Salafism takes its name from the Arabic phrase, “as-salaf as-saliheen”, which refers to the first three generations of Muslims (starting with the Companions of Mohammad), otherwise known as the Pious Predecessors. A hadith (the compilation of the reports of the teachings, deeds and sayings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad) which quotes him as saying:
“The people of my own generation are the best, then those who come after them, and then those of the next generation,”
This is seen as a call to Muslims to follow the example of those first three generations, known as “the salaf”.
In the spirit of that phrase, they are fundamentalist Muslims who believe in a return to the original ways of Islam. Sixth Century ways.
Salafism was described in the New York Daily News as “the fastest-growing Islamic movement in Europe”.
He states that the leaders of Europe are failing to confront this dangerous movement that is encroaching on their own country. According to Germany’s intelligence chief, Hans-George Maassen, the number of active Salafists in that country has almost doubled from 3,800 to 6,300 in just three years.
Most of the recruits are men ranging from 18 to 30 years of age, who are immigrants to that country and have not assimilated into the culture. The Salafist sect provides these men with a sense of belonging. Salafis believe that they will go from being Germany’s minority to being the dominant force in the country.
Members of the 100-year-old Sunni-based sect are recognizable by their distinctive long white robes, long beards and flowing head scarf. Salafis are socially and religiously conservative.
While some Salafis are not politically radical, because they regard political involvement as un-Islamic, many believe in Salafi Jihadism, making war on unbelievers (and other Muslims) to shape the world according to their beliefs.
Salafism is the predominant form of Sunni Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, where most people are Wahhabis, who operate in an extreme form of Salafism. Approximately eight percent of the 82 million people in Saudi Arabia are Salafis. [approx 8.5m]
Going counter to their stated non-involvement in politics, Salafis were largely responsible for the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak and for the violent attacks on Coptic Christians. They burnt two Coptic Christian Churches in 2011 as well as murdering countless Coptic Christians.
Also, in 2011, hardline Salafis in Jordan took to the streets to demand the imposition of Sharia law. In Gaza, a Salafi group called Tawheed and Jihad claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and murder of Italian reporter and pro-Palestinian activist Vittorio Arrigoni, claiming he had spread “corruption”.[China]
Salafism is also on the rise in, of all places, China. “Among China’s Hui ethnic group, Saudi-influenced Salafism has been present for nearly a century,” reports The Diplomat. Salafism is confined to small pockets of the Northwest and Yunnan provinces, but in recent years the Chinese government has begun to keep closer checks on the group.
The government fears that Salafism’s “close connections with Saudi Arabia as well as presumed Uighur Salafi networks … “might herald political and religious violence in the future”.
They have no coherent policy or ideology and there is no governing body to control them. As a result, there is a wide range of Salafist movements pursuing various agendas which makes them very dangerous.
Overall, experts warn that the Salafist jihadist movement will remain a pervasive and difficult threat to nullify.
Gilles Kepel is a French political scientist and specialist of the Islam and contemporary Arab world. He is a Professor at Sciences Po Paris and member of the Institut Universitaire de France.
Kepel says that Salafists are “against European democracy.
They would rather build citadels of jihad within Europe out of which to reach out not only to the young, deprived people of Muslim descent who live in European suburbs, but also to reach out to what is happening in the Middle East. And this is the major battle.”
Original Source: KI eNews 02/022015
- Salafism in Germany: “Something Must Be Done Immediately”
— Gatestone Institute
- Salafism in Lebanon | Georgetown University Press
— Georgetown University
- The Emergence of Salafism in Tunisia
- Kuwaiti Salafism and Its Growing Influence in the Levant
— Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- Violent tide of Salafism threatens the Arab spring
— The Guardian
- Germany bans three Salafist groups as anti-democratic