The first thing we scrutinize is the ijazat and the curriculum vitae. In Islam, we know our scholars by their teachers and the institutions they have learned from. As such, it is important to know the teachers and the chains of transmission. The scholars we take our knowledge from are part of a chain that dates back to our Sultan Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. This is called isnad or silsila and it is very important to preserve our faith.
A graduate from the University of Medina is likely a Wahhabi. It is their premier institution set up by the Saudi state to promote their version of Islam. The following are some of the more famous graduates from this deviant institution: Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, Bilal Philips, Zakir Naik, Salim al-Amry and Feiz Mohammad. This also includes graduates of derivative programs by the alumni of the University of Medina such as Dr. Bilal Philips' Islamic Online University and Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan's Bayyinah Institute. Salih al-Munajjid and his IslamQA.info are also to be averted.
The Saudi Wahhabi state also has several organisations to spread their doctrine. This includes the World Assembly of Muslim Youth. al-Maghrib Institute and al-Kauthar are funded through WAMY. Almost every instructor from these two is from the University of Medina. Unless one belongs to their sect, it is impossible to be appointed in any position.
Another organization funded by them is Peace TV. The most famous presenters on that program are Zakir Naik, Yusuf Estes, Hussain Yee, Abdullah Hakim Quick, Abdur Raheem Green and Bilal Philips. The majority of the presenters are either hardcore Salafi/Wahhabi, or sympathetic towards it.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait are dominated by the Wahhabi sect. It is impossible to be appointed to a state position concerning the religion unless one is connected to the Ahl ash-Shaykh, the descendants of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, or shares their ideology. The a’immah that lead the salat in Mecca and Medina must be a Wahhabi. They will accept no other, considering them infidels, mushrikun.
This does not mean, however, that every graduate of the University of Medina, or every single person who took a course at the Islamic Online University, or every attendee of an al-Maghrib program is a Wahhabi. The majority of Muslims are ignorant of their religion and unable to tell when something said is incorrect. We look and judge with the Eye of Rahmah and Husn adh-Dhann.
We must understand that there are two types of people who are Wahhabi. The first are those who have embraced their ‘aqidah and propagate it, condemning the position of the Ahlus-Sunnah w'al-Jama’ah and spreading an ‘aqidah that is essentially heresy. These people are astray and are to be avoided.
And then there are those who have taken position from that doctrine unknowingly, because that was what they were taught and there was no one to tell them otherwise. They are to be treated with compassion and if there is an opportunity, guided to something that is better. Addressing them is also da’wah.
Aside from these, there are a multitude of preachers on social media who are known as such by the things they have said, or the positions they adhere to. We identify them by what they say about certain key issues that depart from the position of the Ahlus-Sunnah w'al-Jama’ah. They include denying taqlid, or the need to follow a madhhab, unless one is a mujtahid. They claim that they are only following the Qur’an and Sunnah solely. In effect, they are denying the Qur’an and Sunnah. This, in itself, is a huge topic and should be addressed separately.
They deny the fact that the Prophet Muhammad, the other Prophets, the Saints, and the Pious Predecessors are alive in the qabr, the Realm of the Grave. This is a major deviation from Islam since it is an absolute denial of the Special Favor of Allah upon His friends, and denies, by extension, any form of intercession.
The Wahhabi sect and its adherents deny tawassul, intercession. They claim that this wasila, this means, is shirk. They use this as a basis to condemn the Muslims as mushrikun, polytheists. It is on this basis that they make the blood of the Muslims halal in conflict. The denial of tawassul also means that the recitation of Salawat, congregational dhikr and Mawlid are extensions of this shirk, that is, idolatrous blasphemy and heresy.
Many of them also deny the shafa’at, intercession of the Prophets, on the Day of Judgment.
They claim that the act of visiting the grave to pay homage, ziyarat, including, specially, the Rawzah of the Prophet in Medina is shirk. They further state that it is shirk to perform swalat in any masjid where there is a grave, maqam. This is why they have agitated and even tried several times to remove the body of the Prophet from Masjid Nabawi. And this is the excuse they use to destroy the maqamat, tombs, of the Pious Predecessors, including previous Prophets, the Companions and Saints, desecrating the bodies.
Finally, the Wahhabis take a literal position regarding the Attributes of God. This includes believing that Allah is in a specific place above the ‘Arsh, believing that He has a physical body, and believing that He is not Transcendent or Immanent. To the Ahlus-Sunnah w'al-Jama’ah, that is shirk, and clear kufr.
In support of this ideology, the Wahhabis refuse to condemn, and quite often support groups like ISIS, al-Qa’idah, Jabhat an-Nusra, the Pakistani Taliban, Boko Haram, Abu Sayyaf, Jama’ah Islaamiyyah and Lashkar Jihad. Some of them have urged their followers to join in the struggle and take up arms even.
Preachers and scholars aside from those already named above, who have explicitly taken a Wahhabi position in some or all of the above include Musa Cerantonio, Yusha Evans, and Abu Mussab Wajdi Akkari.
An indication that someone may be influenced by this sect can be found in the way they dialogue. They will focus a lot on ahadith, but they will ignore any exegesis of it. They will only accept what they consider ‘authentic’, sahih. They have a strange affection for extra vowels, for example: Islaam, Aboo Yusuf, Allaah, Imaan, Qur’aan. And their conversation focuses a lot on the minutiae of externalities to the exclusion of context, diversity in opinion and culture, ‘urf, which is a valid concern in jurisprudence, fiqh. This includes the emphasis that the beard and headscarf are wajib under all circumstances, extreme segregation of men and women, and the liberal use of words such as shirk, kufr, haram and bid’a in all their forms, ignoring the lexical and jurisprudential understanding.
— Sidi Terence Helikaon Nunis of A Muslim Convert Once More