Labelling the groups is indeed a practice of the scholars. We have had many false cults that have broken themselves from the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah and have been thus labelled accordingly. I.e. the Khawaarij, the Qadiriyyah, the Shi’a, the Raafidah, the Murji’ah, the Mutazilah, the Jahmiyyah, the Jabbariyyah, etc. This labelling has not been done with the intention to mockand insult, it is merely the way that scholars have categorized and labelled them when documenting the deviance of each group.
For example, if we was to walk into a shop and there was no labels on the tin food, then how would you differentiate between what is halal and what is haram? How do you know that you are not picking up some dog food, or a tin of pork sausages in brine, whereas you intend to buy a simple tin of beans? What about if you was to walk into a shop that sells medicines and the medicines had no labels. Without saying this would be detrimental to one’s health. Therefore the labelling is only a preventative measure to safeguard the common laity from being poisoned and taking what is forbidden for them
The scholars did this so that the laymen from amongst the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah would avoid the false creed of such cults. Thus the laymen would know to avoid the Kharijites, Jahmis, Shi’ates and so forth, and they would know not to seek religious verdicts from such deviants. They had every right to know about the snares of the false cults. Had these cults not have been labelled and discussed, our Islam, and Imaan would have been in deep peril from the innovations that these false cults have bought about.
To know how to avoid the false cults, then we would have to know their names and why they was called such and what they believed. Most of the times the cults would have been named after their founders, but yet some cults was named after the deviance in the creed itself, or in rare cases the country or city location they was from. However, there was always a good reason why the scholars labelled a cult with a title and their intent in doing so was not derogatory in any sense.
The Karamiyyah was named after their founder Muhammad Ibn Karam and they were known for their denial of the Attributes of Allah. The Khawaarij were named by the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wasallam himself, he even called them the worst of creation and the dogs of the hellfire. The Khawaarij derives from the root Kha-ra-ja which means to exit, and that is exactly what the Khawaarij did. They exited the religion for rebelling against the rulers, takfeering the leaders and the general laity of the Muslims and making their blood permissible to spill. The Hururiyyah, were a offshoot of the Khawaarij, named after their founder and their locality al-Hurur. Without labelling the cults in such a fashion, many innovations would have went unchecked, and the people would have lent their ears to the innovators unknowingly, and we would not have Islam in its pure form
The Prophet spoke about the dangers of the Khawaarij more than any other cult that was to appear. This is recorded in the Ahaadeeth when one of his companions Dhul Khuwaisira at-Tameemi spoke and rebelled by questioning the Prophets honesty and integrity. He accused the Prophet of wrong-doing. The Prophet warned the Sahaabah that from Dhul Khuwaisira at-Tameemi’s offspring would appear a people that recited the Qur’an, but it did not go further than their throats, and that they would go out of the religion like an arrow goes through a deers body. The Prophet also warned us that the Khawaarij would keep appearing up until the appearence of the Dajjal.
Since the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wasallam spoke of them so much, and his prophecies regarding them came true, and still come true to this very day, the scholars, past and present have deemed them to be the most dangerous cult to have ever plagued this earth. The Khawaarij descended from the tribe of tameem and the tribe of tameem originated from the harsh deserts of central ‘Arabia known as Najd. Not only has the Prophet warned us about the Khawaarij, he also warned us much about the fitnaah that would arise and come from Najd. In one hadeeth he refused to du’a for Najd, whereas he would regularly pray for Sham, Yemen, Iraq and other locations of the Muslim world.
This does not mean that everybody from Najd or from the Banu Tameem is evil and misguided. This thought is a false notion propagated by some of our brothers. Indeed we have Abdul Wahhab himself, the father of the misguided Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab. We also have Sulaymaan Ibn Abdul Wahhab. Both were great Hanbali scholars that are renown for their condemnation of the of their very own family member Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab who spearheaded the Wahhabi cult. So whenever you hear a cultist talking about the virtues of the Bani Tameem, then do not be fooled, for indeed the offspring of Banu Tameem can be either righteous or evil. After all the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wasallam said “from amongst their offspring will arise a people”, he did not say “All of his offspring”.
We have to be fair and keep this factor in mind when dealing with these issues. However, do not be tricked by those who call evil good and call the good evil, for this is exactly the stance that cultists take when you discuss their cult. What I mean by this is that the virtues of Bani Tameem can never refer to Dhul Khuwaisira, or the Khawaarij, nor Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab, no matter if he is a descendant from Isma’el alayhis Salaam, because it is known that the descendants of the Prophets went astray, such as Bani Israel, the children of Yaqub alayhis Salaam. And most certainly we are all Bani Adam.
So now we have considered these points the question still remains, is it legitimate to label the people who respect and adhere to the teachings of Muhammad Ibn ‘Abdul Wahhab as a Wahhabi? Secondly is this truly a distortion of Allah’s divine name al-Wahhab? and thirdly, is this merely a title used by the enemies of Islam?
Since classical scholars have labelled those, who argue that humans do not have any free will, with the title Jabbariyyah, it is perfectly permissible to label the deviant creed and following of Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab as the Wahhabiyyah. al-Jabbar and al-Wahhab are both names of Allah, and to call somebody a Jabbari or a Wahhabi is simply making them term al-Jabbariyyah or al-Wahhabiyyah into its active participle. This can be seen by the fact that the active participle for the Jahmiyyah is Jahmi and anybody that is on the creed of the Jahmiyyah is known as a Jahmi.
This is not a distortion of the names of Allah. For the simple reason being that the terms Jabariyyah, Wahhabiyyah, Karaamiyyah and Qadiriyyah are all derivatives of Allah’s name, which means they may have the same same root, they may share the same reappearing trilateral letters but, the nouns Jabbariyyah, Wahabiyyah and so forth are not the actual names of Allah when said in this form of a noun. The same goes for the active participle Wahhabi, in which when spelled in the Arabic language has a yaa as its final letter, and therefore is not the same as saying the Lord’s name al-Wahhab. Anybody with a basic understanding of Arabic morphology [ ilm us-sarf] would know this fact and would not use such a false argument as these Wahhabis are doing in order to scare their following into believing that they are not a false cult. and Allah knows best