The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged salafism
Further reading on Salafi attitudes to greetings on non-Muslim holidays

Since we recently discussed the phenomenon of Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi preachers warning their followers against wishing Coptic Christians a happy Easter, some reading I did yesterday may shed some light on the matter. It's from a book of essays called Global Salafism edited by Roel Meijer that contains contributions by many leading experts on the subject — Stephane Lacroix and Bernard Heykal on the Saudi variant to name but a few. The introduction refers to four "tensions" of Salafism as currently understood (that is, in its heavily Wahabbi-influenced dominant contemporary). These tensions, the author argues, have transformed a revivalist / puritan movement into one that is more politically problematic and often intolerant. Here's some screen grabs from the Kindle edition, since Amazon's Cloud Reader does not allow for even limited cut-and-paste:

There are also some interesting passages on the more recent doctrinal / ideological sources of anti-Shia sectarianism (which of course date back all the way back to the fitna but have more recent sources of revival:

In Translation: Salafis vs Ikhwan

We’ve discussed several times, on this blog, the rivalries between the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood. If one goes by the results of the 2011–2012 parliamentary elections, the Salafis are the MB’s most potent political adversary, able to challenge them at the ballot box better than any other political movement. In terms of social outreach, the Salafis have a far more diverse and spread charitable movement than the MB’s, albeit one that is fragmented among any different organizations. And with regard to religious legitimacy, not only can the Salafis out-Islam pretty much everybody, they have a longstanding suspicion towards the MB’s secretive structure and the idolization of figures such as the movement’s founder, Hassan al-Banna (indeed, the former regime used to encourage Salafis to denounce Brothers as practitioners of shirk — basically polytheism or undermining the oneness of God — and hizbiyya, the prioritizing of the movement/party over pure adherence to Islamic values.

The article below is about video appearances by major Egyptian Salafi preachers in which they lambast the MB on religious ground. This is based on the usual roster of Salafi critiques honed by late 20th-century Saudi Wahhabi clerics such as Sheikh Bin Baz and Sheikh Rabee al-Madkhali — hence the references to “Madkhalis” in the article below to denote his followers. If you really want to know more, follow a site such as this one which goes on at length about Madkhali’s “exposure” of the MB, and especially al-Banna as a Sufi (the horror!) and Sayyid Qutb as a crypto-Leninist Ash’ari. There is a whole universe of anti-MB Salafi literature on the internet. Of course, this tension (which is not universal to all Salafis, of course) is one aspect of the uneasiness the Saudis feel towards the Muslim Brothers’ rise in Egypt and elsewhere. It appears it is bound to be a major feature of the post-uprisings Arab world for years to come, too.

Featuring translations from the Arabic press in Egypt and elsewhere is made possible with the support of Industry Arabic, a really good translation service specializing in Arabic. Reports, press articles, technical documents — you name it, they can do it. If you have professional Arabic translation needs, check these guys out.

Salafis Wage Video Warfare Against Muslim Brotherhood

Abdel Wahab Eissa, al-Tahrir, 16 September 2012

Political disagreement, or maybe even rupture, has come to characterize the relationship between Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood recently, as statements from both camps against each other have become more heated and full of invective, which indicates that the united front they seem to present is only against common enemies. Some of these statements have been compiled by the Madkhali Salafi Front in a single video that contains harsh commentary and criticism against the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) by Sheikh Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini. It also includes grim, virulent attacks by Sheikh Yasser Burhami, and a fierce offensive waged by the premier Madkhali sheikh in Egypt, Sheikh Mohamed Said Raslan.

The website of supporters of the Salafi Da’wa, which is affiliated with Raslan’s Madkhali Front, posted a compilation video of these three Sheikhs of the Salafi Da’wa attacking the Muslim Brotherhood on YouTube and other websites. The first of these was Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini, who spoke about how the MB exploited his name in their electoral campaign by claiming that he had endorsed their candidacy for the People’s Assembly before the revolution. Expressing his outrage at this slur they made against him, he made a stern denial of this and stressed that it would be impossible to join ranks with the MB due to the differing beliefs of the Salafi and MB camp. In his view, the MB must correct their beliefs, since the corruption of their beliefs is behind every problem. The slogan of the Salafi Da’wa is “The word ‘monotheism’ before unification of the word,” and there is no use in succumbing to innovation until their creed is brought into line with that of the Pious Predecessors. He concluded by saying: “Therefore, I forbid all these existing coalitions. There is nothing good in them.”

Meanwhile, the video of Sheikh Yasser Burhami, the first deputy of the Salafi Da’wa, was extremely dangerous, as he spoke clearly and explicitly of his fear of the MB, and stated that if Egypt allowed them to, they would get rid of his Salafi Da’wa. In response to a question he was posed: “We’ve learned not to think ill of others, and yesterday we heard you say that the MB would get rid of the Salafi Da’wa if they were able to,” Sheikh Burhami spoke about the danger of leaving this matter up to the MB, and how to prevent them from gaining total power from the Egyptian state and to protect the Da’wa: “This is from experience of their way of dealing, from which we have suffered a lot. I was once kicked out of a mosque. They picked me up like this and threw me out. I haven’t forgotten that. Of course, they regret it now because it was a heated moment, and had an impact on me. They disagreed among themselves, but they said, ‘Kick him out of the mosque,’ and I went out, they kicked me out.” Someone behind him spoke, whose voice was not picked up by the microphone, and Burhami responded, “No, no, the situation has changed a lot now. God is the One from Whom we seek assistance.” Burhami added, “Knowledge is the correct path to a good relationship with the MB, it’s the powerful presence. In this case, the relationship would be great.” He repeated this phrase several times, “The powerful presence, then the relationship would be great.”

In this video, Burhami revealed his view of the relationship with the MB in the past and present, as well as his future plans for this relationship. The third video was of the Sheikh of Egyptian Madkhalis, Mohamed Said Raslan, and it also concerned his view of the MB. The makers of the video began this clip with a word stating how proud the Madkhalis were that the previous statements by Huwaini and Burhami on their vision of the MB had already been anticipated by their own sheikh, but they had not taken note. The compiler of the video wrote, “This is the essence of what was said by the Lion of the Sunnah, the Sheikh of the Tribulation Mohamed Said Raslan, but people believe what they want to believe, and do not seek the truth.” Then Sheikh Raslan spoke, delivering a grave warning against empowering the MB, but to be precise, he did not mention the MB by name, but rather the website confirmed the video in which he said, “You will soon be oppressed in the name of religion by those who degrade you. Indeed, a group of people is coming to take revenge, they are not coming for the sake of ‘There is no god but God’ – which they did not fight on behalf of for a single day – but rather they battled whoever fought on behalf of this affirmation, and they are enemies of the truth: these are not the Jews, the Christians, the secularists or the communists. These enemies of truth are Sunnis. Whoever considers their condition wherever the Sunnis have been in power – which is the best witness and greatest proof – only the Sunnis and those who preached the Sunnah have been a threat, they fought no one other than these people, and whenever they gained power in a land, they pursued them and killed them mercilessly, and the case of the Imam al-Albani Center is not far from people’s minds.” He was referring to when militias of Hamas, which is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, attacked the Imam al-Albani Center in Gaza, destroying it and seizing everything inside.

Raslan added: “They sow corruption on the earth in the name of religion, they cause people to deviate from the creed in the name of Islam. What do they offer to people? Delusions and superstitions, since they are ignorant of the truth of what was brought by Muhammad (PBUH).” Then Sheikh Raslan directed a message to the Egyptian people, saying: “You’re a nice, oblivious people that suffered great wrongs. You are about to receive the severest punishment in an age of corruption that claims to be transitory, even though it is more corrupt. Their marriage with the authorities will be like Christian marriage – without divorce. Those people, if they are able, will get into your pores and your minds, mingle with your blood, and take possession of the key posts of power in the country in such a way that they will only be able to be dislodged by spilling rivers of blood. The tribulation lies in that whoever opposes them is an infidel – this is what their sheikhs propagate now (and whoever opposes establishing sharia law, how should they be described?…and whoever battles against religion…how shall they be judged?). This is the greatest mistake, that the unfortunate people of this good country are exposed to the greatest deception in the name of religion that this good country has ever faced.”

Cairo Protests: What They Reveal About Egypt Without Mubarak

Cairo Protests: What They Reveal About Egypt Without Mubarak | World |

From a really great TIME piece by Ashraf Khalil :

Ultraconservative Salafist Muslims and other Islamist factions essentially started this fight when—bolstered by several inflammatory television sheikhs—they marshaled a large  protest outside the embassy gates on Tuesday evening, coinciding with the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S.. But having sparked the protests, the Islamists seem to have almost immediately lost control.

By Wednesday evening the clashes had begun—often despite the best efforts of some of the Islamist groups on the scene. On Thursday, I witnessed this dynamic in action as a temporary peace between police and protestors dramatically broke down.

A group of young men suddenly resumed throwing rocks at the police—who largely huddled behind a phalanx of plexiglass shields and made no offensive moves at first.  Into this maelstrom stepped an incredibly brave group of bearded men—and one woman wearing the full Saudi-style niqab. Facing down a hail of rocks and yelling for calm, they essentially acted as voluntary human shields for the police. (In a slightly humorous side-drama, the Islamist men repeatedly kept dragging the woman away and yelling at her to stay on the sidelines for her own safety.)

Read the whole thing.

The rise of Salafism in Syria

"we’re even willing to say we’re al-Qaeda to annoy the regime"

Roula Khalaf and Abigail Fielding-Smith reporting for the FT from Beirut:

Syria’s rebels are also driven by religion in their relentless 17-month campaign to bring down Bashar al-Assad, first through peaceful protests and now through a military struggle. Abu Berri says he became a committed Salafi, the ultraconservative Sunni sect, after spending nine years in conservative Saudi Arabia.

Many of his peers, he says, are becoming Salafi even if they have little understanding of this brand of puritanical Islam. The charismatic leader of a Homs brigade, Abdelrazzaq Tlas, traded his moustache for a beard, he notes. “They grow beards to defy the regime,” he says. “In fact, we’re even willing to say we’re al-Qaeda to annoy the regime.”

This kind of comment goes to the heart of the trouble in identifying who's a jihadist in Syria, and what that exactly means, as discussed here the other day. Worth reading the whole thing.

Egypt: Abu Ismail's campaign against US aid

The above graphic is from the Facebook page of presidential hopeful Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, aka the world's cuddliest Salafi. It says "Buy your dignity for only LE72".

The calculation it makes is that Egypt's $1.3bn in US military aid amounts to about LE6bn, which divided by 84 million Egyptians makes just about LE72. What a bargain! Of course Sheikh Hazem — a Salafi from the Muslim Brotherhood (the MB-Salafi distinction becomes irrelevant away from syndicate and national politics) — is always full of brilliant ideas. His entry on Wikipedia says he "has presented 10 great national projects in all fields to overcome most of the Egyptian people problems." I'll have to do a fuller profile at some point.

Yet another sign that the US-Egypt NGO crisis is plumbing into new depths of facile populism. Of course, not only on the Egyptian side.