Short History of Wahhabism in Madina
Sulaiman Khan I, the seventy-fifth Khalifa of Islam and the tenth Ottoman Sultan (rahmat-Allahi ‘alaih) had restored the walls around the blessed city of Medina; the city had not suffered any assault of bandits for 274 years owing to its strong walls, and Muslims had lived in comfort and peace in the city till early 1222 A.H. (1807), when they fell prey to the hands of Sa’ud.
Sa’ud sent the looters he raised from the villages to Medina after capturing al-Makkat al-Mukarrama and the villages around it. He appointed two brothers named Baday and Nadi as commanders of the looters. They plundered the Muslim villages on their way and killed many Muslims. Most of the villages around Medina were set to fire and demolished. The Muslims who were on the right path shown by the ‘ulama’ of Ahl as-Sunnat were looted and put to the sword.
There were so many villages burnt and Muslims killed that nobody could make an approximate estimate. The villages around Medina accepted the Wahhabite beliefs for fear of plunder, torture
and death. They became servants and slaves to Sa’ud. Sa’ud sent a letter addressing the Medinan Muslims with Salih ibn Salih:
“I begin with the name of He who is the Owner of the Day of Judgement. May it be known by the ‘ulama’, officials and merchants of Medina that comfort and peace in the world is only for those who attain guidance. Oh the people of Medina! I invite you to the true religion. The 19th and 85th ayats of Surat Al ‘Imran says, ‘The correct religion in Allah’s esteem is Islam. The religion of those who adopt any religion other than Islam will not be accepted. They will suffer loss on the Day of Judgement!’ I want you to know about my feelings about you. I bear love and faith towards the people of Medina. I want to come and live in Rasulullah’s city with you. I will not distress or torture you if you listen to me and obey my orders. The people of Mecca have been enjoying favor and kindness from me since the day I entered Mecca. I want you to become Muslims anew. You will be safe against plunder, death and torture if you obey my orders. Allah will protect you and I shall be your protector. I send this letter by my trustworthy man Salih ibn Salih. Read it carefully and make a decision with him! What he says is what I say.“
This letter frightened the Medinans very much. They had heard about the tortures and massacre inflicted upon the Ta’ifian women and children (rahmat-Allahi ta’ala ‘alaihim ajmain) a few days ago and had shuddered with fear. They could say neither ‘yes’ nor ‘no’ to Saud ibn Abd al-Aziz’s letter. They could surrender neither their lives nor their religion.
Seeing no answer to the letter, the head of the bandits, Baday the treacherous, attacked Yanbu, the seaport of Medina. After capturing Yanbu’, he laid siege to Medina and severely attacked the Anbariyya gate of the walls. Just on that day, the Damascene pilgrims came with their leader ‘Abdullah Pasha. Upon seeing the city under siege, the pilgrims and the accompanying soldiers started fighting against the bandits. About two hundred bandits were killed in two hours of bloody battle while the remainder ran away.
The Muslims enjoyed peace in Medina until ‘Abdullah Pasha completed his duties of pilgrimage, but the traitorous Baday besieged the city again after the Damascene pilgrims left. He captured Quba, Awali and Qurban and built two bastions in the district. He barred the roads to the city and demolished the aqueducts called the ‘Ain az-zarqa.’ Thus, the Muslims were left without food and water.
a mujiza: The water of the well at the Baghchat ar-Rasul in Masjid an-Nabi increased and its hardness decreased and brackish taste disappeared after the ‘Ain az-zarqa’ was demolished and the water supply in the city was exhausted. No Muslim suffered thirst. Formerly, this well was known for its brackish water.
The siege continued for months. The Muslims endured heavy distress in the hope that the Damascene pilgrims would come and rescue them again. At last, the pilgrims arrived, but the head of the caravan, Ibrahim Pasha, said, “Surrender the city to them,” because he did not have sufficient armed forces to fight against them. The Muslims thought that Ibrahim Pasha had talked and agreed with Baday and obtained promise that the Muslims would not be tortured or harmed. They wrote the following letter to Sa’ud and sent it by a council of four representatives, namely Muhammad Tayyar, Hasan Chawush, ‘Abd al-Qadir Ilyas and ‘Ali:
“We offer the respect to be paid to you and say salams. May Allahu ta’ala make you successful in your deeds which are compatible with His approval! Oh Shaikh Sa’ud! Ibrahim Pasha, the amir of the Damascene pilgrims, arrived and saw that the city was besieged, the roads barred, and the water cut off by Baday. He asked the reason and learnt that it was an order of yours. As we hope you bear no evil intention towards the people of Medina, we think that you have no information about these unbecoming and evil events. We, the notables of Medina, assembled and decided to inform you of what has been happening to us. We unanimously elected the four best, purest persons and sent them to you as messengers. We pray to Allahu taala that they will come back to us with good news to make us happy.”
Saud treated the messengers very violently upon reading the letter and was not ashamed of saying that he was very angry with and hostile towards the people of Medina. The messengers begged him much to forgive them and imploringly cast themselves at his filthy feet. But, he said,
“I conclude from your letter that you will not obey my orders, that you will not accept my true religion, that you are trying to deceive me with soft words for you are overwhelmed by thirst, hunger and distress, and that you are begging just to get rid of this distress. There is no other way out but to do whatever I wish. I will make you groan and vanish as I did with the people of Ta’if, if you pretend to be accepting my orders but speak or act unfavorably.”
He forced the Muslims to renounce their madhhabs. The fallacious, heretical terms dictated to the Medinan messengers by Sa’ud are written in detail in the book Tareekh-i Wahhabiyyan.
The Medinan messengers went back to Medina after accepting Saud’s orders under compulsion. The Medinans, stupefied by these events, showed acceptance unwillingly, as the one who falls into the sea grasps the serpent. They surrendered the Medina fortress to seventy men of Baday as required by the seventh clause of the agreement. One of the terms of the agreement was that the shrines in Medina should be demolished. They unwillingly fulfilled the terms in order not to be tortured. Although they did so unwillingly, these deeds of theirs gave way to very bad consequences. No answer came from the letters written to Istanbul for help. The Medinans lived under torture and oppression for three years. When they lost hope of help from Istanbul, they wrote a letter to Saud asking for forgiveness and mercy and sent it to Dar’iyya with Husain Shakir and Muhammad Saghayee. But Sa’ud did not receive the messengers for he had heard that the people of Medina had asked Istanbul for help before. He set out for Medina with a large flock of brigands to increase the oppression and torture on the Medinans.
All the savages and villagers of the deserts of Arabia recognized Saud as the ruler of the Najd, who signed the letters he wrote to here and there with the title “al-Imam ad-Dar’iyyat al-majdiyya
wal-ahkami ‘d-da’wati ‘n-Najdiyya.”
As soon as he entered Medina, Sa’ud ordered the servants of shrines themselves to demolish the shrines. Although the Muslims had demolished many noble shrines as required by the third clause of the terms accepted three years before, they had not dared to touch a few shrines which they knew to be great and blessed. The servants of these shrines started demolishing them while weeping and lamenting. The servant of Hadrat Hamza’s (radi-Allahu anh) shrine said he was very old and could not do anything, and Saud ordered a treacherous slave of his to demolish the shrine. That person climbed up the dome to start demolishing it but fell down and died, and Saud, the filthy, gave up demolishing Hadrat Hamza’s shrine, yet he had its door removed. After supervising the operation of this base order of his, he made a speech on the dais constructed in Manaha Place. He said that the Medinans did not want to obey him, but became munafiqs out of fear and wanted to go on being polytheists as before. He added, in a very ugly and impertinent voice, that those who took refuge in the fortress should come and show humility, and that those who did not come would suffer the “Wahhabite justice” performed in Taif.
Everybody was frightened when the fortress gates were closed and it was announced in every street that all the people should assemble in Manaha Place. They supposed they, too, like the
Taifians, would be tortured to death. They went to Manaha Place after kissing away, the children’s tears and saying good-bye to and mutually asking forgiveness from their wives. Men and women assembled in two separate groups and bowed their neck towards the bright dome of Rasulullah’s (sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) blessed shrine. The blessed city of Medina had not suffered such a sad day ever before. Sa’ud was mad and enraged with a blind grudge towards the Muslims. But, Allahu ta’ala protected the city of Medina from being painted with blood, with the blessing of Rasulullah. After insulting the Muslims with unbecoming and mean words incompatible with modesty, Sa’ud ordered his bandits to settle in the Medina fortress. He appointed Hasan Chawush, one of the rascals he trusted the most, to be the governor of Medina and went back to Dar’iyya. He came to Medina again after performing hajj in Mecca during the pilgrimage season. Sa’ud came out from his den to the courthouse when the Damascene caravan went two or three days way away from Medina. Without even a tremble of his dark, stony heart, he let his bandits plunder the precious gifts; the works of art of great historical value; invaluable pieces of art gilded with gold and inlaid with jewels and with precious stones; and select copies of the Qur’an al-karim and rare books, which had been kept in Rasulullah’s blessed shrine and in the treasure of Masjid an-Nabawi that had been sent as choice, elaborate gifts by Muslim sultans, commanders, artists and ‘ulama’ from the whole
Muslim world over a millennium. The fire of hatred in him against the Muslims did not calm down even after this shameful vileness of his, and he went on demolishing the remaining graves belonging to the Sahabis and martyrs. Although he attempted to demolish the dome of Rasulullah’s blessed shrine, the Muslims’ cries and entreaties made him give up; yet he ruined the Shabakat as-Saada, fortunately not touching the walls. He ordered that the walls around Medina should be repaired. He assembled the Medinans in Masjid an-Nabi. He closed the gates of the Masjid and delivered the following speech on the dais:
“Oh congregation! I have summoned you here to advise you and to warn you to obey my orders. Oh people of Medina! Your religion has now been completed. You became Muslims. You pleased Allah. Do not ever admire the false religion of your fathers and grand fathers any more! Do not pray to Allah to show mercy upon them! They all died as polytheists. They all were polytheists. I have explained how you should worship and pray to Allah in the books which I gave to your men of religious authority. It should be known that your possessions, children, wives and blood are mubah for my soldiers if you do not obey my men of religious authority!
They will chain and torture all of you to death. It is forbidden in the religion of Wahhabism to stand in front of the Prophet’s shrine with an attitude of respect to say salat and salam as your grand fathers used to do. You must not stand in front of the shrine, but walk away and say only, As-salamu ala Muhammad, while passing by. According to the ijtihad of our imam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, this much respect is sufficient for the Prophet.“
Saud, after making many similar unbecoming and vulgar slanders, which we dare not to quote, let the gates of Masjid as-Saada be opened. He appointed his son Abdullah the governor of Medina and went to Dar’iyya. Thereafter, ‘Abdullah ibn Sa’ud left no harm undone to the Medinan Muslims.