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For the 18th century Saudi-Arabian female military leader, see Ghaliyya al-Wahhabiyya.
Wahhabism is a religious movement or a branch of Islam. It was developed by an 18th century Muslim theologian (Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab) from Najd, Saudi Arabia. Ibn Abdul Al-Wahhab advocated purging Islam of what he considered to be impurities and innovations. Wahhabism is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia. It has developed considerable influence in the Muslim world in part through Saudi funding of mosques, schools and social programs.
Wahhabism claims to adhere to the correct understanding of the general Islamic doctrine of Tawhid, the Uniqueness and Unity of God, shared by the majority of Islamic sects, but uniquely interpreted by Abdul Al-Wahhab . Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab was influenced by the writings of Ibn Taymiyya and questioned classical interpretations of Islam, claiming to rely on the Qur'an and the Hadith. He attacked a "perceived moral decline and political weakness" in the Arabian Peninsula and condemned what he perceived as idolatry, the popular cult of saints, and shrine and tomb visitation.
The terms "Wahhabi" and "Salafi" (as well as ahl al-hadith, people of hadith) are often used interchangeably, but Wahhabi has also been called "a particular orientation within Salafism", an orientation some consider ultra-conservative and heretical.
Wahhabism in the United States
A study conducted by the NGO Freedom House found Wahhabi publications in mosques in the United States. These publications included statements that Muslims should not only "always oppose" infidels "in every way", but "hate them for their religion ... for Allah's sake", that democracy "is responsible for all the horrible wars of the 20th century", and that Shia and certain Sunni Muslims were infidels.
The Saudi government issued a response to this report, stating: "[It has] worked diligently during the last five years to overhaul its education system [but] [o]verhauling an educational system is a massive undertaking... As with previous reports, Freedom House continues to exhibit a disregard for presenting an accurate picture of the reality that exists in Saudi Arabia."
A review of the study by Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) complained the study cited documents from only a few mosques, arguing most mosques in the U.S. are not under Wahhabi influence. ISPU comments on the study were not entirely negative however, and concluded:
American-Muslim leaders must thoroughly scrutinize this study. Despite its limitations, the study highlights an ugly undercurrent in modern Islamic discourse that American-Muslims must openly confront. However, in the vigor to expose strains of extremism, we must not forget that open discussion is the best tool to debunk the extremist literature rather than a suppression of First Amendment rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Militant and political Islam
What connection, if any, there is between Wahhabism and Jihadi Salafis is disputed. Natana De Long-Bas, senior research assistant at the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, argues:
The militant Islam of Osama bin Laden did not have its origins in the teachings of Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab and was not representative of Wahhabi Islam as it is practiced in contemporary Saudi Arabia, yet for the media it came to define Wahhabi Islam during the later years of bin Laden's lifetime. However "unrepresentative" bin Laden's global jihad was of Islam in general and Wahhabi Islam in particular, its prominence in headline news took Wahhabi Islam across the spectrum from revival and reform to global jihad.
Noah Feldman distinguishes between what he calls the "deeply conservative" Wahhabis and what he calls the "followers of political Islam in the 1980s and 1990s," such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad and later Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. While Saudi Wahhabis were "the largest funders of local Muslim Brotherhood chapters and other hard-line Islamists" during this time, they opposed jihadi resistance to Muslim governments and assassination of Muslim leaders because of their belief that "the decision to wage jihad lay with the ruler, not the individual believer".
Karen Armstrong, former US "emissary" to Islam, states that Osama bin Laden, like most extremists, followed the ideology of Sayyid Qutb, not "Wahhabism".
International influence and propagation
According to observers such as Gilles Kepel, Wahhabism gained considerable influence in the Islamic world following a tripling in the price of oil in the mid-1970s and the progressive takeover of Saudi Aramco in the 1974-1980 period. The Saudi government began to spend tens of billions of dollars throughout the Islamic world to promote Wahhabism, which was sometimes referred to as "petro-Islam". According to the documentary called The Qur'an aired in the UK, presenter Antony Thomas suggested the figure may be "upward of $100 billion".
Its largess funded an estimated "90% of the expenses of the entire faith", throughout the Muslim world, according to journalist Dawood al-Shirian. The funds supported children's madrasas, high-level scholarship, mosque construction ("more than 1500 mosques were built from Saudi public funds over the last 50 years") were paid for.) and operation and many other activities. It rewarded journalists and academics, who followed it and built satellite campuses around Egypt for Al Azhar, the oldest and most influential Islamic university.
This financial power has done much to overwhelm less strict local interpretations of Islam, according to observers like Dawood al-Shirian and Lee Kuan Yew, and has caused the Saudi interpretation to be perceived as the correct interpretation in many Muslims' minds.
The Saudis have spent at least $87 billion propagating Wahhabism abroad during the past two decades, and the scale of financing is believed to have increased in the past two years. The bulk of this funding goes towards the construction and operating expenses of mosques, madrasas, and other religious institutions that preach Wahhabism. It also supports imam training; mass media and publishing outlets; distribution of textbooks and other literature; and endowments to universities (in exchange for influence over the appointment of Islamic scholars). Some of the hundreds of thousands of non-Saudis who live in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf have been influenced by Wahhabism and preach Wahhabism in their home country upon their return. Agencies controlled by the Kingdom's Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Da'wah and Guidance are responsible for outreach to non-Muslim residents and are converting hundreds of non-Muslims into Islam every year.
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost
September 13, 1863 Sensing a change in Lee's lines, George Meade [US] pushes the Army of the Potomac to the Rapidan River
September 16, 1863 Thomas Crittenden [US] reaches Lee and Gordon Mill on the Chickamauga River. Rosecrans [US] orders the rest of his men, spread out along 50 miles of Georgia's backwoods, to concentrate at this landmark.
September 17, 1863 Forward echelons of Longstreet's Corps begins arriving in Northwest Georgia.
September 18, 1863 Rosecrans [US] orders Thomas north on Layfayette Road in an attempt to outflank Bragg's forces.
September 19, 1863
September 20, 1863 Battle of Chickamauga
General Braxton Bragg [CS] tries to split General William Rosecrans [US] forces as they try to return to the safety of Chattanooga. A second day breakthrough at the Brotherton Cabin forces the federals into a retreat, halted only by the Rock of Chickamauga, General George Thomas on Snodgrass Hill
The bloodiest two days in American history cost the Federals 1,657 dead, 9,756 wounded, and 4,757 missing for a total of 16,170 casualties out of 58,000 troops. The Confederate losses were 2,312 dead, 14,674 wounded and 1,468 for a total of 18,545 out of 66,000 troops.
The last major Confederate victory of the American Civil War. Coming after defeat at Gettysburg and the loss of Vicksburg, Chickamauga gave Confederate supporters a last brief hope of victory. It brought to an end a Union campaign that had driven Braxton Bragg?s Army of Tennessee out of Tennessee and forced the abandonment of Chattanooga, cutting one of the main railroads into Virginia from the rest of the Confederacy.
The summer of 1863 saw the attention of the Confederacy split between Lee?s invasion of Pennsylvania, which ended at Gettysburg, and U. S. Grant?s attack on Vicksburg. Bragg?s army was weakened as he sent reinforcements to the army attempting to relieve Vicksburg. For a time over the summer he was very vulnerable, but the Federal commander, General William Rosecrans, let most of that time pass without moving.
At the end of June, the Federal Army of the Cumberland, drove Bragg out of his defensive positions at Tullahoma, between Chattanooga and Murfreesboro. Bragg withdrew to Chattanooga and prepared to resist attack. The first week of July 1863 was one of the low points of the Confederacy. On 4 July 1863 Vicksburg surrendered and Lee pulled back from Gettysburg. Now Bragg had lost Tennessee without a fight, and suddenly the heart of Georgia was vulnerable.
Ironically, defeat at Vicksburg and Gettysburg helped Bragg! The troops he had sent west were returned to him. In the east, the Army of the Potomac was clearly in no state to move onto the offensive. Victory at Gettysburg did just as much damage as defeat at Chancellorsville had done. For once the Confederates took advantage of their interior lines, and decided to send James Longstreet with two divisions (about 12,000 men) from the Army of Northern Virginia to aid Bragg. Longstreet?s men left Virginia on 9 September. The original plan had been for them to use the railroad through east Tennessee, a 550 mile trip. However, on 3 September a Federal army under General Burnside had entered Knoxville, blocking that route. Longstreet?s men were forced to take a 900 mile round trip, eventually reaching Bragg from the south. Only half of them would arrive in time for the upcoming battle.
That battle would be fought south of Chattanooga. On 16 August Rosecrans began to move again. One part of his army (Crittenden?s corps ) was sent towards Chattanooga, arriving opposite the town on 21 August. The other two were sent downstream, crossing over the river at Caperton?s Ferry, thirty five miles west (McCook?s corps), and at Bridgeport (Thomas?s corps), a little closer. They crossed the Tennessee on 29 August. This placed Bragg in a difficult situation. From their position west of Lookout Mountain, the Federal forces threatened his railroad link south. In order to avoid becoming besieged in Chattanooga, Bragg pulled out on 8 September, moving south to LaFayette, Georgia. The following day, troops from Crittenden?s corps entered Chattanooga.
Bragg was now to get a series of excellent chances to destroy isolated elements of Rosecrans army. He gained these chances by convincing Rosecrans that the Confederate retreat was a disorderly flight. False deserters were sent into the Federal lines with the story that Bragg wasn?t planning to stop before Atlanta.
Rosecrans was already elated by the capture of Chattanooga. He was convinced that Bragg was in full retreat, and in order to take advantage of this decided to throw his forces across Lookout Mountain. The mountain stretches south from Chattanooga through Georgia and Alabama with widely separated passes. Rosecrans maintained the same separate of his three corps that had achieved the capture of Chattanooga. Crittenden moved slowly south from the town. Thomas moved across Lookout Mountain into McLemore?s Cove, twenty miles south of Chattanooga. Finally, McCook was sent much further south, to Alpine, a further twenty miles south.
Thomas?s corps was the first to run the risk of attack. Two of his divisions ? Negley?s and Baird?s were crossing Lookout Mountain via Steven?s Gap into McLemore?s Cove. Negley was alone in the Cove on 9-10 September. Bragg ordered an attack on this isolated Federal division on 10 September. However, by now he had lost the confidence of his subordinates, and on 10 September they failed to launch what could have been a devastating attack by an entire army corps (D. H. Hill?s) on a single brigade. The next day an attack was launched, but by now Negley had been joined by Baird, and they were able to withdraw to a strong position on the slopes of Lookout Mountain.
On 12 September it was Crittenden?s turn to be vulnerable. He was probing east from Rossville Gap (in Missionary Ridge) towards Ringgold, leaving various parts of his command exposed to attack, but once again Bragg?s subordinates found more reasons not to obey his orders. By now Rosecrans was aware that Bragg was not retreating after all, and he began to bring his army back together in McLemore?s Cove. Crittenden was pulled back towards Missionary Ridge to protect the roads back to Chattanooga. McCook was called back from Alpine, and between 13 and 17 September marched back to Steven?s Gap in Lookout Mountain.
By the end of 17 September it looked like Bragg had missed his chance. The bulk of Rosecrans?s army was now reunited in McLemore Cove. His left flank had reached Lee and Gordon?s Mill on the West Chickamauga Creek, far enough north to ensure access to Chattanooga via the Chattanooga Valley, west of Missionary Ridge. His reserves, under General Gordon Granger, were further north, at Rossville Gap in Missionary Ridge.
Bragg saw one last chance to gain his victory. If he could cross over the West Chickamauga Creek north of Lee and Gordon?s Mill and get between Rosecrans and Chattanooga he would have a chance to push the Federal army back into the mountains. If Rosecrans could be forced to retrace his steps back across Lookout Mountain, then Bragg would have the time he needed to recapture Chattanooga.
By 18 September it was probably already too late for this plan to succeed as Bragg intended. His army would have had to cross over the West Chickamauga Creek, reach and cross Missionary Ridge and block the southern end of the Chattanooga Valley if he was to prevent Rosecrans escaping north. Even so, if Bragg had succeeding in turning the federal left wing on 18 September then he would have gained a massive advantage.
Instead, his advance was sluggish. Many of his troops were still at Ringgold and LaFayette, and so had quite some distance to advance to reach the West Chickamauga. Rosecran?s excellent cavalry was able to slow down the advanced units of Bragg?s army while reinforcements were rushed north. Finally, General George Thomas?s Fourteenth Corps made an overnight march to be in place to block Bragg. The same day saw the arrival of the first of Longstreet?s corps, commanded by General John Hood.
The morning on 19 September found both armies on the west bank of the West Chickamauga Creek. The first day of the battle developed without an overall plan on the Confederate side. It began when Thomas received a report that a small Confederate force had crossed over the creek and then had its bridge burnt behind it. He sent three brigades forward to investigate this and instead found Forrest?s cavalry.
The fighting on 19 September consisted of a series of uncoordinated Confederate attacks, many of which achieved some success before being pushed back by Federal reinforcements. By the end of the day, Bragg had failed to break past the Federal left flank, but had pushed the line back quite a distance.
That evening Longstreet finally reached the army, accompanied by two more brigades, although only half of his corps reached the area in time to take part in the fighting. Bragg decided to make immediate use of Longstreet, and reorganised his army into two wings. The right wing was given to General Leonidas Polk, the left to Longstreet.
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost
Polk has been a controversial choice. The attack did not start at dawn. Exactly why has been the subject of much debate between supports of Polk, Bragg and D. H. Hill as to who received orders when, where they were and what they should have done. Hill, whose men were to have led the attack, did not receive the order early enough to put it into effect. Hill and Polk do not seem to have made adequate arrangements for communications to pass between them.
D. H. Hill was later to assign the blame for the failure to attack to Bragg, on the grounds that preparations for an attack could not be made ?without the presence of the commander-in-chief?. This is an idiotic suggestion. The whole point of having a chain of command is to make sure that the commander-in-chief does not have to make sure of every single detail during a battle.
What this does demonstrate is just how hard it was to command a big army before the advent of the radio. On some battlefields it was possible to put in place a field telegraph, but even this could only be effective in fairly static battles. At Chickamauga the heavily wooded terrain blocked visibility. Messages could only pass at the speed of a mounted man. Worse, Polk and Hill each had to keep moving, visiting various parts of their wing or division. Our mounted messenger would have to go to their target?s last known position and hope that someone would be there who knew where that person had gone next.
Despite all the attention it has attracted, the failure to attack at dawn does not appear to have made any real difference to the result of the battle. The attack was launched at 9.30 a.m. and met with partial success. On the Confederate far right the attack outflanked the Federal defences, capturing Thomas?s field hospital and threatening to get behind the Federal lines. Reinforcements were rushed to the Federal left, and the immediate danger passed. The rest of the Confederate attack met Thomas?s corps head on, and after an hour of fierce fighting the attack was repulsed.
However, the attack had been so fierce that Rosecrans became convinced that the entire Confederate army was attacking his left (four miles further north, General Granger, in charge of the reserves, came to the same conclusion, and at about 11.30 a.m. his men began their march towards the sound of the guns). The Federal right had not yet been attacked ? Longstreet?s wing was just out of sight, awaiting orders. Rosecrans began to shuffle men from his right to support Thomas on the left. During this process, a gap appeared in the Federal line. Wood?s division was ordered to move left to block a non-existent gap, creating a real one.
If this had happened at another time during the day it probably wouldn?t have mattered, but just as this gap appeared, Longstreet launched his attack. Rather than attack all along the Federal line, Longstreet had decided to form up in three lines and launch a concentrated attack on part of the Federal line. His eight brigades now marched straight into the gap. Longstreet and Bragg had been handed the chance to inflict a truly crushing defeat on a major Federal army. Longstreet was to come very close to taking that chance.
Realising what had happened, Longstreet wheeled to his right, hoping to roll up the entire Federal line. At least half of Rosecrans?s army fled the field, rushing north towards Chattanooga. Amongst them was Rosecrans, whose headquarters had been overrun. As he reached Missionary Ridge, Rosecrans had had a chance to stop and regroup, but there he encountered parts of units from the Federal left and became convinced that his entire army was in flight. Accordingly, he decided that his duty was to get back to Chattanooga and prepare to defend the city.
20 September: The Rock of Chickamauga
With the collapse of the Federal right and Rosecrans absent, the fate of the Union army was left in the hands of General George Thomas, commanding the four remaining divisions on the Federal left. Expecting reinforcements from his right, instead he found Confederate troops marching to the attack!
Fortunately, he had a strong position on Snodgrass Hill, a spur of Missionary Ridge. An attack on his left wing had just been repulsed, so he was able to rush troops across to face this new threat. The new Federal position resembled a horseshoe around the edge of the hill. Longstreet?s first attack on this new position was repulsed at around 1.00 p.m., ending his quick advance.
For the rest of the day Thomas resisted repeated Confederate attacks on his line. The most dangerous moment came at around 3.00 p.m., when Longstreet worked a strong force around one flank of the Federal army (some accounts say the Federal left, but actually on the right). Thomas had no reserves to resist this movement, and for a moment it looked like defeat was imminent.
Fortunately, this was the moment when Granger?s reserves finally arrived. These fresh troops were thrown into the line, and Longstreet?s attack was repulsed. This was some of the fiercest fighting of the day, coming down to bayonet charges at times. The reserve corps suffered nearly 50% casualties (1175 killed and wounded and 613 missing out of 3700 men engaged).
Finally, at 5.30, Thomas began to withdraw back towards McFarland?s Gap and Rossville Gap. He had received orders to pull back earlier in the afternoon, but had determined to remain in place until the Confederate attacks stopped. Now there was a lull in the fighting, and so Thomas left Granger in charge on Snodgrass Hill and started to withdraw his left wing.
Soon after Thomas began this move, The Confederate right launched another attack. By now it was nearly dark. The Confederate attacker succeeding in capturing the Federal lines, but not the Federal army (although did take 1,000 prisoners in the final assault). Finally, darkness fell. Thomas was able to withdraw the rest of his men from Snodgrass Hill to Rossville Gap.
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost