Memoirs Of Mr. Hempher, The British Spy To The Middle East is the title of a document that was published in series (episodes) in the German paper Spiegel and later on in a prominent French paper. A Lebanese doctor translated the document to the Arabic language and from there on it was translated to English and other languages.
Waqf Ikhlas publications put out and circulated the document in English in hard copy and electronically under the title: Confessions of a British spy and British enmity against Islam. This document reveals the true background of the Wahhabi movement which was innovated by Mohammad bin abdul Wahhab and explains the numerous falsehood they spread in the name of Islam and exposes their role of enmity towards the religion of Islam and towards prophet Mohammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam and towards Muslims at large. It is not surprising the Wahhabis today stand as the backbone of terrorism allowing and financing and planning shedding the blood of Muslims and other innocent people. Their well known history of terrorism as documented in Fitnatul Wahhabiyyah by the mufti of Makkah, Sheikh Ahmad Zayni Dahlan, and their current assassinations and contravention is due to their ill belief that all are blasphemers save themselves. May Allah protect our nation from their evils.
Adonis comments: Was Confessions of a British Spy telling the truth? Was Wahhabism founded by outside agencies as a long-term plan to ‘corrupt Islam’? Is it just a coincidence that this is EXACTLY what Wahhabism appears to have done over the course of a century – corrupted the Islamic religion to the point where it is now widely regarded by many non-Muslims as a source of evil and ill in the world? Islam, let’s remember, wasn’t always regarded with the kind of stigma it now has, but rather the opposite.
Islamic societies are historically perceived as having been intellectually and even scientifically enlightened at a time when Christianity in the West was characterised by inquisitions, torture, mass persecutions, execution pyres and utterly ridiculous doctrines and proclamations. Historical accounts tell of the brutality of Christian Crusaders and the comparative nobility of Salahuddin and the Muslim armies.
The slow degradation and polarisation of Islamic societies is something that has only been happening in the last hundred years or so (as the growth of Wahhabism has done its work, like a slow-acting virus with a long incubation period). And it’s only in the last ten to fifteen years that the influence of Wahhabist doctrines has become a prominent international issue.
In regard to Confessions of a British Spy being a hoax; maybe it was. But you’d wonder why someone would create a hoax document to slander a then-minor religious sect that wouldn’t have any great relevance until almost a century later?
Memoirs Of Mr. Hempher, The British Spy To The Middle East
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Our Great Britain is very vast. The sun rises over its seas, and sets, again, below its seas. Our State is relatively weak yet in its colonies in India, China and Middle East. These countries are not entirely under our domination. However, we have been carrying on a very active and successful policy in these places. We shall be in full possession of all of them very soon. Two things are of importance:
1- To try to retain the places we have already obtained;
2- To try to take possession of those places we have not obtained yet.
The Ministry of Colonies assigned a commission from each of the colonies for the execution of these two tasks. As soon as I entered the Ministry of Colonies, the Minister put his trust in me and appointed me the administrator of the company of East India. Outwardly it was a company of trade. But its real task was to search for ways of taking control of the very vast lands of India.
Our government was not at all nervous about India. India was a country where people from various nationalities, speaking different languages, and having contrasting interests lived together. Nor were we afraid of China. For the religions dominant in China were Buddhism and Confucianism, neither of which was much of a threat. Both of them were dead religions that instituted no concern for life and which were no more than forms of addresses. For this reason, the people living in these two countries were hardly likely to have any feelings of patriotism. These two countries did not worry us, the British government. Yet the events that might occur later were not out of consideration for us. Therefore, we were designing long term plans to wage discord, ignorance, poverty, and even diseases in these countries. We were imitating the customs and traditions of these two countries, thus easily concealing our intentions.
What frazzled our nerves most was the Islamic countries. We had already made some agreements, all of which were to our advantage, with the Sick Man (the Ottoman Empire). Experienced members of the Ministry of Colonies predicted that this sick man would pass away in less than a century. In addition, we had made some secret agreements with the Iranian government and placed in these two countries statesmen whom we had made masons. Such corruptions as bribery, incompetent administration and inadequate religious education, which in its turn led to busying with pretty women and consequently to neglect of duty, broke the backbones of these two countries. In spite of all these, we were anxious that our activities should not yield the results we expected, for reasons I am going to cite below:
1- Muslims are extremely devoted to Islam. Every individual Muslims is as strongly attached to Islam as a priest or monk to Christianity, if not more. As it is known, priests and monks would rather die than give up Christianity. The most dangerous of such people are the Shiites in Iran. For they put down people who are not Shiites as disbelievers and foul people. Christians are like noxious dirt according to Shiites. Naturally, one would do one’s best to get rid of dirt. I once asked a Shiite this: Why do you look on Christians as such? The answer I was given was this: “The Prophet of Islam was a very wise person. He put Christians under a spiritual oppression in order to make them find the right way by joining Allah’s religion, Islam. As a matter of fact, it is a State policy to keep a person found dangerous under a spiritual oppression until he pledges obedience. The dirt I am speaking about is not material; it is a spiritual oppression which is not peculiar to Christians alone. It involves Sunnites and all disbelievers. Even our ancient Magian Iranian ancestors are foul according to Shiites.”
I said to him: “Well! Sunnites and Christians believe in Allah, in Prophets, and in the Judgment Day, too; why should they be foul, then?” He replied, “They are foul for two reasons: They impute mendacity to our Prophet, Hadrat Muhammad may Allah protect us against such an act! (1)* And we, in response to this atrocious imputation, follow the rule expressed in the saying, If a person torments you, you can torment him in return’, and say to them: ‘You are foul.’ Second; Christians make offensive allegations about the Prophets of Allah. For instance, they say: Isaa (Jesus) ‘alaihis-salaam’ would take (hard) drinks. Because he was accursed, he was crucified.”
In consternation, I said to the man that Christians did not say so. “Yes, they do,” was the answer, “and you don’t know. It is written so in the Holy Bible.” I became quite. For the man was right in the first respect, if not in the second respect. I did not want to continue the dispute any longer. Otherwise they might be suspicious of me in an Islamic attire as I was. I therefore avoided such disputes.
2- Islam was once a religion of administration and authority. And Muslims were respected. It would be difficult to tell these respectable people that they are slaves now. Nor would it be possible to falsify the Islamic history and say to Muslims: The honor and respect you obtained at one time was the result of some (favorable) conditions. Those days are gone now, and they will never come back.
3- We were very anxious that the Ottomans and Iranians might notice our plots and foil them. Despite the fact that these two States had already been debilitated considerably, we still did not feel certain because they had a central government with property, weaponry, and authority.
4- We were extremely uneasy about the Islamic scholars. For the scholars of Istanbul and Al-adh-har, the Iraqi and Damascene scholars were insurmountable obstacles in front of our purposes. For they were the kind of people who would never compromise their principles to the tiniest extent because they had turned against the transient pleasures and adornments of the world and fixed their eyes on the Paradise promised by Qur’aan al-kereem. The people followed them. Even the Sultan was afraid of them. Sunnites were not so strongly adherent to scholars as were Shiites. For Shiites did not read books; they only recognized scholars, and did not show due respect to the Sultan. Sunnites, on the other hand, read books, and respected scholars and the Sultan.
We therefore prepared a series of conferences. Yet each time we tried we saw with disappointment that the road was closed for us. The reports we received from our spies were always frustrating, and the conferences came to naught. We did not give up hope, though. For we are the sort of people who have developed the habit of taking a deep breath and being patient.
The Minister himself, the highest priestly orders, and a few specialists attended one of our conferences. There were twenty of us. Our conference lasted three hours, and the final session was closed without reaching a fruitful conclusion. Yet a priest said, “Do not worry! For the Messiah and his companions obtained authority only after a persecution that lasted three hundred years. It is hoped that, from the world of the unknown, he will cast an eye on us and grant us the good luck of evicting the unbelievers, (he means Muslims), from their centers, be it three hundred years later. With a strong belief and long-term patience, we must arm ourselves! In order to obtain authority, we must take possession of all sorts of media, try all possible methods. We must try to spread Christianity among Muslims. It will be good for us to realize our goal, even if it will be after centuries. For fathers work for their children.”
A conference was held, and diplomats and religious men from Russia and France as well as from England attended. I was very lucky. I, too, attended because I and the Minister were in very good terms. In the conference, plans of breaking Muslims into groups and making them abandon their faith and bringing them round to belief (Christianizing them) like in Spain was discussed. Yet the conclusions reached were not as had been expected. I have written all the talks held in that conference in my book “Ilaa Melekoot-il-Meseeh.”
It is difficult to suddenly uproot a tree that has sent out its roots to the depths of the earth. But we must make hardships easy and overcome them. Christianity came to spread. Our Lord the Messiah promised us this. The bad conditions that the east and the west were in, helped Muhammad. Those conditions being gone, have taken away the nuisances (he means Islam) that accompanied them. We observe with pleasure today that the situation has changed completely. As a result of great works and endeavors of our ministry and other Christian governments Muslims are on the decline now. Christians, on the other hand, are gaining ascendancy. It is time we retook the places we lost throughout centuries. The powerful State of Great Britain pioneers this blessed task [of annihilating Islam].
In the Hijree year 1122, C.E. 1710, the Minister of Colonies sent me to Egypt, Iraq, Hidjaz and Istanbul to act as a spy and to obtain information necessary and sufficient for the breaking up of Muslims. The Ministry appointed nine more people, full of agility and courage, for the same mission and at the same time. In addition to the money, information and maps we would need, we were given a list containing names of statesmen, scholars, and chiefs of tribes. I can never forget! When I said farewell to the secretary, he said, “The future of our State is dependent on your success. Therefore you should exert your utmost energy.”
I set out on a voyage to Istanbul, the center of the Islamic caliphate. Besides my primary duty, I was to learn very well Turkish, the native language of the Muslims being there. I had already learned in London a considerable amount of Turkish, Arabic (the language of the Qur’aan) and Persian, the Iranian language. Yet learning a language was quite different from speaking that language like its native speakers. While the former skill can be acquired in a matter of a few years, the latter requires a duration of time several times as long as this. I had to learn Turkish with all its subtleties lest the people should suspect me.
I was not anxious that they should suspect me. For Muslims are tolerant, open-hearted, benevolent, as they have learnt from their Prophet Muhammad ‘alai-his-salaam’. They are not skeptical like us. After all, at that time the Turkish government did not have an organization to arrest spies.
After a very tiresome voyage I arrived in Istanbul. I said my name was Muhammad and began to go to the mosque, Muslims’ temple. I liked the way Muslims observed discipline, cleanliness and obedience. For a moment I said to myself: Why are we fighting these innocent people? Is this what our Lord the Messiah advised us? But I at once recovered from this diabolical [!] thought, and decided to carry out my duty in the best manner.
In Istanbul I met an old scholar named “Ahmed Efendi.” With his elegant manners, open-heartedness, spiritual limpidity, and benevolence, none of our religious men I had seen could have equalled him. This person endeavored day and night to make himself like the Prophet Muhammad. According to him, Muhammad was the most perfect, the highest man. Whenever he mentioned his name his eyes would become wet. I must have been very lucky, for he did not even ask who I was or where I was from. He would address me as “Muhammad Efendi.” He would answer my questions and treat me with tenderness and with compassion. For he considered me a guest who had come to Istanbul to work in Turkey and to live in the shadow of the Khaleefa, the representative of the Prophet Muhammad. Indeed, this was the pretext I used to stay in Istanbul
One day I said to Ahmed Efendi: “My parents are dead. I don’t have any brothers or sisters, and I haven’t inherited any property. I came to the center of Islam to work for a living and to learn Qur’aan al-kereem and the Sunnat, that is, to earn both my worldly needs and my life in the Hereafter.” He was very delighted with these words of mine, and said, “You deserve to be respected for these three reasons.” I am writing down exactly what he said:
“1- You are a Muslim. All Muslims are brothers.
2- You are a guest. Rasoolullah ‘sall-allaahu alaihi wa sallam’ declared: ‘Offer kind hospitality to your guests!’
3- You want to work. There is a hadeeth-i shereef stating that ‘a person who works is beloved to Allah.’
These words pleased me very much. I said to myself, “Would that there were such bright truths in Christianity, too! It’s a shame there aren’t any.” What surprised me was the fact that Islam, such a noble religion as it was, was being degenerated in the hands of these conceited people who were quite unaware of what was going on in life.
I said to Ahmed Efendi that I wanted to learn Qur’aan al-kereem. He replied that he would teach me with pleasure, and began to teach me (Faatiha soora). He would explain the meanings as we read. I had great difficulty pronouncing some words. In two years’ time I read through the whole Qur’aan al-kereem. Before each lesson he would make ablution himself and also command me to make ablution. He would sit towards the qibla (Ka’ba) and then begin teaching.
What Muslims call ablution consisted of a series of washings, as follows:
1) Washing the face;
2) Washing the right arm from fingers to elbows;
3) Washing the left arm from fingers to elbows;
4) Making masah of (moistening both hands and rubbing them gently on) the head, backs of ears, (back of) neck;
5) Washing both feet.
Having to use the miswaak vexed me very much. “Miswaak” is a twig with which they (Muslims) clean their mouth and teeth. I thought this piece of wood was harmful for the mouth and teeth. Sometimes it would hurt my mouth and cause bleeding. Yet I had to use it. For, according to them, using the “miswaak” was a muakkad sunnat of the Prophet. They said this wood was very useful. Indeed, the bleeding of my teeth came to an end. And the foul breath that I had till that time, and which most British people have, was gone.
During my stay in Istanbul I spent the nights in a room I had rented from a man responsible for the service in a mosque. This servant’s name was “Marwaan Efendi”. Marwaan is the name of one of the Sahaaba (Companions) of the Prophet Muhammad. The servant was a very nervous man. He would boast about his name and tell me that if I should have a son in the future I should “name him Marwaan, because Marwaan is one of Islam’s greatest warriors.”
“Marwaan Efendi” would prepare the evening dinner. I would not go to work on Friday, a holiday for Muslims. On the other days of the week I worked for a carpenter named Khaalid, being paid on a weekly basis. Because I worked part time, from morning till noon, that is, he would give me half the wage he gave the other employees. This carpenter would spend much of his free time telling about the virtues of “Khaalid bin Waleed.” Khaalid bin Waleed, one of the Sahaaba of the Prophet Muhammad, is a great mujaahid (a warrior for Islam). He accomplished various Islamic conquests. Yet his (Khaalid bin Waleed’s) dismissal from office by ‘Umar bin Hattaab during the latter’s caliphate chafed the carpenter’s heart(2)*.
“Khaalid”, the carpenter for whom I worked, was an immoral and extremely neurotic person. He somehow trusted me very much. I do not know why, but perhaps it was because I always obeyed him. He ignored the Sharee’at (Islaam’s commandments) in his secret manners. Yet when he was with his friends he would display obedience to the commandments of the Sharee’at. He would attend the Friday prayers, but I am not sure about the other (daily) prayers.
I would have breakfast in the shop. After work I would go to the mosque for noon prayer and would stay there till afternoon prayer. After the afternoon prayer I would go to Ahmed Efendi’s place, where he would teach me such lessons as (reading) Qur’aan al-kereem, Arabic and Turkish languages for two hours. Every Friday I would give him my weekly earnings because he taught me very well. Indeed, he taught me very well how to read Qur’aan al-kereem, requirements of the Islamic religion and the subtleties of Arabic and Turkish languages.
When “Ahmed Efendi” knew that I was single, he wanted to marry me to one of his daughters. I refused his offer. But he insisted, saying that marriage is a sunnat of the Prophet’s and the Prophet had stated that “A person who turns away from my sunnat is not with me.” Apprehending that this event might put an end to our personal dealings, I had to lie to him, saying that I lacked sexual power. Thus I ensured the continuance of our acquaintance and friendship.
When my two-year stay in Istanbul was over, I told “Ahmed Efendi” I wanted to go back home. He said, “No, don’t go. Why are you going? You can find anything you might look for in Istanbul. Allaahu ta’aalaa has given both the religion and the world at the same time in this city. You say that your parents are dead and you have no brothers or sisters. Why don’t you settle down in Istanbul?…” “Ahmed Efendi” had formed a compulsive dependence upon my company. For this reason he did not want to part company with me and insisted that I should make my home in Istanbul. But my patriotic sense of duty compelled me to go back to London, to deliver a detailed report concerning the center of the caliphate, and to take new orders.
Throughout my stay in Istanbul I sent reports of my observations monthly to the Ministry of Colonies. I remember asking in one of my reports what I was to do should the person I was working for ask me to practice sodomy with him. The reply was: You can do it if it will help you attain your goal. I was very much indignant over this answer. I felt as if the whole world had fallen down on my head. I already knew that this vicious deed was very common in England. Yet it had never occurred to me that my superiors would command me to commit it. What could I do? I had no other way than to empty the drug to the dregs. So I kept quiet and went on with my duty.
As I said farewell to “Ahmed Efendi”, his eyes became wet and he said to me, “My son! May Allaahu ta’aalaa be with you! If you should come back to Istanbul and see that I am dead, remember me. Say the (soora) Faatiha for my soul! We will meet on the Judgement Day in front of ‘Rasoolullah’.” Indeed, I felt very sad, too; so much so that I shed warm tears. However, my sense of duty was naturally stronger.
My friends had returned to London before I did and they had already received new commands from the Ministry. I, too, was given new commands upon returning. Unfortunately, only six of us were back.
One of the other four people, the secretary said, had become a Muslim and remained in Egypt. Yet the secretary was still glad because, he said, he (the person who had remained in Egypt) had not betrayed any secrets. The second one had gone to Russia and remained there. He was Russian in origin. The secretary was very sorry about him, not because he had gone back to his homeland, but because perhaps he had been spying on the Ministry of Colonies for Russia and had gone back home because his mission had been over. The third one, as the secretary related, had died of plague in a town named “Imara” in the neighborhood of Baghdaad. The fourth person had been traced by the Ministry up to the city of San’aa in the Yemen and they had received his reports for one year, and thereafter his reporting had come to an end and no trail of him had been found despite all sorts of efforts. The Ministry put down the disappearance of these four men as a catastrophe. For we are a nation with great duties versus a small population. We therefore do very fine calculations on every man.
After a few of my reports, the secretary held a meeting to scrutinize the reports given by four of us. When my friends submitted their reports pertaining to their tasks, I, too, submitted my report. They took some notes from my report. The Minister, the secretary, and some of those who attended the meeting praised my work. Nevertheless I was the third best. The first grade was won by my friend “George Belcoude”, and “Henry Fanse” was the second best.
I had doubtlessly been greatly successful in learning Turkish and Arabic languages, the Qur’aan and the Sharee’at. Yet I had not managed to prepare for the Ministry a report revealing the weak aspects of the Ottoman Empire. After the two-hour meeting, the secretary asked me the reason for my failure. I said, “My essential duty was to learn languages and the Qur’aan and the Sharee’at. I could not spare time for anything in addition. But I shall please you this time if you trust me.” The secretary said I was certainly successful but he wished I had won the first grade. (And he went on):
“O Hempher, your next mission comprises these two tasks:
1- To discover Muslims’ weak points and the points through which we can enter their bodies and disjoin their limbs. Indeed, this is the way to beat the enemy.
2- The moment you have detected these points and done what I have told you to, [in other words, when you manage to sow discord among Muslims and set them at loggerheads with one another], you will be the most successful agent and earn a medal from the Ministry.”
I stayed in London for six months. I married my paternal first cousin, “Maria Shvay”. At that time I was 22 years old, and she was 23. “Maria Shvay was a very pretty girl, with average intelligence and an ordinary cultural background. The happiest and the most cheerful days of my life were those that I spent with her. My wife was pregnant. We were expecting our new guest, when I received the message containing the order that I should leave for Iraq.
Receiving this order at a time while I was awaiting the birth of my son made me sad. However, the importance I attached to my country, doubled with my ambition to attain fame by being chosen the best one among my colleagues, was above my emotions as a husband and as a father. So I accepted the task without hesitation. My wife wanted me to postpone the mission till after the child’s birth. Yet I ignored what she said. We were both weeping as we said farewell to each other. My wife said, “Don’t stop writing to me! I shall write you letters about our new home, which is as valuable as gold.” These words of hers stirred up storms in my heart. I almost cancelled the travel. Yet I managed to take control of my emotions. Extending my farewell to her, I left for the ministry to receive the final instructions.
Six months later I found myself in the city of Basra, Iraq. The city people were partly Sunnite and partly Shiite. Basra was a city of tribes with a mixed population of Arabs, Persians and a relatively small number of Christians. It was the first time in my life that I met with the Persians. By the way, let me touch upon Shi’ism and Sunnism.
Shiites say that they follow ‘Alee bin Aboo Taalib, who was the husband of Muhammad’s ‘alaihis-salaam’ daughter Faatima and at the same time Muhammad’s ‘alaihis-salaam’ paternal first cousin. They say that Muhammad ‘alaihis-salaam’ appointed Alee, and the twelve imaams, ‘Alee’s descendants to succeed him as the Khaleefa.
In my opinion, the Shi’ees are right in the matter pertaining to the caliphate of ‘Alee, Hasan, and Huseyn. For, as far as I understand from the Islamic history, Alee was a person with the distinguished and high qualifications required for caliphate. Nor do I find it alien for Muhammad ‘alaihis-salaam’ to have appointed Hasan and Huseyn as Khaleefas. What makes me suspect, however, is Muhammad’s ‘alaihis-salaam’ having appointed Huseyn’s son and eight of his grandsons as Khaleefas. For Huseyn was a child at Muhammad’s ‘alaihis-salaam’ death. How did he know he would have eight grandsons. If Muhammad ‘alaihis-salaam’ was really a Prophet, it was possible for him to know the future by being informed by Allaahu ta’aalaa, as the Messiah had divined about the future. Yet Muhammad’s ‘alaihis-salaam’ Prophethood is a matter of doubt to us Christians.
Muslims say that “There are many proofs for Muhammad’s ‘alaihis-salaam’ Prophethood. One of them is the Qur’aan (Koran).” I have read the Qur’aan. Indeed, it is a very high book. It is even higher than the Torah (Taurah) and the Bible. For it contains principles, regulations, moral rules, etc.
It has been a wonder to me how an illiterate person such as Muhammad ‘alaihis-salaam’ could have brought such a lofty book, and how could he have had all those moral, intellectual and personal qualifications which could not be possessed even by a man who has read and travelled very much. I wonder if these facts were the proofs for Muhammad’s ‘alaihis-salaam’ Prophethood?
I always made observations and research in order to elicit the truth about Muhammad’s ‘alaihis-salaam’ Prophethood. Once I brought out my interest to a priest in London. His answer was fanatical and obdurate, and was not convincing at all. I asked Ahmed Efendi several times when I was in Turkey, yet I did not receive a satisfactory answer from him, either. To tell the truth, I avoided asking Ahmed Efendi questions directly related to the matter lest they should become suspicious about my espionage.
I think very much of Muhammad ‘alaihis-salaam’. No doubt, he is one of Allah’s Prophets about whom we have read in books. Yet, being a Christian, I have not believed in his Prophethood yet. It is doubtless that he was very much superior to geniuses.
The Sunnites, on the other hand, say that “After the Prophet’s passing away, Muslims considered Aboo Bekr and ‘Umar and ‘Uthmaan and ‘Alee suitable for the caliphate.”
Controversies of this sort exist in all religions, most abundantly in Christianity. Since both ‘Umar and ‘Alee are dead today, maintaining these controversies would serve no useful purpose. To me, if Muslims are reasonable, they should think of today, not of those very old days(3)*.
One day in the Ministry of Colonies I made a reference to the difference between the Sunnites and the Shiites, saying, “If Muslims knew something about life, they would resolve this Shiite-Sunnite difference among themselves and come together.” Someone interrupted me and remonstrated, “Your duty is to provoke this difference, not to think of how to bring Muslims together.”
Before I set out for my travel to Iraq, the secretary said, “O Hempher, you should know that there has been natural differences among human beings since God created Abel and Cain. These controversies shall continue until the return of the Messiah. So is the case with racial, tribal, territorial, national, and religious controversies.
“Your duty this time is to diagnose these controversies well and to report to the ministry. The more successful you are in aggravating the differences among Muslims the greater will be your service to England.
“We, the English people, have to make mischief and arouse schism in all our colonies in order that we may live in welfare and luxury. Only by means of such instigations will we be able to demolish the Ottoman Empire. Otherwise, how could a nation with a small population bring another nation with a greater population under its sway? Look for the mouth of the chasm with all your might, and get in as soon as you find it. You should know that the Ottoman and Iranian Empires have reached the nadir of their lives. Therefore, your first duty is to instigate the people against the administration! History has shown that ‘The source of all sorts of revolutions is public rebellions.’ When the unity of Muslims is broken and the common sympathy among them is impaired, their forces will be dissolved and thus we shall easily destroy them.”
When I arrived in Basra, I settled in a mosque. The imaam of the mosque was a Sunnite person of Arabic origin named Shaikh ‘Umar Taaee. When I met him I began to chat with him. Yet he suspected me at the very beginning and subjected me to a shower of questions. I managed to survive this dangerous chat as follows: “I am from Turkey’s Igdir region. I was a disciple of Ahmed Efendi of Istanbul. I worked for a carpenter named Khaali (Haalid).” I gave him some information about Turkey, which I had acquired during my stay there. Also, I said a few sentences in Turkish. The imaam made an eye signal to one of the people there and asked him if I spoke Turkish correctly. The answer was positive. Having convinced the imaam, I was very happy. Yet I was wrong. For a few days later, I saw to my disappointment that the imaam suspected that I was a Turkish spy. Afterwards, I found out that there was some disagreement and hostility between him and the governor appointed by the (Ottoman) Sultan.
Having been compelled to leave Shaikh ‘Umar Efendi’s mosque, I rented a room in an inn for travellers and foreigners and moved there. The owner of the inn was an idiot named Murshid Efendi. Every morning he would disturb me by knocking hard at my door to wake me up as soon as the adhaan for morning prayer was called. I had to obey him. So I would get up and perform the morning prayer. Then he would say, “You shall read Qur’aan-al kereem after morning prayer.” When I told him that it was not fard (an act commanded by Islam) to read Qur’aan al-kereem and asked him why he should insist so much, he would answer, “Sleeping at this time of day will bring poverty and misfortune to the inn and the inmates.” I had to carry out this command of his. For he said otherwise he would send me out of the inn. Therefore, as soon as the adhaan was called, I would perform morning prayer and then read Qur’aan al-kereem for one hour.
One day Murshid Efendi came to me and said, “Since you rented this room misfortunes have been befalling me. I put it down to your ominousness. For you are single. Being single (unmarried) portends ill omen. You shall either get married or leave the inn.” I told him I did not have property enough to get married. I could not tell him what I had told Ahmed Efendi. For Murshid Efendi was the kind of person who would undress me and examine my genitals to see whether I was telling the truth.
When I said so, Murshid Efendi reproved me, saying, “What a weak belief you have! Haven’t you read Allah’s aayat purporting, If they are poor, Allaahu ta’aalaa will make them rich with His kindness’?” I was stupefied. At last I said, “All right, I shall get married. But are you ready to provide the necessary money? Or can you find a girl who will cost me little?”
After reflecting for a while, Murshid Efendi said, “I don’t care! Either get married by the beginning of Rajab month, or leave the inn.” There were only twenty-five days before the beginning of the month of Rajab.
Incidentally, let me mention the Arabic months; Muharram, Safar, Rabi’ul-awwal, Rabi’ul-aakhir, Jemaaziy-ul-awwal, Jemaaziy-ul-aakhir, Rajab, Sha’baan, Ramadaan, Shawwaal, Zilqa’da, Zilhijja. Their months are neither more than thirty days, nor below twenty-nine. They are based on lunar calculations.
Taking a job as an assistant to a carpenter, I left Murshid Efendi’s inn. We made an agreement on a very low wage, but my lodging and food were to be at the employer’s expense. I moved my belongings to the carpenter’s shop well before the month of Rajab. The carpenter was a manly person. He treated me as if I were his son. He was a Shiite from Khorassan, Iran, and his name was Abd-ur- Ridaa. Taking the advantage of his company, I began to learn Persian. Every afternoon Iranian Shiites would meet at his place and talk on various subjects from politics to economy. Most often than not they would speak ill of their own government and also of the Khaleefa in Istanbul. Whenever a stranger came in they would change the subject and begin to talk on personal matters.
They trusted me very much. However, as I found out later on, they though I was an Azerbaijani because I spoke Turkish.
Introducing Muhammad bin Abd-ul-wahhab Najdee
From time to time a young man would call at our carpenter’s shop. His attirement was that of a student doing scientific research, and he understood Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. His name was Muhammad bin Abd-ul-wahhaab Najdee. This youngster was an extremely rude and very nervous person. While abusing the Ottoman government very much, he would never speak ill of the Iranian government. The common ground which made him and the shop-owner Abd-ur-Ridaa so friendly was that both were inimical towards the Khaleefa in Istanbul. But how was it possible that this young man, who was a Sunnee, understood Persian and was friends with Abd-ur-Ridaa, who was a Shi’ee? In this city Sunnites pretended to be friendly and even brotherly with Shiites. Most of the city’s inhabitants understood both Arabic and Persian. And most people understood Turkish as well.
Muhammad of Najd was a Sunnee outwardly. Although most Sunnites censured Shiites, in fact, they say that Shiites are disbelievers this man never would revile Shiites. According to Muhammad of Najd, there was no reason for Sunnites to adapt themselves to one of the four madh-habs; he would say, “Allah’s Book does not contain any evidence pertaining to these madh-habs.” He purposefully ignored the aayet-i-kereemas in this subject and slighted the hadeeth-i-shereefs.
Concerning the matter of four madh-habs: A century after the death of their Prophet Muhammad ‘alaihis- salaam’, four scholars came forward from among Sunnite Muslims: Aboo Haneefa, Ahmad bin Hanbal, Maalik bin Anas, and Muhammad bin Idris Shaafi’ee. Some Khaleefas forced the Sunnites to imitate one of these four scholars. They said no one except these four scholars could do ijtihaad in Qur’aan al-kereem or in the Sunna. This movement closed the gates of knowledge and understanding to Muslims. This prohibition of ijtihaad is considered to have been the reason for Islam’s standstill.
Shiites exploited these erroneous statements to promulgate their sect. The number of Shiites was smaller than one-tenth that of Sunnites. But now they have increased and become equal with Sunnites in number. This result is natural. For ijtihaad is like a weapon. It will improve Islam’s fiqh and renovate the understanding of Qur’aan al-kereem and Sunna. Prohibition of ijtihaad, on the other hand, is like a rotten weapon. It will confine the madh-hab within a certain framework. And this, in its turn, means to close the gates of inference and to disregard the time’s requirements. If your weapon is rotten and your enemy is perfect, you are doomed to be beaten by your enemy sooner or later. I think, the clever ones of the Sunnites will reopen the gate of ijtihaad in future. If they do not do this, they will become the minority and the Shiites will receive a majority in a few centuries.
[However, the imaams (leaders) of the four madh-habs hold the same creed, the same belief. There is no difference among them. Their difference is only in worships. And this, in turn, is a facility for Muslims. The Shiites, on the other hand, parted into twelve sects, thus becoming a rotten weapon. There is detailed information in this respect in the book Milal wa Nihal].
The arrogant youngster, Muhammad of Najd, would follow his nafs (his sensuous desires) in understanding the Qur’aan and the Sunna. He would completely ignore the views of scholars, not only those of the scholars of his time and the leaders of the four madh-habs, but also those of the notable Sahaabees such as Aboo Bakr and ‘Umar. Whenever he came across a Koranic (Qur’aan) verse which he thought was contradictory with the views of those people, he would say, “The Prophet said: I have left the Qur’aan and the Sunna for you.’ He did not say, I have left the Qur’aan, the Sunna, the Sahaaba, and the imaams of madh-habs for you.’ Therefore, the thing which is fard is to follow the Qur’aan and the Sunna no matter how contrary they may seem to be to the views of the madh-habs or to the statements of the Sahaaba and scholars.”
During a dinner conversation at Abd-ur-Ridaa’s place, the following dispute took place between Muhammad of Najd and a guest from Kum, a Shiite scholar named Shaikh Jawad:
Shaikh Jawad. Since you accept that ‘Alee was a mujtahid, why don’t you follow him like Shiites?
Muhammad of Najd Alee is no different from ‘Umar or other Sahaabees. His statements cannot be of a documentary capacity. Only the Qur’aan and the Sunna are authentic documents. [The fact is that statements made by any of the As-haab-i kiraam are of a documentary capacity. Our Prophet commanded us to follow any one of them].
Shaikh Jawaad Since our Prophet said, “I am the city of knowledge, and ‘Alee is its gate,” shouldn’t there be difference between ‘Alee and the other Sahaaba?
Muhammad of Najd, If ‘Alee’s statements were of a documentary capacity, would not the Prophet have said, “I have left you the Qur’aan, the Sunna, and ‘Alee”?
Shaikh Jawaad Yes, we can assume that he (the Prophet) said so. For the stated in a hadeeth-i-shereef, “I leave (behind me) Allah’s Book and my Ahl-i-Bayt.” And ‘Alee, in his turn, is the greatest member of the Ahl-i-Bayt.
Muhammad of Najd denied that the Prophet had said so.
Shaikh Jawaad confuted Muhammad of Najd with convincing proofs.
However, Muhammad of Najd objected to this and said, “You assert that the Prophet said, I leave you Allah’s Book and my Ahl-i-Bayt.” Then, what has become of the Prophet’s Sunna?”
Shaikh Jawad. The Sunna of the Messenger of Allah is the explanation of the Qur’aan. The Messenger of Allah said, “I leave (you) Allah’s Book and my Ahl-i-Bayt.” The phrase ‘Allah’s Book’ includes the ‘Sunna’, which is an explanation of the former.
Muhammad of Najd. Inasmuch as the statements of the Ahl-i-Bayt are the explanations of the Qur’aan, why should it be necessary to explain it by hadeeths?
Shaikh Jawaad When hadrat Prophet passed away, his Ummat (Muslims) considered that there should be an explanation of the Qur’aan which would satisfy the time’s requirements. It was for this reason that hadrat Prophet commanded his Ummat to follow the Qur’aan, which is the original, and his Ahl-i-Bayt, who were to explain the Qur’aan in a manner to satisfy the time’s requirements.
I liked this dispute very much. Muhammad of Najd was motionless in front of Shaikh Jawaad, like a house-sparrow in the hands of a hunter.
Muhammad of Najd was the sort I had been looking for. For his scorn for the time’s scholars, his slighting even the (earliest) four Khaleefas, his having an independent view in understanding the Qur’aan and the Sunna were his most vulnerable points to hunt and obtain him. So different this conceited youngster was from that Ahmed Efendi who had taught me in Istanbul! That scholar, like his predecessors, was reminiscent of a mountain. No power would be able to move him. Whenever he mentioned the name of Aboo Haneefa, he would stand up, go and make ablution. Whenever he meant to hold the book of Hadeeth named Bukhaaree, he would, again, make ablution. The Sunnees trust this book very much.
Muhammad of Najd, on the other hand, disdained Aboo Haneefa very much. He would say, “I know better than Aboo Haneefa did.” In addition, according to him, half of the book of Bukhaaree was wrong.
[As I was translating these confessions of Hempher’s into Turkish, I remembered the following event: I was a teacher in a high school. During a lesson one of my students asked, “Sir, if a Muslim is killed in a war, will he become a martyr?” “Yes, he will,” I said. “Did the Prophet say so?” “Yes, he did.” “Will he become a martyr if he is drowned in sea, too?” “Yes,” was my answer. “And in this case he will attain more thawaab.” Then he asked, “Will he become a martyr if he falls down from an aeroplane?” “Yes, he will,” I said. “Did our Prophet state these, too?” “Yes, he did.” Upon this, he smiled in a triumphant air and said, “Sir! Were there aeroplanes in those days?” My answer to him was as follows: “My son! Our Prophet has ninety-nine names. Each of his names stands for a beautiful attribute he was endowed with. One of his names is Jaami’ul-kalim. He would state many facts in one word. For example, he said, ‘He who falls from a height will become a martyr.’ ” The child admitted this answer of mine with admiration and gratitude. By the same token, Qur’aan al-kereem and hadeeth-i-shereefs contain many words, rules, commandments and prohibitions each of which denotes various other meanings. The scientific work carried on to explore these meanings and to apply the right ones to the right cases, is called Ijtihaad. Performing ijtihaad requires having profound knowledge. For this reason, the Sunnees prohibited ignorant people from doing ijtihaad. This does not mean to prohibit ijtihaad. After the fourth century of the Hegiral Era, no scholars were educated so highly as to reach the grade of an absolute mujtahid [scholar profoundly learned (enough to perform ijtihaad)]; therefore, no one performed ijtihad, which in turn naturally meant the closure of the gates of ijtihaad. Towards the end of the world, Isaa (Jesus) ‘alaihis-salaam’ shall descend from heaven and Mahdee (the expected Islamic hero) shall appear; these people shall perform ijtihaad.
Our Prophet ‘sall-allaahu alaihi wa sallam’ stated, “After me Muslims shall part into seventy-three groups. Only one of these groups shall enter Paradise.” When he was asked who were to be in that group, he answered, “Those who adapt themselves to me and my Ashaab.” In another hadeeth-i-shereef he stated, “My As-haab are like celestial stars. You will attain hidaayat if you follow any one of them!” In other words, he said, “You will attain the way leading to Paradise.” A Jew of Yemen, Abdullah bin Saba, by name, instigated hostility against the As-haab among Muslims. Those ignorant people who believed this Jew and bore enmity against the As-haab were called Shi’ee (Shiite). And people who obeyed the hadeeth-shereefs, loved and followed the As-haab-i-kiraam were called Sunnee (Sunnite).]
I established a very intimate friendship with Muhammad bin Abd-ul-wahhaab of Najd. I launched a campaign of praising him everywhere. One day I said to him: “You are greater than ‘Umar and ‘Alee. If the Prophet were alive now, he would appoint you as his Khaleefa instead of them. I expect that Islam will be renovated and improved in your hands. You are the only scholar who will spread Islam all over the world.”
Muhammad the son of Abd-ul-wahhaab and I decided to make a new interpretation of the Qur’aan; this new interpretation was to reflect only our points of view and would be entirely contrary to those explanations made by the Sahaaba, by the imaams of madh-habs and by the mufassirs (deeply learned scholars specialized in the explanation of the Qur’aan). We were reading the Qur’aan and talking on some of the aayats. My purpose in doing this was to mislead Muhammad. After all, he was trying to present himself as a revolutionist and would therefore accept my views and ideas with pleasure so that I should trust him all the more.
On one occasion I said to him, “Jihaad (fighting, struggling for Islam) is not fard.”
He protested, “Why shouldn’t it be despite Allah’s commandment, ‘Make war against unbelievers.’?”
I said, “Then why didn’t the Prophet make war against the munaafiqs despite Allah’s commandment, ‘Make Jihaad against unbelievers and munaafiqs.” [On the other hand, it is written in Mawaahibu ladunniyya that twenty- seven Jihaads were performed against unbelievers. Their swords are exhibited in Istanbul’s museums. Munaafiqs would pretend to be Muslims. They would perform namaaz with the Messenger of Allah in the Masjeed-i- Nabawee during the days. Rasoolullah ‘sall-allaahu alaihi wasallam’ knew them. Yet he did not say, ” You are a munaafiq,” to any of them. If he had made war against them and killed them, people would say, “Muhammad ‘alaihis- salaam’ killed people who believed in him.” Therefore he made verbal Jihaad against them. For Jihaad, which is fard, is performed with one’s body and/or with one’s property and/or with one’s speech. The aayat-i-kareema quoted above commands to perform Jihaad against unbelievers. It does not define the type of the Jihaad to be performed. For Jihaad against unbelievers must be performed by fighting, and Jihaad against munaafiqs is to be performed by preaching and advice. This aayat-i-kereema covers these types of Jihaad].
He said, “The Prophet made Jihaad against them with his speech.”
I said, “Is the Jihaad which is fard (commanded), the one which is to be done with one’s speech?”
He said, “Rasoolullah made war against the unbelievers.”
I said, “The Prophet made war against the unbelievers in order to defend himself. For the unbelievers intended to kill him.”
At another time I said to him, “Mut’a nikaah is permissible.”
He objected, “No, it is not.”
I said, “Allah declares, In return for the use you make of them, give them the mehr you have decided upon’.”
He said, “‘Umar prohibited two examples of mut’a practice existent in his time and said he would punish anyone who practiced it.”
I said, “You both say that you are superior to ‘Umar and follow him. In addition, ‘Umar said he prohibited it though he knew that the Prophet had permitted it. Why do you leave aside the Prophet’s word and obey ‘Umar’s word?”
He did not answer. I knew that he was convinced.
I sensed that Muhammad of Najd desired a woman at that moment; he was single. I said to him, “Come on, let us each get a woman by mut’a nikaah. We will have a good time with them. He accepted with a nod. This was a great opportunity for me, so I promised to find a woman for him to amuse himself. My aim was to ally the timidity he had about people. But he stated it a condition that the matter be kept as a secret between us and that the woman not even be told what his name was. I hurriedly went to the Christian women who had been sent forth by the Ministry of Colonies with the task of seducing the Muslim youth there. I explained the matter to one of them. She accepted to help, so I gave her the nickname Safiyya. I took Muhammad of Najd to her house. Safiyya was at home, alone. We made a one-week marriage contract for Muhammad of Najd, who gave the woman some gold in the name of “Mehr.” Thus we began to mislead Muhammad of Najd, Safiyya from within, and I from without.
Muhammad of Najd was thoroughly in Safiyya’s hands now. Besides, he had tasted the pleasure of disobeying the commandments of the Sharee’at under the pretext of freedom of ijtihaad and ideas.
The third day of the mut’a nikaah I had a long dispute with him over that hard drinks were not haraam (forbidden by Islam). Although he quoted many aayats and hadeeths showing that it was haraam to have hard drinks, I cancelled all of them and finally said, “It is a fact that Yezeed and the Umayyad and Abbasid Khaleefas had hard drinks. Were they all miscreant people and you are the only adherent of the right way? They doubtless knew the Qur’aan and the Sunna better than you do. They inferred from the Qur’aan and the Sunna that the hard drink is makrooh, not haraam. Also, it is written in Jewish and Christian books that alcohol is mubaah (permitted). All religions are Allah’s commandments. In fact, according to a narrative, ‘Umar had hard drinks until the revelation of the aayat, ‘You have all given it up, haven’t you?” If it had been haraam, the Prophet would have chastised him. Since the Prophet did not punish him, hard drink is halaal.” [The fact is that ‘Umar ‘radiy-allaahu anh’ used to take hard drinks before they were made haraam. He never drank after the prohibition was declared. If some of the Umayyad and Abbasid Khaleefas took alcoholic drinks, this would not show that drinks with alcohol are makrooh. It would show that they were sinners, that they committed haraam. For the aayat-i-kereema quoted by the spy, as well as other aayat-i-kereemas and hadeeth-i-shereefs, shows that drinks with alcohol are haraam. It is stated in Riyaad-un-naasiheen, “Formerly it was permissible to drink wine. Hadrat ‘Umar, Sa’d ibni Waqqas, and some other Sahaabees used to drink wine. Later the two hundred and nineteenth aayat of Baqara soora was revealed to declare that it was a grave sin. Sometime later the forty-second aayat of Nisaa soora was revealed and it was declared, ‘Do not approach the namaaz when you are drunk!'” Eventually, the ninety-third aayat of Maaida soora came and wine was made haraam. It was stated as follows in hadeeth-i- shereefs: “If something would intoxicate in case it were taken in a large amount, it is haraam to take it even in a small amount.” and “Wine is the gravest of sins.” and “Do not make friends with a person who drinks wine! Do not attend his funeral (when he dies)! Do not form a matrimonial relationship with him!” and “Drinking wine is like worshipping idols.” and “May Allaahu ta’aalaa curse him who drinks wine, sells it, makes it, or gives it.”] ***
Muhammad of Najd said, “According to some narratives, ‘Umar drank alcoholic spirits after mixing it with water and said it was not haraam unless it had an intoxicating effect. ‘Umar’s view is correct, for it is declared in the Qur’aan, ‘The devil wants to stir up enmity and grudge among you and to keep you from doing dhikr of Allah and from namaaz by means of drinks and gambling. You will give these up now, won’t you?’ Alcoholic spirits will not cause the sins defined in the aayat when it does not intoxicate. Therefore, hard drinks are not haraam when they don’t have an intoxicating effect.”
I told Safiyya about this dispute we had on drinks and instructed her to make him drink a very strong spirit. Afterwards, she said, “I did as you said and made him drink. He danced and united with me several times that night.” From them on Safiyya and I completely took control of Muhammad of Najd. In our farewell talk the Minister of Colonies had said to me, “We captured Spain from the disbelievers [he means Muslims] by means of alcohol and fornication. Let us take all our lands back by using these two great forces again.” Now I know how true a statement it was.
One day I broached the topic of fasting to Muhammad of Najd: “It is stated in the Qur’aan, ‘Your fasting is more auspicious for you.’ It is not stated that fasting is fard (a plain commandment). Then, fasting is sunna, not fard, in the Islamic religion.” He protested and said, “Are you trying to lead me out of my faith?” I replied, “One’s faith consists of the purity of one’s heart, the salvation of one’s soul, and not committing a transgression against others’ rights. Did not the Prophet state, ‘Faith is love’? Did not Allah declare in Qur’aan al-kereem, ‘Worship thine Rab (Allah) until yaqeen comes to thee? Then, when one has attained yaqeen pertaining to Allah and the Day of Judgement and beautified one’s heart and purified one’s deeds, one will become the most virtuous of mankind.” He shook his head in reply to these words of mine.
Once I said to him, “Namaaz is not fard.” “How is it not fard?” “Allah declares in the Qur’aan, ‘Perform namaaz to remember Me.’ Then, the aim of namaaz is to remember Allah. Therefore, you might as well remember Allah without performing namaaz.”
He said, “Yes. I have heard that some people do dhikr of Allah instead of performing namaaz.’ I was very much pleased with this statement of his. I tried hard to develop this notion and capture his heart. Then I noticed that he did not attach much importance to namaaz and was performing it quite sporadically. He was very negligent especially with the morning prayer. For I would keep him from going to bed by talking with him until midnight. So he would be too exhausted to get up for morning prayer.
I began to pull down the shawl of belief slowly off the shoulders of Muhammad of Najd. One day I wanted to dispute with him about the Prophet, too. “From now on, if you talk with me on these topics, our relation will be spoilt and I shall put an end to my friendship with you.” Upon this I gave up speaking about the Prophet for fear of ruining all my endeavors once and for all.
I advised him to pursue a course quite different from those of Sunnites and Shiites. He favored this idea of mine. For he was a conceited person. Thanks to Safiyya, I put an halter on him.
On one occasion I said, “I have heard that the Prophet made his As-haab brothers to one another. Is it true?” Upon his positive reply, I wanted to know if this Islamic rule was temporary or permanent. He explained, “It is permanent. For the Prophet Muhammad’s halaal is halaal till the end of the world, and his haraam is haraam till the end of the world.” Then I offered him to be my brother. So we were brothers.
From that day on I never left him alone. We were together even in his travels. He was very important for me. For the tree that I had planted and grown, spending the most valuable days of my youth, was now beginning to yield its fruit.
I was sending monthly reports to the Ministry of Colonies in London. The answers I received were very encouraging and reassuring. Muhammad of Najd was following the path I had drawn for him.
My duty was to imbue him with feelings of independence, freedom and skepticism. I always praised him, saying that a brilliant future was awaiting him.
One day I fabricated the following dream: “Last night I dreamed of our Prophet. I addressed him with the attributes I had learnt from hodjas. He was seated on a dais. Around him were scholars that I did not know. You entered. Your face was as bright as haloes. You walked towards the Prophet, and when you were close enough the Prophet stood up and kissed between your both eyes. He said, ‘You are my namesake, the heir to my knowledge, my deputy in worldly and religious matters.’ You said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I am afraid to explain my knowledge to people.’ ‘You are the greatest. Don’t be afraid,’ replied the Prophet.”
Muhammad bin Abd-ul-Wahhaab was wild with joy when he heard the dream. He asked several times if what I had told him was true, and received a positive answer each time he asked. Finally he was sure I had told him the truth. I think, from then on, he was resolved to publicize the ideas I had imbued him with and to establish a new sect.