"Sunni Islam Salafism" is also used sometimes as a synonym of Wahhabism.

A Salafi come from Sunni Islam (Arabic: سلفي‎) is a follower of an Islamic movement, "Salafiyyah", that is supposed to take the Salaf who lived during the patristic period of early Islam as model examples.[1] The word Salafi should not be confused with the word Salaf which is an Arabic noun which translates to "predecessor" or "forefather", and the first three Muslim generations are collectively referred to as "as-Salaf as-Saleh", or The Pious Predecessors.[2] The generations are specifically called the Sahabah ("Companions"), the Tabi‘un ("Followers") and the Tabi‘ al-Tabi‘in ("Followers of the Followers"). These three generations and their understanding of the texts and tenets of Islam are considered by the Salafis as the Islamic orthodoxy. Salafism has usually been used by Sunni theologians since the fifth Muslim generation or earlier to differentiate the creed of the first three generations from subsequent variations in creed and methodology.[3][4] Landmarks in the history of Salafi da'wah are Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d.240 AH / 855 AD) who is known among Salafis as Imam Ahl al-Sunnah, and the three scholars commonly titled with the honorific "Sheikh ul-Islam", namely, Taqi ad-Deen Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728 AH / 1328 AD), Ibn al-Qayyim (d.751 AH / 1350), and Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (d.1206 AH / 1792 AD).[5][6][7]

In contemporary times, Salafism has become associated with literalist and puritanical approaches to Islamic theology. In the West the term Salafi has become particularly associated with Muslims who espouse violent jihad against civilians as a legitimate expression of Islam, the so-called Salafi Jihadis.[8]



Salafis view the first three generations of Muslims—the Sahabah, or Companions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and the two succeeding generations after them, the Tabi‘un and the Tabi‘ al-Tabi‘in—as an eternal model for all succeeding Muslim generations, especially in their beliefs and methodology of understanding the texts, but also in their method of worship, mannerisms, morality, piety and conduct. This belief is based on a number of sources in the Qur'an and Sunnah, such as the narration in Saheeh al-Bukhari of `Abd Allah ibn `Umar (a companion of Muhammad) who narrated that Muhammad said:

"The best people are those of my generation, and then those who will come after them (the next generation), and then those who will come after them (i.e. the next generation),..."

In other narrations, it is indicated that there will then follow a group of people who will falsely bear witness of Islam,[10] as occurred with the beginning of factionalism and the spread of innovations with the murder of Uthman ibn Affan, the third Sunni caliph.

The principal tenet of Salafism is that the Islam that was preached by Muhammad and practiced by his Companions, as well as the second and third generations succeeding them, was pure, unadulterated, and, therefore, the ultimate authority for the interpretation of the two sources of revelation given to Muhammad, namely the Qur'an and the Sunnah.[11] This is not interpreted to mean an imitation of cultural norms or trends that are not part of the legislated worship of Islam, but rather the fundamental beliefs of Islam, or 'Aqeedah.[12]

The term Salafi is sometimes replaced with "Wahhabi", especially in American Orientalist and popular literature in a derogatory sense. However, the term is used overwhelmingly so in Shi'ite and many Sufi references, where it is replaced with the word "Wahhabi" almost as a rule. The term "Wahhabism" is, in turn, connected to various accusations of heresies and practices quite unknown to Salafi adherents, and is often spoken of in the American media in relation to terrorism, or "extremist" Islam.

Salafis categorically reject the Wahhabi label, because they consider it to be largely unfounded, an object of some controversy.[13] Salafis will argue that Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab did not establish a new school of thought but rather revived the pure, unadulterated Islam that was practiced by the earliest generations of Muslims.[citation needed] Abd-al-Wahhab's writings, such as his magnum opus, Kitab at-Tawheed (The Book of Tawheed), plus others such as Masaa'il al-Jaahiliyyah (Aspects of the Days of Ignorance), and Kashf ash-Shubuhaat (A Removal of the Doubts) are agreed upon almost without exception[citation needed], and are rarely considered by those that use the term "Wahhabi" for an understanding of "Wahhabism"[citation needed], or those who denigrate his methodology and beliefs openly, further consolidating the perceived intent of malice, or misconception.[citation needed]

While the ascription of "Salafi" has most commonly been used in the Arab World, and possibly even more so now by Muslims in the West, it is usually contextual, and secondary to the more common term Ahl-as-Sunnah (i.e., "People of the Sunnah"). Ahl al-Hadeeth (The People of Hadeeth) is more often used in the Indian subcontinent within the same context, identifying the adherents of Salafi orthodoxy, while used more in Arabic academia to specifically indicate the scholars and students of Hadeeth. All are considered to bear the same or similar connotation and have been used interchangeably by Muslim scholars throughout the ages, Ahl al-Hadeeth possibly being the oldest recorded term used to describe the adherents to the beliefs of the first three generations.[14] Ahl as-Sunnah is overwhelmingly used by Muslim scholars, including Salafi scholars, but often by other than the Salafis, such as the Ash'ari sect, leading to a greater use of the term "Salafi" in the context of differentiation.[15]

History of the Salafi Da'wa

From the perspective of Salafis, the history of the Salafi dawah starts with Muhammad himself. They consider themselves direct followers of his teachings as outlined in the Qur'an and Sunnah (prophetic traditions), and wish to emulate the piety of the first three generations of Islam (the Salaf). All later scholars are merely reviver's (not 'founders') of the original practices. Modern scholars may only come to teach (or remind) Muslims of the instructions of the original followers of Islam, who based their beliefs and actions on the Qur'an and Sunnah.


An example of early usage of the word salaf is in the hadith of Muhammad who noted, "I am the best Salaf for you."[16]

Early usage of the term as an ascription appears in the book Al-Ansaab by Abu Sa'd Abd al-Kareem al-Sama'ni, who died in the year 1166 (562 of the Islamic calendar). Under the entry for the ascription al-Salafi he stated, "This is an ascription to the salaf, or the predecessors, and the adoptation of their school of thought based upon what I have heard." He then mentions an example or more of people who were utilizing this ascription in his time.[17] In commenting upon as-Sam'aanee's saying, Ibn al-Athir noted: "And a group were known by this ascription." Thus the term Salafi, and its ascription to the group, was a matter known in the time of early Islamic scholars.[18]

Early examples of usage

  • Some scholars, such as Ibn Taymiyyah, have noted: "There is no criticism for the one who proclaims the madh'hab of the Salaf, who attaches himself to it and refers to it. Rather, it is obligatory to accept that from him by unanimous agreement because the way of the Salaf is nothing but the truth."[19]
  • The term salafi has been used to describe to theological position of particular scholars. Abo al-Hasan Ali ibn Umar al-Daraqutuni (d. 995 C.E., 385 A.H.) was described by al-Dhahabi as: "Never having entered into rhetoric or polemics, instead he was salafi."[20]
  • Also, al-Dhahabi described Ibn al-Salah, a prominent 12th century hadith specialist, as: "Firm in his religiosity, salafi in his generality and correct in his denomination. [He] refrained from falling into common pitfalls, believed in Allah and in what Allah has informed us of from His names and description."[21]
  • In another of his works, Tadhkirat al-huffaz, al-Dhahabi said of Ibn al-Salah: "I say: He was salafi, of sound creed, abstaining from the interpretations of the scholars of rhetoric, believing in what has been textually established, without recourse to unjustified interpretation or elaboration.[22]
  • In his book, Tabsir al-Muntabih, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani mentioned the ascription al-Salafi and named Abd al-Rahman ibn Abdillah ibn Ahmad Al-Sarkhasi al-Salafi as an example of its usage. Ibn Hajar then said: "And, likewise, the one ascribing to the salaf."[23]
  • Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani also used the term, salafi to describe Muhammad ibn al-Qaasim ibn Sufyan al-Misri al-Maliki (d. 966 C.E., 355 A.H.) He said that al-Malaiki was: "Salafi al-madh'habsalafi in his school of thought."[24]

Muhammad Abduh, Jamal al-Din Afghani, Rashid Rida

In the opinion of contemporary historians, the use of the word Salafi to describe a revival movement within Islam started in Egypt in the mid 19th century among intellectuals at al-Azhar University, the preeminent center of Islamic learning, located in Cairo. Prominent among them were Muhammad Abduh (1849–1905), Jamal-al-Din Afghani (1839–1897) and Rashid Rida (1865–1935).[25][26][27][28]

These early reformers recognized the need for an Islamic revival, noticing the changing fortunes in the Islamic world following the Enlightenment in Europe. Al-Afghani was a political activist, whereas Abduh, an educator, and head of Egypt's religious law courts, sought gradual social reform and legal reform "to make sharia relevant to modern problems."

Abduh argued that the early generations of Muslims (the salaf al-salihin, hence the name Salafiyya, which was self-ascribed to Abduh and his disciples) had produced a vibrant civilization because they had creatively interpreted the Qur'an and hadith to answer the needs of their times.[29]

Many Salafis themselves disavow these figures. One prominent Salafi website, for example, describing itself as promoting "the creed and manhaj of the salaf us-saalih – pure and clear,"[30] includes claims that al-Afghani and Muhammad ‘Abduh were "known freemasons and ... [show] great misguidance in their ideologies," and alleges they were interested in an "anti-colonial political movement" rather than "orthodox Islam" or "the way of the Salaf," but their call was deceptively surrounded with slogans of `returning back to the way of the forefathers.`[31][clarification needed]

Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab

Many Salafis today point also to Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab as the first figure in the modern era to push for a return to the religious practices of the salaf as-salih or "righteous predecessors".[32] His evangelizing in 18th century Saudi Arabia was a call to return to what were the practices of the early generations of Muslims.

His works, especially Kitab at-Tawhid, are still widely read by Salafis around the world today, and the majority of Salafi scholars still reference his works frequently.[33] After his death, his views flourished under his descendants, the Al ash-Sheikh, and the generous financing of the House of Saud and initiated the current worldwide Salafi movement.[citation needed]

Beliefs and practices

Just who, or what groups and movements, qualify as Salafi is disputed. Some define the term broadly, including the Muslim Brotherhood (who include the term Salafi in the 'about us' section of their website).[34] Others exclude the Muslim Brotherhood[35] since they believe or claim the group commits religious innovations (bid‘ah).

Staunch monotheism

Particular emphasis is given to monotheism – (tawhid); many Muslim practices which have now become common are condemned as polytheism (shirk). Salafis believe, based on scriptural evidence, that widespread Muslim practices such as venerating the graves of Islamic prophets and saints are shirk. Salafis in general are opposed to both Sufi and Shia doctrines, which Salafis regard as having many aspects of shirk, bid‘ah and impermissible intercession of religious figures.The Salafis state:

Likewise if you want to know the Salafi creed we first and foremost look at the statements of the Messenger of Allah, the Sahaba, the Scholars of the Tabieen like Hasan-al Basri, Awzaaee and the scholars of the Salaf.[36]

Prohibition of rhetoric and speculative theology

Salafis reject Islamic speculative theology also known as kalam, which is the usage of discourse and debate in the development of the Islamic creed. They consider this process as a foreign import from Greek philosophy (such as Plato and Aristotle) and alien to the original practice of Islam. They note that the Imam, Al-Dhahabi (d. 748H / 1348) said:

It is authentically related from ad-Daaraqutnee that he said: There is nothing more despised by me than kalam (innovating speech and rhetoric). I say: He never entered into kalam, nor argumentation. Rather, he was a Salafi (a follower of the Salaf).[19]

Abstaining from "innovative" beliefs and practices

Salafis maintain that bid‘ah or innovation in the Islamic creed or actions of worship are totally without sanction, and, based on scriptural evidence, that they are unacceptable to God. Muslims in one part of the world who engage in bid‘ahs, such as circumambulating around shrines of saints,[37] celebrating Muhammad's birthday,[38] or commemorating the day of the death of a saint ("urs"), may not receive their newly invented practice with much welcome in other areas of the Islamic world where the practice is totally foreign.[citation needed]

Salafis assert further that actions stemming from a practice rooted in bid‘ah will not result in any reward in spite of a worshipper's good intentions and are dangerous to the Islamic creed since they replace or corrupt the religious practices ("Sunnah") of Muhammad. Salafis assert that if such practices increase a devotee's faith, Muhammad would have known about it and assuredly directed Muslims to do such acts since he was the best worshipper amongst mankind and most dutiful.[39] In showing textual support for the impermissibility of bid‘ah or innovation in the Islamic creed, Salafis frequently cite a Sunni tradition attributed to Muhammad which states: "Every innovation is misguidance and going astray."[40]

They also point out that Muhammad himself warned against the people of innovation, from befriending, supporting, or taking from them, as he stated:

Whoever innovates or accommodates an innovator then upon him is the curse of Allah, His Angels, and the whole of mankind.[19]
Whoever introduces into our matter (religion) that which is not a part of it, will have it (his innovation) rejected [41]
Ibn Hajar said of this hadith, "This Hadith is considered one of the basis of Islam and a pillar of the religion." An-Nawawi said, "This Hadith deserves to be preserved, publicly announced and (firmly) implemented in rejecting the impermissible."

At-Turaqi said, "This is a Hadith that deserves to be called 'one half of the proofs of the religion.' This is because the proof (evidence, Text, etc.) is used to confirm or reject a rule, and this Hadith is a tremendous tool to confirm or reject all religious rulings."

In addition, ibn Rajab said "This Hadith is one of the major basis of Islam, just like the Hadith 'Actions are only considered according to the intentions...', which is the scale with which the actions, in both their hidden and apparent aspects, are weighed."


Salafis often quote many companions of Muhammad, including a hadith in which `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas states:

Indeed the most detestable of things to Allah are the innovations,[19]

and, a tradition in which `Abd Allah ibn `Umar states:

Every innovation is misguidance, even if the people see it as something good.[19]

They also note that earlier generations of Muslims like Malik ibn Anas conveyed similar sentiments:

Whosoever introduces into Islam an innovation, and holds it to be something good, has indeed alleged that Muhammad has betrayed his message.

Imam Malik then stressed:

Read the saying of Allah – the Most Blessed, the Most High: "This day I have perfected your Religion for you, completed My favour upon you and I have chosen for you Islam as your Religion." Al-Maa‘idah 5:3[43]

Malik then concluded:

So that which was not part of the Religion at that time, cannot be part of the Religion today...And the last part of this Ummah cannot be rectified, except by that which rectified its first part." Similarly, they state that Abū Ḥanīfa emphasized: "Adhere to the athar (narration) and the tareeqah (way) of the Salaf (Pious Predecessors) and beware of newly invented matters (in Religion) for all of it is innovation.[19]

Likewise, Shaikh Saalih Aal ash-Shaikh, Minister of Islamic Affairs of Saudi Arabia, stated:

Muslims are of two groups: Salafis and Khalafis. As for the Salafis, they are the followers of As-Salaf-us-Saalih (the 'pious predecessors' from the first three generations of Muslims). And as for the Khalafis, they are the followers of the understanding of the Khalaf and they are also called Innovators – since everyone who is not pleased and satisfied with the path of the Salaf-us-Saalih, in knowledge and action, understanding and fiqh, then he is a khalafi, an innovator.[44]


Whichever definition is used, Salafis idealize an uncorrupted, pure Islamic religious community. They believe that Islam's decline after the early generations is the result of religious innovations (bid‘ah) and an abandoning of pure Islamic teachings; that an Islamic revival will only result through the emulation of the three early generations of Muslims and the purging of foreign influences from the religion.

Salafis, similar to adherents of most other Islamic denominations, place great emphasis on ritual not only in prayer but in every activity in daily life — many are careful to always use three fingers when eating, drink water in three pauses with the right hand while sitting,[45] make sure their galabea or other garment worn by them does not extend below the ankle — so as to follow the example of Muhammad and his companions as they endeavor to make religion part of every activity in life.

On following a madh'hab

They believe that following only the Qur'an and the Hadith and the Ijma (consensus) of the Ulama, are sufficient guidance for the believing Muslim.

As the Salafi da'wa is a methodology and not a madh'hab, Salafis can come from the Maliki, the Shafi'i, the Hanbali, or the Hanafi schools of law.[46] Salafis accept teaching of all four school of law only if their rulings are supported by clear and authenticated evidences from the Qur'an and Sunnah, they are not divided on the question of adherence to the four recognized schools of legal interpretation (madh'habs). For example, Ibn Taymiyyah followed the Hanbali madhhab. Some of his students (such as Ibn Kathir and al-Dhahabi) followed the Shafi`i madhhab. Other students (such as Ibn Abi al-Izz) follow the Hanafi madhhab.

Salafis themselves base their jurisprudence directly on the Qur'an and Sunnah as applied and practiced by the first three generations of Muslims. Their interpretation is based on a strict form of Athari theology.

Contemporary Salafism

Modern use

In modern times the word has come to have two sometimes dissimilar definitions. The first, used by academics and historians, refers to denote "a school of thought which surfaced in the second half of the 19th century as a reaction to the spread of European ideas," and "sought to expose the roots of modernity within Muslim civilization."[47] The second, quite different use of the word favored by self-described contemporary salafis, defines a salafis as a Muslim who follows "literal, traditional ... injunctions of the sacred texts" rather than the "somewhat freewheeling interpretation" of earlier "salafis." These salafis look to Ibn Taymiyyah, not the 19th century figures of Muhammad Abduh, Jamal al-Din, and Rashid Rida.[47]

Current disagreements and division

A majority of Salafi scholars stand firmly against the present-day manifestations of jihad, particularly as it relates to terrorism and the killing of civilians and innocents. They hold their opinion as:

No individual has the right to take the law into his own hands on any account. Even the closest of Prophet Muhammad's companions never killed a single of his opponents even when invectives were hurled at him day and night in the first thirteen years of his Da'wah at Makkah. Nor did they kill anyone in retaliation when he was pelted with stones at Ta'if.

In recent years, Salafis have come to be confused with the jihad of Al-Qaeda and related groups that advocate the killing of civilians, which are opposed by most other Muslim groups and governments, including the Saudi government. Debate continues today over the appropriate methods of reform, ranging from violent "Qutubi jihadism" to lesser politicized proselytizing.[citation needed]

Despite some similarities, the different contemporary self-proclaimed Qutubi groups often strongly disapprove of each other and deny the others Islamic character.[48][48][49]

Spread and effect

From intelligent academics and professionals to rootless immigrants in Europe, Salafism is attractive because of its claim to authenticity and textual associations. For those living in the metropolises of the Middle East, it offers an emotionally and theologically rich alternative to the slogans of Arab nationalism and a puritan alternative to the mystical Sufi tradition.

Salafism often appeals to younger Muslims as a way to differentiate themselves from the beliefs of parents and grandparents because it is seen as "pure", stripped of "the local, superstitious, and customary Muslim practices of their families' countries of origin". It often confers a sense of moral superiority. Salafism can be said to have a potent appeal because it underscores Islam's universality.[50]

Salafism insists on the literal truth of Muslim scripture and what might be called a strict constructionist brand of sharia or religious law.[50] Salafism may have more appeal than secularism by appropriating secularisms' traditional role of defending the socially and politically weak against the powerful.[51]

The spread of Salafism has prompted political leaders in the Middle East to accommodate a greater role for religion in public policy.[52]

Association with 'Wahhabism'

As the second definition has predominated, the terms "Wahhabism" – which also pays great respect to Ibn Taymiyyah – and "Salafism" are now often used interchangeably. Followers of Salafiyyah consider it wrong to be called "Wahhabis" due to the 16th Name of Allah, al-Wahhab (the Bestower) and to be called a "Wahhabi," they see it as being associated equal to Allah, which the Salafis strictly prohibit anything being associated with Allah. Wahhabism has been called a "belittling" and derogatory term for Salafi,[48] while another source defines it as "a particular orientation within Salafism,"[46] an orientation some consider ultra-conservative,[53][54] and yet another describes it as a formerly separate current of Islamic thought that appropriated "language and symbolism of Salafism" until the two became "practically indistinguishable" in the 1970s.[55]

Scholar Trevor Stanley states that while the origins of the terms Wahhabism and Salafism "were quite distinct" – "Wahhabism was a pared-down Islam that rejected modern influences, while Salafism sought to reconcile Islam with modernism" – they both shared a rejection of "traditional" teachings on Islam in favor of direct, more puritan reinterpretation.

Stéphane Lacroix, a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at Sciences Po in Paris, also affirmed a distinction between the two: "As opposed to Wahhabism, Salafism refers here to all the hybridations that have taken place since the 1960s between the teachings of Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab and other Islamic schools of thought. Al-Albani’s discourse can therefore be a form of Salafism, while being critical of Wahhabism."[56]

But despite their beginnings "as two distinct movements", the migration of Muslim Brotherhood members from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and Saudi King Faisal's "embrace of Salafi pan-Islamism resulted in cross-pollination between Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab's teachings on tawhid, shirk and bid‘ah and Salafi interpretations of ahadith (the sayings of Muhammad).[57]

Comparison with Islamism

Salafism differs from the earlier contemporary Islamic revival movements of the 1970s and 1980s commonly referred to as Islamism, in that (at least many) Salafis reject not only Western ideologies such as Socialism and Capitalism, but also common Western concepts like economics, constitutions, political parties and revolution.

Salafi Muslims often promote not engaging in Western activities like politics, "even by giving them an Islamic slant."[58] Instead, it is thought that Muslims should stick to traditional activities, particularly Dawah. Salafis promote that the Sharia (Islamic law) takes precedence over civil or state law. Nevertheless, Salafis do not preach wilful ignorance of civil or state law. While preaching that the Sharia takes precedence, Salafi Muslims conform to civil or state law as far as they are required, for example in purchasing mandatory motor insurance. Here, a Salafi Muslim would purchase "third party, fire and theft" insurance in order to avoid going to jail, but he/she would purchase "fully comprehensive" insurance because commercial insurance is seen as gambling.


Salafism, or at least the so called "puritanical" forms of it, has been recently criticized by Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA School of Law. El Fadl claims that the Salafi methodology "drifted into stifling apologetics" by the mid-20th century, a reaction against "anxiety" to "render Islam compatible with modernity," by its leaders earlier in the century.[59]

Some Salafi writers would allegedly claim, for example, that "any meritorious or worthwhile modern institutions were first invented and realized by Muslims." The result was that "an artificial sense of confidence and an intellectual lethargy" developed, according to Abou El Fadl, "that took neither the Islamic tradition nor" the challenges of the modern world "very seriously."[60][61]

Egyptian scholar Tawfik Hamid says that Salafist Muslim fundamentalists believe that Saudi Arabia's petroleum-based wealth is a divine gift, and that Saudi influence is sanctioned by God. Thus this extreme brand of Sunni Islam that spread from the Saudi Arabia to the rest of the Islamic world is regarded not merely as one interpretation of the religion but the only genuine interpretation. The expansion of violent and regressive Islam, he continues, began in the late 1970s, and can be traced precisely to the growing financial clout of Saudi Arabia. He says "is puritanical, extreme and does, yes, mean that women can be beaten, apostates killed and Jews called pigs and monkeys.". Although he says this, the Holy Quran and authentic narrations of the Islamic Prophet forbid such things that Tawfik Hamid mentioned, such as violence and name-calling. [62]

Salafism is intensely opposed by the Hui Muslims in China, by the Hanafi Sunni Gedimu and Sufi Khafiya and Jahriyya. So much so that even the Yihewani (Ikhwan) Chinese sect, which is fundamentalist and was founded by Ma Wanfu who was originally inspired by the Salafis, condemned Ma Debao and Ma Zhengqing as heretics when they attempted to introduce Salafism as the main form of Islam. Ma Debao established a Salafi school, called the Sailaifengye (Salafi) menhuan in Lanzhou and Linxia, and it is a completely separate group than other Muslim sects in China.[63]

Salafis have a reputation for radicalism among the Chinese Gedimu and Yihewani groups. The Sunni Muslim Hui avoid Salafis, even if they are family members, and they constantly disagree.[64]

The amount of Salafis in China is so insignificant that they are not included on percentage lists of Muslim sects in China.[65]

Persecution of Salafis

The Kuomintang Sufi Muslim General Ma Bufang, who backed the Yihewani (Ikhwan) Muslims, persecuted the Salafis, forcing them into hiding. They were not allowed to move or worship openly. The Yihewani had become secular and Chinese nationalists, and they considered the Salafiyya to be "heterodox" (xie jiao), and people who followed foreigners' teachings (waidao). Only after the Communists took over were the Salafis allowed to come out and worship openly again.[66]

In contrast to his treatment of Salafis, General Ma allowed polytheists to openly worship, and Christian missionaries to station themselves in Qinghai. General Ma and other high ranking Generals even attended the Kokonuur Lake Ceremony where the Chinese "God of the Lake' was worshipped, and during the ritual, the Chinese national anthem was sung, all participants bowed to a portrait of Kuomintang party founder Dr. Sun Yat-sen, and the God of the Lake was also bowed to, and offerings were given to him by the participants.[67] Ma Bufang invited some Kazakh Muslims to attend the ceremony honoring her god.[68] Ma Bufang received audiences of Christian missionaries, who sometimes gave him the Gospel.[69][70] His son Ma Jiyuan received a silver cup from Christian missionaries.[71]

Salafist jihadism

See main article Salafist jihadism

Salafist jihadism (also Salafi jihadism) is a school of thought of Salafi Muslims who support jihad. The term was coined by scholar Gilles Kepel[72][73] to describe Salafi who began developing an interest in jihad during the mid-1990s. Practitioners are often referred to as Salafi jihadis or Salafi jihadists. Journalist Bruce Livesey estimates Salafi jihadists constitute less than 1 percent of the world's 1.9 billion Muslims (c. 10 million).[72]

Salafi scholars

Older authorities accepted by modern Salafis as Salafi

Arabian Peninsula


Mesopotamia and Greater Khorasan

Greater Syria


Contemporary Salafi scholars




  • Ahmad Muhammad Shakir
  • Safwat Al-Shwadfy




Saudi Arabia


Sri Lanka

  • Abu Abdur Rahman Yahya Silmy as Saylani




  • Rasul bin Dahri


  • Shaykh Waseeullah Abbas al hindi al makki
  • RK Noor Madani
  • Shaykh SafiyuRahman Mubarakpoori
  • Zakir Naik
  • MM Akbar
  • Mujahid Balussery
  • Adv Mayinkutty Methar


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