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Final Project – How the Grinch Stole Wahhabism

How the Grinch Stole Wahhabism

Characters: The Grinch, Max (The Grinch’s dog)


Grinch: [Grinch goes up to Max] What’s that you’re doing?!


Max: Well, sir, I’m praying –


Grinch: Yes, I can see that.  But to whom are you praying?


Max: Well, to a Muslim Saint.  There’s a lot to be said abou-


Grinch: THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I THOUGHT. You’ve been caught in the act, bud.  Worshipping a saint… you know that’s heresy, right?


Max:  It most certainly is not! Saints provide very real and very important conduits between us and Allah Himself, just as Muhammad does as a Prophet


Grinch: Don’t you dare say His name!  By praying to these saints you are putting them at level with God, which the Qu’ran strictly forbids.  You’re making a mockery of our faith, of our MONOTHESTIC FAITH, just like those heathen Hindu’s.


Max: I beg your pardon!


Grinch: You must know as well as I do, as Shah Waliullah says in Al-Balagh al-Mubin, “…one must know that whatever the Hindu polytheists do for their idols, the tomb worshippers also do exactly in the same way in the name of tombs and saints” (qtd. In Gaborieau)


Max:  Ah, I see, we have a Wahhabi here


Grinch: That’s right.


Max: Look, my friend…




Max: …Look, you’ve got your opinion, and I’ve got mine.  I don’t see the cult of saints as heretical, but rather enlightening – by praying with the help of the saints, they help me grow closer to God by mediating my communication.  After all, do we not pray through Muhammad? In fact, that is what your Shah Waliullah actually believes on the issue – the Al-Balagh al-Mubin’s authorship is seriously in doubt.


Grinch: Is that so?


Max: Yes, it is.  And look, I have no problem with you – As I said, you have your opinion, and I’ve got mine.  There’s no one way to practice Islam – after all, what is “Islam” anyway?  We all submit ourselves to God in different ways, and this is mine.


Grinch: Well, I think I’ve learned something here today.

Max: Good, now go give back all the presents.


Grinch: Why, what ever do you mean about pre-


Max: You know what I mean you bum, all the presents we stole last night, give them back and your heart will grow or something


Grinch: Eh fine


Max: Happy Holidays, everyone.




This short, rather comical video represents a debate between a member of the Wahhabi movement (Grinch) and a member of the cult of saints (Max) within Islam, in response to “A Nineteenth Century Indian ‘Wahhabi’ Tract Against the Cult of Saints: Al-Balagh al-Mubin” by Mark Gaborieau.  In the article, Gaborieau describes a Muslim reformist movement, the Wahhabi movement, which criticized what was known as the cult of saints for worshipping and praying to Muslim saints.  The Wahhabis viewed this as akin to idolatry, as no on should be worshipped except for Allah, and to pray to anyone else was sinful and polytheistic.  This was manifested in the Al-Balagh al-Mubin, which was supposedly written by a nineteenth-century Muslim ruler, Shah Walliulah, in condemning the saint-worshippers. Later, however, as Gaborieau explains, it was discovered that Shah Walliulah was not likely the actual author, but that a political group that came about after his death may have written it under his name so that the ideas within the Al-Balagh al-Mubin would be legitimized – In fact, Gaborieau writes, Shah Waliullah’s views were actually more moderate, such that he believed praying to saints is acceptable on the condition that one prays through them as a bridge to God, rather than actually praying to the saints themselves.  These ideas are reflected in the video and the dialogue: The Wahhabist is the Grinch, aptly so since he is a bit cranky and is very strict in his views as he condemns Max for being a saint-worshipper. The Grinch tells Max he is sinful and that saint worship is polytheistic in the same manner as Hinduism, another idea brought up in the Gaborieau text.  Max retorts by informing the Grinch of the Shah’s actual likely views, and by saying that Islam is practiced in many different ways.  The Grinch backs down by the end, and agrees, at Max’s urging, to go give all those presents back to the citizens of Whoville.

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