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Radical Islamism and Jihad ( 21 Oct 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Teachings of the Salafi Curriculum: Religious Extremism without Organisational Structures


By Rudolph Chimelli

(Translated from Arabic by Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam)

The Salafists emerged in Western European cities in a way that they were often mocked and laughed at even by their own brethren in faith. The reason was that most of the young Salafists wore so short pyjamas and trousers that their ankles were seen naked. They do it in a bid to resemble the apparels of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and his companions. Many other manners and behaviours of these strictly conservative religionists were also made the laughingstock. However, they stood out in society with their strict adherence to the Prophet’s lifestyle by eating with three fingers; taking three pauses while drinking water and brushing their teeth with a dry twig from a Miswak tree (salvadora persica) in place of a conventional toothbrush. And this is what the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) commanded his followers, as a saying attributed to the Prophet (pbuh) goes on: "Four things should be among the practices of the Muslims: Circumcision, perfume, Miswak, and marriage."

Salafis came into limelight only two decades ago. Earlier, very few people like the specialists and experts knew of them. Even the popular literature and works that dealt with Islam and appeared at the beginning of the third millennium did not contain the terms "Salafism" and "Salafists". Nonetheless, history witnessed their attempts to return to the puritan form of Islamic lifestyle and cleanse the beliefs and doctrines from later imitations. That is why the Salafists claim that they properly emulate the “Salaf-e-Salih” or “the pious predecessors” in their faith and actions. In this regard, a Hadith tradition reported and authenticated by the famous Hadith compiler, Imam Mohammed al-Bukhari goes like this: "I am the best Salaf for you", meaning “I am the best example to be emulated”. 

Going by this, all interpretations and practices that have been associated Islam over the following 1300 years are totally erroneous in the Salafist view. They are vehemently opposed to all such things declaring them “Bida’h” (innovations in religion). Therefore, they reject outright the modern interpretations of Islamic law, the spiritually-inclined Sufi orders, the veneration of Muslim saints and visitation of their graves, as well as the Shiite denomination of Islam. According to the Salafist view of Islam, the strict adherence to the Sharia laws was the sole reason behind the rapid expansion of Islam in its early eras and "modernisation" or “innovations” are now the cause of the downfall of the Muslim world. They believe that a renaissance of Muslim history is only possible with a return to the principles and practices of the “puritan Islam”.

Salafis are still less in number. They constitute less than one percent of the 1.3 billion Muslims of the world. Thus, Salafism has around ten million followers across the globe. But due to the hardship and severity in their doctrines, Salafis could never develop a coherent narrative of faith or flexible system of belief, neither they were able to build any sustainable organisational structures. Indeed, there are rivalries and hostilities within the Salafi groups. But the cross connections and affinities do exist among them with respect to the fundamentalist religious movements, such as the Wahhabism, the state religion of Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood. In this regard, they refer to the same sources.

Decades ago, the Muslim Brotherhood decided that they will take part in politics, considering it the best way to implement their ideas even in the Western countries. As a result, they began to wear ties, launch citizen's initiatives, establish parties, aspire to participate in governance, and even legally assume power.

The Salafis are divided in their reaction to the modern world. They all reject outright not only ideologies such as capitalism and socialism, but also the basic elements of Western life, such as democracy, constitutions, political parties, and even developed economies. They don’t differ from the early Christians by living in an internal emigration.

One of their main ideologues, Shaikh Nasiruddin al-Albani, taught: "Part of good politics today is to keep out of politics." A pioneer of Wahhabism, Shaikh Nasiruddin al-Albani is little known in the West. He left his Albanian homeland in the 1940s for Syria, where he later taught at the Madina University, which was specially established for foreigners. He also lived in Lebanon in the UAE and died in 1999 in Amman, where a centre was named after him.

In accordance with their quietist position, Salafis usually stay away from the protests of other Islamists. A Salafi would, for instance, purchase liability insurance for his car, as he shouldn't assume the role of a rebel. But he would never buy full comprehensive insurance, as their teachings equate this with the practice of playing the lottery, an act which is prohibited (haram) in their view. Of late, some Salafis have entered politics such as in Kuwait. But Salafi politicians often assume more pragmatic policies than the Ikhwan al-Muslimun (Muslim Brotherhood).

On the other hand, there are "jihadist Salafis," a term invented by a French expert of Islamic studies, Gilles Kepel. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the successor to Osama Bin Laden in the role of guru for al-Qaida, wrote a text that summons: "the knights under the flag of the Prophet" to conduct a jihad against the West, especially the USA, in order to weaken Western support for the infidel Arab regimes. Thus, he demands the overthrow of these regimes and claims that the ultimate goal of an Islamic state for the Ummah is bound to be established.

The jihadist Salafis allow and justify the killing of innocent civilians. The terrorist attack on a Parisian suburban train in 1995 was intended as punishment for France's support of the Algerian military regime, which had suppressed Islamists. The March 2004 terrorist attack in Madrid was intended to pressure Spain into withdrawing its troops from Iraq.

Western intelligence services are not yet quite alarmed about the missionaries among the Salafis, because they only manage to attract tiny groups of followers from the millions of Muslims in Europe. Whenever a person with an Islamic background perpetrates a brutal act of violence claiming his adherence to the Salafi movement, the situation gets changed and tensed. The vast majority of Salafis still remain true to the teachings of the Saudi theologian Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen, who was a member of the Senior Scholars Committee of Saudi Arabia. He issued the famous fatwa that stated: "whoever launches a terrorist suicide attack will spend all his eternal life in hell."

URL for Arabic article:,-tr-new-age-islam/teachings-of-the-salafi-curriculum--religious-extremism-without-organisational-structures--تعاليم-المنهج-السلفي--تطرف-ديني-دون-هياكل-تنظيمية/d/99638