Two contemporaries on opposite directions, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Immanuel Kant. Leaders of reform movements usually come with ideas with which people are not familiar, and they are therefore prone to encounter challenge, criticism and opposition. While the leader and the elite around him might be able to defend their new thinking in the face of this opposition, the rank and file of the movement cannot do so. But the movement consists mainly of these common people, and the opposition might adopt a strategy of defying and embarrassing them by asking them questions they cannot answer, in the hope of weakening their hold on those new beliefs, and thus weakening the movement.
This happened to ‘Abd Al-Wahhab’s followers, and he realized the importance of giving these people confidence in themselves and arming them with simple arguments they could understand and use effectively. He encouraged them not to be intimidated by people who were known to be more learned than they because even a learned person is weak so long as he is on the side of falsehood, and a lay person is strong so long as he adheres to the truth. To this end he divided arguments for them into two categories: general arguments which even a lay person could use to answer any objection, and specific answers to the most commonly raised questions. He was very much aware of the fact that he was not a mere preacher or arm-chair scholar but the leader of a movement that sought to effect a real change in society, and that, though the dissemination of knowledge was a first step and necessary condition for that change, it was not enough. Like all practical reformers he was convinced of the necessity of power for the realization of the goals which he advocated. Though he had followers, he did not organize them, he sought power instead in the support of tribal chiefs. One of them, Muhammad Ibn Sa‘ud, the ruler of Dir‘iya, accepted his teachings and promised to implement the Shari‘ah and defend the movement, thus laying the foundation of the state that was later to be known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Kant was the philosopher of human autonomy, he tried to eradicate the last traces of the medieval worldview from modern philosophy, he joined ideas of earlier rationalism and empiricism laying the fundamental principles of both science and morality, by the use of our reason, human beings can discover and live up to the principles of knowledge and action without outside or divine interventions. Kant argued that the unanimity of taste and the systematic organization of both individual organisms and nature as a whole could be postulated, not as metaphysical dogmas but rather as ideals of our pursuits.