I came across this very interesting Fatwa from Sh. Abdulrahm bin Hassan, who is the grandson of Muhammed bin Abdulwahab (rh). This fatwa is interesting because of the date and time it was uttered. It is generally agreed upon that Sh. Abdulrahman bin Hassan lived between (1196-1285) which is roughly 1779 – 1869 in the Gregorian calendar. Before we discuss the ramifications of the fatwa, lets take a look at it below, this fatwa is taken from a voluminous book called الدرر السنية في الأجوبة النجدية which is a compilation of the works of the Najdi Imaams who comprise of Muhammed ibn Abdulwahab (rh), his grandsons and other sheikhs who were amongst their inner circle.
Shaykh Abdulrahman ibn Hasan Ibn Muhamed Bin Abdulwahab (1196-1285) was asked:
“If in a certain country, there are idols that are being worshipped besides God, and there was no condemnation of this, can it be argued that it is a land of disbelief or a land of Islam?
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be one or the other due to the very real possibility that in these countries there may be a community of those who uphold Islam openly. For indeed this Call that has emerged in Najd and that Allah has established in Arabia as a whole, there were people who came before, such as the news which reached us from the lands of Afghanistan and Somalia, that there existed in these lands, a Party who upheld Tawhid and proclaimed it, and it’s possible that there were other countries as well. This is because this Call (Da’wah) has spread to all the lands, and people have read the books of Shaykhul Islam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab (may Allah have mercy upon him) that which would answer those who oppose them. Information has also reached us from certain sources that there are countries with a situation that requires us to withhold judgement.”
(Al Durar al-Jihad, Ch. 9, Pg, 254)
”اهـ (الدررجالجهاد 9/ص 254 )
As we can see from the fatwa above Sh. Abdulrahm bin Hassan is asked about the issue of what constitutes a land of Islam as opposed to a land of disbelief. The Shiekh avoids answering this question by stating that there is a possibility of having a طائفة (a small group) that is following the truth. The only problem is that according to the Najdi worldview the ‘truth’ is only what they are following and monotheism is only what they are calling to. There are however a few benefits that can be derived from this fatwa, below are some of the ones that come to mind.
- The presence of the Hambali school of thought, just as many learned people in Zaylac followed the Hanafi school. The Najdi Imaams were staunch Hambalis an influence that is still visible within Saudi scholarship up till the present day. What is more interesting is that the Hanbali school is often associated with the Athari school of Aqeedah. It is widely accepted that Somalis have always followed the ‘Ashari’i school when it comes to matters of creed. This kind of fatwa would perhaps indicate that Somalis have not always been theologically uniform as it is widely claimed.
- The possible presence of the ‘Takfeer’ that is often associated with the Najdi Dawah. Most sources seem to indicate that ‘Takfeer’ entered Somalia after the fall of the Somali state or during the Kacaan era but this could indicate that we have always had some sort of Salafi puritan groups in existence for centuries.