Who was Muhammad b. `Abd al-Wahhâb and what is a Wahhâbî?
Sheikh `Abd al-`Azîz `Abd al-Latîf
Muhammad b. `Abd al-Wahhâb was a scholar from central Arabia who expended great efforts to reform the faith, following the example of the Prophets (peace be upon him) and the great scholars and reformers of the past. He called the people to worship Allah alone and warned them against polytheism in all of its manifestations. He also called them to strict adherence to the Qur’ân and Sunnah. He spoke out against heretical innovations with wisdom, taking the circumstances of the people into consideration.
The best way to understand the ideas of Muhammad b. `Abd al-Wahhâb is to read his writings. Perhaps the questioner is familiar with his book Kitâb al-Tawhîd which has been translated into English and which provides a good introduction to his views. Many fine commentaries have been written on it like Fath al-Majîd, Hâshiyah Ibn Qâsim, and al-Sa`dî’s al-Qawl al-Sadîd.
The term “Wahhâbî” has been applied to the message of Sheikh Muhammad b. `Abd al-Wahhâb and to those who share his ideas.
The so-called "Wahhâbîs" are not a sect or new process. No one calls himself a "Wahhâbî". It is a term foisted on people by others. The people so labeled are just people who call Muslims to return to their religion as it originally came from the Prophet (peace be upon him) and to leave falsehoods and fictions - such as wandering around graves and worshipping the deceased - that have nothing to do with the pure religion.
Those who advocate such erroneous practices have animosity for those who oppose those practices. They are the ones who coined the term "Wahhâbî" as a derogatory phrase.
Source: Islam Today
-- Al Arabiya Digital