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Salafi movement

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Title: Salafi movement  
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Salafi movement

The Salafi movement or Salafist movement is an ultra-conservative orthodox movement within Sunni Islam that references the doctrine known as Salafism. 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 bida, and support the implementation of sharia (Islamic law)."[1] 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 tiny (yet infamous) minority.[1]

The Salafi movement is often described as being synonymous with Wahhabism, but Salafists consider the term "Wahhabi" derogatory.[2] At other times, Salafism has been described as a hybrid of Wahhabism and other post-1960s movements.[3] Salafism has become associated with literalist, strict and puritanical approaches to Islam and – particularly in the West – with the Salafi jihadists, who espouse offensive jihad as a legitimate expression of Islam against those they deem to be enemies of Islam.[4]

In legal matters, Salafis are divided between those who, in the name of independent legal judgement (ijtihad), reject strict adherence (taqlid) to the four schools of law (madhahib) and others who remain faithful to these.


  • Etymology 1
  • Tenets 2
    • Views on Taqlid (scholarly authority) 2.1
    • Opposition to the use of kalam 2.2
  • History 3
    • Early examples of usage of the term 3.1
    • Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab 3.2
  • Contemporary Salafism 4
  • Trends within Salafism 5
    • Purists 5.1
    • Activists 5.2
    • Salafi jihadists 5.3
      • Qutbism 5.3.1
  • Views on extremism 6
  • Regional groups and Movements 7
    • Wahhabism (Saudi Arabia) 7.1
    • Indian subcontinent (Ahl al-Hadith movement) 7.2
    • Egypt 7.3
    • France 7.4
    • Germany 7.5
    • Salafism in China 7.6
    • Sweden 7.7
  • Statistics 8
  • Other usage 9
    • Modernist Salafism 9.1
    • In the broadest sense 9.2
  • Comparison with other movements 10
  • Arab Spring 11
  • Criticism 12
    • German government's statement on Salafism 12.1
  • Prominent Salafi scholars by country 13
  • See also 14
  • References 15
  • Bibliography 16


Salafism takes its name from the Arabic term salaf ("predecessors", "ancestors") used to identify the earliest Muslims, who, its adherents believe, provide the epitome of Islamic practice.[5][6] A hadith that quotes Muhammad saying "The people of my own generation are the best, then those who come after them, and then those of the next generation," is seen as a call to Muslims to follow the example of those first three generations, known collectively as the salaf[7] or "pious Predecessors" (as-Salaf as-Saleh).[8] They include Muhammad himself,[9] the "Companions" (Sahabah), the "Followers" (Tabi‘un) and the "Followers of the Followers" (Tabi‘ al-Tabi‘in). There are a number of records of the hadith[10] that is narrated in the Sahih al-Bukhari of `Abd Allah ibn `Umar (a companion of Muhammad)[11]

These have been revered in Islamic orthodoxy and by Sunni theologians since the fifth Muslim generation or earlier used their example to understand the texts and tenets of Islam, sometimes to differentiate the creed of the first Muslims from subsequent variations in creed and methodology (see Madhab),[12] to oppose religious innovation (bid‘ah) and, conversely, to defend particular views and practices.[13][14]


According to at least one scholar, "temporal proximity to the Prophet Muhammad is associated with the truest form of Islam" among many Sunni Muslims.[15]

Ahl al-Hadeeth is possibly the oldest recorded term for these earliest adherents,[16] while Ahl as-Sunnah is overwhelmingly used by Muslim scholars, including non-Salafi scholars, such as the Ash'ari sect, leading to a narrower use of the term "Salafi".[17]

Salafis view the Salaf as an eternal model for all succeeding Muslim generations in their beliefs, exegesis, method of worship, mannerisms, morality, piety and conduct: the Islam they practiced is seen as pure, unadulterated and, therefore, the ultimate authority for the interpretation of the Sunnah.[18] The Imam Al-Dhahabi (died 748H / 1348) said:

It is authentically related from ad-Daaraqutnee that he said: There is nothing more despised by me than kalam. I say: He never entered into kalam nor argumentation. Rather, he was a Salafi.[19]

Salafis believe that the Qur'an, the Hadith and the consensus (ijma) of approved scholarship (ulama) along with the understanding of the Salaf us-salih as being sufficient guidance for the Muslim. As the Salafi da'wa is a methodology and not a madh'hab in fiqh (jurisprudence) as commonly misunderstood, Salafis can come from the Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali or the Hanafi schools of Sunni fiqh.[20]

Salafis condemn certain common practices as polytheism (shirk) and tawassul of religious figures, such as venerating the graves of prophets and saints or using amulets to seek protection.[21]

Salafis place great emphasis on following acts in accordance with the known sunnah, not only in prayer but in every activity in daily life. For instance, many are careful to always use three fingers when eating, drink water in three pauses with the right hand while sitting,[22]

Views on Taqlid (scholarly authority)

In legal matters, Salafis are divided between those who, in the name of independent legal judgement (ijtihad), reject strict adherence (taqlid) to the four schools of law (madhahib) and others who remain faithful to these.[23] Salafi scholars from Saudi Arabia are generally bound by Hanbali fiqh and advocate following an Imam rather than understanding scripture oneself.[24] Other Salafi scholars however hold that taqlid is unlawful since from their perspective, following a madhab without searching for direct evidence leads Muslims astray.[25] These scholars include Rashid Rida,[26] al-Khajnadee, Muhammad Abduh,[27] Saleem al-Hilali and Nasir al-Din al-Albani.[28]

At the very end of the spectrum, some Salafis hold taqlid to be an act of polytheism.[29]

Opposition to the use of kalam

Modern day proponents of the Athari school of theology largely come from the salafi (or "wahhabi") movement who uphold the athari works of Ibn Taymiyyah.[30] For followers of the Salafi movement, the "clear" (i.e. zahir, apparent, exoteric or literal) meaning of the Qur'an, and especially the prophetic traditions, has sole authority in matters of belief, and to engage in rational disputation (kalam), even if one arrives at the truth, is absolutely forbidden.[31] Atharis engage in an amodal reading of the Qur'an, as opposed to one engaged in Ta'wil (metaphorical interpretation). They do not attempt to conceptualize the meanings of the Qur'an rationally, and believe that the "real" modality should be consigned to God alone (tafwid).[32] In essence, the meaning has been accepted without asking "how" or "Bi-la kaifa". Salafi scholars are in staunch opposition to the use of kalam, dialectics or speculative philosophy in theology. This is because it is seen as a heretical innovation in Islam which opposes the primordial aspiration to follow the original methodology of the Salaf us-Saliheen with regards to Aqidah. Statements of the early Imams of the early Muslims are in corroboration with this such as Abū Ḥanīfa who prohibited his students from engaging in kalam, stating that those who practice it are of the "regressing ones".[33] Malik ibn Anas referred to kalam in the Islamic religion as being "detested",[34] and that whoever "seeks the religion through kalam will deviate".[35] In addition, Shafi'i said that no knowledge of Islam can be gained from books of kalam, as kalam "is not from knowledge"[36][37] and that "It is better for a man to spend his whole life doing whatever Allah has prohibited – besides shirk with Allah – rather than spending his whole life involved in kalam."[38] Ahmad ibn Hanbal also spoke strongly against kalam, stating his view that no-one looks into kalam unless there is "corruption in his heart"[39] and even went so far as to prohibit sitting with people practicing kalam even if they were defending the Sunnah,[40] and instructing his students to warn against any person they saw practicing kalam.[41]


Landmarks claimed in the history of Salafi da'wah are Ahmad ibn Hanbal (died 240 AH / 855 AD), known among Salafis as Imam Ahl al-Sunnah and the three scholars commonly titled with the honorific Sheikh ul-Islam, namely, Taqi ad-Dīn Ibn Taymiyyah (died 728 AH / 1328 AD) and Ibn al-Qayyim (died 751 AH / 1350).[42][43][44]

Early examples of usage of the term

  • Ibn Taymiyyah wrote: "There is no criticism for the one who proclaims the madh'hab of the Salaf, who attaches himself to it and refers to it. Rather, it is obligatory to accept that from him by unanimous agreement because the way of the Salaf is nothing but the truth."[19]
  • The term salafi has been used to refer to the theological positions of particular scholars. Abo al-Hasan Ali ibn Umar al-Daraqutuni (d. 995 C.E., 385 A.H.) was described by al-Dhahabi as: "Never having entered into rhetoric or polemics, instead he was salafi."[45]
  • Also, al-Dhahabi described Ibn al-Salah, a prominent 12th century hadith specialist, as: "Firm in his religiosity, salafi in his generality and correct in his denomination. [He] refrained from falling into common pitfalls, believed in Allah and in what Allah has informed us of from His names and description."[46]
  • In another of his works, Tadhkirat al-huffaz, al-Dhahabi said of Ibn al-Salah: "I say: He was salafi, of sound creed, abstaining from the interpretations of the scholars of rhetoric, believing in what has been textually established, without recourse to unjustified interpretation or elaboration.[47]
  • In his book, Tabsir al-Muntabih, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani mentioned the ascription al-Salafi and named Abd al-Rahman ibn Abdillah ibn Ahmad Al-Sarkhasi al-Salafi as an example of its usage. Ibn Hajar then said: "And, likewise, the one ascribing to the salaf."[48]
  • Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani also used the term, salafi in describing Muhammad ibn al-Qaasim ibn Sufyan al-Misri al-Maliki (d. 966 C.E., 355 A.H.) He said that al-Malaiki was: "Salafi al-madh'habsalafi in his school of thought."[49]
  • In the book Al-Ansaab by Abu Sa'd Abd al-Kareem as-Sama'ni, who died in the year 1166 (562 of the Islamic calendar), under the entry for the ascription al-Salafi he mentions an example or more of people who were so described in his time.[50] In commenting upon as-Sama'ni, Ibn al-Athir wrote: "And a group were known by this epithet."[51]

Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab

Modern Salafists consider the 18th Century scholar Muhammed bin 'Abd al-Wahhab and many of his students to have been Salafis.[52] He started a revivalist movement in the remote, sparsely populated region of Najd,[53] advocating a purging of practices such as the popular "cult of saints", and shrine and tomb visitation, widespread among Muslims, but which he considered idolatry, impurities and innovations in Islam.[20][54] His evangelizing in the Arabian Peninsula during the 18th century was a call to return to the practices of the early Muslims. His works, especially Kitab at-Tawhid, are still widely read by Salafis around the world today and the majority of Salafi scholars still cite them frequently.[55]

Contemporary Salafism

Salafis are often known as Wahhabis which is known as a "belittling" and derogatory term for them.[56][57][58]

Salafism is attractive to its adherents because it underscores Islam's universality.[59] It insists on affirmation of the literal truth as understood by its apparent meaning of Qur'anic scripture and Hadeeth.

Trends within Salafism

Some who have observed trends in the Salafist movement have divided Salafis into three groups—purists, activists, and jihadis.[60][61] Purists focus on education and missionary work to solidify the tawhid; activists focus on political reform and re-establishing a caliphate through the means of evolution, but not violence (sometimes called Salafist activism); and jihadists share similar political goals as the politicians, but engage in violent Jihad (sometimes called Salafi jihadism and/or Qutbism).[60]


"Purists" are Salafists who focus on non-violent da'wah (preaching of Islam), education, and "purification of religious beliefs and practices". They dismiss politics as "a diversion or even innovation that leads people away from Islam".[62]

They never oppose rulers. Madkhalism, as an example, is a strain of Salafists viewed as supportive of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.[63][64][65] Taking its name from the controversial Saudi Arabian cleric Rabee Al-Madkhali, the movement lost its support in Saudi Arabia proper when several members of the Permanent Committee (the country's clerical body) denounced Madkhali personally.[66] Influence of both the movement and its figureheads have waned so much within the Muslim world that analysts have declared it to be a largely European phenomenon.[66]


Activists are another strain of the global Salafi movement, but different from the Salafi jihadists in that they eschew violence and different from Salafi purists in that they engage in modern political processes.[67] Due to numerical superiority, the movement has been referred to as the mainstream of the Salafist movement at times.[65] This trend, who some call "politicos", see politics as "yet another field in which the Salafi creed has to be applied" in order to safeguard justice and "guarantee that the political rule is based upon the Shari'a".[62]Al–Sahwa Al-Islamiyya (Islamic Awakening), as example, has been involved in peaceful political reform. Safar Al-Hawali and Salman al-Ouda are representatives of this trend. Because of being active on social media they have earned some support among more educated youth.[68][69]

"It’s very simple. We want sharia. Sharia in economy, in politics, in judiciary, in our borders and our foreign relations."
— Mohammed Abdel-Rahman, the son of Omar Abdel-Rahman, Time magazine. October 8, 2012[70]

Salafi jihadists

"Salafi Jihadism" was a term coined by Gilles Kepel[71][72] to describe those self-claiming Salafi groups who began developing an interest in (armed) jihad during the mid-1990s. Practitioners are often referred to as "Salafi jihadis" or "Salafi jihadists". Journalist Bruce Livesey estimates Salafi jihadists constitute less than 0.5 percent of the world's 1.9 billion Muslims (i.e., less than 10 million).[71]

Another definition of Salafi jihadism, offered by Mohammed M. Hafez, is an "extreme form of Sunni Islamism that rejects democracy and Shia rule." Hafez distinguished them from apolitical and conservative Salafi scholars (such as Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani, Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen, Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah ibn Baaz and Abdul-Azeez ibn Abdullaah Aal ash-Shaikh), but also from the sahwa movement associated with Salman al-Ouda or Safar Al-Hawali.[73]

An analysis of the Caucasus Emirate, a Salafi jihadist group, was made in 2014 by Darion Rhodes.[74] It analyzes the group's strict observance of tawhid and its rejection of shirk, taqlid, ijtihad and bid‘ah, while believing that jihad is the only way to advance the cause of Allah on the earth.[74]

Despite some similarities, the different contemporary self-proclaimed Salafist groups often strongly disapprove of one another and deny the other's Islamic character.[75]

Arguably the most ambitious and intolerant modern emanation is the self-styled 'Islamic State' ISIL, which declared a caliphate in conquered parts of civil war-torn Syria and Iraq, where it established a sharia reign of terror, and vowes to extend this over all Islam worldwide.


Qutbism is a movement which has, at times, been described both as a strain of Salafism and an opposing movement,[56] providing the foil to Madkhalism in that the movement is typically found in radical opposition to the ruling regimes of the Middle East.[63] Qutbism has, at times, been associated with the above-mentioned Salafist Jihadist trend.[67]

Views on extremism

In recent years, Salafi methodology has come to be associated with the jihad of extremist groups that advocate the killing of innocent civilians. The Saudi scholar, Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen considered suicide bombing to be unlawful[76][77] and the scholar Abdul Muhsin al-Abbad wrote a treatise entitled: According to which intellect and Religion is Suicide bombings and destruction considered Jihad?.[78] Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani stated that "History repeats itself. Everybody claims that the Prophet is their role model. Our Prophet spent the first half of his message making dawah, and he did not start it with jihad".[79]

Some Salafi scholars appear to support extremism and acts of violence. The Egyptian Salafi cleric Mahmoud Shaaban "appeared on a religious television channel calling for the deaths of main opposition figures Mohammed ElBaradei – a Nobel peace prize laureate – and former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi."[80][81] The popular salafi preacher Zakir Naik speaking of Osama bin Laden, said that he would not criticise bin Laden because he had not met him and did not know him personally. He added that, "If bin Laden is fighting enemies of Islam, I am for him," and that "If he is terrorizing America – the terrorist, biggest terrorist – I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist. The thing is that if he is terrorizing the terrorist, he is following Islam. Whether he is or not, I don’t know, but you as Muslims know that, without checking up, laying allegations is also wrong."[82]

Salafism is sponsored globally by Saudi Arabia and this ideology is used to justify the violent acts of Jihadi Salafi groups that include Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Al-Shabaab.[83][84] In addition, Saudi Arabia prints textbooks for schools and universities to teach Salafisim as well as recruit international students from Egypt, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Africa and the Balkans to help spreading Salafisim in their local communities.[83][84]

Some other Islamic groups, particularly some Sufis, have also complained about extremism among some Salafi. It has been noted that the Western association of Salafi ideology with violence stems from writings "through the prism of security studies" that were published in the late 20th century and that continue to persist.[85]

Regional groups and Movements

Wahhabism (Saudi Arabia)

Wahhabism is a more strict, Saudi form of Salafism,[86][87] according to Mark Durie, who states Saudi leaders "are active and diligent" using their considerable financial resources "in funding and promoting Salafism all around the world."[88] Ahmad Moussalli tends to agree with the view that Wahhabism is a subset of Salafism, saying "As a rule, all Wahhabis are salafists, but not all salafists are Wahhabis".[89]

However, many scholars and critics distinguish between the old form of Saudi Salafism (termed as Wahhabism) and the new Salafism in Saudi Arabia. Stéphane Lacroix, a fellow and lecturer at Sciences Po in Paris, also affirmed a distinction between the two: "As opposed to Wahhabism, Salafism refers […] to all the hybridations that have taken place since the 1960s between the teachings of Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab and other Islamic schools of thought". Hamid Algar and Khaled Abou El Fadl believe, during the 1960s and 70s, Wahhabism rebranded itself as Salafism knowing it could not "spread in the modern Muslim world" as Wahhabism.[90][91]

Its largesse funded an estimated "90% of the expenses of the entire faith", throughout the Muslim World, according to journalist Dawood al-Shirian.[92] It extended to young and old, from children's madrasas to high-level scholarship.[93] "Books, scholarships, fellowships, mosques" (for example, "more than 1,500 mosques were built from Saudi public funds over the last 50 years") were paid for.[94] It rewarded journalists and academics, who followed it and built satellite campuses around Egypt for Al Azhar, the oldest and most influential Islamic university.[95] Yahya Birt counts spending on "1,500 mosques, 210 Islamic centres and dozens of Muslim academies and schools" [96] at a cost of around $2–3bn annually since 1975.[97] To put the number into perspective, the propaganda budget of the Soviet Union was about $1bn per annum.[97]

This spending has done much to overwhelm less strict local interpretations of Islam, according to observers like Dawood al-Shirian and Lee Kuan Yew,[92] and has caused the Saudi interpretation (sometimes called "petro-Islam"[98]) to be perceived as the correct interpretation – or the "gold standard" of Islam – in many Muslims' minds.[99][100]

Indian subcontinent (Ahl al-Hadith movement)

Salafis in Indian subcontinent countries like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh etc., are known as Ahl al-Hadith. They think that people are not bound by taqlid (as are Ahl al-Rai, literally "the people of rhetorical theology"), but are free to seek guidance in matters of religious faith and practices from the authentic hadith which, together with the Qur'an, are in their view the principal worthy guide for Muslim.[101][102]

Syed Nazeer Husain from Delhi and Siddiq Hasan Khan of Bhopal are regarded as the founder of the movement. Folk Islam and Sufism, commonly popular with the poor and working class in the region, are anathema to Ahl al-Hadith beliefs and practices. This attitude toward Sufism has brought the movement into conflict with the rival Barelvi movement even more so than the Barelvis perennial rivals, the Deobandis. Ahle-e-Hadith consciously or unconsciously follow Zahiri Madhab.[103] The movement draws both inspiration and financial support from Saudi Arabia.[104][105]


There are 5 to 6 million Salafis in Egypt.[106] Salafis in Egypt are not united under a single banner or unified leadership. The main Salafi trends in Egypt are Al-Sunna Al-Muhammadeyya Society, The Salafist Calling, Al-Madkhaliyya Salafism, Activist Salafism, and Al-Gam’eyya Al-Shar’eyya.[107]

Al-Sunna Al-Muhammadeyya Society, also known as Ansar Al-Sunna, was founded in 1926 by Sheikh Mohamed Hamed El-Fiqi (d.), a 1916 graduate of Al-Azhar and a student of the famed Muslim reformer Muhammed Abduh. It is considered the main Salafi group in Egypt. El-Fiqi’s ideas were resentful of Sufism. But unlike Muhammed Abduh, Ansar Al-Sunna follows the tawhid as preached by Ibn Taymiyyah.[107]

Muslim Brotherhood, a faction led by Mohammad Ismail al-Muqaddim, influenced by Salafists of Saudi Arabia established the Salafist Calling between 1972 and 1977.[108]

Salafist Call created the Al-Nour Party after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. It has an ultra-conservative Islamist ideology, which believes in implementing strict Sharia law.[109] In the 2011–12 Egypt parliamentary elections, the Islamist Bloc led by Al‑Nour party received 7,534,266 votes out of a total 27,065,135 correct votes (27.8%). The Islamist Bloc gained 127 of the 498 parliamentary seats contested,[110] second-place after the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party. Al‑Nour Party itself won 111 of the 127 seats. From January 2013 the party gradually distanced itself from Mohammad Morsi's Brotherhood government, and came to join the opposition in the July 2013 coup which ousted Morsi.[111] A lawsuit against the party was dismissed on 22 September 2014 because the court indicated it had no jurisdiction.[112] A case on the dissolution of the party was adjourned until 17 January 2015.[113] Another court case that was brought forth to dissolve the party[114] was dismissed after the Alexandria Urgent Matters Court ruled on 26 November 2014 that it lacked jurisdiction.[115]


In France, in 2015 police say that salafism is represented in 90 out of 2500 investigated religious communities, which is double the number compared to five years earlier.[116]


Salafism is a growing movement in Germany and estimates by German security police show that it grew from 3800 members in 2011 to 7500 members in 2015.[117] In Germany, most of the recruitment to the movement is done on the Internet and also on the streets,[117] a propaganda drive which mostly attracts youth.[117] There are two ideological camps, one advocates political salafism and directs its recruitment efforts towards non-Muslims and non-salafist Muslims to gain influence in society.[117] The other and minority movement, the jihadist salafism, advocates gaining influence by the use of violence and nearly all identified terrorist cells in Germany came from salafist circles.[117]

Salafism in China

Salafism is opposed by a number of Hui Muslims Sects in China such as by the Gedimu, Sufi Khafiya and Jahriyya, to the extent that even the fundamentalist Yihewani (Ikhwan) Chinese sect, founded by Ma Wanfu after Salafi inspiration, condemned Ma Debao and Ma Zhengqing as heretics when they attempted to introduce Salafism as the main form of Islam. Ma Debao established a Salafi school, called the Sailaifengye (Salafi), in Lanzhou and Linxia. It is completely separate from other Muslim sects in China.[118] Muslim Hui avoid Salafis, even if they are family members.[119] The number of Salafis in China are not included on percentage lists of Muslim sects in China.[120] The Kuomintang Sufi Muslim General Ma Bufang, who backed the Yihewani (Ikhwan) Muslims, persecuted the Salafis and forced them into hiding. They were not allowed to move or worship openly. The Yihewani had become secular and Chinese nationalists; they considered the Salafiyya to be "heterodox" (xie jiao) and people who followed foreigners' teachings (waidao). After the Communists took power, Salafis were allowed to worship openly again.[121]


Representatives from the mosque in Swedish United Dawah Center, abbreviated SUDC.[122] SUDC is characterised as a salafist group by a researcher of religious history at Stockholm University and it has many links to British Muslim Abdur Raheem Green.[122] According to professor Mohammed Fazlhashemi, salafists are opposed to rational theology and hate shia Muslims above all.[122] Further Fazlhashemi states that salafism requires women to be relegated to second class citizens as they would be forbidden from leaving the home without a male companion as well as being excluded from education and the workplace.[122]


Worldwide there are roughly 50 million Salafists,[123] including roughly 20 to 30 million Salafis in India,[124] 5 to 6 million Salafis in Egypt,[106] 27.5 million Salafis in Bangladesh[125] and 1.6 million Salafis in Sudan.[126] Salafi communities are smaller elsewhere, including roughly 10,000 in Tunisia, 17,000 in Morocco, 7,000 in Jordan, 17,000 in France and 5,000 in Germany.[127]

It is often reported from various sources, including the German domestic intelligence service (Bundesnachrichtendienst), that Salafism is the fastest-growing Islamic movement in the world.[128][129][130][131]

Other usage

Modernist Salafism

As opposed to the traditionalist Salafism discussed throughout the article, academics and historians have used the term "Salafism" to denote modernists, "a school of thought which surfaced in the second half of the 19th century as a reaction to the spread of European ideas" and "sought to expose the roots of modernity within Muslim civilization."[132][133] They are also known as Modernist Salafis.[134][135][136][137] However contemporary Salafis follow "literal, traditional […] injunctions of the sacred texts", looking to Ibn Taymiyyah rather than the "somewhat freewheeling interpretation" of 19th century figures Muhammad Abduh, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, and Rashid Rida.[138][139]

The origins of contemporary Salafism in the modernist "Salafi Movement" of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh is noted by some,[140][141] while others say Islamic Modernism only influenced contemporary [146][147][148] According to Quintan Wiktorowicz:

Inspired by Islamic modernists, groups like Muslim Brotherhood, Jamaat-e-Islami etc. are called Salafis in this context.[149] Muslim Brotherhood include the term salafi in the "About Us" section of its website.[150]

In this context "in terms of their respective formation, Wahhabism and Salafism were quite distinct. Wahhabism was a pared-down Islam that rejected modern influences, while Salafism sought to reconcile Islam with modernism. What they had in common is that both rejected traditional teachings on Islam in favor of direct, ‘fundamentalist’ reinterpretation. Although Salafism and Wahhabism began as two distinct movements, Faisal's embrace of Salafi (Muslim Brotherhood) pan-Islamism resulted in cross-pollination between ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s teachings on tawhid, shirk and bid‘ah and Salafi interpretations of ahadith (the sayings of Muhammad). Some Salafis nominated ibn Abd al-Wahhab as one of the Salaf (retrospectively bringing Wahhabism into the fold of Salafism), and the Muwahideen began calling themselves Salafis."[151]

In the broadest sense

In a broad sense, Salafi (follower of [146] and even the Islamism of Taliban is totally irrelevant when Salafism is considered.

Comparison with other movements

Some Salafi Muslims often preach disengagement from Western activities and advocate an apolitical stance opposed to any form of extremism, "even by giving them an Islamic slant".[153]

Arab Spring

Salafi have been notable following insurrections in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. In the 2011–12 Egypt parliamentary elections, the Islamist Bloc led by the Al-Nour Party managed to receive 27.8% of the vote despite only "a few months of party politicking experience", gaining 127 of the 498 parliamentary seats contested and forming the second-largest bloc in the parliament.[110] According to Ammar Ali Hassan of al-Ahram, while Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood agree on many issues such as the need to "Islamize" society and restricting private property rights by legally requiring all Muslims to give alms, the former has nevertheless rejected the flexibility of the latter on the issue of whether women and Christians should be entitled to serve in high office, as well as its relatively tolerant attitude towards Shia Iran.[154]


Salafism has been recently criticized by Khaled Abou El Fadl of the UCLA School of Law. El Fadl argues that the Salafi methodology "drifted into stifling apologetics" by the mid-20th century, a reaction against "anxiety" to "render Islam compatible with modernity," by its leaders earlier in the century.[155] He attacks those who state "any meritorious or worthwhile modern institutions were first invented and realized by Muslims". He argues the result was that "an artificial sense of confidence and an intellectual lethargy" developed, according to Abou El Fadl, "that took neither the Islamic tradition nor" the challenges of the modern world "very seriously."[156]

Based on Abu'l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi's criticism of Athari-Hanbalis, Egyptian Muslim scholar Muhammad Abu Zahra, a Professor of Islamic law at Cairo University deduced that Salafi aqidah is located somewhere between ta'tili and tashbih.[157][158] According to the As-Sunnah Foundation of America, the Salafi and Wahhabi movements are strongly opposed by a long list of Sunni scholars. [159] The Saudi government has been criticised for damaging Islamic heritage of thousands of years in Saudi Arabia. For example, there has been some controversy that the expansion projects of the mosque and Mecca itself are causing harm to early Islamic heritage. Many ancient buildings, some more than a thousand years old, have been demolished to make room not only for the expansion of the Masjid al-Haram, but for new malls and hotels.[160][161][162][163][164] Though Salafis, when told about this, were as opposed to it as other Muslims.[165] The Salafi movement has been linked by Marc Sageman to some terrorist groups around the world, like Al-Qaeda.[166]

German government's statement on Salafism

German government officials[167] have stated that Salafism has a strong link to terrorism but have clarified that not all Salafists are terrorists. The statements by German government officials criticizing Salafism were televised by Deutsche Welle during April 2012.[168][169]

Prominent Salafi scholars by country

See also


  1. ^ a b "Salafism: Politics and the puritanical".  
  2. ^ For example, the Ahl-i Hadith which "have been active since the nineteenth century on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan ... though designated as Wahhabis by their adversaries ... prefer to call themselves 'Salafis.'" (from The Failure of Political Islam, by Olivier Roy, translated by Carol Volk, Harvard University Press, 1994, pp. 118–9)
  3. ^ Stephane Lacroix, Al-Albani's Revolutionary Approach to Hadith. Leiden University's ISIM Review, Spring 2008, #21.
  4. ^ Dr Abdul-Haqq Baker, Extremists in Our Midst: Confronting Terror, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011,
  5. ^ Ghazali And The Poetics Of Imagination, by Ebrahim Moosa ISBN 0-8078-5612-6 – Page 21
  6. ^ salafiyya About Atheism/Agnosticism
  7. ^ Lacey, Robert (2009). Inside the Kingdom, Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia. New York: Viking. p. 9. 
  8. ^ "Dawat-us-Salafiyyah ("Call of those who preceded us")". Retrieved 2010-04-18. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Why the Word Salafee?". Archived from the original on 2008-03-04. Retrieved 2010-04-18. 
  11. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 8:76:437
  12. ^ Shaikh Saleh al-Fawzan (2004-05-24). "أعزاءنا زوار وأعضاء الساحة العربية، ("Salafiyyah is not a sect amongst sects")". Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
  13. ^ "The way of the Sufis is the way of the Salaf, the Scholars among the Sahaba, Tabi’in and Tabi’ at-Tabi’in. Its origin is to worship Allah and to leave the ornaments of this world and its pleasures." (Ibn Khaldun (733–808 H/1332-1406 CE) Muqaddimat ibn Khaldan, p. 328, quoted in; SUFISM: ORIGIN, DEVELOPMENT AND EMERGENCE OF SUFI ORDERSPAHARY SHEIK MOHAMMAD YASSER, , retrieved March 2012.
  14. ^ Der Unterschied zwischen salafīya und as salaf as s ā lihAydin , Wien 2009, retrieved March 2012.
  15. ^ Haykel, Bernard (2009). "Chapter 1: On the Nature of Salafi Thought and Action". In Meijer, Roel. Global Salafism: Islam's New Religious Movement. Columbia University Press. p. 34.  
  16. ^ شرف أصحاب الحديث ("The Noble Status of the People of Hadeeth"), al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadi.
  17. ^ "حكم قول انا سلفي ("The Ruling On Saying "I am Salafi"", Shaikh al-Albani)". Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 10/12/2010. 
  18. ^ Sharh Usool I'tiqaad Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah, al-Laalika'ee, tahqeeq of Nash'at Kamaal Misree, 1/7-9
  19. ^ a b Statements from the Salaf on Ascription to the Salaf,, Article ID: SLF010001
  20. ^ a b Salafi Islam
  21. ^ "Dunya News: Hasb-e-Haal-part ALL-2013-09-13-Hasb-e-Haal Special Show". Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  22. ^ Six Points of Tabligh, the chapter on "Desired Manners of Eating and Drinking" includes 26 norms on the etiquette of eating and drinking. From: Globalized Islam: the Search for a New Ummah, by Olivier Roy, Columbia University Press, 2004.
  23. ^ The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought, p 484
  24. ^ Stephane Lacroix, George Holoch, Awakening Islam, p 84
  25. ^ Miriam Cooke, Bruce B. Lawrence, Muslim Networks from Hajj to Hip Hop, p 213
  26. ^ "Thus he [Rida] opposed Taqlid and called for and practiced absolute ijtihad." Clinton Bennett, The Bloomsbury Companion to Islamic Studies, p.174. See also, Richard Gauvain, Salafi Ritual Purity: In the Presence of God, Introduction, p.9
  27. ^ "Abduh's statement of purpose was: To liberate thought from the shackles of Taqlid and understand religion as it was understood by the Salaf." Clinton Bennett, The Bloomsbury Companion to Islamic Studies, p.168.
  28. ^ From there he [Albani] learned to oppose taqlid in a madhab. Clinton Bennett, The Bloomsbury Companion to Islamic Studies, p.174. "Al-Albani had denounced Wahhabi attachment to the Hanbali school." Stephane Lacroix, George Holoch, Awakening Islam, p 85
  29. ^ "For many Salafis, both modernist and conservative, "worship" of created beings includes practicing taqlid within a madhab of fiqh." Clinton Bennett, The Bloomsbury Companion to Islamic Studies, p.165
  30. ^ , 2010Theology and Creed in Sunni IslamHalverson, : 38-48
  31. ^ , 2010Theology and Creed in Sunni IslamHalverson, : 36
  32. ^ , 2010Theology and Creed in Sunni IslamHalverson, : 36-7
  33. ^ al-Makkee, Manaaqib Abee Haneefah, pg. 183–184
  34. ^ Dhammul-Kalaam (B/194)
  35. ^ Dhammul-Kalaam (Q/173/A)
  36. ^ Dhammul-Kalaam (Q/213)
  37. ^ Dhahabi, as-Siyar (10/30)
  38. ^ Ibn Abi Hatim, Manaaqibush-Shaafi'ee, pg. 182
  39. ^ Jaami' Bayaanul-'Ilm wa Fadlihi (2/95)
  40. ^ Manaqib al-Imam Ahmad (or Manaaqibul-Imaam Ahmad), by Abu'l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi, p205.
  41. ^ Ibn Battah, al-Ibaanah (2/540)
  42. ^ التجديد بمفهومية ("Renewal and its Understanding"), Shaikh Muhammad Aman al-Jaamee, Part 1.
  43. ^ صور من الجاهليات المعاصرة ("Glimpses From the Modern Jahiliyyah"), Shaikh Muhammad Amaan al-Jaamee.
  44. ^ سلسلة مفهوم السلفية ("Understanding Salafiyyah"), Shaikh Muhammad Naasir ad-Dīn al-Albaani, Parts 1–2, 6.
  45. ^ Siyar 'Alam al-Nubula, by al-Dhahbi, vol. 16, pg. 457, no. 332, Mua'ssash al-Risalah, Beirut, 11th edition, 2001.
  46. ^ Siyar 'Alam al-Nubala, vol. 23, pg. 142-3, by al-Dhahabi, Muassah al-Risalah, Beirut, 11th Edition, 2001.
  47. ^ Tadhkirah al-huffaz, vol. 4, pg. 1431, Da'irah al-Ma'arif al-'Uthmaniyyah, India.
  48. ^ Tabsir al-Muntabih Bitahrir al-Mushtabih, vol. 2, pg. 738, published by: Al-Mu'assasah al-Misriyyah al-'Ammah Lil-Talif wa Al-Anba' wa al-Nashr, edited by: Ali al-Bajawi, no additional information.
  49. ^ Lisan al-Mizan, by Ibn Hajar, vol. 5, pg. 348, no. 1143, Dar al-Kitab al-Islami, no additional information; it is apparently a reprint of the original Indian print. The quoted segment of Ibn Hajar's biography for al-Misri originated from Ibn Hajar, as this was not included in al-Dhahabi's biography of the same individual (who is named 'ibn Sha'ban' instead of ibn Sufyan).
  50. ^ Al-Ansab, by Abu Sa'd Abd al-Kareem Al-Sama'ni, vol. 7, pg. 168, photocopied from the Da'iah Al-Ma'arif Al-Uthmaniyah edition by the Al-Faruq publishing company of Egypt, no date provided. The names of those using this ascription were described by the verifier as being blank in all of the manuscript copies of the book, he obtained them by means of cross referencing.
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  56. ^ a b What is a Salafi and What is Salafism?
  57. ^ The Wahhabi Myth, H.J.Oliver
  58. ^ Laurent Bonnefoy, Salafism in Yemen. Transnationalism and Religious Identity, Columbia University Press/Hurst, 2011, ISBN 978-1-84904-131-7, page 245.
  59. ^ Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, The Next Attack, page 55. ISBN 0-8050-7941-6.
  60. ^ a b c Anatomy of the Salafi Movement By QUINTAN WIKTOROWICZ, Washington, D.C., USA
  61. ^ Natana J. DeLong-Bas, in Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad,
  62. ^ a b Whatever Happened to the Islamists? edited by Olivier Roy and Amel Boubekeur, Columbia University Press, 2012.
  63. ^ a b Richard Gauvain, Salafi Ritual Purity: In the Presence of God, pg. 41. New York: Routledge, 2013.
  64. ^ Roel Meijer, Global Salafism: Islam's New Religious Movement, pg. 49. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.
  65. ^ a b George Joffé, Islamist Radicalisation in Europe and the Middle East: Reassessing the Causes of Terrorism, pg. 317. London: I.B. Tauris, 2013.
  66. ^ a b The Transmission and Dynamics of the Textual Sources of Islam: Essays in Honour of Harald Motzki, eds. Nicolet Boekhoff-van der Voort, Kees Versteegh and Joas Wagemakers, pg. 382. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2011.
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  68. ^ On Salafism By Yasir Qadhi | page-7
  69. ^ Saudi Arabia’s Muslim Brotherhood predicament
  70. ^ Ghosh, Bobby (October 8, 2012). "The Rise Of The Salafis".  
  71. ^ a b The Salafist movement by Bruce Livesey
  72. ^ Coming to Terms: Fundamentalists or Islamists?, Martin Kramer, Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2003, pp. 65–77.
  73. ^ Suicide Bombers in Iraq By Mohammed M. Hafez
  74. ^ a b Darion Rhodes, Salafist-Takfiri Jihadism: the Ideology of the Caucasus Emirate, International Institute for Counter-terrorism, March 2014
  75. ^ Abou El Fadl, Khaled, The Great Theft Harper San Francisco, 2005, p.62-8
  76. ^ Gabriel G. Tabarani, Jihad's New Heartlands: Why the West Has Failed to Contain Islamic Fundamentalism, p 26.
  77. ^ Richard Gauvain, Salafi Ritual Purity: In the Presence of God, p 331
  78. ^ Gabriel G. Tabarani, Jihad's New Heartlands: Why the West Has Failed to Contain Islamic Fundamentalism, p 26.
  79. ^ Quintan Wiktorowicz, Anatomy of the Salafi Movement, p217.
  80. ^ The Observer, Violent tide of Salafism threatens the Arab spring, by Peter Beaumont and Patrick Kingsley, 10 February 2013.
  81. ^ Reuters, Egypt orders cleric held over ElBaradei death call, by Marwa Awad, edited by Paul Taylor and Jon Hemming, 11 February 2013.
  82. ^ Von Drehle, David; Ghosh, Bobby: "An Enemy Within: The Making of Najibullah Zazi". Time. p. 2. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  83. ^ a b Husain, Ed (2014-08-22). "ISIS Atrocities Started With Saudi Support for Salafi Hate". The New York Times.  
  84. ^ a b Friedman, Thomas L. (2015-09-02). "Our Radical Islamic BFF, Saudi Arabia". The New York Times.  
  85. ^ Meijer, Roel (2009). "Introduction". In Meijer, Roel. Global Salafism: Islam's New Religious Movement. Columbia University Presss. p. 34.  
  86. ^ Murphy, Caryle (September 5, 2006). "For Conservative Muslims, Goal of Isolation a Challenge". Washington Post. The kind of Islam practiced at Dar-us-Salaam, known as Salafism, once had a significant foothold among area Muslims, in large part because of an aggressive missionary effort by the government of Saudi Arabia. Salafism and its strict Saudi version, known as Wahhabism, struck a chord with many Muslim immigrants who took a dim view of the United States' sexually saturated pop culture and who were ambivalent about participating in a secular political system. 
  87. ^ Lewis, Bernard (April 27, 2006). "Islam and the West: A Conversation with Bernard Lewis (transcript)". Pew. Retrieved 5 August 2014. There are others, the so-called Salafia. It's run along parallel lines to the Wahhabis, but they are less violent and less extreme – still violent and extreme but less so than the Wahhabis. 
  88. ^ Mark Durie (June 6, 2013). "Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood: What is the difference?". Middle East Forum. What is called Wahhabism – the official religious ideology of the Saudi state – is a form of Salafism. Strictly speaking, 'Wahhabism' is not a movement, but a label used mainly by non-Muslims to refer to Saudi Salafism, referencing the name of an influential 18th century Salafi teacher, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. ... The continuing impact of Salafi dogma in Saudi Arabia means that Saudi leaders are active and diligent in funding and promoting Salafism all around the world. If there is a mosque receiving Saudi funding in your city today, in every likelihood it is a Salafi mosque. Saudi money has also leveraged Salafi teachings through TV stations, websites and publications. 
  89. ^ Moussalli, Ahmad (January 30, 2009). Wahhabism, Salafism and Islamism: Who Is The Enemy? (PDF). A Conflicts Forum Monograph. p. 3. 
  90. ^ Dillon, Michael R. "WAHHABISM: IS IT A FACTOR IN THE SPREAD OF GLOBAL TERRORISM?" (PDF). September 2009. Naval Post-Graduate School. pp. 3–4. Retrieved 2 April 2014. Hamid Algar […] emphasizes the strong influence of the Saudi petrodollar in the propagation of Wahhabism, but also attributes the political situation of the Arab world at the time as a contributing factor that led to the co-opting of Salafism. […] Khaled Abou El Fadl, […] expresses the opinion that Wahhabism would not have been able to spread in the modern Muslim world […] it would have to be spread under the banner of Salafism.8 This attachment of Wahhabism to Salafism was needed as Salafism was a much more 'credible paradigm in Islam'; making it an ideal medium for Wahhabism. […] The co-opting of Salafism by Wahhabism was not completed until the 1970s when the Wahhabis stripped away some of their extreme intolerance and co-opted the symbolism and language of Salafism; making them practically indistinguishable. 
  91. ^ Abou El Fadl, Khaled (2005). The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists. p. 75. 
  92. ^ a b Dawood al-Shirian, 'What Is Saudi Arabia Going to Do?' Al-Hayat, May 19, 2003
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  94. ^ Kepel, p. 72
  95. ^ Murphy, Caryle, Passion for Islam – Shaping the Modern Middle East: the Egyptian Experience, Simon and Schuster, 2002 p. 32
  96. ^ Coolsaet, Rik. "Cycles of Revolutionary Terrorism, Chapter 7". In Rik Coolsaet. Jihadi Terrorism and the Radicalisation Challenge: European and American. Ashgate Publishing Ltd. The proliferation of brochures, free qurans and new Islamic centres in Malaga, Madrid, Milat, Mantes-la-Jolie, Edinburgh, Brussels, Lisbon, Zagreb, Washington, Chicago, and Toronto; the financing of Islamic Studies chairs in American universities; the growth of Internet sites: all of these elements have facilitated access to Wahhabi teachings and the promotion of Wahhabism as the sole legitimate guardian of Islamic thought. 
  97. ^ a b "Wahhabism: A deadly scripture".  
  98. ^ Kepel 2002, pp. 69–75
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  100. ^ Kuan Yew Lee; Ali Wyne. Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and .. MIT Press. But over the last 30-odd years, since the oil crisis and the petrodollars became a major factor in the Muslim world, the extremists have been proleytizing, building mosques, religious schools where they teach Wahhabism […] sending out preachers, and having conferences. Globalizing, networking. And slowly they have convinced the Southeast Asian Muslims, and indeed Muslims throughout the world, that the gold standard is Saudi Arabia, that that is the real good Muslim. 
  101. ^ The Columbia World Dictionary of Islamism - Olivier Roy, Antoine Sfeir. Google Books. 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
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  104. ^ Rubin, pg. 348
  105. ^ Sushant Sareen, The Jihad Factory: Pakistan's Islamic Revolution in the Making, pg. 282. New Delhi: Har Anand Publications, 2005.
  106. ^ a b What is Salafism and should we be worried?
  107. ^ a b Salafi Groups in Egypt
  108. ^ Al-Nour Party Jadaliyya. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  109. ^ Omar Ashour (6 January 2012). "The unexpected rise of Salafists has complicated Egyptian politics". The Daily Star. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  110. ^ a b Salafis and Sufis in Egypt, Jonathan Brown, Carnegie Paper, December 2011.
  111. ^ Patrick Kingsley (7 July 2013). "Egypt's Salafist al-Nour party wields new influence on post-Morsi coalition | World news". London: Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  112. ^ "Egypt court says it has no power to dissolve Nour Party". Ahram Online. 22 September 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  113. ^ "Cairo court adjourns case on dissolution of Islamist Nour Party". Ahram Online. 15 November 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  114. ^ Auf, Yussef (25 November 2014). "Political Islam’s Fate in Egypt Lies in the Hands of the Courts". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  115. ^ "Court claims no jurisdiction over religiously affiliated parties". Daily News Egypt. 26 November 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
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  119. ^ Maris Boyd Gillette (2000). Between Mecca and Beijing: modernization and consumption among urban Chinese Muslims. Stanford University Press. p. 81.  
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  126. ^
  127. ^
  128. ^ Barby Grant. "Center wins NEH grant to study Salafism". Arizona State University. Retrieved 9 June 2014. It also reveals that Salafism was cited in 2010 as the fastest growing Islamic movement on the planet. 
  129. ^ Simon Shuster (3 Aug 2013). "Comment: Underground Islam in Russia". Slate. Retrieved 9 June 2014. It is the fastest-growing movement within the fastest-growing religion in the world. 
  130. ^ CHRISTIAN CARYL (September 12, 2012). "The Salafi Moment". FP. Retrieved 9 June 2014. Though solid numbers are hard to come by, they're routinely described as the fastest-growing movement in modern-day Islam. 
  131. ^ "Uproar in Germany Over Salafi Drive to Hand Out Millions of Qurans". AFP. 2012-04-16. Retrieved 9 June 2014. The service [German domestic intelligence service] said in its most recent annual report dating from 2010 that Salafism was the fastest growing Islamic movement in the world… 
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  134. ^ SE Asian Muslims caught between iPad and Salafism
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  149. ^ The split between Qatar and the GCC won’t be permanent "However, the intra-Sunni divides have not been so clear to foreign observers. Those divides include the following: purist Salafism (which many call "Wahabism"), modernist Salafism (which is the main intellectual ancestor of the Muslim Brotherhood) and classical Sunnism (which is the mainstream of Islamic religious institutions in the region historically"
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