Panel: Rethinking »Salafism«: Old Concepts, New Perspectives


Raum: F 4, 2.0G, Fürstenberghaus

Neue Reihenfolge der Vorträge

Tag Zeit    
Mi 09:00-09:30 Nedza
An Approach to “Method” – On the Concept of manhaj in Militant Salafism
Mi 09:30-10:00 Bruckmayr
Saudi Arabian establishments and Salafism in selected Asian and African Muslim minority contexts
Mi 10:00-10:30 Kutscher Caught in the Web: Salafi Scholars and Their Online Appeal - Abgesagt
Mi 10:00-10:30 Jud Salafi Political Participation and Differentiation in Egypt after 2011
Mi 11:30-12:00 Masbah One of multiple Salafiyya? Is there a relationship between the Moroccan nationalist’s Salafis and the contemporary Salafiyya? - Abgesagt


Jörn Thielmann

Beschreibung des Panels:

In the course of the uprisings in the Arab world »Salafism« has gained widespread attention. In Egypt, Tunisia, and other Arab states groups identified to be Salafi have emerged as decisive political actors. In Germany, such groups and people – among them Pierre Vogel – are under increased observation of the domestic intelligence services. Historically, many Islamic currents have been labeled as »Salafism« although their differences are far greater than the term suggests. So what is at the core of the different manifestations of »Salafism«? What unites them? What separates them? Why do they appear to be increasingly politicized? Which other conceptualizations could be thought of? Case studies with a critical approach to notions of »Salafism« are welcome.


Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft

Abstracts der Vorträge:

Bruckmayr, Philip: Saudi Arabian establishments and Salafism in selected Asian and African Muslim minority contexts

This paper will scrutinize the role of Saudi Arabian institutions of global religious significance (such as the Islamic University of Medina, the Muslim World League and the King Fahd Quran Printing Complex) in the emergence of locally pioneering Salafi groups among Muslim minority populations of selected Asian and African states (Kenya, Ethiopia, India, Thailand and Cambodia). In this respect, the diversity of the chosen cases should guard against premature conclusions shaped by any singular distinct local context. Contrary to popular belief all the discussed groups are characterized by largely non-confrontational attitudes vis-à-vis the respective state authorities. On the other hand they have all sparked severe intra-community strife through their condemnation of certain popular practices and established modes of religiosity. Among the core elements shared by all discussed pioneering Salafi groups is their preaching against certain forms of innovation: mawlid celebrations, pilgrimages to local shrines, the strict adherence to locally prevailing Sunni law schools and specific funerary practices. Going beyond the sphere of institutional contacts also the individual role of Saudi Arabia’s former Grand Mufti Bin Baz (d. 1999) in these global circulation processes shall be highlighted.

Jud, Andrea: Salafi Political Participation and Differentiation in Egypt after 2011

This presentation aims to analyze Salafi political participation and party formation in Egypt after 2011. I propose to understand the dynamics of Egyptian Salafism after 2011 as processes of political identity building, leading to an increased differentiation inside the political Islamic current.

After the ousting of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, a wide range of Islamic parties were founded and acknowledged by the state. In contrast to the party formation by former political opposition groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the founding of Salafi political parties came as a surprise: The different groups from which the new Salafi parties emerged were not known as political opposition groups, with some even speaking out against political participation. Moreover, Salafism before 2011 was organized in lose net-works of people with a common outlook and lifestyle rather than a clear hierarchical struc-ture and defined membership.

The formation of Salafi parties and their participation in a democratic political framework is therefore a novelty that indicates dynamic changes inside Salafism. The rapid politicization furthermore puts in question the dominant definition and typology of Salafism. Nevertheless, the groups continue to call themselves Salafi and are labeled as such by the wider public. The presentation follows the idea that this politicization cannot be explained solely by looking at the Salafi ideology. Instead, it proposes to understand these changes as processes of political identity building in the new situation of Islamic political competition created by the new possibilities and dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. Salafi parties in Egypt enjoyed a lot of success: The “Nour-Party” for example emerged as an important political actor after the parliamentary elections of 2011/12. At the same time, Salafi parties were challenged by inner conflicts and split-ups. These dynamics seem to unfold in differentiation to other Salafi and non-Salafi political groups.

The presentation draws on the development in Egypt in the first half of 2013, with emphasis on moments of competition, fracture and differentiation in order to contribute to the conceptualization of contemporary Salafism and its political dynamics.

Nedza, Justyna: An Approach to “Method” – On the Concept of manhaj in Militant Salafism

In the early 2000s, Quintan Wiktorowicz proposed a first attempt to develop an analytically useful concept of “Salafism”. At the core of his argument is the differentiation of two aspects: “creed” ( aqīda) and the “strategy for its practical realization” (manhaj); it is the latter aspect that led Wiktorowicz to distinguish between “purists”, “politicos” and “jihadis” amongst the Salafists.

Based on this taxonomy, this paper will investigate the relationship between  aqīda and manhaj in more detail. The question of what exactly is to be understood as the manhaj of militant Salafism will be at the heart if this inverstigation, that is, whether manhaj is constituted by political statements, a distinct legal practice (fiqh), by mere instructions, such as the call for jihād, or by concrete actions of the Salafists themselves.

The theoretical considerations of this paper will be developed by focussing on the deliberations on takfīr by Sayyid Imām al-Sharīf (b. 1950), an Egyptian founding member of al-Qā ida, whose writings continue to play an important role within militant Salafist circles. Firstly, it will be argued that, within the particular conception of “belief” in this spectrum a clear-cut differentiation of  aqīda and manhaj appears hardly sustainable, and, secondly, that we may better consider manhaj as a complex interplay of theological and legal interpretations with assessments of socio-political realities.