RAWANG: A Selangor religious official has alleged that Wahabism is gaining a foothold with the elite of Malaysian society.
Mahfuz Mohamad, a committee member of the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais), told FMT that areas in the Klang Valley that were considered elite had become nests for the spread of Wahabism, a school of thought that the Saudi royal family subscribes to and is often linked to the Islamic State (IS) terror organisation.
He said propagation was focused on the rich and powerful as well as students in tertiary institutions.
“The rich can provide funds and the powerful can use their positions to spread this school of thought, while students are their future replacements,” Mahfuz added.
Wahabism as a movement was founded in the Arabian Peninsula in the late 1700s by Muhammad Abdul Wahhab, a scholar who believed Islam needed to be rejuvenated. Many Wahabis call themselves “Salafis” in recognition of the “Salaf”, which refers to the first generation of Muslims.
According to Mahfuz, Wahabism is not popular among rural folk because its activists don’t believe that propagating it in the rural areas would yield long term benefits.
In March 2015, the National Fatwa Council decided that Wahabism was not suitable for the country.
The Negeri Sembilan Fatwa Committee has declared it as “haram (unlawful)”.
Mahfuz, who is also the principal of a Quran-teaching institution, said IS militants and supporters had deviated from Islam because of their adherence to Wahabism. The deviation, he said, could be seen in their “hard and harsh” manner.
“Wahabis reject tasawwuf (sufi) teachings, considering them abhorrent, and they are stern and harsh against people who they think don’t put akhlak (moral) teachings into practice.”
He spoke of instances of mosque officials being abused by Wahabi disciples.
He also said it was often difficult to identify Wahabis because they would not come out publicly.
“Sometimes Wahabis themselves don’t realise they are Wahabis. This is because the ones teaching them would not admit to being one, claiming instead to hold to mainstream Sunni teachings.
“Many who don’t have much knowledge about Sunni teachings are influenced by Wahabism, thinking its teachings are true Sunni teachings.
“They say they are guided by the Quran and the prophetic traditions, but the fact is they are following teachings that are contrary to the Prophet’s teachings and practices.”