Qatar embraces Wahhabism to strengthen regional influence

One stone, flock of birds

DOHA - Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani inaugurated on Friday the “Imam Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab” Mosque in Doha.
During the opening, Sheikh Hamad reaffirmed his commitment to spare no efforts to carry the message and spread the teachings of Islam in the whole world, noting that the Muslim nation is now in need of renewal and inspiration of the experience of Wahhab’s da’wah (call) while keeping pace with the era and its developments.
The inauguration started with a recitation of verses from the Holy Qur’an followed by the screening of a documentary on the mosque.
Ibn Abdul Wahab (1703-1792) preached a return to "pure Islam" and called for purging Islam of what he considered "impurities and negative innovations."
In his teachings, he urged Muslims to uphold only "the original principles of Islam as typified by the Salaf" and to reject "corruptions introduced by bidah (negative innovations and heresy). The scholar emphasized that there could be no intercession between God and worshippers.
Located in the Jubailat district of Doha the newly-built State Mosque will be formally opened for prayers on Friday.
Situated on the northern side in the central part of Doha city, it overlooks the Qatar Sports Club.
The mosque covers a total area of 175,164 sq.m. As many as 11,000 men can offer prayers in the air-conditioned central hall of the mosque and the adjacent special enclosure is spacious enough for 1200 women.
Ideologically, in recent years Qatar, which like Saudi Arabia is Wahhabi, has assisted Islamic movements in the Arab world.
Islamists, of course, have proved to be major players so far, and with influential clerics such as Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi theologising for years on al-Jazeera's screens, Qatar has since long had a direct channel to most Islamist parties in the region.
Rather than imposing an Islamist agenda on the region, as some have accused it, Qatar is taking advantage of the clout it has built with them over the years to position itself as a leading interlocutor.
Equally at ease with Islamist and secular parties, with liberals and conservatives, Qatar is reaping what it sowed and patiently nurtured years ago, giving it enough political capital on top of its formidable wealth to influence the region.