Global Salafism

Islam's New Religious Movement

Edited by
August 2009 9781850659808 464pp


‘Salafism’ and ‘jihadi-Salafism’ have become significant doctrinal trends in contemporary Islamic thought, yet the West has largely failed to offer a sophisticated and discerning definition of these movements. The contributors to Global Salafism carefully outline not only the differences in the Salafi schools but the broader currents of Islamic thought that constitute this trend as well. They examine both the regional manifestations of the phenomenon and its shared, essential doctrines. Their analyses highlight Salafism’s inherent ambivalence and complexitites – the ‘out-antiquing the antique’ that has brought Islamic thought into the modern age while maintaining its relationship to an older, purer authenticity. Emphasising the subtle tensions between local and glocal aspirations within the ‘Salafi method’, Global Salafism investigates the movement like no other study currently available.

Table of contents

Introduction by Roel Meijer


1. On the Nature of Salafi Thought and Action by Bernard Haykel

(Appendix: al-Qaeda’s Creed and Path, translated by Bernard Haykel)

2. Between Revolution and Apoliticism: Nasir al-Din al-Albani and his Impact on the Shaping of Contemporary Salafism by Stéphane Lacroix

3. The Transformation of a Radical Concept: al-wala’ wa-l-bara’ in the Ideology of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi by Joas Wagemakers

4. Jihadi-Salafism and the Shi‘is: Remarks about the Intellectual Roots of anti-Shi‘ism by Guido Steinberg

5. Salafism in Pakistan: The Ahl-e Hadith Movement by Mariam Abou Zahab


6. The Salafi Critique of Islamism: Doctrine, Difference and the Problem of Islamic Political Action in Contemporary Sudan by Noah Salomon

7. Ambivalent Doctrines and Conflicts in the Salafi Movement in Indonesia by Noorhaidi Hasan

8. Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong as a Principle of Social Action: The Case of the Egyptian al-Jama‘a al-Islamiyya by Roel Meijer

9. Salafi Formations in Palestine: The Limits of a de-Palestinised Milieu by Khaled Hroub


10. Jihadi-Salafis or Revolutionaries? On Religion and Politics in the Study of Militant Islamism by Thomas Hegghammer

11. Debates within the Family: Jihadi-Salafi Debates on Strategy, Takfir, Extremism, Suicide Bombings and the Sense of the Apocalypse by Reuven Paz

12. ‘Destructive Doctrinairians’: Abu Mus‘ab al-Suri’s Critique of the Salafis in the Jihadi Current by Brynjar Lia


13. The Local and the Global in Saudi Salafi Discourse by Madawi Al-Rasheed

14. How Transnational is Salafism in Yemen? by Laurent Bonnefoy

15. Growth and Fragmentation: The Salafi Movement in Bale, Ethiopia by Terje Østebø


16. Salafism in France: Ideology, Practices and Contradictions by Mohamed-Ali Adraoui

17. The Attraction of ‘Authentic Islam’: Salafism and British Muslim Youth by Sadek Hamid

18. Changing Worldviews and Friendship: An Exploration of the Life Stories of Two Female Salafis in the Netherlands by Martijn de Koning


‘The first work of its kind on Salafism as a global phenomenon, this is an impressive collection of studies that question the received wisdom about the movement as much as they reveal the diversity of its religious and political motivations.’ — Faisal Devji, St Antony’s College, Oxford University, and author of The Terrorist in Search of Humanity

‘This timely volume is a most welcome addition to the emerging scholarly literature on contemporary Salafism. It is a significant contribution to the endeavour both to elucidate its defining characteristics, and to situate it in relation to other trends in contemporary Islamic thought and activism. Its particular value lies in its comprehensiveness — not only in terms of geographical scope, but in addressing the very diverse articulations and outcomes of the Salafi approach, from the apolitical to the militant. Highly recommended for anyone seeking an insight into the complex and expanding world of this key trend in the contemporary Islamic arena, it is also and invaluable teaching resource.’ — Suda Taji-Farouki, University of Exeter

‘This is a unique book, the first of its kind to take the phenomenon of Salafism as a whole and address the task of its definition.’ — Stephen Ulph, Senior Fellow, the Jamestown Foundation, Washington, DC.

‘This book is a stunning achievement and a major contribution to the study of contemporary Islam… The authors display a remarkable level of expertise on the topics discussed… The level of research is outstanding, which is manifested in the copious footnotes and bibliographies… This book should be required reading for anyone interested in contemporary Islamic activism…. It demands our attention, careful reading, deep engagement, and understanding.’ — Insight Turkey


Roel Meijer  teaches modern Middle Eastern history at Radboud University in Nijmegen and is Senior Researcher at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, ‘Clingendael.’

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