In answer to one person’s question Hadhrat Hakim all-Umma Mawlana Shah Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi(may Allah have mercy on him) replied:
I don’t know how these innovators (bid’ati) link us to the Wahhabi’s?
First of all, the one whose name they are slandering is not even Abdul Wahab. For no reason they have slandered the poor guy. The actual person is Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab who took to extremes in certain matters, but not to the extent that these people slander him for.
Moreover, our aqaa’id are not even similar to his. If they argue that some of our beliefs are similar to his, then the answer to that is: your beliefs are similar to his also. For example, ‘Muhammd ibn Abdul Wahab believes that Islam is the truth, and so do you. He believes in the prophet hood of Muhammad (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) and so do you.’ So what is so bad about that?
And in so many issues (masa’il) we have major differences with him. So how can we be considered his followers? For example, he considers traveling for the visitation of Prophet’s (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him)) blessed grave to be forbidden, whereas we say that it is praise-worthy (mustahab), rather emphasized to do so. Even some of our scholars gone to the extent of having the opinion that it is essential (wajib).
How then are we Wahhabis?
If they consider us Wahhabis due to the fact that we also don’t send curses on him like they do, then it should be known that Hazrat Rabi’ah Basriah (may Allah have mercy on her) would not even like to curse Satan (shaytan). In reality, this type of cursing and absolving oneself from others is the practice of the Shia (rawaafidh), and has no basis according to Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah.
So, how is it then that we are labeled as Wahhabis?”
Malfuzat-e-Hakim al-Umma ra; 8/253
Translated by Hadhrat Mawlana Tameem Ahmadi مدظله