In This Article Salafism

  • Introduction
  • Imami/Twelver Shiʿite “Salafism”

Islamic Studies Salafism
by
Jonathan A.C. Brown
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0070

Introduction

News reports often mention the “Wahhabi movement” or “Wahhabi Islam” without providing any context. This controversial modern Islamic movement actually represents part of a larger phenomenon in Islamic thought: Salafism. The Salaf are the pious forbearers of Islam, usually understood as the first three generations of the Muslim community (as opposed to the Khalaf, or the later generations). The Arabic adjective Salafi and the English noun Salafism taken from it are complex terms that refer to a trend in Islamic thought that places particular emphasis on a return to the piety and principles of the Salaf as the only correct understanding of Islam. Although all Muslim scholars look to the Salaf as role models, the majority believe that the institutions and historical developments that scholars have accepted within thought and practice over the centuries represent legitimate expressions of Islam. Establishing and adhering to schools of law (madhhab), adopting the Near Eastern traditions of Greek logic and speculative theology, and the emergence of Sufi brotherhoods were all accepted by mainstream Sunni and Shiʿite scholars. The Salafi strain in Islamic thought, however, has questioned the authority and legitimacy of these developments, preferring to emphasize of role of hadith and the literal ways of the Salaf over such historical adoptions. Although this conservative and iconoclastic trend has always existed in Islamic thought, it is most commonly identified with two periods: the burgeoning of classical Salafism with the 14th-century scholar Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), and the Salafism of the 18th-century movements of revival and reform. This early modern incarnation of Salafism in turn gave birth to two trends in Salafism that have flourished until today. Despite their common use of the term Salafi, these two modern movements are in fact very different, and they will be referred to here as modernist Salafism and traditionalist Salafism. Both classical Salafism and modern Salafism have clashed with the mainstream of Islamic thought, which will be referred to, for the sake of convenience, as Sunni or Shiʿite orthodoxy. Due to its controversial nature, writings on Salafism often feature heavy biases that need to be taken into consideration. Furthermore, there is scholarly disagreement over whether the term Salafism really represents a unified phenomenon; that is, is the “Salafism” of Ibn Taymiyya really the Salafism of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (d. 1792) or Muhammad ʿAbduh (d. 1905)?

Classical Salafism

The orientation towards the Salaf and a textualist commitment to hadith instead of speculative reasoning characterized the ahl al-hadith movement of 9th-century scholars like Ibn Hanbal (d. 855). Classical Salafism represented a revival of Hanbali thought in the 14th century, specifically at the hands of the very influential Hanbali scholar of Damascus, Ibn Taymiyya, and his chief acolyte, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d. 1351). Although both scholars have remained controversial figures, they are also without a doubt two of the most influential thinkers in Sunni Islam.

Scholarly Studies

There are no book-length studies devoted to classical Salafism, so readings on Ibn Taymiyya and his school are the best routes for studying the subject. Jackson 1994 and Taylor 1999 are currently the best works for acquainting oneself with the central themes and controversies of classical Salafism.

  • Ahmed, Shahab. “Ibn Taymiyyah and the Satanic Verses.” Studia Islamica 87, No. 2 (1998): 67–124.

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    Although this article focuses more on the infamous episode of the Satanic verses and Ibn Taymiyya’s approach to it, it provides an invaluable insight into his thought.

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    • Hallaq, Wael, trans. Ibn Taymiyya against the Greek Logicians. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.

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      A translation of, and introduction to, Ibn Taymiyya’s rebuttal of Greek logic, which explores the complicated relationship between classical Salafism and the Sunni adoption of Hellenistic methods of reasoning.

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      • Hoover, Jon. “Islamic Universalism: Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s Salafī Deliberations on the Duration of Hellfire.” The Muslim World 99, No. 1 (2009): 181–201.

        DOI: 10.1111/j.1478-1913.2009.01260.xE-mail Citation »

        A fascinating study of how the Salafi approach of Ibn Taymiyya and his student Ibn Qayyim led them to reassess whether or not the torment of hell is eternal.

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        • Jackson, Sherman. “Ibn Taymiyya on Trial in Damascus.” Journal of Semitic Studies 39, No. 1 (1994): 41–85.

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          An exhaustive account of Ibn Taymiyya’s trial in Damascus and the various theological issues involved. A useful introduction to the important points of contention between Salafism and orthodox Islam.

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          • Lucas, Scott. “The Legal Principles of Muḥammad b. Ismāʿil al-Bukhāri and their Relation to Classical Salafi Islam.” Islamic Law and Society 13, No. 3 (2007): 289–324.

            DOI: 10.1163/156851906778946341E-mail Citation »

            An examination of the famous 9th-century hadith scholar al-Bukhari’s legal theory, tying it to the general trend of focusing on hadith, the ways of the Salaf, and constraining legal reasoning.

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            • Opwis, Felicitas. “The Construction of Madhhab Authority: Ibn Taymiyya’s Construction of Juristic Preference (Istihsān).” Islamic Law and Society 15, No. 2 (2008): 219–249.

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              An examination of how Ibn Taymiyya’s discussion of juristic preference telescopes the divide between later scholars such as himself and the early founders of the Islamic schools of law.

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              • Taylor, Christopher S. In the Vicinity of the Righteous: Ziyāra and the Veneration of Muslim Saints in Late Medieval Egypt. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1999.

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                A fascinating book on one of the most salient debates between Salafism and orthodox Islam: the visitation of saints’ graves. It provides an excellent historical background for a still raging controversy.

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                Primary Sources

                A number of useful English translations of Ibn Taymiyya’s work exist, including Merlin Swartz’s Ibn Taymiyya 1973 and Mukhtar Holland’s Ibn Taymiyya 1982.

                • Ibn Taymiyya, Taqi al-Din. “A Seventh-Century (A.H.) Sunni Creed: The ʿAqida Wāsiṭīya of Ibn Taymiyya.” Translated by Merlin Swartz. Humaniora Islamica 1 (1973): 91–131.

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                  A translation, with a very useful introduction, of Ibn Taymiyya’s controversial Salafi theological creed.

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                  • Ibn Taymiyya, Taqi al-Din. Public Duties in Islam: The Institution of the Hisba. Translated by Mukhtar Holland, introduction by Khurshid Ahmad. Leicester, UK: Islamic Foundation, 1982.

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                    Ibn Taymiyya’s work on market supervision and policing in Islam.

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                    • Ibn Taymiyya, Taqi al-Din. Musique et danse selon Ibn Taymiyya: Le Livre de samâʿ et de la danse. Translated by Jean Michot. Paris: Philosophique Vrin, 1991.

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                      A translation of Ibn Taymiyya’s treatise on the permissibility or impermissibility of music and dancing in Islam.

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                      Eighteenth-Century Movements of Revival and Reform

                      In the 18th century, the Islamic world was shaken by internal movements of revival and reform. These movements were reactions to internal trends within the Muslim world, not European encroachment, and they occurred in areas that had previously been marginal in Islamic civilization: central Arabia, sub-Saharan Africa, and India. These revival and reform movements took on three general shapes: purely scholarly reform movements (such as that of Shah Wali Allah al-Dihlawi, d. 1762, in India), militaristic movements (such as the Muwahhid, or “Wahhabi,” movement in Arabia), and Sufi reform movements (such as that of Muhammad al-Sanusi, d. 1859, in North Africa). Exactly why these revival and reform movements appeared and whether or not they can be treated as a unified phenomenon are questions hotly debated by Western scholars. Here they are divided into two groups, the first more general and the second comprising those that were specifically bound to Sufi brotherhoods.

                      Reform Movements: Scholarly Studies

                      The best overall introductions to 18th-century revival and reform are Rahman 1970, Voll 1999, and Dallal 1993.

                      • Dallal, Ahmad. “The Origins and Objectives of Islamic Revivalist Thought: 1750–1850.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 113, No. 3 (1993): 341–359.

                        DOI: 10.2307/605385E-mail Citation »

                        In this compelling article, Dallal argues that there are in fact no unifying factors between the revival movements of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab, Usman dan Fodio, Shah Wali Allah, and al-Sanusi. The work is a response to the school of Voll and Rahman.

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                        • Haykel, Bernard. Revival and Reform in Islam: The Legacy of Muhammad al-Shawkāni. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2003.

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                          The best work on the 17th- and 18th-century Salafi revival in Yemen, which centered on the figure of Muhammad b. ʿAli al-Shawkani (d. 1834).

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                          • Hiskitt, Mervyn. The Sword of Truth: The Life and Times of Shehu Usuman dan Fodio. 2d ed. Evanston, IL: Northwestern Univ. Press, 1994.

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                            This is the definitive work on Usman dan Fodio (d. 1817), head of a powerful reform movement in the environs of modern-day Nigeria that led to the founding of the Sokoto caliphate.

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                            • Metcalf, Barbara. Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860–1900. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1982.

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                              Although this book ultimately tackles the founding of the influential Salafi school at Deoband, its initial chapters provide an unparalleled introduction to reform movements in India, particularly the hugely influential figure of Shah Wali Allah al-Dihlawi.

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                              • Nafi, Basheer M. “A Teacher of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb: Muḥammad Ḥayāt al-Sindi and Aṣḥāb al-adith’s Methodology.” Islamic Law and Society 13, No. 2 (2006): 208–241.

                                DOI: 10.1163/156851906776917552E-mail Citation »

                                Provides the background for the rise of the Wahhabi movement in Arabia by examining the influential Salafi scholar Muhammad Hayat al-Sindi. Nafi’s in-depth discussion of the period and of Salafism in general are invaluable.

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                                • Peters, Rudolph. “Idjithād and Taqlid in 18th and 19th Century Islam.” Die Welt des Islams 20, Nos. 3–4 (1980): 131–146.

                                  DOI: 10.1163/157006080X00012E-mail Citation »

                                  This article represents one of the classic arguments for a unifying theme of renewed independent reasoning based on the ways of the Salaf (ijtihad) in 18th-century movements.

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                                  • Rahman, Fazlur. “Revival and Reform in Islam.” In The Cambridge History of Islam. Vol. 2B, Islamic Society and Civilization. Edited by P.M. Holt, Ann K. S. Lambton, and Bernard Lewis, 632–656. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1970.

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                                    A basic and indispensable source on the notion of reform and the Salaf in Islam, with an extremely influential discussion of the 18th-century movements as a unified phenomenon.

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                                    • Voll, John O. “Foundations for Renewal and Reform: Islamic Movements in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.” In The Oxford History of Islam. Edited by John Esposito, 509–547. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1999.

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                                      This is the basic source for the revival and reform movements of the 18th century, treating them as an interconnected phenomenon.

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                                      • Zilfi, Madeline C. “The Kadizadelis: Discordant Revivalism in Seventeenth-Century Istanbul.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 45, No. 4 (1986): 251–269.

                                        DOI: 10.1086/373194E-mail Citation »

                                        The Kadizadeli movement, a conservative reform movement amongst Ottoman scholars in 17th-century Istanbul, shares many features with Salafism. This article is the best source on this fascinating movement.

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                                        Reform Movements: Primary Sources

                                        The translations of Shah Muhammad b. Ismaʿil 1969 (Support of the Faith) and al-Dihlawi 2003 (Difference of Opinion in Fiqh) are the best samples of Salafi reformist thought on issues of law and theology.

                                        • Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab, Muhammad. Kitab al-Tauhid. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Dar-us-Salam, 1996.

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                                          A translation of one of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab’s most widely read works—the “Book of divine unity”—which puts forth his basic doctrines of radical monotheism, which encompass a rejection of saint reverence, popular religious rituals, and boastful piety.

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                                          • Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab, Muhammad. An Explanation of Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s “Kashf al-shubuhat”: A Critical Analysis of Shirk. Translated by Yasir Qadhi. Birmingham, UK: Al-Hidaayah, 2003.

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                                            A translation, with commentary by a contemporary Salafi scholar, on Ibn ʿAbd Wahhab’s distinctly Salafi discussion of shirk (associating partners with God). Provides an excellent insight into the traditionalist Salafi emphasis on reviving the concern over shirk.

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                                            • al-Dihlawi, Shah Wali Allah. The Conclusive Argument from God: Shāh Wali Allāḥ of Delhi’s “Ḥujjat Allāh al-bāligha.” Translated by Marcia Hermansen. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1996.

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                                              An excellent translation of Shah Wali Allah’s masterpiece, which combines his analysis of Islamic intellectual history with his reformist prescription for its future.

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                                              • al-Dihlawi, Shah Wali Allah. Difference of Opinion in Fiqh. Translated by Muhammad Abdul Wahhab. London: Ta-Ha, 2003.

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                                                A translation of an exceedingly insightful work of Islamic intellectual history by the most prominent 18th-century reformer of India. In addition to tracing how and why Islamic legal thought developed as it did, Shah Wali Allah also presents an argument against blind loyalty to the traditional Sunni schools of law.

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                                                • Shah Muhammad b. Ismaʿil. Support of the Faith. Translated by Mir Shahamat Ali. Lahore, Palistan: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1969.

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                                                  A translation of an influential 19th-century Indian scholar’s treatise against popular religious and Sufi practices. The most accessible and well-written introduction to Salafi reformist thought in the period.

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                                                  • Traboulsi, Samer. “An Early Refutation of Muḥammad Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb’s Reformist Views.” Die Welt des Islams 42, No. 3 (2002): 373–415.

                                                    DOI: 10.1163/15700600260435038E-mail Citation »

                                                    Contains the Arabic text of an early refutation of Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab, written by an 18th-century Egyptian scholar, as well as a useful summary of the arguments contained in the text.

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                                                    Sufi Reform Movements

                                                    The relationship between the 18th-century revival movements and Sufism has been hotly contested by scholars. Nafi 2002, as usual, is a terrific introduction to the question. O’Fahey and Radtke 1993 also summarizes the debate well.

                                                    • Nafi, Basheer M. “Taṣawwuf and Reform in Pre-Modern Islamic Culture: In Search of Ibrāhim al-Kurāni.” Die Welt des Islams 42, No. 3 (2002): 307–355.

                                                      DOI: 10.1163/15700600260435010E-mail Citation »

                                                      Nafi’s work on Salafism in this period leads the field, and this article focuses on the early emergence of the reform movements as well as their connection to Sufism.

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                                                      • O’Fahey, R.S. and Bernd Radtke. “Neo-Sufism Reconsidered.” Der Islam 70 (1993): 52–87.

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                                                        This article challenges the idea, held by Voll, Rahman and others, that Sufism underwent a “Salafization,” including a renewed focus on the person of the Prophet, in the 18th-century.

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                                                        • Radtke, Bernd, O’Kane, John, Vikør Knut S., and R.S. O’Fahey. The Exoteric Aḥmad Ibn Idrīs: A Sufi’s Critique of the Madhāhib and the Wahhābīs. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2000.

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                                                          A fascinating book on a revivalist Sufi of the 19th century, who moved from Morocco to the Hejaz, where he opposed both the Wahhabi movement and orthodox Sunnism.

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                                                          • Vikør, Knut S. Sufi and Scholar on the Desert Edge: Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-Sanūsī and His Brotherhood. Evanston, IL: Northwestern Univ. Press, 1995.

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                                                            The definitive work on the founder of the influential 19th-century reformist Sufi brotherhood, the Sanusiyya.

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                                                            • Voll, John O. “Hadith Scholars and Tariqahs: An Ulama Group in the 18th century Haramayn and Their Impact in the Islamic World.” Journal of African and Asian Studies 15, Nos. 3–4 (1980): 264–273.

                                                              DOI: 10.1177/002190968001500306E-mail Citation »

                                                              Voll explores how networks of student-teacher relationships and Sufi brotherhoods in the Hejaz and Yemen were crucial to the revival and reform movements.

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                                                              Traditionalist Salafism from the 20Th Century to the Present

                                                              The 18th-century movements of Shah Wali Allah, Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab, and al-Shawkani left a legacy of scholars from the 19th century until today who refer to themselves as “Salafi.” As in Classical Salafism, they focus on hadith and reject speculative reason, many elements of Sufism, and strict loyalty to schools of law. This movement is focused on an internal reform of Muslim practice through a focus on the ways of the Salaf, as opposed to the modernist and Western orientation of modernist Salafism. The best overall introductions to this topic are Nafi 2004 and Chapter 8 of Brown 2007.

                                                              • Brown, Jonathan. The Canonization of al-Bukhārī and Muslim: The Formation and Function of the Sunnī Ḥadīth Canon. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2007.

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                                                                Includes the most in-depth discussion of Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani (d. 1999), one of the most influential and well-known traditionalist Salafis.

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                                                                • Commins, David Dean. Islamic Reform: Politics and Social Change in Late Ottoman Syria. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1990.

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                                                                  An excellent introduction to the Salafi movement in Syria in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the activities of prominent scholars like Tahir al-Jazaʾiri (d. 1920) and Jamal al-Din al-Qasimi (d. 1914).

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                                                                  • Commins, David Dean. The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia. London: I.B. Tauris, 2006.

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                                                                    The best and most comprehensive study of the Wahhabi movement’s history since its founding.

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                                                                    • Fattah, Halah. “‘Wahhabi’ Influences, Salafi Responses: Shaikh Mahmud Shukri and the Iraqi Salafi Movement, 1745–1930.” Journal of Islamic Studies 14, No. 2 (2003): 127–148.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/jis/14.2.127E-mail Citation »

                                                                      An excellent introduction to the Salaf resurgence in 19th- and 20th-century Baghdad under the Alusi family.

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                                                                      • Metcalf, Barbara D. “Living Hadith in the Tablighi Jamāʿat.” Journal of Asian Studies 52, No. 3 (1993): 584–608.

                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/2058855E-mail Citation »

                                                                        One of the few articles on the Tablighi Jamaʿat, the largest Muslim proselytizing movement in the world, which espouses a general traditionalist Salafi message.

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                                                                        • Nafi, Basheer. “Abu al-Thanaʾ al-Alusi: An Alim, Ottoman Mufti and Exegete of the Qurʾan.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 34, No. 3 (2002): 465–494.

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                                                                          An excellent excursus into the complexities of the relationship between 20th-century traditionalist Salafism and orthodox Sunnism

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                                                                          • Nafi, Basheer. “The Rise of Islamic Reformist Thought and Its Challenge to Traditional Islam.” In Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century. Edited by Suha Taji-Farouki and Basheer M. Nafi, 28–60. London: I.B. Tauris, 2004.

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                                                                            Nafi’s excellent article should be consulted for all phases and schools of Salafism, addressing the development of and controversies surrounding early modern and modern Salafism.

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                                                                            • Shaham, Ron. “An Egyptian Judge in a Period of Change: Qāḍi Aḥmad Muḥammad Shākir (1892–1958).” Journal of the American Oriental Society 119, No. 3 (1999): 440–445.

                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/605935E-mail Citation »

                                                                              Discusses one of the most well-known traditionalist Salafis in Egypt, as well as the influence of his thought (and of Salafism in general) on state legal thought.

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                                                                              • Weisman, Itzchak. “Between Ṣūfī Reformism and Modernist Rationalism: A Reappraisal of the Origins of the Salafiyya from the Damascene Angle.” Die Welt des Islams 41, No. 2 (2001): 206–237.

                                                                                DOI: 10.1163/1570060011201286E-mail Citation »

                                                                                An excellent discussion of the origins of traditionalist Salafism in Damascus, to be read in parallel with Commins’s work above.

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                                                                                Primary Sources

                                                                                For a biography of al-Albani see Abdul Rauf, et al. 2007; for an English translation of his work, see Al-Albani 1995.

                                                                                • Abdul Rauf, Abu Nasir Ibrahim, Abu Maryam Muslim Ameen, and Muhammad Al-Ameen Al Haleel Abu Abdil Musawwir. The Biography of the Great Muhaddith Muhammad Nāsiruddin al-Albāni. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Dar-us-Salam, 2007.

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                                                                                  A biography of one of the most influential Traditionalist Salafis of the 20th century, written by devotees of that movement and advocating its tenets.

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                                                                                  • Al-Albani, Muhammad Nasir al-Din. Tawassul: Its Types and Rulings. Translated by Ronald Burbank (Aboo Talhah Daawood). Birmingham, UK: Al-Hidaayah Publications, 1995.

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                                                                                    A translation of al-Albani’s work against seeking assistance from dead saints, perhaps the single greatest issue of contention for Traditionalist Salafis.

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                                                                                    Modernist Salafism from the 20th Century to the Present

                                                                                    Although this trend of Salafism also described itself as “Salafi” and traces its origins to the 18th-century revival movements, modernist Salafism has been primarily concerned with the West and modernity. Although it looks to the Salaf for a renewed and purified Islam, the resulting vision is an Islam that seeks to be compatible with modern rationalism, democracy, and the West. The two most influential figures in this movement have been the Egyptian Muhammad ʿAbduh (d. 1905) and his Syrian disciple Rashid Rida (d. 1935).

                                                                                    Scholarly Studies

                                                                                    The best general work on modernist thought in the 20th century, along with its historical roots, is the outstanding Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age (Hourani 1962). Brown 1996 is also accessible and communicates the major themes of Salafism effectively, while Cleveland 1985 provides a useful bridge to political Islam.

                                                                                    • Adams, Charles C. Islam and Modernism in Egypt: A Study of the Modern Reform Movement Inaugurated by Muḥammad ʿAbduh. London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1933.

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                                                                                      Although dated, this is still a mainstay study on the Salafi reform movement of ʿAbduh and his acolytes in Egypt.

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                                                                                      • Brown, Daniel W. Rethinking Tradition in Modern Islamic Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996.

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                                                                                        Focusing on the issue of hadith, Brown discusses the various schools of reformist Muslim thought in the Arab world and South Asia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His treatment of modernist Salafis like Rida is indispensable.

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                                                                                        • Cleveland, William L. Islam against the West: Shakib Arslan and the Campaign for Islamic Nationalism. Austin, TX: Univ. of Texas Press, 1985.

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                                                                                          This book focuses on the transnational political dimension of modernist Salafism, examining the figure of Shakib Arslan. It sheds light on the mid-20th century, linking the worlds of Rida and the later political reformist of the 1970s and 1980s.

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                                                                                          • Hourani, Albert. Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 1798–1939. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1962.

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                                                                                            Without a doubt, this is the definitive study of reformist thought in the modern period, covering the lead-up to Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, ʿAbduh, and Rida, as well as their most important colleagues and disciples.

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                                                                                            • Kerr, Malcolm H. Islamic Reform: the Political and Legal Theories of Muḥammad ʿAbduh and Rashīd Riḍā. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1966.

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                                                                                              The best book-length discussion of ʿAbduh’s and Rida’s political and legal thought.

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                                                                                              • Scharbrodt, Oliver. “The Salafiyya and Sufism: Muḥammad ʿAbduh and his Risālat al-Wāridāt (Treatise on Mystical Inspirations).” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 70, No. 1 (2007): 89–115.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/S0041977X07000031E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                Clarifies the Sufi leanings of the leading modernist Salafi, Muhammad ʿAbduh, thus exploring the complex relationship between Sufism and Salafism.

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                                                                                                • Skovgaard-Petersen, Jakob. Defining Islam for the Egyptian State: Muftis and Fatwas at the Dār al-Iftā. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1997.

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                                                                                                  An in-depth study of the state ministry of fatwas in modern Egypt from the late 19th century until the1990s. This work demonstrates the strong influence of modernist Salafism on state-sponsored religious thought.

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                                                                                                  • Soage, Ana Belén. “Rashid Ridā’s Legacy.” The Muslim World 98, No. 1 (2008): 1–23.

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                                                                                                    A clear and helpful introduction to modernist Salafism through the career of Rida and his two role models, ʿAbduh and Jamal al-Din al-Afghani.

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                                                                                                    Primary Sources

                                                                                                    The Muhammadan Revelation (Rida 1996) and The Theology of Unity (ʿAbduh 1966) are usually considered the best translations of Modernist Salafi thought.

                                                                                                    • ʿAbduh, Muhammad. The Theology of Unity. Translated by Ishaq Masaʾad and Kenneth Cragg. London: Allen & Unwin, 1966.

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                                                                                                      One of the only writings of ʿAbduh to have been translated into English, the Theology of Unity provides a broad exposure to ʿAbduh’s thought, including his eclectic use of the Muslim rationalist and philosophical traditions.

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                                                                                                      • Keddie, Nikki R. An Islamic Response to Imperialism: Political and Religious Writings of Sayyid Jamāl ad-Dīn “al-Afghānī.” Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1968.

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                                                                                                        The classic study on the highly influential teacher of ʿAbduh, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, includes translations of numerous writings and speeches by al-Afghani, some exhorting the importance of rationalism in Islam and others rejecting modern secular thought.

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                                                                                                        • Rida, Rashid. The Muhammadan Revelation. Translated by Yusuf T. DeLorenzo. Alexandria, VA: Al-Saadawi Publications, 1996.

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                                                                                                          The most widely translated of Rida’s works, The Muhammadan Revelation is a broad defense of revealed religion in general, and of Islam in particular, in the context of early 20th-century modernity.

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                                                                                                          • Rida, Rashid. Christian Criticisms, Islamic Proofs: Rashid Rida’s Modernist Defence of Islam. Translated by Simon A. Wood. Oxford: Oneworld, 2008.

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                                                                                                            A translation, along with a substantial commentary, of Rida’s Shubuhat al-nasara wa ḥujaj al-islam, a polemical defense of Islam against Christian/modern criticisms. An excellent example of the apologetic and Western orientation of modernist Salafism.

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                                                                                                            Imami/Twelver Shiʿite “Salafism”

                                                                                                            Although it remains unclear to what extent it is linked to revival and reform movements in Sunnism, the late 17th and early 18th centuries saw a textualist revival in Imami Shiʿism as well. Known as the Akhbari movement, it gained ground in Iraq, Iran, and Bahrain before being eclipsed by the historically dominant Usuli school. Studies on this topic are rare, but Gleave 2007 and Stewart 2003 are worth consulting.

                                                                                                            • Gleave, Robert. Scripturalist Islam: The History and Doctrines of the Akhbārī Shīʿī School. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2007.

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                                                                                                              A book-length exploration of the revival of hadith and textual-based religious thought among Imami Shiʿites in the 17th and 18th centuries.

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                                                                                                              • Stewart, Devin. “The Genesis of the Akhbāri Revival.” In Safavid Iran and Her Neighbors. Edited by Michel Mazzaoui, 169–193. Salt Lake City: Univ. of Utah Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                A discussion of the origins and development of the Akhbari movement, with suggestions about its relation to the 18th-century revival and reform movements.

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                                                                                                                Muslim Debates Over Salafism

                                                                                                                The conflict between Salafism and orthodox Sunni Islam, particularly over aspects of the Sufi tradition such as the visitation of graves, the invocation of dead saints for assistance (Arabic, tawassul), and the theosophical thought of Ibn ʿArabi (d. 1240), has generated a great deal of polemics on both sides. Although these debates are alluded to or dealt with occasionally in the citations in the above sections, there are some studies and primary sources that deal with them specifically.

                                                                                                                Scholarly Studies

                                                                                                                The best introductions to this issue are Sirriyeh 1999 and the essays in de Jong and Radtke 1999.

                                                                                                                • de Jong, Frederick, and Bernd Radtke, eds. Islamic Mysticism Contested: Thirteen Centuries of Controversies and Polemics. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1999.

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                                                                                                                  This edited volume tackles the debates over the legitimacy of Sufism throughout Islamic history, with several articles devoted to the Salafi-Sufi contest, such as Esther Peskes’s piece “The Wahhābiyya and Sufism in the Eighteenth Century.”

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                                                                                                                  • Knysh, Alexander. Ibn ʿArabi in the Later Islamic Tradition: The Making of a Polemic Image in Medieval Islam. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                    Ibn ʿArabi, the most famous systematizer of theosophical Sufism, has been a lightning rod of criticism for Salafis. Knysh’s excellent work deals with the reception of Ibn ʿArabi’s Islamic thought, and it pays particular attention to Ibn Taymiyya’s criticisms.

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                                                                                                                    • Laffan, Michael. “National Crisis and the Representation of Traditional Sufism in Indonesia: The periodicals Salafy and Sufi.” In Sufism and the “Modern” in Islam. Edited by Martin van Bruinessen and Julia Day Howell, 149–171. London: I.B. Tauris, 2007.

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                                                                                                                      An examination of the competition for Islamic legitimacy between orthodox Muslim groups like the Nahdatul Ulam and Salafi followers of scholars like al-Albani in Indonesia.

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                                                                                                                      • Sirriyeh, Elizabeth. Sufis and Anti-Sufis: The Defense, Rethinking and Rejection of Sufism in the Modern World. Surrey, UK: Curzon, 1999.

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                                                                                                                        This is a very useful introduction to many of the Salafi criticisms of Sufism in the modern period, as well as Sufi and orthodox Sunni responses.

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                                                                                                                        • Taylor, Christopher. In the Vicinity of the Righteous: Ziyāra and the Veneration of Muslim Saints in Late Medieval Egypt. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1999.

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                                                                                                                          A fascinating book on one of the most salient debates between Salafism and orthodox Islam: The visitation of saints’ graves. It provides an excellent historical background for a still raging controversy.

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                                                                                                                          Primary Sources

                                                                                                                          These works are severe, often vitriolic, responses to Salafism by orthodox Sunnis and Shiʿites. Algar 2002, a small volume, comes from an academic, but also strongly Shiʿite, perspective. Haddad 2004 represents a traditionalist Sunni perspective, albeit unusually abrasive.

                                                                                                                          • Algar, Hamid. Wahhabism: A Critical Essay. Oneonta, NY: Islamic Publications International, 2002.

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                                                                                                                            A critical study of, and an in-depth attack on, Wahhabism by a Western Muslim academic.

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                                                                                                                            • Haddad, Gibril F. Albani and His Friends: A Concise Guide to the Salafi Movement. Birmingham, UK: Aqsa Publications, 2004.

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                                                                                                                              A severe criticism of al-Albani and the traditionalist Salafi movement by a prominent orthodox Sunni.

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                                                                                                                              • Kabbani, Muhammad Hisham, and Gibril F. Haddad. Intercession (Tawassul). Vol. 4 of Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine. Mountainview, CA: As-Sunna Foundation of America, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                A treatise justifying seeking the assistance of dead saints, which is opposed by traditionalist Salafis.

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