Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab


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(d. 1791)

Saudi Arabian conservative theologian, Hanbali jurist, reformer, and ideologue of the Wahhabi movement. Proclaimed the necessity of returning directly to the Quran and hadith, rather than relying on medieval interpretations. Denounced as heretical innovations the practices of shrine cults, saint worship, requests for intercession from anyone other than God, and assigning authority to anyone other than God. Promoted strict adherence to traditional Islamic law. Opposed taqlid (adherence to tradition). Called for the use of ijtihad (independent reasoning through individual study of scripture). Plans for socioreligious reform in society were based on the key doctrine of tawhid (oneness of God). Formed an alliance with ibn al-Saud in 1744 that allowed Ibn al-Saud control over military, political, and economic matters and Ibn Abd al-Wahhab responsibility for religious concerns. The alliance resulted in foundation of the first Saudi dynasty and state and remains the basis for Saudi rule today. Many conservatives claim inspiration from the movement he founded.

See also Saud, Muhammad ibn al-

Subjects: Islam.

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