This is a letter sent by Shaykh Ibn Abd al-Wahhaab to the Shareef Ghaalib in 1204H in explanation of the troubles he faced when he raised two matters, the first of not invoking except Allaah alone and the second tearing down the structures over the graves (which are expressly forbidden in the Sunnah). This letter is found in al-Durar al-Saniyyah (6th edition, 1417H, 1/56-58):
In the name of Allaah, Most-Merciful, ever-Merciful (to His servants). From Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhaab to the notable Scholars in the sacred land of Allaah, al-Haram, may Allaah aid through them, the religion of the chief of creation, upon him be the most excellent prayers and peace, and [to] the followers of the notable imaams [the four imaams]: May the peace, mercy and blessings of Allaah be upon you, to proceed: We have undergone the tribulations that you and others have heard about as a result of the tearing down of structures over the graves of the righteous in our land. Along with this we forbade them to supplicate (directly) to the righteous and ordered them to sincerely invoke Allaah alone. When we brought up this matter and tore down the buildings over the graves, some of those claiming knowledge played upon the superstitions of the common people for reasons that are not hidden to the likes of you, the greatest of them being following their passions, alongside other reasons. They spread rumours about us to the east and the west that we revile the righteous and that I am not traversing the path of the Scholars and they mentioned things about us which an intelligent man would be shy to mention. I will inform you of what we are upon (of beliefs) since men like you will pay no attention to lies, so the affair becomes clear and you come to know the reality.
So we, and all praise is due to Allaah, are followers, imitators and not innovators, upon the school of Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal, and you know - may Allaah strengthen you, that those obeyed (leaders) in many lands, if these two matters are explained made clear, they (those holding sway over the people) will play upon the sentiments of the common people, who like their forefathers, follow the opposite (of what we have explained). And you know, may Allaah strengthen you, that in the reign of [al-Shareef] Ahmad bin Sa'eed, Shaykh Abd al-Azeez bin Abd Allaah al-Haseen came to you and you learned what our beliefs are afer they brought out the Hanbali books which we regard as authoratitive, just like al-Tuhfah and al-Nihaayah are in the eyes of the Shafi'ites. When the Shareef Ghaalib, may Allaah strengthen him and aid him, made his request of us, we complied and responded to his request, which is the sending of a man from the people of wisdom and knowledge, so that he may investigate alongside the Scholars of al-Bayt al-Haram, until it becomes clear to him, may Allaah strengthen him, what we have with us and what we are upon.
Then you should know, may Allaah grant you success, that if the matter (studied) is one concerning consensus then there is no dispute, and if they are matters of ijtihaad, then whoever acted by his madhhab (school) in the region of his authority is not to be condemned. I call Allah to witness, and His Angels and I call you to witness that I am upon the religion of Allaah and His Messenger, and that I am a follower of the people of knowledge, not an opposer to them. Was-salaam.
In this letter Shaykh Ibn Abd al-Wahhaab has explained that the issues he is calling to and explaining - on account of which the leaders holding sway over the people are mobilizing the common-folk against him - are matters that are found in the Hanbali madhhab, and that aforetime a learned person [Abd al-Aziz al-Haseen] was sent so that the matters could be studied from the books. This was in order to show that his call does not depart or exit from what is within the four schools of jurisprudence. Ibn Abd al-Wahhaab addresses the scholars of Makkah, in the Haram, to whom he shows great respect, that if the matter is studied within the confines of the four schools of thought in jurisprudence, and it is found to be a matter of consensus, then there is no dispute in any case. And if there is a difference, because of the difference in the schools of thought in these two particular matters (calling upon Allaah alone and destroying structures over graves), then a person who acts upon his own madhhab (school) within his own region and land is not to be shown rejection.
This latter point is an indication that Shaykh Ibn Abd al-Wahhaab has been lied upon with respect to his position towards the four schools, namely that he invalidates them, shuns them, and calls to himself and his own independent ijtihaad. On the contrary, there is nothing that he innovated of his own accord, and there is nothing in what he called to that exited from what is found in the four schools. Further, it explains the great hypocrisy and contradiction in that his detractors who despite these explanations, showed aggression and animosity towards him, are the ones who obligate taqlid to the four imaams and make it prohibited for a person to depart and exit from his madhhab (school). So when Ibn Abd al-Wahhaab clarified and explained that he is a follower of Ahmad bin Hanbal, and what is found in the Hanbali books of fiqh and that he adheres to that, just like the Shafi'ites would cling to what is in their books, then there is absolutely no grounds for showing rejection towards him, and thus, the real criminals are those of vested interests who hold sway over the common people who do not know any better and who are fed lies, and mobilized against him with such lies.