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Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia: The Facts
By Winfield Myers (Director of CampusWatch.org)
February 2009

Did You Know:

The Saudi royal family adheres to the Wahhabi form of Islam. The family’s power rests on an alliance formed in the eighteenth century, as follows:

It was founded by Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who formed an alliance with the house of Saud, in which religious authority is maintained by the descendants of al-Wahhab and political power is held by the descendants of al-Saud: This is the Wahhabi-Saudi axis, which continues to rule today. From its beginning, Wahhabism declared the entirety of existing Islam to be unbelief, and traditional Muslims to be unbelievers subject to robbery, murder, and sexual violation. Wahhabism has always viewed Shia Muslims genocidally, as non-Muslims worthy of annihilation. Wahhabism has always attacked the traditional, spiritual Islam or Sufism that dominates Islam in the Balkans, Turkey, Central Asia, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Wahhabism and neo-Wahhabism (the latter being the doctrines of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Pakistani Islamists) are the main source of Islamic extremist violence in the world today. Wahhabism represents a distinct, ultraradical form of Islamism. Wahhabism is completely subsidized by the Saudi regime, using oil income. (link to source)

There is no religious freedom in Saudi Arabia. The U.S. State Departments says that:

The country is a monarchy with a legal system based on its interpretation of Shari'a (Islamic law). Islam is the official religion. There is no legal recognition of, or protection under the law for, freedom of religion, and it is severely restricted in practice. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/90220.htm

And that:

The Government prohibits public non-Muslim religious activities. Non-Muslim worshippers risk arrest, imprisonment, lashing, deportation, and sometimes torture for engaging in religious activity that attracts official attention. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2004/35507.htm


Proselytizing by non-Muslims, including the distribution of non-Muslim religious materials such as Bibles, is illegal. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2004/35507.htm


Under the provisions of Shari'a law as practiced in the country, judges may discount the testimony of nonpracticing Muslims or of individuals who do not adhere to the official interpretation of Islam. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2004/35507.htm

Catholics and Orthodox Christians, who require a priest on a regular basis to receive the sacraments required by their faith, particularly are affected. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2004/35507.htm 

That tourists to Saudi Arabia are not allowed to bring Bibles, crucifixes, and Stars of David into the country. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1186557401034&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull 

Apostasy (leaving Islam), heresy, and blasphemy are punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/059fpgrn.asp 

Saudi Arabia requires all citizens to be Muslim. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2004/35507.htm 

In 2007, two men were sentenced to 7,000 lashes after being convicted of sodomy. http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,22532620-23109,00.html 

According to the CIA Fact Book, Saudi Arabia is home to some of the worst human trafficking in the world:

“Saudi Arabia is a destination country for workers from South and Southeast Asia who are subjected to conditions that constitute involuntary servitude including being subjected to physical and sexual abuse, non-payment of wages, confinement, and withholding of passports as a restriction on their movement; domestic workers are particularly vulnerable because some are confined to the house in which they work unable to seek help; Saudi Arabia is also a destination country for Nigerian, Yemeni, Pakistani, Afghan, Somali, Malian, and Sudanese children trafficked for forced begging and involuntary servitude as street vendors; some Nigerian women were reportedly trafficked into Saudi Arabia for commercial sexual exploitation…. Saudi Arabia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government continues to lack adequate anti-trafficking laws and, despite evidence of widespread trafficking abuses, did not report any criminal prosecutions, convictions, or prison sentences for trafficking crimes committed against foreign domestic workers (2008).” https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sa.html

A June 2008 report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom found the following radical, hate-inducing passages to be present in teaching materials used by the Saudi government’s Islamic Saudi Academy in Northern Virginia:

  • In a twelfth-grade Tafsir (Koranic interpretation) textbook, the authors state that it is permissible for a Muslim to kill an apostate (a convert from Islam), an adulterer, or someone who has murdered a believer intentionally: “He (praised is He) prohibits killing the soul that God has forbidden (to kill) unless for just cause…”  Just cause is then defined in the text as “unbelief after belief, adultery, and killing an inviolable believer intentionally.” (Tafsir, Arabic/Sharia, 123)
  • A twelfth-grade Tawhid (monotheism) textbook states that “[m]ajor polytheism makes blood and wealth permissible,” which in Islamic legal terms means that a Muslim can take the life and property of someone believed to be guilty of this alleged transgression with impunity.  (Tawhid, Arabic/Sharia, 15)  Under the Saudi interpretation of Islam, “major polytheists” include Shi’a and Sufi Muslims, who visit the shrines of their saints to ask for intercession with God on their behalf, as well as Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.

Freedom House Report

According to a Freedom House report titled “Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques,” the Saudi government pays for the writing and publication of radical Wahhabi books and pamphlets that claim to teach what all Muslims must believe, including hatred of “infidels” and democracy.” These works, written by senior religious authorities, are then given away in many of the largest and most influential mosques in the U.S.

On the cover of the one of the books that contains these teachings is printed, “Greetings from the Cultural Department” of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C.

Among the claims made in that book:

America is the “Abode of the Infidel,” the Christian and the Jew:

  • “Be dissociated from the infidels, hate them for their religion, leave them, never rely on them for support, do not admire them, and always oppose them in every way according to Islamic law.”
  • “There is consensus on this matter, that whoever helps unbelievers against Muslims, regardless of what type of support he lends to them, he is an unbeliever himself.”

2) Believers must build a “wall of resentment” between themselves and the infidels:

  • “Never greet the Christian or Jew first. Never congratulate the infidel on his holiday. Never befriend an infidel unless it is to convert him. Never imitate the infidel. Never work for an infidel. Do not wear a graduation gown because this imitates the infidel.”

Religious Bigotry and Intolerance

Other Saudi-published books found in Saudi-sponsored American mosques preach hatred of Christians, Jews, and all other non-Muslims:

  • “[I]t is basic Islam to believe that everyone who does not embrace Islam is an unbeliever, and must be called an unbeliever, and that they are enemies to Allah, his Prophet and believers.”
  • “To be dissociated from the infidels is to hate them for their religion, to leave them, never to rely on them for support, not to admire them, to be on one’s guard against them, never to imitate them, and to always oppose them in every way according to Islamic law.”

Some specifically target Jews and Christians:

  • “Whoever believes that churches are houses of God and that God is worshipped therein, or that what Jews and Christians do constitutes the worship of God and obedience to Him and His Prophet, or that God likes such practices and approves of them; and whoever assists them to keep their churches open and to establish their religion, and does so out of a feeling of kinship or out of a sense of obedience—whoever does all these things is an infidel.”

Others warn Muslims against helping “infidels” against other Muslims for any reason—a warning that doubtless impedes investigations against terrorists or sleeper cells on American soil:

  • “There is consensus on this matter, that whoever helps unbelievers against Muslims, regardless of what type of support he lends to them, he is an unbeliever himself.”

As for Muslims serving in the U.S. military, the warning is specific:

  • “It is not right for a Muslim to support the unbelievers, or to ask them to support him against his enemies, they are the enemy, do not trust them…. Muslims should not be recruited into their Army, whether they are Arabs or non-Arabs, because the unbeliever is the enemy of the believer.”

Nor should Muslims work for infidels:

  • “For a Muslim to be employed in the service of an unbeliever is something forbidden. The reason is because it gives authority to control and demean the believer to the unbeliever.”

No Muslim should wish a Christian “Happy Holidays” at Christmastime, because to do so is “a practice more loathsome to God…than imbibing liquor, or murder, or fornication.” In fact, the holidays of “unbelievers” are to be utterly ignored:

  • “It is impermissible for a Muslim to help the unbelievers in any way during their holidays, like promoting their holidays and advertising it…through the media, or erecting clocks…or printing cards, or school books, or to hold sales, or to give away prizes or to play sports.
  • “It is impermissible for a Muslim to congratulate the unbelievers in their holidays, because it means you are pleased with that which they believe, and makes them happy.”


Such publications reserve special enmity for Jews:

  • “They broke their Covenant; they rejected Allah’s guidance as conveyed by His messengers; they killed Allah’s messengers and incurred a double guilt which included murder and deliberate defiance of Allah’s Law; and they imagined themselves arrogantly self-sufficient, which means a blasphemous closing of their hearts forever against the admission of Allah’s grace.”

A Saudi textbook for sixth-graders in Virginia gives an anti-Western, ahistorical view of the history of Palestine:

  • “For centuries, the Crusaders and the colonialists were out to take it [Palestine]; they kept up their aggression until Salahu-Din Alayyubi [i.e. Saladin] drove them out…After World War One, the colonialists and Zionists conspired to establish the Zionist country in Palestine. They provided them [the Jews] with weapons, beginning in 1917, until the Jews became able to occupy, through treachery, part of Palestine in 1948. Since then the Jews have been trying to occupy the rest of Palestine, and through treachery they were able to occupy the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Sinai in Egypt. Later, Egypt regained Sinai.”

One document quotes Saudi King Fahd on the evil of Zionists:

“[W]e consider ourselves to be in a continuous war against the Zionist enemy in every way until we achieve the hopes of the Arab nation driving the occupier out.’”

Others attack Zionism as an anti-Islamic conspiracy:

  • “Zionism, which is the worst racism in history because of its violence, atrocities, selfishness and arrogance, invests all the means available to it, together with the other enemies to destroy this religion [i.e. Islam] and exterminate its followers, weakening and paralyzing them to say the least.”

Moderate Muslims Attacked

The literature attacks moderate Muslims who advocate for religious, political, and cultural pluralism:

  • “They declare their rejection of the legally set limits and punishments, claiming them to be barbaric and monstrous; they openly declare the permissibility of unbelief and leaving Islam, under the call to the freedom of beliefs….They declare the permissibility of the sexually deviant and forbidden, under the name of individual freedom; They march to change what is left of religious civil laws, under the claim of the freedom of women and their equality with men.”

Murdering Homosexuals and Apostates Is Encouraged

Another claims that it is licit to kill homosexuals:

  • “If a person said: I believe in Allah alone and confirm the truth of everything from Muhammed, except in his forbidding fornication, he becomes a disbeliever. For that, it would be lawful for Muslims to spill his blood and to take his money.”
  • “Along the same line, if a person said: I believe in Allah alone, and believe in all the prophets, and Mohammed (pbuh) as their leader, except in forbidding homosexuality; he becomes a disbeliever, his blood would be ok to spill, and his money ok to take by the Muslims, if you can prove that he is such a person.”

It is also licit to kill apostates who have left Islam:

  • “[O]ur doctrine states that if you accept any religion other than Islam, like Judaism or Christianity, which are not acceptable, you become an unbeliever. If you do not repent, you are an apostate and you should be killed because you have denied the Koran.”

Anti-American, Anti-Democratic, Anti-Freedom Propaganda

  • “It is forbidden for a Muslim to become citizen of a country [such as the United States] governed by infidels.”
  • “[Democracy is] responsible for all the horrible wars….the number of wars it started in the 20th century alone is more than 130 wars with more than 120 million people dead; not counting victims of poverty, hunger and disease.”
  • “[T]hose coming from the United States tell us that the conviction of some Americans, who are from the educated class, would make a person feel sorry for them. They believe that Israel is a democratic and civilized country, and that it wants peace and stability; it welcomes the Jewish refugees escaping the hell of communism….As for millions of Palestinians who were driven out by Israel, the American citizen knows nothing about them.”
  • “Freedom of thinking, requires permitting the denial of faith, and attacking what is sacred, glorifying falsehood and defending the heretics, finding fault in religion and letting loose the ideas and pens to write of disbelief as one likes, and to put ornaments on sin as one likes.”
  • “I am the first to reject it [freedom] and take it as an enemy, and seek closeness to Allah through denying it and its propagators…we disbelieve in you and enmity and hate is between us, until you believe in Allah alone.”

Advocating Jihad and the Implementation of Sharia

  • “The effect of this sinful call [interfaith dialoque] is that it erases the differences between Islam and disbelief, between truth and falsehood, good and bad, and it breaks the wall of resentment between Muslims and nonbelievers, so that there is no loyalty and enmity, no more jihad and fighting to raise Allah’s word on earth….”
  • “To be true Muslims, we must prepare and be ready for jihad in Allah’s way. It is the duty of the citizen and the government. The military education is glued to faith and its meaning, and the duty to follow it.”
  • “[Muslims should work] to form a society that is committed to the Islamic way of thinking and Islamic way of life, which means to form a government that implements principles of justice embodied in the shari’a….Until the nations of the world have functionally Islamic governments, every individual who is careless or lazy in working for Islam is sinful.”

The Suppression of Women

  • “Among the more significant illustrations of imitating (the unbelievers), and the most dangerous for Muslims, is the enchantment of women. And this is among the traits of the unbelievers. The intent of this is to bring (them) out of their nature, veil, and modesty so that they could use it to tempt men…. Because women desire the glamour of the materialistic life, they are inclined to imitate, accommodate, and exaggerate in all of this, because women were built to seduce and beautify themselves for men. And men were built to desire a woman when she exposes (herself), and not to desire her when she is modest and covering.”

Female teachers cannot instruct adolescent boys because:

  • “A ten-year old boy is considered adolescent because he tends to like women and because, at his age, he is able to get married and can do what men do.”

Women or men who deviate from strict dress codes are not human:

  • “The man who wears his hair long, or wears it loose, who wears high heels and tight clothes and walks like bad women, is he human? The masculine woman who smokes and drinks and wears men’s clothing, and drifts with men in the gathering places of hippies, is she human? These cattle-like groups of boys and girls having sex on the streets, in the woods, the night club and in any place, are they human? These women, they are dressed with clothing that covers nothing of their bodies, wearing lots of makeup, standing on the street showcasing their bodies for every hungry look and sick man, are they human? These men who do not care to protect their honor, their wives, their daughters, their sisters; or other people’s honor…do they still have anything human left in them?”

In what Freedom House calls a “rare instance” in which a woman is portrayed positively, a story of told of an American convert to Islam who changed her name from Pamela to Hajar:

  • “Islam completely changed ‘Hajar’: after she had been living a vain life like any other American girl, she began to abide by the rules and principles of Islam. As she states: ‘my lofty goal is to be a Mujahida [female warrior] in the cause of Islam, to fight capitalism, oppression and evil; after my experience I found out that Islam is the only way out for the salvation of humanity from the danger of wars, hunger, and hardship.’”

Freedom House sums up the Saudi literature’s depiction of Hajar:

  • For Hajar, jihad became “the most important thing in Islam, or it is what the Muslims need most at the present time.” Hajar became active in the political field taking up the cause of the “just rights of the Muslim Palestinian people.” She gave lectures and spoke out about oppression befalling the Palestinians. The Wahhabi narrator of Hajar’s story concludes with these words of praise: “This is truly an amazing trend: a white American girl is calling people to Islam, and defending the cause of the Muslim people in a society that does not listen, but she never gives up or gets tired!”

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