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Confusion about terminology

Reader comment on item: Which Privileges for Islam?

Submitted by Jacob Olidort (United States), Mar 15, 2005 at 11:02

Hello Dr. Pipes,

A very thorough and insightful article, as always, which I find really enhance my studies of Islam. However, I am confused about labeling Islamists as descendants of Muhammad ibn 'abd al-Wahhab (Wahhabists). I learned in my Islam class, taught by Prof. DeLong-Bas, that although al-Wahhab promoted a very literal and traditionalist view of Islam, that the likes of bin Laden, especially, as well as other extremists should be traced to the Kharijites as well as to the notorious Ibn Taymiyah. So, basically, though I am not well-read in Wahhab, I don't know where it fits in when defining Islamists nor what exact role ibn Taymiyah plays and why he is less frequently discussed.

Thank you and keep up the good work.


Jacob Olidort

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Daniel Pipes replies:

You ask "about labeling Islamists as descendants of Muhammad ibn 'abd al-Wahhab (Wahhabists)."

"Islamist" is a generic term that includes the followers of Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab, of Hasan al-Banna, of Ayatollah Khomeini, and others. These streams of thought differ from one another roughly as do the various forms of communism.


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