Explaining the Rise and Differentiation of Modern Worldwide Salafi Movements

How can we explain both the rise of Salafi movements in locations around the world in recent decades and also the differing characteristics of these movements?

Saudi Arabia’s recent involvement in conflict in Yemen, as well as the emergence of numerous Salafi groups to positions of power has led many to believe that we are witnessing a rise of Salafis movements around the world. Precisely what led to this rise and which characteristics define the different groups will be explored in this essay. This paper will argue that the differing characteristics seen within the Salafi movement can be explained by the varied contextual interpretation of religious doctrine. In other words, differences in opinion over how to apply religious teachings to questions of power and political life are a major explanatory factor in the differences of Salafi movements. The rise of Salafi movements can be argued to have stemmed from its appeal to Muslims, based on approaches to issues of theology and the strict interpretation of religious doctrine that they advocate. It will be further argued that Salafisms’ ability to transcend local traditions, spaces and other forms of religious authority led to the creation of an identity based upon an imagined community, de-linked from any state or territory. This, combined with its focus on religious doctrine, can explain its increasing appeal amongst Muslims today. The paper will start with a brief introduction and overview of what Salafism is. Section one will focus on the different contextual interpretations within the movement. It will examine the split in opinion over how religious creed should be applied to everyday situations and will look at the three major factions that exists within the tradition; purists, politicos and jihadis. Section two examines the creation of a unique religious authority stemming from doctrine and emphasis on textual forms of authority. It will look at the Salafi understanding of tawhid as well as its focus on language as a tool to study the texts themselves, but more importantly, the systems of knowledge that produced those texts. The third and final section will look at the relationship between religious authority and the promotion of a specific Muslim identity, arguing that this is based on Salafi claims to greater certainty of Gods law through their hyper-textual approach.

The term Salafism takes its name from the expression “al-salaf al-salih” or, “the pious predecessors” –a phrase which refers to the time of the Prophet Muhammad and the first three generations of Muslims (Olidort 2015:7). It promotes a literalist interpretation of key religious texts, in particular the Quran and Sunna, and avoids all forms of innovation, or bid’a. The origins of Salafist literalism can be traced to a debate during the ninth century between Ahmad ibn Hanbal and his followers, known as the “People of Hadith” (thus named for their strict adherence to written reports of the Prophet’s words and actions), and the Mutazilites, who advocate for reason and interpretation of Quranic verses (Olidort 2015:9). Due to its divine nature, the People of the Hadith believe that the Quran must only be interpreted literally –for example, verses pertaining to God as sitting on a throne. Mutazilites would take this as being metaphorical, however, followers of ibn Hanbal would take it literally. The Salafist approach to politics is strongly linked to the distinction they make between the Prophet’s example and human innovation. According to Albani (1958 as cited in Olidort 2015:7), “we consider adding to (the sunna) a form of opposition to it, since the command with respect to devotional acts is to stop at what the Prophet Muhammad did and to follow him and not to rationally improve and innovate”. Because the sunna represents a portion of Muslim law based on the actual words and actions of the Prophet, following it meant conforming to the deeds of the Prophet without adding to them. In contrast to other groups, Salafis believe that any human activity can be categorized according to whether an act is sunna or bid’a. Moreover, many Salafis reject concepts like nationalism, or political parties as they did not exist during the time of the Prophet Muhammad and therefore cannot be considered sunna.

The first part of this paper will argue that the different characteristics within the Salafi movement are based on the contextual interpretation of religious doctrine and questions of how to make Salafi teachings pertinent to the different socio-political environments they operate in. Salafi movements reflect a diverse opinion of thought and include a variety of figures. These range from Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, whose militant views argue for the use of violence and revolution; to individuals such as the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, [Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh], who condemns suicide bombings and instead, focuses on non-violent methods of propagation and Islamic education (Wiktorowicz 2006). In seeking to understand this distinction, Wiktorowicz (2006) argues that while there is a general consensus over religious doctrine, the different characteristics seen throughout the various Salafi movements are based on their different assessment of contemporary problems. In other words, there is a split in opinion as to how religious creed should be applied to everyday situations. Salafis believe that by strictly following the path or example of the Prophet, as set out in the Quran and Sunna, they will be able to identify the tawhid, or singular truth of God, and rid themselves of any biasness or self-interest by eliminating all human subjectivity (Wiktorowicz 2006). However, due to its highly subjective nature, applying religious doctrine to contemporary problems requires more than a deep understanding of Islamic law; it also requires extensive knowledge of the problem itself. Here, human agency is key: for example, assessing whether or not it is permissible to respond with violence against a country such as the United States. On the level of jurisprudence, Muslims are allowed to respond in kind only if their enemy knowingly attacks Muslim civilians (Wiktorowicz 2006). In the 2003 American invasion of Iraq for example, individuals within the various groups must evaluate whether or not the United States intentionally killed civilian populations. This is a contextual question and consequently, here, the split in opinion between the various Salafi groups is in strategy, rather than religious thought (Wiktorowicz 2006). Another example presented by Wiktorowicz (2006) involves the Quranic prohibition against usurious economic activity. The ban itself is relatively straightforward, however, given the complexities of a globalised, capitalist economy, there is a lack of consensus over what usurious economic practices would look like in a modern context (Wiktorowicz 2006). For example, would it include things such as car loans, credit cars, or house payments/mortgages? These are just a few of the examples Salafis come up against when confronting the ambiguity involved in translating Quranic verses into contemporary practice. Moreover, they illustrate that often, Salafis follow strategical considerations, rather than adherence to Quranic texts, when it comes to realities on the ground.

For Wiktorowicz (2006), the different contextual readings within the Salafi community have produced three major factions: the purists, the politicos, and the jihadis. On a fundamental level, while sharing a common creed, these three groups differ in terms of drawing up effective solutions to confront problems in the contemporary world. Salafi Jihadis groups, such as Al Qaeda or Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, take a more militant approach and argue for the use of violence and violent acts such as suicide bombings and the targeting of civilians. In contrast, politico Salafis such as Ansar al-Sunna in Sudan, or Jabhat al-Islah (JI) in Tunisia, advocate active engagement in the political arena in order to spread the Salafi creed (Wiktorowicz 2006). Within Tunisia, the ruling Ennahda party has extended their support for the JI group, thereby sending a clear signal to them (and other politico Salafi groups across the region) that if you would like to take part in shaping the future of Tunisia, you must buy in to the democratic process –a transaction that JI is more than willing to make (Cavatorta and Merone 2012). In contrast to this, the final group, Salafi purists such as the Madkhalism movement in Saudi Arabia, actively discourage all political engagement, preferring to focus on strict religious education and doctrinal purification (Wiktorowicz 2006). In comparison to some jihadi Salafis who go so far as to accuse various religious and political leaders of being ‘infidels’, Madkhali Salafis completely abstain from the political arena (De Koning 2012). Indeed, it is forbidden to even criticise leaders, let alone take up violent resistance against them, and many Madkhali preachers have been quoted as saying that it is “better to have a bad Muslim leader than no Muslim leader” (De Koning 2012:171). This discrepancy in political engagement, even on the basic level of speaking out against an authoritarian or unjust ruler, explains the ambiguity of Salafi movements and the fragmentation that exists between them.

The debate over whether Muslims can declare rulers apostates (a process known as takfir) signifies a prominent source of contention within the Salafi community and, according to Wiktorowicz (2006), exemplifies the impact of contextual interpretation on fractionalisation. These fractions, for example, could explain why many purists within Saudi Arabia have refused to denounce Osama bin Laden and his followers in Al Qaeda (AQ).  A similar issue is often brought up in the current press; with the rise of Daesh many are commenting on the lack of criticism coming from Saudi Arabia. Although Saudis rejected bin Laden’s use of violence, they did accept that he may have shared the correct creed and emphasis on tawhid. Without actually bringing him to Saudi Arabia for a religious trial, many have argued that there is no way of knowing whether he thought AQ’s actions, following Americas invasion, were in accordance with Islam (Wiktorowicz 2006). Further, if they had charged him with apostasy based on his actions and without truly determining his thoughts and intentions, Saudi purists would be guilty of the same extremism as Salafi jihadi groups (when it comes to declaring takfir).

Taking a somewhat different approach, in his work on Salafi movements in the Netherlands, De Koning (2012) argues that while Wiktorowicz’s typology of Salafi movements can, and has been, very useful, it is nonetheless a limiting explanation as it does not take into account the different types of politics that Salafi networks engage in. Categorising only a small portion of Salafi movements as ‘politicos’ limits one’s understanding of politics to engaging with political parties or dealing with the state (De Koning 2012). Not only is this view vague and restricting, but also, it does not take into consideration a form of politics whose influence lies outside the nation state and/or power structures. Eickelman and Piscatori (2000) describe this form of politics as a competition over the meaning of symbols and language. The veiling of women represents an example of a previously apolitical symbol that, by becoming involved in negotiations on the state level, has been transformed into a public symbol that is open to contestation from different sides. According to De Koning (2012:162), “the negotiations of the interpretation of symbols in everyday life can be called politics of lifestyles.” Together with the politics of lifestyles, De Koning (2012) argues that there are two other categories, which can explain the different contextual interpretations of the various Salafi movements, and consequently, their differing characteristics. These are the politics of distinction, based on the rejection of a mainstream culture, which is seen as being indiscriminate and non-diverse; and the politics of resistance, whose focus is on “a rejection of oppressive structures in society that keep particular groups in a powerless and alternate position” (De Koning 2012:161). Following this logic, all Salafi movements can be seen as being involved in political negotiations with the state in some way. This essay will now look at an example of a Salafi movement that arguably operates within the political sphere and does not require a withdrawal from current affairs.

Salafi groups in Sudan support the principle of the implementation of Sharia law but have historically remained highly critical of both the method and the content of Islamist political activism. Focussing on Ansar al-Sunna, Salomon argues that too often, the question of the relationship between Salafism and politics has focused primarily on radical, reactionary and violent sects within the movement, and ignored the far more widespread phenomenon in which Salafi movements engage in the process of peaceful da’wa, or the calling of individuals to the ‘true’ Islam (Salomon 2009). Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, Salomon argues that such a process does not require a withdrawal from current affairs, nor should it be understood as quietest or apolitical (Salomon 2009). In fact, to further the goal of da’wa, adherents are actively encouraged to involve themselves in any way they can, be it engagement with political parties, trade associations or student unions (Salomon 2009). Abd al-Rahman, a contemporary Salafi activist, who is one of the most influential figures in the Ansar al-Sunna movement, has put forward his own definition of political as not having to do with establishing an Islamic state or implementing Sharia. He argues that the very act of spreading Islamic truth is inherently political, regardless of the means used to do so (Salomon 2009). In this sense, all three scholars (Salomon, Rahman and Koning) agree that by limiting studies of Salafism to attempts by movements to grab hold of the modern state, scholars have consequently limited our understanding of the scope of ‘the political’ in which Salafi groups see themselves as being involved. Therefore, the ways in which these movements interact with the more diffuse networks of modern state power (domains such as education, law, birth and marriage that were traditionally controlled by religious institutions) are not highlighted. For example, Salafis like Ansar al-Sunna understand the very work of da’wa to be fundamentally political work as it challenges prevailing notions of ethics and truths promoted both by the state and rival movements within modern Islam (Salomon 2009).

When looking at the broad relationship between Salafi movements and politics, and the diverse opinions that exist within the movement, another important factor to take into consideration is that of local contexts and the transnational character of Salafi movements. In her work on transnational trends within Saudi Salafi-jihadi discourse, Madawi al-Rasheed argues that by focusing on global messages and practices of Salafi Jihadis, we have obscured the local dimensions of the various groups. Al-Rasheed (2009) argues that by virtue of being transnational, these movements often become embedded in local cultural traditions, political contexts and socio-economic conditions. This is particularly evident in Saudi Arabia where the different characteristics between the various Salafi groups emerged simultaneously with the growing importance of the Saudi state (Meijer 2009). During the oil-boom years of the 1950s, and especially following the oil crisis of 1973, Saudi Arabia was a haven for a culturally and ideologically diverse group of thinkers. They brought with them a variety of doctrines and interests, which resulted in the creation of a multifaceted Salafism that reflected a “diversity of strains ranging from apolitical, quietist currents, including lifestyle and identity movements, to political activist movements and violent jihadi networks” (Meijer 2009:10). While these different strains can trace their origins to Salafism, and share similar doctrine, they nonetheless have their own genealogies and have developed their own contextual interpretation of Salafist principles based on specific local circumstances (Meijer 2009). This section has argued that the different characteristics within the Salafi movement are based on the contextual interpretation of religious doctrine and questions of how to make Salafi teachings pertinent to questions of power and political life. However, focusing solely on this neither adequately explains the rise in Salafi movements nor, it will be argued, does it lie at the core of what makes these groups appealing to Muslims. To do this, we need to look at how these movements approach issues of theology and interpretation of religious doctrine, which is what this paper will now explore.

The rise in the number of Salafi movements in recent decades can be explained by their creation of a unique religious authority stemming from doctrine and exclusive emphasis on textual forms of authority. Bernard Haykel (2009) argues that a majority of the literature on Salafi movements focuses almost exclusively on its political aspects, thereby inadequately explaining its religious underpinnings and ideational appeal amongst the Muslim masses. The religious authority of Salafi movement’s stems from their literalist interpretation of texts and association with the ideas of Ibn Taymiyya who states the following: “…the way of the Salafi is to interpret literally the Qur’anic verses and hadiths that relate to divine attributes, and without indicating modality and without attributing to Him anthropomorphic qualities. So that one is not to state that the meaning of ‘hand’ is power and that of ‘hearing’ is knowledge” (Haykel 2009:38). Strongly linked with this literalist approach is their distinctive understanding of Tawhid, which is arguably unique to the Salafi movement. Haykel (2009) argues that there are three different ways Salafists understand this concept: the Oneness of Lordship, which is the belief that as lord of human kind, God has certain powers and to attribute these to anyone but Him, constitutes disbelief. The Oneness of Godship, which is the idea that all forms of worship must be directed towards God alone, and to worship anyone or anything else is forbidden (Haykel 2009). Finally, there is the Oneness of the names and attributes; an understanding of God based on a literalist analysis of the texts of revelation, without symbolic or contextual interpretation (Haykel 2009). From this understanding of Tawhid, this paper argues that Salafism is not simply a question of believing; rather, it is a question of practice.

For example, Salafists see a lot of traditional religious practices in the Muslim world, such as visiting the shrines of holy men and women, or praying to certain Saints to intercede with God on their behalf, as effectively worshipping something other than God. This can also explain their violent hostility towards Shia Muslims, whose emphasis on Imans as being divine or comparable to God amounts to disbelief or shirk (Meijer 2009). It is not enough to simply believe that God is one; an individual must also worship only one God. In order to protect the Oneness of God, Muslims must strictly follow the Quran and Sunna and emulate the Prophet Muhammad’s model (Haykel 2009). As we have seen, this does not simply mean adhering to his religious or legal teachings; rather it is about following his teachings in a very precise manner. This unique Salafi understanding of Tawhid is important when seeking to understand their rise in recent decades. According to Haykel (2009:35), “Salafi imagination reconstructs the early Muslim linguistic, cultural and ethical habits… and insist on being like them in a live quotidian fashion”.

Arabic language becomes very important here in terms of understanding these movements and their appeal amongst current generations of Muslims. In order to emulate the Prophet and his followers, the ability to speak fluently in classical Arabic is significant, as it is considered symbolic of being a true Salafi. In much of his research outside the Arab world, Haykel (2009) came across communities of Salafists who argued that all pious Muslims should speak classical Arabic as their mother tongue.  Following the logic of post-structuralism, Salafists believe that in order to understand the Quran or Sunna, it is necessary to study both the texts themselves but more importantly, the systems of knowledge that produced those texts. Furthermore, understanding social elements, such as the rise of Salafi movements, by looking at them in isolation is not enough. This phenomenon must be analysed according to the context of its insertion into different social environments and the structures that govern social relations. It could be argued that there is a connection between this idea, and Talal Asad’s understanding that tradition guides and defines religious experience. In other words, the idea here is that no religious experience is free of the constraints and structures put in place by the past, that is, a tradition (Anjum 2007). Asad (1986) is critical of scholars such as Gellner who present Islamic society as a self-contained and integrated system, and is more interested in the way Islam can transform and the open-ended ways change can occur. For him, the diversity in various local manifestations of Islam can be organised through the concept of a ‘discursive tradition’ (Asad 1986). While Asad’s (1986) focus is on the concept of Islam as a whole, it is nonetheless useful when trying to understand the rise of, and variety within, the Salafi tradition. One can arguably speak of discursive constraints and traditions amongst Salafis because of the emphasis placed on universally accepted religious doctrine and key foundational texts within the movement (Anjum 2007).  So far, it has been argued that Salafis’ claims to religious certainty, stemming from their emphasis on religious doctrine and close textual interpretation, has resulted in the creation of religious authority, which in turn can explain its appeal to a great extent. As well as having a better understanding of how Salafis’ approach issues of theology, it is also necessary to comprehend the influence it can have on Muslim societies. Could it be that Muslims are more influenced by questions of strict adherence to theological principles rather than engaging with political institutions of the state? And if so, what has changed to make them more susceptible to these kinds of ideas? It is to this point that this paper will now turn.

Strongly linked with religious authority; one argument could be that the rising influence in Salafi movements in recent decades can be explained by their promotion of a specific Muslim identity, which is based on claims to greater certainty of Gods law through a hyper-textual approach. Described by some as a “muscular discourse that is directed at reforming other non-Salafi Muslims and which amounts to an activist worldview in which one sees oneself as pure and the others in need of purification in both belief and practice”(Haykel 2009:36-37). Arguing that the innovations seen in Islam today are a direct result of its expansion and the blending of local culture with Islamic tradition, Salafists promote a religious identity that is devoid of any cultural context. Olivier Roy calls this process “deculturation” and argues that the objective of Salafists, or neo-fundamentalists as he terms them, is to “strip Islam as practiced into its pristine elements by jettisoning folk customs”, in order to transcend local traditions, spaces and other forms of religious authority thereby creating an identity based upon an imagined community of true believers (Wiktorowicz 2006:210). Similar to Benedict Anderson (1991), who argues that a nation is a socially constructed community, imagined by the people who see themselves as part of that group, by creating an alternative model of universal truth and social action, Salafi movements lower the barriers for participation while simultaneously constructing themselves as morally superior to other Islamic movements. In this way, it could be argued that ironically, transcending cultural ideas and values makes Salafism more relatable.

Salafism is adaptable to any country or culture because it presents itself as a religious movement based not on culture but on a set of norms (namely key religious texts) that are adaptable to a variety of environments. In this sense, it is perhaps uniquely suited to meet one of the basic requirements of contemporary globalisation: “that of turning human behaviour into codes, and patterns of consumption and communication, delinked from any specific culture” (Roy 2004:258). Halal, for example, is a code that is adaptable to any country, regardless of culture. Roy (2004) highlights examples such as ‘halal dress’, which is often based on Western designs; or ‘halal food’, which is more often an adapted version of Western style, fast food products. In other words, “…the hamburger is seen as culturally neutral as long as it is made along the lines of a religious norm” (Roy 2004:271). Because of this ‘de-link’ from culture, the Salafi movement is particularly appealing amongst second generation Muslims living in the West. It recognises their sense of de-culturation and displacement and does not require individuals to identify Islam with the “pristine” cultures of their parents (Roy 2004:268). Leading up to the mid-1990s, the availability of literature online as well as through mosque networks saw Salafism emerge as an established religious paradigm within the United Kingdom (Hamid 2009). Young Muslims living in Great Britain for example were moving away from the idea of a “cultural Islam”, towards a more intellectually rigorous and evidence-based form (Peach 2005). Denying authority to a transmitted religious tradition and transferring it to another religious tradition of their choice empowers individuals: “…adopting a Salafi identity while still young is a process of exchanging and rerouting religious language and symbols and as such is part of a wider search for meaning and identity construction” (Hamid 2009:390). This identity construction has arguably also been influenced by the presence of religious authority, which, for many migrant communities, has been a point of contention in the past.

The transnational quality of these ‘neo-fundamentalist’ movements has resulted in the establishment of Muslim immigrant and diaspora communities, which in turn, has an effect on the establishment of religious authority. Moving from a familiar society into new and unfamiliar territory, Muslims are confronted with new social and cultural settings, whose structures of religious authority, if they exist at all, differ greatly to what they had previously known.[1] Under these circumstances, the appeal of Salafism as a global religion, delinked from any sense of specific culture or territory, is greatly appealing. While these new societies were considered lacking any sense of religious authority, Salafism provided individuals with a sense of belonging to an imagined community of true believers, no matter where they lived. In the case of Muslim communities in Britain, for example, there was a trend within the first generation of migrants to attempt to reproduce the religious practices from their homelands (Mandaville 2003). In contrast, second and third generations of British Muslims have tended to express various degrees of dissatisfaction with their parents’ conception of Islam (Mandaville 2003). In terms of religious authority, this younger generation has often, according to Mandaville (2007:320), “turned away from traditional mosque leaders (particularly those from abroad) and sought instead to develop groups and movements with like-minded peers looking for an Islam that speaks to their specific issues and problems.” Consequently, Salafism, as a movement that promotes a sense of doctrinally pure religious authority that is adaptable to any country or culture, has greatly increased. Individuals are able to reconstruct their sense of faith, not on a particular culture or ethnicity, but on a set of norms and religious principles that are malleable to different environments. They thus turned their up-rootedness into a positive transnational identity, which, according to Roy (2004), is a typical pattern of neo-fundamentalism in the West.

Returning once more to Roy (2004), the rise of Salafism can also be attributed to its role as a tool for de-territorialisation.  Salafi movements are no longer confined to a particular nation state or territory and as such, see themselves as an imaginary ummah, beyond the divides of ethnicity, culture, language or race (Roy 2004). This idea is very appealing to many Muslims, again specifically, according to Roy (2004:275-276), to those Muslims living in the West:

“By inducing believers to identify with an abstract, de-territorialised and homogenous egalitarian community of believers, neo-fundamentalism provides an alternative group identity that does not impinge upon the individual life of a believer, precisely because such a community is imagined and has no real social basis…restricting religion to an imagined space allows one to live de facto in a secular world.”

Another consequence of this disconnection from a particular territory are changing forms of religiosity away from society and towards Islamisation of the individual. Khaled Kelkal, a member of the Armed Islamic Group in Algeria who carried out several terrorist attacks in France, said in an interview: “I am not French, I am not Arab, I am a Muslim” (Roy 2004:274). He no longer identified himself as belonging to a particular nation or ethnicity but chose to remain de-territorialised as he found the idiom of Islam used by his parents to be of little value in helping him to navigate his “culturally hybrid and hyphenated identity” (e.g. French Muslim) (Mandaville 2007:320). By appealing to the younger generations sense of a ‘decultured’ Islam, by advocating a direct and literal approach to texts, and by calling for a return to the ‘true tenets’ of Islam based on the actions and words of the Prophet Muhammad, Salafis construct themselves as a movement whose focus is on the promotion of the individual, rather than a group or hierarchy.

Like all arguments, Roy’s (2004) is not without its limitations and a major critique of his work could be his obscuring of the local dimensions of Salafi movements. Focusing solely on the de-territorialised and de-culturalised nature of Salafism leads us to believe that what we are seeing from Saudi Arabia to London is essentially the same occurrence; a monolithic block of global Salafi discourse, thereby overlooking the specific contexts in which these groups operate, react, or against which they rebel (Al-Rasheed 2009). In terms of confronting the so-called ‘challenge’ posed by Salafi networks; by continuing to spend money countering this supposed ‘global Salafi ideology’, governments are failing to account for the movement’s diversity and failing to successfully deal with the context in which Salafi messages assume their meaning and resonance among Muslim men and women (Al-Rasheed 2009). In seeking to understand the rise of Salafism in recent decades, while significant, lack of a local dimension does not take away from Roy’s argument as to the transcending nature of Salafism and its ability to surpass local borders and cultures.

In conclusion, this paper has argued that rise of Salafi movements stems from its appeal to Muslims, based on approaches to issues of theology and the strict interpretation of religious doctrine that they advocate. Its ability to transcend local traditions, spaces and other forms of religious authority led to the creation of an identity based upon an imagined community, de-linked from any state or territory.  Furthermore, its focus on religious doctrine can help explain its increasing appeal amongst Muslims today. Alongside this, the different characteristics seen within the Salafi movement can be explained by the varied contextual interpretation of religious doctrine, as well as questions of power and political life and how these concepts should be dealt with in everyday life in relation to religious teachings.  Nevertheless, it has been suggested that local contexts in which these movements emerge cannot be left out of the analysis, thus advocating the need for a combination of theoretical arguments in order to account for the rise of Salafism in the world.


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[1] In many cases of Muslim communities resettling to the West, they are often migrating from societies in which they represented the majority, to societies where Islam is in the minority. Moreover, in many cases Islam was little understood as a religion or viewed as strange and incompatible with prevailing sociocultural norms.

Written by: Madeleine Nyst
Written at: School of Oriental and African Studies
Written for: Dr Michael Farquhar
Date written: November 2015


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