Henda Ayari, a 39-year-old Franco-Tunisian woman, lived and practiced an extremist and fundamentalist version of her religion for years. She was initiated into the radical ideology through her marriage to a fanatical French Muslim. Saudi Arabia and its royal family promote a deviant faith with political goals. Today she struggles for a moderate Islam that can dialogue with other religions.
Paris (AsiaNews) – Salafist Wahhabism is a "new, false religion" that pushes to "hate the infidel", although at the base of every faith "there should be a rapprochement between human beings," writes Henda Ayari, a 39-year-old Franco-Tunisian who was linked to radical Islam for many years. After a long period of reflection, she is still a faithful Muslim but has abandoned the fundamentalist ideology because of its mistakes, abuses, and violence.
In an autobiographical book titled ‘J'ai choisi d'être libre’ (I chose to be free), Henda Ayari talks about her journey away from the radical vision of Islam, during which she lost every freedom for a long period of her life.
She encountered the Salafist ideology at the age of 21 when she married a fanatical French Muslim. For more than a decade she lived covered from head to toe subjected to the authority of an ever more violent husband.
In her reflections about Islam, she attacks Saudi Arabia as the leading proponent of a radical vision of the Muslim faith. A vision that is political and economic, even before it is cultural, one that is promoted by the royal family that rules in Riyadh to keep its supremacy among Muhammad’s followers.
"At 20 I was young and Salafist," Henda Ayari says. "At 39 I am a free Muslim woman." And to those who seem not to understand her message, she wishes to show the two different images that accompany the article: before and after, the years of Wahhabi strictness and the subsequent emancipation, without denying her faith. Henda Ayari’s reflections follow. Translation by AsiaNews:
Why I left Salafism:
I left Salafism because it is a danger to the Muslim world and to the rest of mankind!
After having being immersed in Salafism for a long time, I decided to reject totally this ideology, from the day I understood the real danger of this doctrine and the important threat that hovered under the attractive aspects of this "new and false religion" for Muslims.
I have spent many years (more than 20) trying to understand that in reality Salafism is a very dangerous sectarian ideology, which aims to divide and foster communalism and hatred among peoples!
During the years I lived in Salafism, I have attended conferences of Salafist scholars, in France, and in other countries like Saudi Arabia. I have read many books and gone through hundreds of pages, of texts written by their false scholars, and I became everything that I did not want to be, an intolerant and hateful person against those who were different from me as have many Muslims without even realising it, since we fall unknowingly and almost unconsciously under the influence of one of the most dangerous sects in the world. . . after the Jehovah’s Witnesses and many other sects . . .
To simplify, in this new false religion, we are driven to hate the "unbeliever" whilst, at its basis, a religion should serve to bring people together, respect all creatures, and live in peace and harmony.
After several years of reflection and research, I was able to document myself, through long hours of research. For months, and years, I found enough evidence that pushed me to reject totally Salafist ideology, which I would rather describe as Wahhabi Salafism.
I take total responsibility for my choice today and I have decided to tell my view on this subject, claiming to be "a repentant of Salafism" with all due respect to my opponents!
It is a long topic that cannot be explained in a single text, but for those who are interested here is an explanation:
What is the relationship between Salafism and Saudi Arabia?
I can say that Saudi Arabia is the main sponsor of the hateful Wahhabi ideology against the Western world and non-Muslims. . .
The Wahhabi Salafist ideology is a serious threat to peace between peoples. It is an ideology on which terrorists rely.
More and more converts around the world follow this ideology, when they are freshly converted, more easily manipulated, and more sensitive to toxic messages and the hateful ideology imposed in this doctrine. This explains why many young converts are turning to terrorism. They idealise religion more easily, which is why they consider the Islamic State as a new Eldorado . . .
For Wahhabi Salafists:
Tolerant Muslims are apostates, each non-Muslim is a "disbeliever" and therefore an enemy of Muslims who must be fought. Those who claim to be Salafist quietists are just as dangerous as those who openly embrace jihadism, because they are in fact propagators of hatred and division. In society, they organise themselves in order to move as far away as possible from society and non-Muslims so as to live among themselves, whilst taking advantage of the social assistance provided by governments and a Republic they hate. . . Despite the fact that Salafism imposes Hijrah (emigration) to the land of Islam, many choose to live in Western countries such as France where they find certain "social" benefits whilst claiming to live according to the ‘Sunnah’ (i.e. following the ancient tradition of the Prophet) under the protection of freedom and democracy (e.g. including the demand for communal activities, segregated swimming pools for women, etc.)
Their main objective is to live as in ancient times, like during the age of the prophet, following the Sunnah and the texts inspired by Wahhabi "scholars". These "scholars" were able to allow the House of Saud to establish itself in power, thanks to many "fatwas", i.e. religious edicts issued by themselves, imposing their rules in the Saudi kingdom as well as in the whole world . . .
The Saudis are primarily responsible for the international spread of a religious ideology that explicitly promotes hatred, intolerance, and other violations of human rights and, in some cases, violence against members of other religious groups, both Muslim and non-Muslim.
For decades, Saudi Arabia has injected billions of petrodollars into Islamic organisations around the world. One of Riyadh’s priorities is to spread a fanatical version of Sunni Islam and fight against the spread of Shia Islam from its worst enemy, Iran.
Saudi authorities have set up a whole system of influence that is financed with petrodollars. Riyadh provides financial means to preachers abroad, builds mosques, schools, centres, and supports campaigns to counter officials and media abroad that are likely to oppose the Kingdom's agenda.
In one of the many leaflets they distribute to spread their doctrine throughout the world, one can read the words of a senior religious leader:
"Do not associate with infidels, hate them for their religion, leave them, never rely on them for help, do not admire them, and always oppose them by every mean in accordance with Islamic law.”
The advice is categorical: Anyone who helps infidels against Muslims, whatever the type of support provided, is himself an unbeliever. For them, Western countries, like America, France . . . are the ‘Abode of the infidels’, i.e. Christians and Jews!
Wahhabi Salafists push towards a form of Nazism that inspires and promotes hatred of Jews, using the Palestinian cause, a cause that they do not really defend themselves.
In some Wahhabi Salafist books – for example, the short leaflet with the greetings of the Cultural Service of the Saudi Embassy in Washington, (published by the Government of Saudi Arabia) or in other books, like the manuals by the Saudi Education Ministry, collections of fatwas, religious decrees . . . issued by the government’s religious bureau, or those published by other Riyadh-based organisations – one finds detailed instructions on how to behave as a Muslim.
One reads about ways to push every Muslim to build a "wall of resentment" between Muslims and infidels:
"Never greet Christians or Jews first, never pass on best wishes to the unbeliever on his holidays, never befriend an infidel except to convert him, never imitate the infidels, never work for an infidel, do not wear a graduation gown because it is imitating the infidels." In another book, one can read that if relations between Muslims and non-Muslims were harmonious, there would be no more "loyalty, nor enmity, no more jihad nor struggle to elevate Allah's work on earth."
These texts fill libraries, study rooms, mosques, bookstores, all over the world, and in France they have done terrible damage to the minds of many Muslims.
Not all books in these mosques espouse extremism, and not all extremist works are Saudi. But Saudi Arabia remains by far the state responsible for most of the publications conveying an ideology of hatred against disbelievers who populate non-Muslim countries.
These texts demonstrate Muslims’ indoctrination in the bellicose and hostile ideology of the radical Wahhabi Salafist sect of Saudi Arabia. Saudis must be Muslim, and the Saudi government, in collaboration with the country’s religious establishment, imposes Wahhabism as the official doctrine of the State.
The Wahhabism that the Saudi monarchy applies, and on which its legitimacy is based, presents itself as a fanatically sectarian, xenophobic and sometimes violent ideology. Their texts articulate a wrathful dogma that rejects the coexistence of different religions and explicitly condemns Christians, Jews, all other non-Muslims, as well as non-Wahhabi Muslims.
The analysis of all religious texts by Wahhabi Salafists shows that it is a religious obligation for Muslims to hate Christians and Jews. They warn against imitating "infidels", establishing bonds of friendship with them or helping them in any way whatsoever, and participating in their festivities and celebrations.
They inculcate contempt for non-Muslim states, because these countries are governed by civil laws rather than Wahhabi-style totalitarian Islamic laws. Some texts order Muslims not to take the citizenship of these countries as long as these countries are governed by infidels. They even advise their followers to work for the creation of an Islamic state.
The time has come to fight this devastating doctrine and affirm the principles of freedom and human rights against Saudi Wahhabism as well as confront directly the teachings of this hateful ideology. . .