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In a Nutshell: Scholars generally condemned Muhammed Ibn Abdul Wahab and his views as deviant and heretical. While many may think that Wahabite terror and ideology is a recent phenomenon targeting non-Muslims, Sunni Muslims have been slaughtered by Wahabite massacres in Arabia since its emergence in the seventeenth century.


The founder of the Wahabite movement was Muhammed Ibn Abdul Wahab (MIAW). The vast majority of Sunni scholars opposed and condemned both him and his alleged da'wa widely seen as a deviant heretic who killed and massacred thousands of innocent Muslims. This answer will cite some examples to illustrate.

In Hussayn Ibn Ghannam's book "Tarikh Najd", the Wahabite historian and direct student of MIAW (d. 1225 AH) he accepts the above facts: https://imgur.com/a/SmiB3zG

Sulayman ibn Abdul Wahab, MIAW’s brother, a major critic of the early Wahabi movement. Sulayman wrote a significant refutation of his brother’s work, called The Divine Lightning in Refutation of the Wahabis (al-Sawa‘iq al-Uluhiyya fi-l-Radd ‘ala al-Wahabiyya): The document stands as one of the earliest, if not the earliest, refutations of Wahabism in Islamic history:

''You are now pronouncing takfir over he who witnesses that there is no god but god alone, and that Muhammad is his slave and messenger, and of he who performs the prayer and gives zakat and fasts during Ramadan and performs pilgrimage, believing in god, his angels, books and messengers … (yet) you make them unbelievers and their lands the lands of war. So we ask you… from where have you taken this madhab?! “if your madhab is correct, then there has not been any Muslim left on the earth for the last eight hundred years except yourselves... He (Ibn Abdul Wahab) does not possess one characteristic of the people of ijtihad. By Allah, indeed he does not possess one tenth! Yet he is opening his mouth and speaking a great deal of ignorance! ... The entire ummah speaks with one voice, and when this individual (MIAW) is not able to refute them with one word, he declares them all unbelievers or grossly ignorant. Allah! Guide this misguided innovator!”

Hussein Ibn Ghannam wrote:

"In the month of Shawwal of the year 1165, the people al-Huraymila apostatized and their Qadi was Sulayman ibn Abd al-Wahab, the brother of MIAW. The Sheikh came to know that his brother was encouraging sedition and spreading doubts among the people so he sent him writings in which he advises him, reprimands him about what he was doing and warns him about the possible outcome. Sulayman then sent a letter to the Sheikh in which he embellished his words, confirms the covenant and mentioned that he would not stay even for one day in Al-Huraymila if apostasy appeared from its people."

Furthermore, in another passage of Al-Durar al-Saniyyah (10/10) MIAW attributes shirk to the vast majority of Muslims who declare the two shahadas - those people of the Two Holy Mosques, Basra, Iraq and Yemen. If all this as not enough, in Kitab At-Tawhid he claims:

“It has been explicitly stated that idolatry would happen in this ummah to the vast throngs of the people. The good news is that the truth will always be present, even as it has been in the past. There will always be a small group upon it.”

He also explicitly said that none of his teachers knew Tawheed and that only he and his followers did.

''At that time I did not know the meaning of la ilaha illa Allah, nor did I know the religion of Islam prior to this blessing which Allah has graciously bestowed. It was the exact same thing with my teachers, none of them had any such knowledge. Therefore any of the ullama of Arid, who claimed that he knew the meaning of la ilaha illa Allah or that he knew the meaning of Islam, has certainly lied, falsified, and deceived the people. If he claimed any of his teachers had any such knowledge, then he has certainly lied, falsified, and deceived the people while praising himself with something which he does not possess.'' (al-Rasa il al-Shakhsiyyah and al-Durar al-Saniyyah 10/51)

He undertook takfir on the people of Makkah saying:

''So whoever does not make takfir upon the polytheists of the Turkish state (i.e. the Ottomans) and the grave-worshippers like the people of Makkah and (upon) others from those who worship the righteous and left the tawhid of Allah for shirk and exchanged the Sunnah of his Messenger with innovations, then he is a disbeliever like them even if dislikes their religion and hates them and loves Islam and its people... This is so because the one who does not declare the polytheists to be disbelievers has not accepted the Quran. The Quran declares the polytheists as disbelievers, and commands to declare them as such and to show enmity towards them and to fight them.” (al-Durar al-Saniyya 9/291)

In the letter of Sa’ud bin Abd al-Aziz (bin Muhammad bin Sa’ud) (d. 1229 AH) addressing the people of Makkah:

“From Sa’ud bin Abd al-Aziz to all of the people of Makkah, the scholars, the chiefs and the judge of the Sultan: Peace be upon the one who follows guidance. To proceed: You are the neighbours of Allah and the inhabitants of his sanctity and secure by his safety. We are calling you to the religion of Allah and that of his Messenger, Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside Allah. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). (3:64). ''You’re in the safety of Allah and then in the safety of the leader of the Muslims Sa’ud bin Abd al-Aziz, and your leader ‘Abd al-Mu’in bin Musa’ad. So listen to him and obey him as long as he obeys Allah. Peace.” (Hashiyyah of Unwan al-Majd 1/261 by Ibn Bishr)

MIAW also said:

“But he came from al-Sham, and they worship Ibn ‘Arabi and have made an idol upon his grave to worship it. I do not mean all of the people of al-Sham, no of course not; rather there does not cease a group from them to be upon the truth, even if they’re only few.” (al-Durar al-Saniyyah 2/45)

Ibn Bishr (d. 1288 AH) said while speaking about the incidents of the year 1210 AH:

"Then before the sunrise the Muslims (the Wahabis) shot with their rifles (all at) once, so that the earth trembled, and the heaven became dark, and smoke rose into the sky and many of the pregnant women in al-Ahsa had a miscarriage (due to extreme fear). Then Sa'ud settled in the (earlier) mentioned al-Raqiqah, so it was given to him. All of the people of al-Ahsa (then) appeared in front of him in kindness and badness. He commanded them to leave so they left.
He stayed there for (several) months killing whomsoever he wanted to kill, and exiling whomsoever he wanted to exile, and imprisoning whomsoever he wanted to imprison, and taking from the wealth, and destroying places, and building strongholds, and destroying houses and wanting thousands of dirhams from them and taking it from them. And Sa'ud killed many of them. (Unwan al-Majd 1/216-217)

Scholarly Opinion

Amongst Sunni scholars who witnessed this and spoke against it Muhammad ibn Abidin was a major Hanafi scholar who said in his book Radd al-Muhtar (3/339-340):

"The followers of Muhammed Ibn Abdul Wahab believed that they were Muslims and that whoever opposed them were idol worshippers. By doing this, they declared the killing of the scholars and laymen of Muslim Orthodoxy as permissible.”

The Shafi'i Mufti in Mecca, Sheikh Ahmad Zayni Dahlan (d. 1304 AH) says in his book "Umara al-Balad al-Haram":

"When the Wahabis entered at-Ta’if they killed the people en mass including the elderly and the children, the honourables, the princes and the layman. They even slaughtered the suckling infants by their mothers’ breasts. They also assaulted the pilgrims to Mecca through extortion and murder.''

The Maliki Sheikh Ahmad as-Sawi (d. 1241 AH) mentioned in his commentary on al-Jalalayn (vol.3, pp.307-308):

"They are a sect in the Hijaz region (East Arabia) who are called the Wahabis, they think they have a legitimate authority but indeed they are the liars who have been deceived by the devil who has made them forget the remembrance of their Lord. Those are the evil satanic sect; in fact the sect of Satan is defeated... The Khawarij corrupted the meaning of the Book and the Sunnah. This can be witnessed now in a cult that appeared in Al-Hijaz by the name of the Wahabis. They think they are upon something, but they are only liars."

Hanbali Qadi, Sulaiman ibn Suhaim (d. 1773) said:

”Whoever does not agree with him, then he judges them with having committed major kufr... So in reality he is calling to the Tawhid of himself rather than to the Tawhid of Allah."

Imam Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri says in his commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari, "Faydh al-Bari ala Sahih al-Bukhari " (1/171):

''As for Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahab al-Najdi, then indeed he was an idiotic man of little knowledge, thus he would be hasty in making takfir. Diving into this river (of takfir) is not appropriate except for the one who is cautious upon, proficient in, and well-acquainted with the existence of disbelief and it’s causes.''

The Hanbali scholar Dawud ibn Sulaiman al-Khalidi (d.1881) said:

"The Wahabis oppose Muslim Orthodoxy and the madhabs while leading the Ummah astray, declaring the blood and wealth of Muslims halal for spilling and seizure. This group took filthy, dark doubts 'used them to surround people.'"

The Hanbali scholar, Ibn Humaid's (d. 1878) biographic work on Hanbali scholars (p.680) says:

”If he was unable to kill openly, he would send someone to assassinate him in their bed or in the marketplace at night, since he judged whoever contradicted him with takfir and legalised their killing.”

The Hanbali scholar Mustafa ash-Shatti in his book "An-Nuqul ash-Shariyyah fi-Radd al-Wahabiyyah" (The Divine Texts in Answering MIAW and his followers) noted:

“There is nothing in these Wahabi principles except manifest darkness, immense warring and tribulation. It is the creed of the people of Harura (Khawarij) being propounded as well as the devises of Satan being used... (A) tiny cult that emerged out of Najd. They limit themselves to the Book and Sunnah while they neither understand it in its forms defined previously, nor do any of them know the basic fundamental aspects of knowledge."

The Hanbali Scholar Muhammad as-Saffarini d.1775 said:

“Every Imam is required to push people away from this astray innovator. The ummah has documented the madhabs in the best way. What does this ignorant fool know about the Book and the Sunnah?”

The finality of Hanbali scholars and their Imam in his time, Muhammad Ibn Abdullah ibn Fairuz — the grandson of MIAW's aunt:

“And know that it was established and appeared in the public and private that MIAW publicly excommunicated a group of Muslims from them the people of al-Riad and others, and made their blood and wealth lawful, and went to places promising its people to fight the people of al-Riad and others, and made them like the polytheists which Allah commanded his prophet to fight them, and he captured them, and took over their wealth and argued for that with the verses which was revealed for the polytheists, and he established himself and the places around him and they accepted his saying as if it was the Messenger of Allah (saw) and his companions”

Muhammad bin 'Ali bin Gharib al-Shamri — MIAW's son-in-law:

“A non-Arab asked him on their truth and he answered him with approval and that it's Haqq (Truth). So he said: I'm in your care to guide me, and Allah will ask you regarding it if you kept the truth hidden from me. So he (bin Gharib) thought he was truthful so he unveiled what he was concealing in himself from their wrongdoing, and their accompaniment of the limits of Takfir and killing and looting. And he told them about him, so they captured him and knew that if he was criticizing them more than the others, for his cunningness and understanding, and the strength of his behavior in responses alongside his knowledge of their secrets… so they've killed him.” (Dara'h al-Hanbali)

Allama Muhammad bin al-Rahman bin 'Afaliq:

“I stare a lot on the letters of MIAW, marveled at his rush to excommunicate the scholars of the ummah, and he's followed by ignorant people, his goal is to mug in this ummah and that the Muslims who oppose his falsehood and the infidels of Quraish even, as he made verses revealed upon the infidels on this ummah, and verses revealed for the companions on him and his followers, he did unjust and mocked the verses of Allah and this man made insulting this ummah and mugging them and holding enmity toward them and hating them and excommunicating them a foundation of the foundations of his rotten religion, and you [Wahabis] did not take the statements of the Messenger (saw) but left it and took the statements of MIAW and claimed that your rotten tawhid is not complete unless you make takfir on the ummah, is it rationally possible for the whole ummah to apostatize and their apostasy is lawfully impermissible for his (saw) saying: “My Ummah does not gather on misguidance.” And did Allah order you to kill worshippers? And did he order you to kill who testify: “there's no God but Allah and Muhammad the messenger of Allah”? So what is this ignorance?”

Suleiman Ibn Muhammad bin Sajim al-'Inzi, the judge of al-Riad:

“In our section appeared a man who is an innovator and an ignorant, misguiding and misguided, from the knowledge and piousness is idle, from him came horrible matters, from it a thing spread and became known and filled the ears and did not cross our places yet, so we liked to publicize it to the Muslim scholars and heirs of the master of messengers so they can catch this innovator the catch of free eagles to young grouse birds, and counter his innovations and misguidance and his ignorance and wrongdoings… and Among its greatest are: that whoever does not agree with him in everything he say, and testified its the Truth, he affirm his disbelief. And who agreed with him and trusted him in everything he claims. He say: “you are a monotheist.”

Muhammad bin Abdallah bin Hamid:

“He if someone argued with him and responded to him and he wasn't able to openly kill him he sends someone to assassinate him in his bed or in the market in night for his saying of excommunicating whoever disagreed with him and permitting killing him. The sheikh Ibn Fairuz used to respond to them, and Pointed out their mistakes, and advise people on them, so they took him as a major enemy and takfired him, and he became to them an example of great shirk, and that he was from whom Allah has misguided, so when he saw, so when he saw that from them and that they are on fork, and reach, and murderous, and their matter is in increase…(٩٧٤).”

The original manuscript still exists: https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/wahhabi-manuscript

David Commins, the famous academic historian, takes much of his information from Tarikh Najd in his book ’The Wahabi Mission' which is worth reading.

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