LAST EDITED ON 09-28-01 AT 02:53 PM (EST)
Anyone interested in learning more about Islam, and thus seeing where Osama bin Ladin fits into Islamic traditions, should read this brief article by an old friend of mine, David Forte, that appeared in today's Wall Street Journal:
Probably because of space limitations, Forte never explains that the Murji'tes evolved into the Sunni Muslims, which is the "mainstream" branch of Islam today, and the Mu'tazilites evolved into the Shi'ite Muslims, which is the branch of Islam that predominates in Iran and a few other geographic areas. The Saudi Arabians follow a strict version of Islam called Wahabi (or "Wahhabi"), founded in the early 1800 by Abdul-Wahabi and known as "Muwahhid" ("unification" or "unity") by its followers, which (like Luther's reforms) was intended to appeal to all Muslims .., although it descends from what Forte refers to as the legal tradition of Islam:
Prohibitions of wahhabism
1. No other object for worship than Allah.
2. Holy men or women must not be used to win favours from God.
3. No other name than the names of Allah may enter a prayer.
4. No smoking of tobacco.
5. No shaving of beard.
6. No abusive language.
7. Rosaries are forbidden.
8. Mosques must be built without minarets and all forms of ornaments.
Commandments of wahhabism
1. All men must attend public prayer (salat).
2. Alms (zakat) must be paid from all income.
3. Slaughters killing animals according to halal must be controlled for their life style, not only for doing the basic rituals correctly.
Note that many of these rules appear in various Taliban edicts, although they are not part of Sunni tradition, and the Taliban claims to be Sunni. The Taliban and bin Ladin (who professes to be Wahabi) are, as Forte points out, truly descended from the Kharijite tradition (as is much of modern-day fundamentalist Islam).