Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s Kitab at-Tauhid: Nature, Scope and Impact
118 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2020 Last revised: 2 Apr 2021
Date Written: May 1, 2020
Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhab was a noted and influential reformer from the 18th century Arabia. His beliefs, thoughts and activism were pivotal not just for his tauhidi and anti-shirk movement, but also for shaping the Saudi state that emerged from his power-sharing alliance with the contemporary rulers. His compartmentalized approach to have his power and authority over the religious domain, while accepting the reign of the rulers in non-religious domains were crucial for the success of his movement as well as for the kind of Saudi state that evolved to date.
In the areas of thoughts, his magnum opus was Kitab at-Tauhid (Book of Monotheism). It is a very simple, but powerful book. It reflected his understanding and creed (aqeeda) and influenced generations of Ulama – and through these Ulama – generations of Muslims in Arabian Peninsula and beyond. The devotees revere him and the book. The detractors have similarly strong feelings, but negatively.
The thoughts and creeds of Abdul-Wahhab are integrally related to the evolution of the Saudi state or kingdom. Hosting the two most Holy places of Islam (Makkah and Madina) and the rise of oil wealth in the twentieth century, the country has global influence on Muslim societies. The country and the reform movement of Abdul Wahhab are inseparable and that’s why his thoughts and creeds presented in Kitab at-Tauhid are fundamentally important for global Muslim community to understand the contemporary dyfunctionality and deplorable conditions of the Muslim world and the gap between the aspirations of the Muslim mass and their nation states. Unfortunately, between the devotees and the detractors, the book, beyond polemics, does not often get relevant critical evaluation from the perspective of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
In this author’s view, the book is more important not for what it covers, but for what it does not. There is a reductionist tendency in the book. In this monograph this author explores Kitab at-Tauhid and its link to the reform movement of the author Abdul Wahhab and offers a critical appraisal from the perspective of the Qur’an, the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) and the legacy of the Khulafa-i-Rashidoon.
Keywords: Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab, Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia, Kitab at-Tauhid, Ibn Saud, Islam, Tauhid, Extremism, Al-muwahhidun
JEL Classification: Z12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation