Do Not Blame the Salafis

For an insightful and critical analysis concerning the roots of violent extremist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram see here

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Categories: Extremism, Islam, Islamophobia, Terrorism

25 replies

  1. The root of evil????????

    I thought the root of evil was money, wine, lust for power, or you know….;.the devil.

    What if someone said, “The root of evil is the development of Paul’s faith based redemption and the rejection of divine Law…….we must close all fundamentalist churches!!!”

    Do these people even stop to think about how ignorant they might sound to others?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. To Borrow a recent quote from Yahya Snow:

    “This idea of Muslims following the devil (Read: Root of EVIL) is ridiculous but it aids propaganda in setting up a hierarchy of human value. Of course if you believe a group is satanic (Read: EVIL) then you’re going to be less inclined to care when you read about a bunch of them getting blown up in the news as collateral damage or the target of terrorist thugs. Or even when a group of them drown in the sea while trying to flee war, oppressive regimes and/or economic hardships. On a personal level this attitude hinders one from having a non-pejorative relationship with Muslims in daily life.

    https://bloggingtheology.net/2017/05/02/condemning-the-racist-abuse-adnan-rashid-suffered-on-pfanders-after-debate-discussion-with-lizzie-schofield/

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I am not a sectarian Muslim. God says we are Muslims and that is it. Full stop. I try to learn from all schools of thoughts and perspectives and insights.

    I appreciate many aspects of Salafis such as their rightful assertion of the problem of grave worship in Muslim societies.

    However, I deplore the anthropomorphism of Salafis.

    And regarding this post on terrorism, Salafis need to see what exactly are the reasons that LITERALLY virtually ALL terrorists and extremists among the over 1 billion Sunni Muslims are either Salafis or Salafized in a major way.

    Please note that I am using the word literally in a literal way.

    Yes, virtually ALL terrorists and extremists among the over 1 billion Sunni Muslims are Salafis or Salafized.

    That means using elementary subtraction, the number of terrorists and extremists if the Salafi influence was not present would be ZERO.

    That also means using elementary logic that the literally hundreds of thousands of people killed in the Middle East and Afghanistan/Pakistan by terrorists and extremists would not be 6 feet under the ground in their graves but eating and loving their parents, spouse, children, and contributing to society.

    Salafis, wake up.

    Muslims, wake up….how much longer do we need to tolerate Salafis causing bloodshed, anarchy, terror, fasad, fitna, and atheism.

    How much longer?

    We have been tolerating for many decades already.

    How much longer the narrow minded thinking of Salafis need to keep Muslims with narrow mind thinking and intolerant thinking and focus on rituals, focus on fallible hadiths instead of infallible Qur’an and focus on blind following of their scholars and abandonment of critical thinking?.

    How much longer?

    When will the Muslims wakeup?

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you read the article I linked to you will see your view that Salafis are terrorists is simply wrong. Go read…

      Like

    • I have read this article very closely 5 years ago.

      I know Imam Zaid Shakir very well and I have the highest of respect for him.

      When Imam Zaid comes to a particular city, he stays at my sibling’s home and I have spent time with Imam Zaid.

      But Imam Zaid is wrong on this issue.

      Yes, extremists and terrorism is NOT at all due to Salafi thought in a 1 to 1 correspondence.

      That is, most of the extremism and terrorism would not exist if the other factors did not coexist simultaneously.

      Having said that though, if Salafi influence did not exist and the anti-critical thinking mindset that they brainwash Muslim youth with their anti critical approach to fallible hadith, their relative disregard of the Qur’an vis-a-vis the fallible hadith, and their disregard using reason and intellect that God commands us to use, and their disregard of ever considering much of sociological, psychological, textual, historical, mathematical, and all other intellectual insights when it can influence their cartoonish understanding of history—–is leading to this extremist mindset in far too many youth and rarely but still far too often even terrorist thinking in youth.

      Time to wake up.

      I am not saying that Salafism is sufficient all by itself to cause extremism and terrorism (and thus much of suffering and injustice) in Muslim world, but it is necessary for much of it.

      So if Salafi influence did not exist, then much of the extremism and suffering would not exist.

      Period.

      Time to wake up.

      Liked by 1 person

    • So first I have to note that Abu Talha has liked your comments. That’s not a good sign because he is a Tabekian.

      But regarding the topic. Yes, you are right that the classical Salafi theology is anthropomorphist. However after mentioning this you started talking about terrorism and extremism. By this you are trying to produce a link between anthropomorphism and terrorism. But you will find extremely anthropomorphist Salafis who are extremely against terrorism. In Saudi Arabia they are called Madkhalis. A guy who is from this group in the UK is Abu Khadeeja. He has produced so many texts justifying anthropomorphism and attacking Asharis. But he also said that the US invasion of Iraq was good and he will call anyone who says something against any governments (except Iran and Israel) a Khariji.
      In history you will find extremely anti-anthropomorphist groups like the Mu’tazila and the Almovahids doing inquisitions and “terrorism”.

      So your linking of theology with extremism is extremely sectarian and Tabekian-like.

      “That means using elementary subtraction, the number of terrorists and extremists if the Salafi influence was not present would be ZERO.”

      Wrong. Salafi influence is a technical one. Due to Saudi Arabia’s economical prosperity it became one of the main centers of Islamic learning. Saudi scholars have simply produced so much material that someone who is honestly interested in learning will come across it.
      So people don’t become “radical” because they are Salafis but they become Salafis because they are “radical”. Salafism is the most easily accessible version of Islam. If there was no Saudi Arabia we would have non-Salafi “extremists”. They would go to the classical Sunni books and not to the Salafi ones. The political outcome would be the same.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I am 100% against the view of the person in the tweet above calling for Salafi mosques to be closed. They must NOT be closed. The vast majority of Salafis are peaceful, law abiding, pious Muslims.

      For sure that the percentage of criminals such as child molesters, murderers, rapists, etc. going to church is far higher than the percentage of violent extremists going to Salafi mosques.

      However Muslims and Salafi Muslims need to be introspective and see what in the Salafi mindset leads virtually all terrorists to identify themselves as Salafi Muslims.

      And once this is mindset is identified, this dangerous mindset needs to be modified immediately. The danger is not much to the West. The statistics of non Muslims being killed is miniscule, although of course we condemn it 100%

      However, millions of Muslim families in the Middle East and South Asia are suffering injustice in a massive way because of this unjust, narrow minded, ant–intellectual mindset that nurtures mass murderers in the Muslim world who think they are justified.

      And to avoid the degradation of minds of our precious youth, we must refute this narrow minded, anti-intellectual, anti-merciful mindset.

      Like

    • “However, millions of Muslim families in the Middle East and South Asia are suffering injustice in a massive way because of this unjust, narrow minded, ant–intellectual mindset that nurtures mass murderers in the Muslim world who think they are justified.”

      The question must be what do Muslims exactly want? Muslims have to clearly state that their intention is the establishment of Islamic law. As long as there is secularism in Muslim lands the striving of the extremist groups is justified even though their particular methods and actions might not be. If Muslims stood clearly for Islam the extremist groups would not have such a strong basis to continue their fight in this desperate (terrorist) way. Terrorism is only a symptom but not the root problem.

      Like

  4. To clarify, I am not saying that the terrorists and extremists are correctly following Salafis in terms of what the key Salafi scholars say or what the key Salafi texts say.

    But there is something exclusive to Salafi indoctrination that leads to narrow minded thinking and avoidance of hearing alternative views….they are in a box and have been brainwashed into the doctrine that thinking out of the box to see what is most intellectual robust is sinful.

    If it was not for the Salafi influence, then people around the world would be saying, why are the Muslims by far the most peaceful people on the planet earth.

    The amount of terrorism and extremism would be virtually ZERO if not for the Salafi influence.

    I am using the word ZERO in a literal way.

    When will the Muslims wake up?

    How many more hundreds of thousands of Muslims need to be killed?

    How much more destruction of civilization, of libraries, or work that millions have poured their hearts into?

    When will the Salafis wake up that they need to look deep all the way to the bedrock as to why their deepest principles produces so much obstacles to critical thinking, and why some can become extremists and even
    rarely but still too often become terrorists a certain mindset that their texts inculcate.

    Time to wake up!

    Sleeping is ok for 8 hours….not for decades.

    Like

    • Did you read the article??

      Like

    • Yes, I read it VERY, VERY, VERY carefully.

      Like

    • Terrorists sell drugs, drink alcohol and sleep around. That’s not very salafi.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Lol they all do! Even the 9/11 terrorists went to strip joint in Las Vegas.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Paul, you are right. I should read it again. I just did.

      And just as I thought last year, it is a very good article. Very good points that are overlooked by the media.

      But Imam Zaid completely misses the point….

      He said,

      “Some will readily acknowledge that not all Salafis, such as al-Albani, are violent, but that the violence exhibited by Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Qaeda and similar groups is rooted in Salafi teachings. They would argue, to rephrase a popular Islamophobic cliché, “Not all Salafis are violent extremists, but all violent extremists are Salafis.” This is simply not true. While the violence of ISIS, Boko Haram and similar groups is well-publicized, the Alawi thugs defending the Asad regime, the Shiites of Hizbollah, who have flooded into Syria, the Iraqi Shiite militias and death squads that helped to push many Iraqi Sunnis into the ranks of ISIS, have all engaged in ghastly acts of violence. None of these latter groups, would be described in any way as Salafis.”

      Yes, those other groups he mentioned are doing violence just like Salafis.

      But, they do not identify as Sunni Muslims.

      The point is that virtually ALL the extremists and terrorists are those who identify as Salafis or who point to sayings by Salafi medieval scholars to justify their ideology.

      Like

    • @Muslim Brother,

      What is your opinion on the Sufis who supported and endorsed the Rabaa massacre and those Sufis who supported Bashar Assad? They identify as Sunnis and they have made takfir on Muslims.

      Furthermore there are some takfiri Sufis who support and endorse non-Muslim governments and militaries that slaughter Muslims.

      This is the other extreme that you are ignoring. This extreme feeds into the other extreme. When people see these so-called Sufis supporting these crimes it drives them to those extreme factions that claim Salafiyyah. When the extremists who claim Salafiyya commit their crimes it drives people to the other faction.

      Extremes on both side find recruits because of the extremists on the other side.

      The simplest solution is to do as the Quran states “Do NOT go to extremes in your Deen”.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Fawaz, you make good and valid points.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am not at all surprised at what Imam Zaid wrote.

    Afterall, he used to be a Salafi a long time ago in his past.

    He came to Islam through the Salafi way.

    Again, I am not saying Salafis have not contributed to Islam.

    They have contributed greatly and I approve and applaud much of their contributions.

    But their anti-critical approach to hadith (using today’s intellectual standards or Quranic standards…their standards were ok for middle ages) and their narrow minded approach of not engaging in an open mind with other views is deplorable and had led to intolerance, extremism, and terrorism in many Muslim countries and therefore responsible for much of the ENORMOUS suffering and ENORMOUS injustice..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Salaam Muslim brother
      I agree with a lot of what you wrote. However, I think we need to be careful about making sweeping statements about Salafi people in general.

      Instead of criticizing and attacking one another we need more mutual understanding amongst Muslims. Imam Shakir wrote that “At a time when so many forces are trying to divide Muslims and get us to fight, disavow or abandon one another, I could see no way that I could remain silent and not add my voice to the desperately needed calls for unity and mutual appreciation and respect.”

      Imam Shakir addresses many of your concerns in his article, either directly or indirectly, and yet you don’t seem to acknowledge this fact. He seems to be saying that the issue of Salafism is not simply a black and white issue and there are many gray areas. We cannot condemn an entire group based on the actions of a misguided few, who, as you yourself alluded, don’t seem to understand the correct Salafi teachings in the first place.

      And yet, in many of your comments you seem to be engaging in the very (modified) Islamophobic cliché which Imam Shakir himself warned about in his article, “Not all Salafis are violent extremists, but all violent extremists are Salafis.” This is a very narrow-minded position to take, and again, as Imam Shakir further propounds, “it ignores the many actual causal factors that triggered and sustain the violence we rightly find so abhorrent.”

      Are there problems with Salafi thought and teachings? Perhaps. In his article, Shakir even addresses some of those issues that he sees as problem areas.

      However, divisively accusing ALL Salafi’s of being extremists and terrorists – as you do – is not fair, honest, helpful, or constructive in any way, and only contributes more to the problems we face together as Muslims. We need constructive solutions that bring us together, not disavowals, accusations and attacks that divide us further from one another.

      I think Imam Shakir takes a well-balanced, fair-minded, and very nuanced approach to the issue.

      Like

    • Brother Ibn Issam,

      I appreciate the tone of your post and I am sympathetic to your concerns.

      But you misunderstand me which is reasonable.

      Let me explain.

      I agree that 99.9% of Salafis are NOT violent extremist.

      Most who are devoted to a Salafi mindset are trying to be good people and go to paradise.

      When you mention

      “And yet, in many of your comments you seem to be engaging in the very (modified) Islamophobic cliché which Imam Shakir himself warned about in his article, ‘Not all Salafis are violent extremists, but all violent extremists are Salafis.’ This is a very narrow-minded position to take”

      I agree that it is ridiculous to say that all violent extremists in the world are Salafis.

      But, empirically it is obvious and it can be readily confirmed by listing all the violent extremists groups that among those who identify as Sunni Muslims, almost all are Salafis or have been heavily Salafized according to experts on religious groups, with the experts being both Muslims and non-Muslims.

      Among this subset of people. that is among Sunni Muslims, it is undeniable that virtually all violent extremists admire Salafi scholars and quote Salafi texts to justify their crimes.

      Do they really follow Salafi madhab?

      No, I do not believe they do. I believe that these violent extremists cherry pick texts and that they do not represent the Salafi scholars.

      However, what I am trying to say and it appears that you agree with at least some amount of the thrust of the argument that there is a certain mindset that has been promulgated, nurtured, and spread by Salafis that attracts too many criminals and that gives them too much confidence that what they are doing is correct.

      Yes, many of these violent extremists have not been following Islam at all. Maybe they think that somehow engaging in violent extremism will undo the filthy lifestyle they were engaged in….whatever the psychological, sociological, political reasons, a key ingredient in the immense suffering, the immense injustice in many Muslim countries is because of the narrow minded mindset that allows criminals to think they are in the right.

      Yes, there are complex reasons as Imam Zaid says. He is completely right.

      Again, the views of many Salafis which many take to be narrow minded, intolerant, and anti-rationalist is not necessary for violent extremism but empirically, it has been shown to be a key and necessary part of the causal pathway.

      It is not a sufficient cause by any means but it is sadly necessary causal component.

      And if we try to stop this discussion or try to distract away from it, we are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

      Like

    • Muslim brother,
      I am glad to see you say, “I agree that 99.9% of Salafis are NOT violent extremist. Most who are devoted to a Salafi mindset are trying to be good people and go to paradise” And that is the main point that I wanted to clarify.

      In relation to Sufi, Shia, mainstream orthodox Sunni, and various other Islamic groups and sects, I am sure you will agree that it is likely that they too, like Salafi, are also 99.9% NOT violent extremists. And yet extremism still exists, and it is not only a Muslim problem, as there are non-Muslim extremists (other religions and non-religious) as well. This would seem to indicate that the causal link between theology and violent extremism is tenuous at best, and false at worst. If this is the case, then why single out Salafi theology? Regardless of whether one agrees with Salafi minhaj or not, it would seem unnecessary to direct all our frustration at any one particular group, when in regard to violent extremism there is enough blame to spread around both inside and outside Islam.

      If we are addressing the very specific problem of violent Muslim extremism (as opposed to violent non-Muslim extremism) then we can agree that there is a small fraction of a percentage of Muslims across all spectrums who have engaged in this phenomena. But, rather than pointing fingers at various sects or groups we need to be addressing the causal factors that trigger and sustain the violence in the first place. These causal factors are not limited to one sect or another and have affected all groups in one way or another radicalizing a minority few and leading some to extremism. As Rider alluded to above, even if there was no Salafi minhaj, there would still be extremism, as long as the causal factors are not addressed, the political outcome would still be the same. Unfortunately, extreme injustice often breeds extremism. I also agree with the comment made above by Faiz, “The simplest solution is to do as the Quran states, “Do NOT go to extremes in your Deen.” Even Salafi Muslims recognize this verse and generally abide by it, and that is a good place to start going forward.

      In regard to the “experts on religious groups” the legitimate question should be asked, whether or not their studies on violent extremism are honest, unbiased, and well-intentioned, or are they rather politically motivated to disingenuously place blame on one or another religious sect, while distracting attention away from the real and complex causal factors both internal and external?

      Now – Reflect for a moment upon the American Civil War –
      During that war, Christians were fighting Christians, and there was violence, extremism, terrorism, barbarism, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, torture, false imprisonment, summary executions, starvation, and all the horrors of war. There were also theological differences, between those Christians who believed the Bible justified slavery and their own cause, and those who believed otherwise. But what we did not see, is one sect of Christians attacking the theology of another sect of Christians and attempting to portray their theology ALONE as being the source of ALL of the suffering. The simple reason why is because at of the day those Christians involved recognized that it was not theology that was to blame for the violence, it was rather, political ideologies, long time injustices, tyranny, corrupt and/or inept governance, economic policies, radicalization due to the misguiding fog of war, and even outside foreign intervention which agitated and encouraged the in-fighting while hoping to take advantage of the situation.

      Bottom line: When normal people, are placed in an abnormal situation, those normal people may do abnormal things in reaction to the abnormal situation they find themselves in…..it has nothing to do with theology.

      The lesson here is that Muslims should not insist on doing to each other, what (American) Christians did not do even to each other in their own worst days!

      Again, as Imam Shakir indicated so many forces are trying to divide Muslims and get us to fight, disavow or abandon one another, when what is really desperately needed now is calls for unity, mutual appreciation and respect.

      That doesn’t mean we can’t have the conversation and strive to find constructive solutions to address the problems and challenges we face. On that I whole-heartedly agree with you! But we must do so without being divisive, and alienating the very people (on all sides) Muslim (and even Non-Muslim) brothers and sisters with whom we hope reestablish peace and solidarity with in the end, inshallah.

      Allahu Hafiz.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ibn Issam,

      Your response misses the point.

      Why are almost all terrorists and extremists Salafi Muslims instead of other Sunni Muslims?

      If a bloodthirsty criminal who wants to continue doing crime is interested in Islam, why is it 100% of the time, Salafi Islam that he chooses? Not 10% or 20% or 90% but why is it 100% of the time?

      You mentioned that “In relation to Sufi, Shia, mainstream orthodox Sunni, and various other Islamic groups and sects, I am sure you will agree that it is likely that they too, like Salafi, are also 99.9% NOT violent extremists.”

      No, I don’t agree at all.

      First any percentage between 0.1% and 0.01% is not an insignificant number because technology of the gun and bomb allows so many to be killed.

      Virtually 100% of non-Salafi Muslims are NOT terrorists. Yes, many of them supported evil brutal dictators like Assad in Syria when they fear Salafi intolerance…if it wasn’t for the Salafi groups mutating the democracy movement into much sectarianism, Syrian people may have gained freedom. I don’t know about Egypt. For sure, many extremist Sufis supported the Egyptian military regime’s massacre against Muslim Brotherhood. I have read that Salafis also supported the Egyptian regime against Muslim Brotherhood but I don’t know to what extent.

      There is a massive difference between support for repressive government and becoming a terrorist cutting people’s heads off and taking someone’s daughter or wife or mother and making them a sex slave and thinking they are justified in doing that.

      Yes, if repressive factors are not addressed, there will eventually be discord and violence in any society, Sunni or otherwise.

      But, the level of violence, suffering, and destruction would be far, far less without the groups that enthusiastically identify themselves as Salafi, that love a small subset of Salafi scholars, that consume some cherry picked parts of Salafi literature and in turn spread it., etc.

      It is estimated that less than 10% of Sunni Muslims are Salafi although all 100% of extremist groups have been very, very heavily influenced by Salafi core principles, mindset.

      Experts would be surprised if the amount of violent extremists who are Salafi is 15% or 17% as that would be statistically beyond the possibility of chance.

      But when the percentage of violent extremists among Salafis is exactly 100% or close to 100%, then it is disturbing how anyone would want to disregard this phenomena spreading so much pain and suffering through millions of Muslim families across the Middle East and South Asia.

      Life is not a set of linear equations. There are multiple factors involved with any phenomena.

      However, one of first principle in Islam is honesty. We have to be honest. And obscuring the essential statistics, hiding the elephant in the room is a form of dishonesty.

      We need to ask what is it that attracts those who want to be terrorists to Salafi ideology.

      Is it the Salafi opposition to critical thinking?

      Is is the bedouin-ish almost cartoonish (and to a substantial amount, not accurate) interpretation of early Muslim history that Salafis cling to?

      Is it the Salafi opposition to philosophy and thus their opposition to deep thinking?

      Is it the Salafi intolerance to other groups and their enjoyment at doing takfir (this is not to respect their goodness in speaking out against grave worship, etc)?

      Is the Salafi raising of certain convenient ahad hadith far above the Qur’an attractive?

      Is the Salafi dismissal of vast knowledge and insights in the Social Sciences (of course some is not accurate) in the last couple centuries, also attractive?

      Is is the Salafi modus operandi whereby Salafi scholars give their students talking points with their opponents and then instruct them to avoid further dialogue if the talking points are refuted…thus the perpetuation of narrow thinking?

      I am not against all Salafi teaching. Again, they make great contributions against the grave worship, etc. Their anthropomorphism is disturbing. But the anthropomorphism is not a danger to civil society….a threat to families and children. But their brainwashing and perpetuation of a mindset is harmful.

      Also, I do not believe at all that these violent extremists are accurately following the Salafiah madhab. I believe that they are distorting Salafi texts and taking statements and fatwas out of context and that they are not paying attention to the Salafi literature as a whole but instead cherry picking.

      We need to stop trying to hide the furniture under the rug. It is very embarrassing to Muslims and it is literally destructive to Muslim families around the world, primarily in the Middle East and South Asia but even Nigeria, etc.

      The key question is:

      Why are almost all terrorists and extremists Salafi Muslims instead of other Sunni Muslims?

      What attracts a blood thirsty criminal to Salafi methodology?

      What is it about Salafi mentality, ideology, mindset, modus operandi that they love so much?

      If there were only a dozen or only a few hundred such terrorists, then it is not worth asking this question.

      But when it is in the tens of thousands and when technology of the gun and the bomb allows a very small number of people to kill masses and to spread fasad and fitna throughout the society, we can not avoid answering the question,

      Why are almost all terrorists and extremists Salafi Muslims instead of other Sunni Muslims?

      Not accepting this empirical fact will not establish a foundation for a constructive dialogue. Not all, but much of the dialogue stated afterwards would contribute to the smoke screen and be part of the problem.

      Like

  6. “Terrorists…drink alcohol”

    So did Muhammad. Ergo, they follow the sunnah and you dont

    Like

    • And your evidence for this is based on your own intentional misinterpretation of a Qur’anic verse and a fabricated hadith.

      Like

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