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©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
1
Salafism: ideas, recent
history, politics
Jacob Olidort, PhD
Soref F...
Overview
 Introduction: Terms and Concepts
 Emergence of Salafi Movement in the 20th Century
 Local Roots
 New politic...
Distinction
Brotherhood Islamism
 Nature: Political ideology, hierarchical
organizations
 Objective: To ensure that Isla...
Types of Salafis*
 Purists (Quietists)
emphasize a focus on nonviolent methods of propagation, purification, and
educatio...
5
The difference between different Salafi groups— jihadis, quietists
and politicos—is in the way they interpret political ...
Terms and Concepts
 Sunni theological and legal worldview that seeks to redefine Islam as
how they imagine to have been d...
Why Salafism?7
The first three generations:
“The best of my community is my generation, then those who follow them, then t...
8
IS Destruction of Tomb of the Girl in Mosul, Iraq.
opposite: shirk
(ascribing partners [to God]) – i.e.,
anything that v...
Salafi Law9
 Oppose taqlid (adherence to the Sunni schools of Islamic
law – madhhab). Salafis deride this as “blind emula...
Quietist vs.Jihadi?10
Takfir – excommunication of other Muslims
Under what conditions does one’s Muslim status change?
Fai...
11
©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
PART I
Emergence of Salafism
in the 20th Century
Muhammad , b. Ali al-Shawkani
(d. 1834)
Muhammad Hayat al-Sindi
(d. 1750)
Rashid Rida
(d. 1935)
Salih al-Fullani
(d. 1803)...
13
Fall of the Ottoman Empire
Replaced by colonial powers and Western-style states
 New questions about religious authori...
14
Saudi Arabia’s largesse, and competition for regional
dominance as center of Islamic world
 King Faisal opens Islamic ...
15
Saudi soldiers at the Ka‘ba
in Mecca
Siege of Mecca (1979) led by hadith-oriented messianic cult
 Albani’s strain of S...
16
©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
PART II
Making Sense of Salafism
Today (2011−present)
17
 Crossover between the three categories of Salafis (purists,
politicos, jihadis) as regional conflicts assume sectaria...
18
The Quietist Continuum
Politically-inclined quietists
weigh in on current events and politics
through their theological...
19
D. Commins, The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2006).
B. Haykel, Revival and Reform in Islam:...
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Salafism: Ideas, Recent History, Politics

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An introduction to Salafism by Jacob Olidort, Soref fellow at the Washington Institute. Includes fundamental ideas and concepts, recent history, and political implications in the modern Middle East.

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Salafism: Ideas, Recent History, Politics

  1. 1. ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy 1 Salafism: ideas, recent history, politics Jacob Olidort, PhD Soref Fellow, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy jolidort@washingtoninstitute.org @jolidort
  2. 2. Overview  Introduction: Terms and Concepts  Emergence of Salafi Movement in the 20th Century  Local Roots  New political setting (1924-1961)  Salafism ascendant(1961-1980)  Salafis divide (1980-2001): quietists, politicos, jihadis  Making Sense of Salafism Today (2011-2016)  New trends, new problems  Rethinking Salafism 2 ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  3. 3. Distinction Brotherhood Islamism  Nature: Political ideology, hierarchical organizations  Objective: To ensure that Islam is in a position of influence, in any form and through any means.  Sources: Cite widely from Islamic and Western sources, showing that Islam is in harmony with Western institutions and ideas.  Priority: Diminish Western influence Salafism  Nature: Theological and legal ideology, meritocratic networks  Objective: To ensure that only their inter- pretation of Islam is the one that dominates.  Sources: Only Islamic sources by authors who share their worldview and typically no western sources.  Priority: Diminish what they see as “deviant” Islamic influences (especially Shi‘is, Sufis) in order to “purify” Islam. 3 Salafi-Jihadis: Brotherhood Islamism + Salafism Wahhabism: Saudi Arabia’s brand of Salafism; heavier emphasis on theology than law and bound to Saudi monarchy and state. ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  4. 4. Types of Salafis*  Purists (Quietists) emphasize a focus on nonviolent methods of propagation, purification, and education. They view politics as a diversion that encourages deviancy.  Politicos (Harakis) emphasize application of Salafi creed to the political arena, which they view as particularly important because it dramatically impacts social justice and the right of God alone to legislate.  Jihadis take a more militant position and argue that the current context calls for violence and revolution. *Definitions from Quintan Wiktorowicz, “The Anatomy of the Salafi Movement,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism (2006). ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy 4
  5. 5. 5 The difference between different Salafi groups— jihadis, quietists and politicos—is in the way they interpret political context, not in their theology or legal worldviews. ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  6. 6. Terms and Concepts  Sunni theological and legal worldview that seeks to redefine Islam as how they imagine to have been during the time of the Prophet Muhammad and his early followers, who witnessed his actions and life.  Sources  anything literally stated in the Qur’an, and in those hadith reports (actions and statements of Prophet Muhammad) Salafis deem to be “authentic.”  refer only to authors they believe to have championed their “creed” over the centuries.  Reject anything that:  appeared after seventh to ninth century  was not explicitly condoned by Muhammad  is based on anything other than Q and S 6 Salafism (al-salafiyya, Ar.): from “al-salaf al-salih” (the pious predecessors) = sunna (normative example of Prophet Muhammad) ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy = Bid‘a ([reprehensible] innovation)
  7. 7. Why Salafism?7 The first three generations: “The best of my community is my generation, then those who follow them, then those who follow them.” – (Hadith in Bukhari 3450) The “saved sect”:  “…My community shall divide into 73 sects, all of whom will perish in Hellfire except for one.”  “Which is that, Messenger of God?”  “Whoever follows what I and my Companions follow” (Other versions: “It is the Community”; “It is the people of the sunna and the Community.”) (Hadith in Abu Dawud, Kitab al-Sunna 4596; Tirmidhi, Kitab al-Iman 2640) ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  8. 8. 8 IS Destruction of Tomb of the Girl in Mosul, Iraq. opposite: shirk (ascribing partners [to God]) – i.e., anything that violates tawhid. Aqida creed, theological views. Tawhid (God’s oneness*) key principle used by Salafis to justify opposition to other Sunnis (especially Sufis) and Shiites. Salafis divide tawhid into the following:  Lordship, the recognition of God’s absolute and unique powers.  Divinity that is worshiped and personally submitted to by all people.  Names and attributes literally found in Qur’an and which cannot be ascribed to human beings (= Islamic speculative theology)  Sovereignty (Jihadis, political): rulers who do not apply sharia commit grave sin and violate God’s sovereignty. *R. Meijer, Global Salafism, xv. ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy Salafi Theology
  9. 9. Salafi Law9  Oppose taqlid (adherence to the Sunni schools of Islamic law – madhhab). Salafis deride this as “blind emulation” and “madhhab-partisanship”`  Insist on direct application of practices and ideas in hadith reports deemed to be “authentic” (i.e. “proven” that the Prophet Muhammad said them)  Reject entire tradition and methods of Islamic jurisprudence since much of this draws on analogical reasoning, deemed by Salafis to be foreign to Islam. = Bid‘a ([reprehensible] innovation) ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  10. 10. Quietist vs.Jihadi?10 Takfir – excommunication of other Muslims Under what conditions does one’s Muslim status change? Failure to adhere to Salafi theological and legal principles equals  explicit rejection of Islam or  reasons such as misunderstanding, lack of exposure to Salafi ideas, laziness ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  11. 11. 11 ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy PART I Emergence of Salafism in the 20th Century
  12. 12. Muhammad , b. Ali al-Shawkani (d. 1834) Muhammad Hayat al-Sindi (d. 1750) Rashid Rida (d. 1935) Salih al-Fullani (d. 1803) Muhammad al-Amin al-Shinqiti (1887-1976) Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab (d. 1792) Shah Wali Allah al-Dihlawi (d. 1762) Salafism: Local Roots ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  13. 13. 13 Fall of the Ottoman Empire Replaced by colonial powers and Western-style states  New questions about religious authority in absence of Islamic government  Renewed skepticism of legal schools (madhhabs), as well as institutions and figures of “official Islam” (seen as pawns of Western-states) Lingering Ottoman concerns over rise of Saudi Arabia  Suspicion of local Salafi communities as being proxies, labeled “Wahhabis” For guide to authentic Islamic governance of society, one must consult sources directly. Salafism: Political Setting 1924−1961 ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy Both new Western governments and any of their institutions are foreign imports, thus “innovation,” and cannot be trusted for proper guidance.
  14. 14. 14 Saudi Arabia’s largesse, and competition for regional dominance as center of Islamic world  King Faisal opens Islamic universities, media stations and Wahhabi institutes around the world. Failure of Arab Nationalism as political ideology (with 1967 defeat) and rise of Islamism  New context for raising awareness of broader socio-political relevance of Islam, especially after 1979. Crackdowns on Muslim Brotherhood, seen as political threat  Salafis, who refrain from political sphere, begin vilifying MB-like groups for “distracting” from tawhid. ‘Abd al-’Aziz bin Baz (d. 1999), Vice Chancellor of Islamic University of Medina (first Saudi Islamic university, opened in 1961); later Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia. Salafism Ascendant 1961−1980 ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  15. 15. 15 Saudi soldiers at the Ka‘ba in Mecca Siege of Mecca (1979) led by hadith-oriented messianic cult  Albani’s strain of Salafism implicated, Salafi teachings held suspect. Arab fighters returning from Afghanistan (1980s)  Emergence of local jihadi hubs; renewed suspicion of Salafism U.S. troops arrive in Saudi Arabia, first Gulf War (1990-1991)  “Awakening” movement, inspires Salafi political opposition Salafis Divide 1980−2001 ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy Osama bin-Laden
  16. 16. 16 ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy PART II Making Sense of Salafism Today (2011−present)
  17. 17. 17  Crossover between the three categories of Salafis (purists, politicos, jihadis) as regional conflicts assume sectarian aspects.  Some Salafis violate ideological principles by forming political parties (e.g., Egypt, Gulf States), with some arguing that this is justified as a way of perpetuating their mission of purification and education (al-tasfiya wa-l-tarbiya) ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy New Trends, New Problems
  18. 18. 18 The Quietist Continuum Politically-inclined quietists weigh in on current events and politics through their theological and legal worldview, but resist becdirect involvement. Politicos JihadisQuietists Absolutist/Madkhali quietists refrain on principle from commenting on any aspect of political sphere and counsel obedience to ruler. Adhere to commentary on religious teachings, personal observance. ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy Rethinking Salafism
  19. 19. 19 D. Commins, The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2006). B. Haykel, Revival and Reform in Islam: The Legacy of Muhammad al-Shawkani (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003). T. Hegghammer and S. Lacroix, “Rejectionist Islamism in Saudi Arabia: The Story of Juhayman al- ’Utaybi Revisited,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 39 (2007): 103−122. S. Lacroix, Awakening Islam: The Politics of Religious Dissent in Contemporary Saudi Arabia, trans. George Holoch (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011). R. Meijer, Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement (New York: Columbia University Press/Hurst Publishers, 2009). J. Olidort, “The Politics of ‘Quietist’ Salafism,” Brookings Analysis Paper, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World (February 2015). Q. Wiktorowicz, “Anatomy of the Salafi Movement,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 29 (2006): 207−239. ©2016 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy Select References

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