Middle East Resources

Abdallah Al-Quseimi: From Wahabism to Ilhad

An Example of a Radical Metanoia

Bassam Michael Madany

15 July 2022


Throughout history, there were a number of radical changes in certain persons’ beliefs.  This phenomenon is called Metanoia.  “The term suggests repudiation, change of mind.” (Oxford) - Also, “a fundamental change in character or outlook,(Collins)” 

An early example of a person undergoing a Metanoia, would be Saint Paul. The account of his conversion to the Christian faith is recorded in the Book of Acts, Chapter 9. His missionary activities in the Mediterranean world occupy the rest of Acts (13-28)  

Another example of one who experienced Metanoia is Saint Augustine (354-430) ”In his youth he was drawn to the eclectic Manichaean faith, and later to  Neoplatonism. After his conversion to Christianity and baptism in 386, Augustine developed his own approach to philosophy and theology, accommodating a variety of methods and perspectives.[3”                                      

Coming closer to our times, Martin Luther (1483-1546) is an example of Metanoia. He is  considered  as a “theologian and religious reformer who was the catalyst of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation.” The conversions of Paul, Augustine, and Luther determined the nature of Christianity, as a faith that revealed God’s redeeming love of humanity.                                                            

The Metanoias that occurred in the 20th century, were in the cultural and political fields. Mostly, they related to Western men whose concern for “the Crisis of our Time” led them first to Marxism, as exemplified in the USSR, under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin. Eventually, having understood the true nature of its ideology and learned of its horrific crimes, they came out to witness against it. Their testimony was published in “The God That Failed.”  

It was a classic work and a crucial document of the Cold War that brought “together essays by six of the most important writers of the twentieth century on their conversion to and subsequent disillusionment with communism.” André Gide (France), Richard Wright (the United States), Ignazio Silone (Italy), Stephen Spender (England), Arthur Koestler (Germany), and Louis Fischer, an American foreign correspondent, all told how their search for the betterment of humanity led them to communism, and the personal agony and revulsion which then caused them to reject it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_God_that_Failed 

“A most dramatic Metanoia of the twentieth century was that of Whittaker Chambers. He was the veteran Soviet spy who became, in William F. Buckley Jr.’s words, ‘the most important American defector from Communism’ when he testified against members of his underground Communist cell in the 1930s. Yet Chambers did more than reject Communism: He revealed a key problem with modern liberalism. In his now-classic autobiography Witness, he argued that Communism ought to be rejected in the name of something other than 20th-century modern liberalism by showing how the two grew out of a common ideology that places unbounded confidence in state power. As he remarked, New Deal acolytes had no principled reason for opposing unlimited state intrusion into the social, economic, and political realms. Herein lies the source of Chambers’ ongoing relevance: While Communism stands discredited, many still accept its fundamental conceit that man makes his own reality, and that the government is the solution to all our ills.”                                   

Thus far, we’ve been citing examples of Metanoias that took place in the West. Now, we turn to the Arab/Muslim world where a major case of Metanoia happened in the life of a prominent Saudi scholar, Abdallah Al-Quseimi.  

The Algerian scholar, Hamid Zanaz contributed an article about Al-Quseimi’s Metanoia, that was published on the online Arabic Journal, Al-Awan, on 28 April 2011. 

 عبد الله القصيمي، من الوهابية إلى الإلحاد  Abdallah al-Quseimi: from Wahhabism to Ilhad http://www.alawan.org/article9698.html 

Lately, Al-Awan’s website has not been functioning. Since I had already downloaded the article, I was able to translate excerpts from the article. 

Al-Quseimi didn’t simply critique the Islamic religious tradition, he called for its destruction. He continued his call for the Arabs to radically liberate themselves from everything Islamic. The important fact is that he came from within a religious system where he had occupied a prominent place and having authored several works in defence of Wahhabism

“Like all genuine intellectuals, he did not hesitate to follow the guidance of his mind. His courage led to the rejection of everything that he had previously believed. He considered everything in the Islamic tradition as a roadblock to any progress among the Arabs. The apathy and passivity of the Arab mind contributed to its acceptance of the shallow opinions of the Fuqaha (legal authorities,) past and present.  

“Unlike the hesitant advocates of modernity, Al-Quseimi expounded his radical unbelief in several of his works and remained steadfast in his rational views, to the very end of his life. 

“Notwithstanding the attempts of some Islamic circles to claim that Al-Quseimi repented and returned to Al-Sirat Al-Mustaqeem (the Right Path,) such efforts are fruitless. No one can “assassinate” his books; in fact, they are being reprinted, and some are available on the Internet. The titles of his book include “How Muslims Lost Their Way – 1940” “These Are The Shackles – 1946” “A Limitless Sahara – 1967” “The Arabs Are An Oral Phenomenon.”   

“While one may understand the attitude of the Islamists vis-à-vis Al-Quseimi, the silence of most of Arab intellectuals is puzzling, as they neither praised nor critiqued him, but treated him as if he had never existed!   

Al-Quseimi’s books remain his most important legacy. As to those who claimed that he suffered from mental illness, that points to their desperate attempt to disparage his radical Metanoia.” 


Links to some articles of Hamid Zanaz  

The West’s Predicament: Unable to Heed Warning Signs - Middle East Resources (unashamedofthegospel.org

Islamism as Told (Explained) to My Daughter - Middle East Resources (unashamedofthegospel.org

“Boulevard of Islamism: An Example of How Islam Is Spreading and Impacting Europe” (answering-islam.org