Salafi movement

The Salafi movement or Salafism (Arabic: سلفیة, romanized: Salafīyya) is a reform branch[1] movement within Sunni Islam[2][3][4] that originated during the nineteenth century.[5] The name refers to advocacy of a return to the traditions of the "pious predecessors" (salaf), the first three generations of Muslims, who are believed to exemplify the pure form of Islam. Those generations include the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his companions, whom he himself taught (the Sahabah); their successors (the Tabi'in); and the successors of the successors (the Taba al-Tabi'in). In practice, Salafis maintain that Muslims ought to rely on the Qur'an, the Sunnah and the 'Ijma (consensus) of the salaf, giving these writings precedence over later religious interpretations.[6][7] The Salafi movement aimed to achieve a renewal of Muslim life and had a major influence on many Muslim thinkers and movements across the Islamic world.[8] Since its inception, Salafism has been evolving through the efforts of numerous Islamic reformers, whose interpretations have spread within various regions.[9]

The Salafist doctrine is based on looking back to the early years of the religion to understand how contemporary Muslims should practice their faith.[10] Salafi Muslims reject religious innovation or bid'ah and support the implementation of sharia (Islamic law).[11] In its approach to politics, the Salafi movement is sometimes divided by Western academics and journalists into three categories: the largest group being the purists (or quietists), who avoid politics; the second largest group being the activists, who maintain regular involvement in politics; and the third group being the jihadists, who form a minority and advocate armed struggle to restore the early Islamic movement.[11] In legal matters, Salafi Muslims are divided between those who, in the name of independent legal judgement (ijtihad), reject strict adherence (taqlid) to the four Sunni schools of law (madhahib) and those who remain faithful to them, namely, the Saudi scholars, who do not follow any specific madhhab.[12]

In the contemporary era, Salafism refers to a cluster of different Sunni renewal and reform movements inspired by the teachings of classical theologians like Taqi al-Din ibn Taymiyya (1263–1328 CE/661–728 AH).[13][14] The contemporary Salafiyyah formed as a revivalist movement across the Muslim world during the late 19th century in the context of European imperialism and has remained a significant trend in Islamic thought for more than a century.[15][16][17]

Syrian Islamic scholar Muhammad Rashid Rida (d. 1865- 1935) is widely regarded as the most influential scholar who championed conservative Salafi themes in the early twentieth century. Rida's religious orientation was shaped by his association with Syrian Hanbali and Salafi scholars who preserved the tradition of Ibn Taymiyya; these ideas would be popularised by Rida and his disciples, immensely influencing numerous Salafi organisations in the Arab world.[18] Some Orientalist scholars of the early 20th century also described rationalist scholars of non-Salafi orientation such as Muhammad 'Abduh and Jamal al-Din Afghani as part of Salafiyya, but this usage has become obsolete today, mainly because the rationalist scholars did not themselves adopt Salafi identity or its doctrines.[19] Some of the major Salafi reform movements in the Islamic world today include the Ahl-i Hadith movement, inspired by the teachings of Shah Waliullah Dehlvi and galvanized through the South Asian jihad of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid;[20][21] the Wahhabi movement of the Arabia; the Padri movement of Indonesia; Algerian Salafism, spearheaded by 'Abd al-Hamid Bin Badis; and others.[22]


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