Salafi movement

Sunni Islamic reform movement

The Salafi movement or Salafist movement or Salafism is an ultra-conservative reform movement within Sunni Islam that emerged in the second half of the 19th-century and advocated a return to the traditions of the "devout ancestors" (the salaf). The doctrine can be summed up as taking "a fundamentalist approach to Islam, emulating the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers—al-salaf al-salih, the 'pious forefathers'." "They reject religious innovation, or bid'ah, and support the implementation of sharia (Islamic law)." The movement is often divided into three categories: the largest group are the purists (or quietists), who avoid politics; the second largest group are the activists, who get involved in politics; the smallest group are the jihadists, who form a small minority.

Salafis, which has destroyed and perverted a part of the Muslim world, is a threat for Muslims ~ Manuel Valls


  • We will not put up with Salafist associations and their backers flouting our rules and bringing our rule of law into question and convincing young people that they want to join the so-called IS.
    • Saxony’s Interior Minister Boris Pistorius. [1] (July 29, 2016)

F. Gregory Gause III, The Saudis can't rein in Islamic State. They lost control of global Salafism long ago. (2016)Edit

F. Gregory Gause III, The Saudis can't rein in Islamic State. They lost control of global Salafism long ago. Los Angeles Times (July 19, 2016)
  • Can a state be both the target of Islamist extremists and responsible for their actions? The attacks on July 4 in three Saudi Arabian cities, almost certainly perpetrated by adherents of Islamic State, have once again raised this question for drive-by analysts. They point out that the official interpretation of Islam in Saudi Arabia, which outsiders refer to as Wahhabism and Saudis refer to as Salafism, shares many elements with extremist ideology. Then they argue that Saudi efforts to proselytize Salafism played a role in the development of the global jihadist movement, and that the Saudis thus bear a special responsibility to rein in their support for Muslim institutions outside their borders and to moderate their practice of Islam at home. The implication is that if the Saudis would only change their behavior, the threat represented by the radicals would be greatly reduced.
  • Saudi Wahhabism is profoundly quietist politically. It calls on Muslims to obey their rulers, as long as those rulers implement Islam, however imperfectly, in their society. (That is not particularly surprising for a state religion.) The success of the jihad in Afghanistan, however, lent a revolutionary political content to global Salafism for some of its adherents, like Osama bin Laden, which soon became a direct threat to the Saudi regime and all other Muslim governments around the world.
  • What had been a largely apolitical phenomenon of Muslims emulating Saudi Wahhabism in their personal lives became, for part of the global Salafi movement, an element of their political identity.
  • Salafism morphed into a religious movement with a number of political manifestations, only one of which was the blend of social conservatism and political quietism represented by the official Saudi variant.
  • Global Salafism is now unmoored from its Saudi origins.
  • The Saudis can also contribute to the ideological fight against Salafi jihadism, but not in the way most Western liberals think. The admonition for “tolerance” has much to recommend it as Saudi leaders think long term, but the more immediate task is to convince those attracted to Salafism that the violent path is, as the Saudi clerics say, “deviant.” Liberal “reforms” in Saudi Arabia are not going to convince pious Salafis that their interpretation of Islam is incorrect. Rather, the Saudis have to redouble their efforts to use the domestic and international institutions of Islam that they created and funded to convince believers that Salafi Islam itself prohibits the acts of violence perpetrated in its name.

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