had sat at the feet of reformist shaykhs. Although the sala movement had long been in existence in Iraq, it remained a quietist current of thought that never really developed national currency. Unlike Syria and Egypt, where the movement eventually gained enough momentum to inspire celebrated reformist thinkers such as shaykhs Jamal al-Din alAfghani, Muhammad 6Abduh, and Rashid Rida to formulate an antiColonialist rhetoric of region-wide proportions, in Baghdad the sala movement remained a deeply intellectual and introspective current of thought that chiey centred around Shaykh Mahmud Shukri al-Alusi. Its main oppositional stance concerned the pronounced Ottoman bias for the expansion of Su brotherhoods, often at the behest of Sultan Abdul23 Nur al-Din Shahrudi, Tar; kh al-Aaraka al-6ilmiyya f; karbal:8 (The History of the Movement for Knowledge in Karbala), (Beirut: Dar al-Ulum, 1990), 170 200. 24 Izzildin, Al-yaqCa . . . , 2935. 25 Elizabeth Sirriyeh, Sus and Anti-Sus: The Defence, Rethinking and Rejection of Susm in the Modern World (London: Curzon, 1999), 111.

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Hamid II. This situation angered many sala thinkers, eventually persuading them to rally against the Ottoman state. Su ideas, considered dangerously heretical and un-Islamic, were anathema to the salas; the fact that these same ideas were promoted by an empire that was supposed to be safeguarding the principles of the Islamic Shar;6a made the Ottomans deeply suspect among Sunn; orthodoxy.
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THE ANTI-WAHHABI AND ANTI-SUFI PROCLIVITIES OF SHAYKH MAHMUD SHUKRI AL-ALUSI


On 29 March 1905, the British Resident in Baghdad reported that the following inuential members of the Arab community in Baghdad were arrested last evening and sent out of Baghdad to Mosul.26 They were Shaykh Mahmud Shukri al-Alusi, a teacher at the Haidarkhana College, who was said to hold very advanced views both in political and religious matters;27 his cousin Thabit Effendi al-Alusi, who had held the post of head of the Baghdad municipality for the previous two years; Abdul-Razzaq Effendi, a teacher at the A6zamiyya College; and Hajj Ahmad al-Assa, a wealthy coffee merchant from Najd. According to the British report, the Wali of Baghdad, Abdul-Wahhab Pasha, showed them the order for their arrest, had his men handcuff them, and sent the men out of town in the dead of night. And the British consul continued:
They are evidently political suspects and it may be that they are concerned with the Arabian movement which is said to be in progress in Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine . . . Another reason for deporting the two Aloosi Zadahs and Abdul-Razzak Effendi is that they have written a book in praise of the Wahhabi religion. This book was sent to Egypt to be printed and the cost of printing was nanced by Hajj Ahmad al-Assa . . . Yet another reason given for this deportation is that they have been corresponding with Ibn Saud and the shaikh of Kuwait and the police, on paying a surprise visit to their houses, discovered some incriminating documents . . .28

A local historian corroborates the story, stating that Mahmud Shukri al-Alusi and his cousin were accused by the Ottoman authorities of conspiring to spread the Wahhabi madhhab (school of thought) and
26 FO 195/2188, Newmarch to the Government of India, Baghdad, 29 Mar. 1905. 27 Ibid. 28 Ibid.

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were therefore banished to Mosul. Upon the active intercession of the notables of Mosul, who converged en masse on the Telegraph ofce to cable their disapproval of the Portes action to Istanbul, al-Alusi and his companions were allowed to return to Baghdad. Nonetheless, while the incident was quickly shelved at the insistence of the new Wali of the city, the claim that al-Alusi was a covert Wahhabi sympathizer persisted, to the point where he was publicly labelled the shaykh of the Wahhabis of Baghdad by some observers. To this continuous barrage, al-Alusi is supposed to have interjected that he was the follower of only one Muhammad, Muhammad ibn 6Abdullah (in other words, the Prophet) and that, quite to the contrary, he possessed such little esteem for the followers of the Wahhabi da6wa that he would not even accept them as students.30 Who was Shaykh Mahmud Shukri al-Alusi, and why was he stung by the label of Wahhabi? Born in 1856, Shaykh Mahmud Shukri was the scion of an important Baghdadi family of 6ulam:8, and considered one of the paragons of his age. At the relatively young age of 30, he had become the chief professor at the Mirjaniyya, one of the most prestigious religious colleges in Baghdad, having earlier been professor at yet another famous mosque-madrasa, the Hayderkhana. From an early age, he devoted himself to the writing of weighty tomes on everything from pre-Islamic poetry to the pedigree of horses. Eventually he wrote some fty books on Qur8:nic commentary, jurisprudence, biography, lexicography, rhetoric, dogma, philosophy, history, geography, and the Arabic language.31 From 1886 till 1890, he wrote articles in the Arabic section of Al-Zawra8, the rst newspaper published in Ottoman Baghdad, established by none other than the Wali Midhat Pasha in 1869. In 1887, the Eighth orientalist Congress in Sweden awarded him a prize for his history of the Arabs of the j:hiliyya. While still a professor at the Mirjaniyya, his renown reached France, where he came to the attention of the Orientalist Louis Massignon, who became one of his students when he visited Baghdad. According to Peres, al-Alusi was one of the most vigorous representatives of modern Islam, striving by means of the written and spoken word and by his example to combat bid6a, and he may be regarded as one of the leaders of the Salayya movement.32

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Ali Dharif Al-A6zami. MukhtaBar tar; kh baghd:d al-qad; m wa-l-Aad; th aw baghd:d arba6at :l:f sana (A Short History of Old and New Baghdad or Baghdad in Four Thousand Years) (Baghdad: Furat Press, 1926), 2467. 30 Conversation with the late Shaykh Muhammad Bahjat al-Athari, Baghdad, 11 Nov. 1981. 31 H. Peres, Al-Alusi, in EI2, 425. 32 Ibid. 425.

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Al-Alusis cousin, Muhammad Thabit al-Din Effendi, came from similarly illustrious origins. The son of the famous mufassir (exegete), Shaykh Nu6man Khair al-Din al-Alusi, he was born in 1858, two years after Shaykh Mahmud Shukri. Like his cousin, who wrote a book on the species, he was also a connoisseur of horses and an expert in pedigrees and geneology.33 Having decided at the age of 25 that he needed a position with more stability than that of a scholar-preacher, Shaykh Muhammad Thabit successfully became Qadi of Najaf, Karbala, Suleymaniyya (Iraqi Kurdistan), and nally of al-Ahsa (eastern Arabia). While in government employ, he also visited Istanbul four times and performed the Aajj once. Having had his ll of government service, he decided to retire to Baghdad but his attempts at farming were unsuccessful, as he fell in debt and was unable to make a living. In these straits, he was called upon to take up yet another governmental position, this time in the Baghdad municipality, which he fullled for two years. It was at this time that he was implicated in the plot to further Wahhabi designs in Greater Baghdad, and was exiled along with his cousin, Shaykh Mahmud Shukri and others to Mosul. Although he returned from exile to Baghdad to take up agriculture once more, only to fail abysmally a second time, the government was yet again to offer him succour in the form of a judgeship of Suleymaniyya. He died a disappointed man in 1911. As for the other two men who accompanied the Alusis into exile, there is evidence that a branch of the Assa family from Najd resided in Baghdad and that they were merchants of high repute; however, I have not been able to discover whether Al-Haj Ahmad belonged to the Baghdadi branch of the family. Still, the incident of the Alusi groups banishment to Mosul because of their purported Wahhabi leanings must be seen in the political and ideological spirit of the times. Elizabeth Sirriyeh has observed that a similar situation obtained in Syria; in 1908, no less an Islamic reformist than Rashid Rida was attacked as a Wahhabi because he cautioned in a public lecture against the intercession of saints.34 In this case, the epithet had been hurled at Rida in a deliberate and wilful attempt to discredit the Damascene salas, who were ranged against the conservative forces of the city in a political struggle for mastery of Damascuss future. Although some writers are convinced that al-Alusi was indeed a Wahhabi, if indeed a covert one,35 al-Alusis own
Kadhim al-Dujayli, obituary in Lughat al-arab, Dec. 1911, 12930. Sirriyeh, Sus . . . 1034. 35 Abdul-Halim Al-Ruhaymi, Tar; kh al-Aaraka al-isl:miyya f; al-6Ir:q: Aljudhur al-kriyya wa-l-w:qi6 al-tar; kh; , 19001924 (The History of the Islamic Movement in Iraq: Intellectual Roots and Historical Reality, 1900 1924), (Beirut: Al-Dar Al-Alamiyya, 1985), 11533.
34 33

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writings are rather impressive evidence of his anti-Wahhabi stance. It may be that his sympathetic history of Najd and his thorough familiarity with Wahhabi dogma were seen as proof of his attachment to the Wahhabi cause, but as the preceding discussion of Damascus shows, the line between the Wahhabi and sala position sometimes confused even those who had the highest stake in knowing the difference. A wider explanation of the incident must also take into account the perspicuous comment of al-Alusis student, Shaykh Muhammad Bahjat al-Athari who believed that Shaykh Mahmud al-Alusi was sent away from Baghdad upon the insistence of Shaykh Ibrahim al-Rawi, the head of the newly-invigorated Rifa6i 3ar; qa in Baghdad.37 To understand the context of al-Atharis remark, a brief description of n de sie ` cle Baghdad is imperative. Shaikh Mahmud Shukri al-Alusi lived for sixtynine years, most of them under the banner of the Ottoman Empire. And yet it was an Empire in crisis. According to his biographer, al-Athari, throughout his life al-Alusi exhibited an ambivalent attitude towards the dawla. Al-Athari expressed it in this manner:
On the one hand, the Ottoman Empire had for ve centuries been the refuge of Muslims, and the protector of Islam, as well as being a strong defender against the West that wanted to take over and make Islam subject to its foreign domination. If the Caliphate were to cease, then so would the existence of political Islam, causing a void in the Islamic world that would be lled by other abominations (mas:yir munkara), or so he imagined. As for his hatred of the Ottomans, it had to do with the corruption that permeated the everyday life of the dawla in its last days . . . In such circumstances, even the wisest and most rational of men becomes indecisive over what path he should follow . . . I am certain that had it been up to al-Alusi, he would have chosen to stay with the Ottoman Caliphate, provided he could reform it, especially with regard to the Arab umma, which had fallen in the tentacles of Western colonialism and which could only be freed from it by a miracle . . . 38

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Al-Alusi was born in the same period that the Ottoman state was undergoing a tful process of reform, which extended to the furthest reaches of the Empire. Like other subjects of the Ottoman Sultan, his life was often buffeted by the struggle between the forces of decentralization (represented by a provincial elite of landholders, merchants, militia
See Mahmud Shukri al-Alusi, Kit:b gh:y:t al-am:n; f; al-radd 6al: al-nabh:n; (The Book of the Extremities of Hopes in the Reply to AlNabhani), ed. and privately pub. by Shaykh Muhammad Bahjat al-Athari (Baghdad, n.d.). The book will be reviewed in more detail later in this article. 37 Conversation with the late Shaykh Muhammad Bahjat al-Athari, Baghdad, 23 Dec. 1981. 38 Muhammad Bahjat al-Athari, MaAm<d shukr; al-al<s; wa-ar:8uhu allughawiyya (Mahmud Shukri Al-Alusi and his Literary/Linguistic Opinions), (Cairo: League of Arab States, 1958), 3.
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leaders and religious ofcials in Baghdad) and the forces of centralization (exemplied by a foreign elite of provincial governors and Imperial troops). On the whole, the latter usually won out, not because public support was forthcoming but because patronage in the form of positions or entitlements enabled the provincial government in Baghdad, Mosul, or Basra to bring the majority of nobles or religious ofcials within the governments ambit. In this sense, al-Alusi was different from the rest: a renowned ascetic and recluse who in his late years rarely ventured outside of his home to meet much with anyone, be they Arab personalities, Ottoman Pashas or British ofcials, he continued writing both to bear witness to the history that was passing him by, as well as to vent his anger at the too-rapid changes that were taking place within Iraqi society. As always, his chief concern was the diminution of the Muslim intellectuals position in Iraq due to a series of events over which he had little control. One of these centred around Sultan Abdul-Hamid IIs pan-Islamic policy (siy:sat al-j:mi6a al-Isl:miyya). In the 1890s, a two-pronged strategy was promoted to reattract Muslims into the Ottoman fold under a strengthened Caliphate headed by Sultan Abdul-Hamid himself. This Islamic strategy was based, rst, on reinculcating Muslim ethics into lapsed Sunn; communities throughout the Empire and second, on popularizing that ethical commitment so that it reached a larger audience.39 Initially, Abdul-Hamids pan-Islamic policy did shore up Sunn; sala principles: by enlisting the energies of select Sunn; Shaykhs sent out from Istanbul, a limited Sunn; revival did take place in Iraq. In addition to the sending out of Islamic missionaries to distant provinces, Imperial grades and decorations were assigned to Sunn; professors of law so as to reward them for preaching the true Islam, and some of them were also awarded promotions. But another by-product of Hamidian policy, and perhaps one of the paramount developments in al-Alusis time, was the revival of Su brotherhoodsnetworks of Muslim mystics who, in Atharis not-too-charitable terminology, demanded the world through faith.40 As a reformer, Alusi was at odds with Susm, especially that practised by the Rifa8iyya brotherhood, which had been reintroduced in Baghdad
39 A large literature exists on this development. For a selection, see Mustafa Nur al-Din al-Wa8iz, Al-raw@ al-azhar f; tar:jim al-sayyid ja6far (The Luminous Garden in the Biography of Al-Sayyid Ja8far) (Mosul: Ittihad Press, 1948), 207 11; Selim Deringil, Legitimacy Structures in the Ottoman State, IJMES 23 (1991); Yitzhak Nakash, The Sh;6a of Iraq (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 2548; and Gokhan Cetinsaya, The Ottoman Administration of Iraq, 18901908, Ph.D. diss., University of Manchester, 1994. 40 Al-Athari, Mahmud. shukri al-alusi . . . 8.

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under the patronage of the inuential Rifa8; shaykh and powerful adviser to Sultan Abdul-Hamid II, Abu-al-Huda al-Sayyadi. Despite al-Sayyadis attempts to portray his 3ar; qa in a more positive light (by claiming that it was as sober and as temperate as the more inuential Qadiriyya and Naqshbandiyya), the Rifa8iyya was looked down upon by the more conservative 6ulam:8 for its ecstatic practices, its re-eaters and rowdy followers.41 It is thought that Abu-al-Huda tried to win over al-Alusi to his network of 6ulam:8 clients, and the two men did carry on a correspondence for some time, but Alusi eventually ceased communication with al-Sayyadi because of differences over Su abuses. Equally important to al-Alusis world view was the collapsing authority of late Ottoman Baghdads 6ulam:8 theocracy. As a professor of law and jurisprudence, a noted author of books on Islamic theology and history, and a stern disciplinarian greatly respected by students, he was appalled by the clear decline in Islamic education as well as the forms of ritual and worship in the city of his birth. Among al-Alusis complaints, the most forceful related to Jami8 al-Mirjan, whose teaching position (that of mudarris) had almost become a family monopoly. The Mirjaniyya had been built in 1356 by one Mirjan ibn Abdullah ibn Abdul-Rahman al-Sultani Chagatai, a Central Asian warlord who had founded the mosque-madrasa in Baghdad with the stipulation that the many waqfs or Muslim endowments set up for the institution be used for the teaching of Eanaf; and Sh:6; jurisprudence. According to al-Alusi: Many of these waqfs fell in disrepair, and cannot be seen anymore and many were forcibly taken over (wa-imtadat illayhum: yad alghaBaba) . . . For instance, d:r al-shif:8 (a famous hospital) was taken over by a Jew and now it has become famous as qahwat al-maBbagha (a coffee shop) and many of the shops and warehouses which formerly supported the madrasa al-mirj:niyya are now in private hands. Some have even become churches!42 Al-Alusi goes on to say that there was a very wide square in front of the Nu6mani mosque, which was one of the waqfs attached to the mosque, but some evil-doers forcibly expropriated it (ghaBab<h:) in the last days of the decadent Ottoman state, and no-one took reponsibility for this state of affairs.43 This square was sold to the Catholic community whichafter the appearance of British rule in Iraqbuilt a church for Carmelite missionaries on the spot. And al-Alusi laments, In
Sirriyeh, Sus . . . 104. Mahmud Shukri al-Alusi, Tar; kh mas:jid baghd:d wa-ath:ruh: (a History of Baghdadi Mosques and Its Remains), ed. Muhammad Bahjat al-Athari (Baghdad: Dar al-Salam Publishing House, 1927), 71. 43 Ibid. 76.
42 41

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this way, Islamic waqfs are lost, and become churches or shops (Aaw:n; t), as the waqfs of the Mirjaniyya were, some of which became churches, shops and even cabarets and dance-halls in which prostitutes and runaways dance in front of Muslims (within sight of them and within hearing) . . .44 Obviously, the changes affecting al-Alusis life were many. Whether these consisted of the Portes patronage of Su brotherhoods, which offended Alusis sala sympathies, or the calumnies heaped on him by ignorant parties referring to him as the shaykh of the Wahhabis, or even the daily injustices done to the state of Islamic learning, which was reducing the once-proud class of 6ulam:8 to abject penury, all these misfortunes plagued Alusis later life and eventually harried him into house exile, from which he was to reappear only briey. Despite this, Alusi continued to sit on Baghdads provincial administrative council, so it may be surmised that his earlier abstention from ofcial posts stemmed from religious differences, not from any political disaffection with Ottoman rule per se. And when war broke out and the Ottoman Empire sided with Germany, he remained a loyalist, defending Ottoman interests until the last. In a gesture striking for its ambivalence, he even accepted to serve the Ottoman cause by going on a diplomatic (though ultimately failed) mission to Riyadh to persuade Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud to enter the war on the side of the Ottomans.45

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THE SALAFIYYA , WAHHABISM, AND POPULAR SUFISM IN AL-ALUSIS WORK


All of these issues came together in al-Alusis book, Kit:b gh:y:t alam:n; f; al-radd 6al: al-Nabh:n; . The work should be viewed as Alusis main rebuttal to the years of defamation he had endured at the hands of late Ottoman-era walis, Su shaykhs, and Wahhabi critics. Briey, in Rajab of 1907, al-Alusi received a book called Shaw:hid al-Aaqq alistigh:tha bi-sayyid al-khalq, written by a Palestinian shaykh and Su by the name of Yusuf al-Nabhani. According to al-Alusi, the core of the book consisted of nothing less than a great slander (buhtan 6aC; man) and a renunciation of the straight (or Godly) path.46 Always according to Alusi, this was because the authors thesis rested on the outright rejection of monotheism as well as the inclusion of a vast array of
Ibid. L/P & S/20/c.199. Personalities: Baghdad and Kadhimain (Government Press, 1920). 46 Al-Alusi, Kit:b . . . i. 3.
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falsehoods and calumnies which could appeal only to those of unsound mind. Accordingly, he began his refutation of al-Nabhanis work by rst of all pouring scorn on the literary output of the new-fangled printing presses in Baghdad and elsewhere. Claiming that they published anything they could lay their hands on, thus adding to the vast ignorance of the uninitiated, he proceeded to demolish the background, philosophy, character, and learning of al-Nabhani, all in the spirit of public service. In a systematic purge of the authors literary pretensions, Alusi reproves al-Nabhani for joining those salaried people in high positions who joined innovative Su orders and shocked their own government and country by distancing themselves from sala beliefs.47 Attributing al-Nabhanis motive to greed and envy for position, he makes a parallel between fertile, cultivable land and drought-ridden land. Alusi asserts that the hearts of al-Nabhani and his ilk were similarly parched and that they were nothing but people of bid6a (religious innovation) and error, who worshipped polytheists or idolators, made appeal to them through the slaughter of live animals and swore oaths on these saints heads.48 This went on, even though the Prophet had made the principle of monotheism the bedrock of his prophetic mission, for that principle is what constitutes all of religion (wa-h:dhidhi al-mas8ala hiyya al-d; n kulluh:).49 Indeed, it was the point of distinction between the true Muslim and the k:r. In the same context, Alusi pours scorn on Su miracles such as playing with snakes and scorpions, using hand weapons against themselves and walking on re, which he terms Satanically-inspired and quite contrary to the Shar;6a. Contemptuously he asserts that the Sus viewed their religion as nothing more than play and entertainment. And in a stinging rebuke, he exclaims: Woe to whosoever rewrites the Book with his own hand!50 However, although monotheism was the foundation of Islam, Alusi was not willing to countenance coercion or even illiberalism in its pursuit. And here he was pointedly in disagreement with the Wahhabis. Alusi believed that perhaps the most outrageous snare or deception resorted to by these false Muslims (of which Nabhani was only one of many) was the practice of takf; r. According to Alusi, this was done to distort the beliefs of the common people, and to distance them from the true Muslims. He then states point-blank that the Wahhabis were notorious for employing takf; r in this manner. However, he continues, it
47 48 49 50

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Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.

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was well known that the Muslim is anyone who follows Islam. Anybody, Alusi asserts, who follows the faith is a Muslim, even if he commits an error in following this faith.51 Thus in contrast to Wahhabi teachings, he did not believe that the only true Muslim was the one who uphheld the strict implementation of the whole of the Shar;6a, [in which] . . . true tawA; d (monotheism) must be in the heart, tongue and deed52. He was willing to be more liberal in his approach, and give his co-religionists the benet of the doubt. This even applied to certain Su brotherhoods, for Alusi certainly did not consider them all alike. For him, there was a big difference between the orthodox Su masters such as Shaykh Abdul-Qadir al-Gaylani, who believed wholeheartedly in tawA; d, and the baser Sus who blasphemed Islam by associating others with God,53 just as there was an almost deliberate ignorance of what visits to shrines implied. A visit to a tomb was not necessarily a contravention of the Shar;6a, so long as the visit was meant to remind the living of the hereafter, and to implore God for divine guidance for the dead. The sin of polytheism occurred only when the visitor prayed to the dead to intercede with God for the living. Moreover, rejecting the claim that Su p; rs or masters could ever truly intercede with God for themselves as well as their followers, Alusi was adamant that no Su shaykh could ever have knowledge of the transcendental world; that was solely an attribute of God.54 As a concluding salvo, Alusi closes by saying that al-Nabhani wrote his slanderous work solely to appeal to the ignorant; he accuses him of padding his book with lies and falsehoods to make it appear longer, and therefore weightier. Addressing the author directly, he remonstrates with him over the blatant misrepresentation of Ibn Taymiyya as a Wahhabi, saying that the Shaykh al-Islam was nothing if not an upright Muslim, and needed no further defence.55 Authors such as al-Nabhani, on the other hand, were in dire need of moral re-education and direction in the true faith.

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CONCLUSION
On 6 November 1927, an Ikhw:n raid against the Iraqi frontier town of Busaiya signalled the start of a three-year offensive against Iraq by one of
51 52 53 54 55

Ibid. 15. Sirriyeh, Wahhabis . . . 125. Al-Alusi, Kit:b . . . ii. 56. Ibid. 31. Ibid. 65.

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Ibn Sauds erstwhile allies, the Mutayri Shaykh Faisal ibn Dawish (or Duwaish). The Ikhw:n, a ercely puritanical group of tribesmen who had been induced to settle in hujar or agricultural settlements by Ibn Saud, were instrumental in the victory over the Hashemite forces in Makka and Madina. For a variety of reasons (most of them having to do with dynastic ambitions), some of the Ikhw:n shaykhs began a long, drawn-out rebellion against Ibn Saud, then the Sultan of Najd. Even though the Ikhw:n raids into Iraq and Kuwait had more to do with challenging Saudi rule than invading neighbouring districts, they caused consternation (and quite a lot of carnage) in Iraq and Kuwait.56 Partly as a result of these raids, the British began negotiating Iraq and Kuwaits borders with Ibn Saud, eventually leading to the further strengthening of the latter. We can speculate, perhaps, that had Al-Alusi been alive at the time (he died in 1924), the irony of a Wahhabi revivalist movement invading a now-ofcially pluralistic, secular Iraq would not have been lost on him. For he had witnessed other similar and equally bloody attacks in his lifetime, most notably in the Wahhabi raids on southern Iraqi tribes in 1921, which eventually resulted in the organization in Iraq of a huge anti-Wahhabi conference in 1922 called by, among others, the most important mujtahids (Sh;6; religious leaders) in the country.57 Although Al-Alusi chose not to attend that particular conference, he could not have been immune to its appeal. After all, the Ikhw:n raids into Iraq ran true to form in an important way. Couched in the rhetoric of the past, they resorted to historic precedent by calling for a renewed faith in sala principles, meaning by that, of course, the Wahhabi version. Labelling their enemies kuff:r, they overran frontier settlements in Iraq and Kuwait, putting many people to death. Once again, this ideological campaign created cultural and ideological ferment in its wake. Twentytwo years earlier, Shaykh Mahmud Shukri al-Alusi had been shaken to his very being by the label (or, according to him, libel) of Wahhabi, even though his reformist principles, belief in traditional Islamic education, and disdain of Su abuses would have qualied him as a fellowtraveller in an earlier epoch. At that time, it had been considered sufcient by him and his students to refute the tag of Wahhabi by noting how ideologically dissimilar his interpretation of sala principles was
56 Alexei Vassiliev, The History of Saudi Arabia (London: Saqi Press, 1998), 275. See also Paul J. Magnarella, Arabias Ikhwan Movement: A Theoretical Interpretation, in Robert Olson (ed.), Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies: A Festchrift in Honor of Professor Wadie Jwaideh (Brattleboro, Vt.: Amana Books, 1987), 1835. 57 Al-Ruhaymi, Tar; kh, 24451.

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from the latter. Two decades on, however, intellectual differences were downplayed because larger issues of national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the relations of small nations with great powers took precedence. Even though the Ikhw:n campaigns were now viewed through the prism of international relations by most of the British administration and local politicians in Iraq, there was yet another reality that went largely unrecognized by all but those most personally affected by the raids outcome. This was that religious ideology hardly gured at all in the new British-inuenced philosophy of modern state formation. Alusi must have reached the same conclusion at about the same time as the Ikhw:n began their archaic campaign to reclaim idolatrous districts by the sword: a classical Islamic formation was the complete antithesis of a modern nation-states ideology, as reected in the uphill struggle of Islamic schools to maintain their once-hegemonic position in Iraqi society. One of the supreme ironies of this development was that al-Alusi, a fervent anti-Wahhabi, had to wage a lonely battle to maintain (he could not quite restore) the principles of kutt:b education in Baghdad even as a contemporary movement based on a fundamentalist agenda was staking out the parameters of national ideology next door in the Arabian Peninsula. It is this similarity in form, but difference in substance, that has been of concern to us in this article. From its very inception, the Wahhabi movement was able to rally Muslims everywhere because of its call to return to the path of the Prophet and the Companions. Many Muslims adhered to the da6wa because the message had resonated throughout the ages, and they were familiar with the broad principles embedded in its core. But the Wahhabi credo also encountered stiff resistance in the region because its followers were seen to have perverted the original message of the early Muslims (al-salaf al-B:liA). In their singling out of other Muslims as unbelievers (kuff:r), their forcible application of Qur8:nic punishments (Aud<d), and their strict accounting of state nances, the Wahhabis created an uneasy conundrum for their contemporaries, one that was to outlast the defeat of the rst Saudi state. In the end, the chief conclusion one is forced to draw from this uneasy state of affairs is the utter ambivalence that the Wahhabi da6wa gave rise to in the region, and the even more surprising refusal of regional shaykhs, rulers, and subjects to deny the movements broadif ambiguousappeal, even as they resorted to arms to ght against it.

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