The Salafi Problem

What to do about the Salafi problem? They are most certainly an issue. They have caused and are causing considerable damage to the Blackamerican Muslim community. Now, I am not saying that they are kufar. Let’s get that straight. I am saying that their methodologies are not appropriate for the cultural climate in which they are trying to operate. As a matter of fact, they don’t seem to take culture into consideration at all. But as long as American Muslim imams and shuyukh can be “refuted” or seen to have no authority and or knowledge, they pose a difficulty for us. And many of us who have been “turned” by the Salaf, were done so not knowing any other alternative. So we’re gonna have to fight back against this tide. Begin to push and push and push until we can get a foot hold and some have some breathing space of which we can then begin to dismantle their concepts or at the very least, have a dialog. Wa Allahu ya’lamu ahsan (and Allah knows best).

45 Replies to “The Salafi Problem”

  1. Marqas, I’m curious about this “salafi” concept/word that you talk about. What and/or who is it exactly? Please don’t assume that a brotha’ is familiar with all of the Islamic jargon…you’ll have to break it down for us un-edumacated folk in layman’s terms!!! After reading this piece, my perspective in regards prayer has changed a bit. I never really thought about prayer as a communal/social event, where there could be more of a blessing versus doing it by one’s self. It doesn’t matter what religion; the point that was “very” clear is that prayer should be seen in light of its social function, which in Christianity, at least, is more based on individuality. Keep this good stuff coming, and I’ll be sure to hit you back with some “thought”! Peace…

  2. My apologies for those not familiar with the Salaf. The Salaf/salafis, are a group of people who have interpreted the Qur’an and the Sunnah (the actions, tacit approvals and sayings of the Prophet (§), in a very harsh and unrealistic way. I would further it that some of their interpretations would be wrong. The word salaf in Arabic simply means ancestor or forefather. In its modern use it refers to people who follow or claim to follow a movement stared by Egyptian theologian, Muhammad Abduh. The main problem with the salaf that I can see are two: 1. They interpret Qur’an and Sunnah out of context to suit their points. 2. They do not take the people’s cultural precepts into regard. Islam has always worked with a people and their culture to find the best “blend” as it were. This is not a sign of weakness, as they would see it. Trying to impose upon people a way of life that is foreign to their culture is wrong and was never sanctioned by the Prophet (§) or by the original salafis, the Early Communities. So, when I speak of the salafis, I’m talking of a group that most certainly has an agenda. They financially benefit from this standpoint as they keep a strangle hold on the ownership of the religion, invalidating all other viewpoints and interpretations, making themselves the “real Muslims”.

    Aside from that, prayer in congregation is good. Community is good. Any faith or belief system will always support the system of community.

  3. “1. They interpret Qur’an and Sunnah out of context to suit their points.”

    I’m curious: How do they do so? Would you perhaps offer an example?

  4. One of the problems with the Salafi is that they throw out madth’habs (Islamic schools of thought). So if you say you’re a Maliki, a Hanbali and so forth, they’ll tell you that your viewpoint is invalid and that everything must go back to Qur’an and Sunnah, as if the madth’habs aren’t of Qur’an and Sunnah! And this adherence to the Righteous Forefathers is a load (they also very myopic in their view of the original Salaf, as if they were one body, without divisions or differing opinions). They are adamantly opposed to any type of inclusion in Western Society. Islam should blend with the surrounding culture, complementing it instead of being stoic or even hostile. I’d wager money that the people who perpetrated the London bombings and those who flew the airplanes on 9/11 were salafis (as they are prominent in Saudi Arabia) or influenced by their thought processes.

  5. No, but a lot of Muslims are “adamantly opposed to any type of inclusion in Western society” – not just the Salafis. I just feel as if sometimes it’s convenient to scapegoat them. Yes, there are some incredibly ignorant people amongst them, but let’s not blame all of our problems on them.

  6. The Salaf are not the only problem with Muslims today. But they are a problem. And more importantly, they are a problem for indigenous American Muslims. They have taken up the claim of authority and hand out doctrine as if they alone posses that which is correct. The most damaging thing is that their viewpoints take nothing of the people’s needs, situation, history or culture into regard. This is why they are such a problem. I have met many people who have left Islam because of the Salaf and their hard-liner ways.

  7. You seem to be making some extremely ignorant statements, and looking at some of the links on your website, it doesn’t surprise me why you feel that way.

    A few years ago the salafis in the UK published a book called, “Advice to Osama Bin Laddin”, and the book talked about how what OBL was doing was completely wrong and some really strong statements against OBL.

    I have not met a single organization that approves of the London bombings or the 9/11 episode, but recently I got into a discussion with someone that takes knowledge from SUFIS. And this individual said that one is allowed to follow his sheikh without knowing why. Imagine this scenario, a sufi sheikh tells his followers to go kill innocent civillians and the followers do that. This is a real danger, and this is the danger of the modern day sufi. A lot of this kind of extremism is in places like Pakistan (not sure about the killings, but other stupid practices). As Muslims we have to do our part and stop all these modern sufi movements from doing these extremist practices.

  8. Hmm… Ignorant? Well, perhaps. But I could retort by saying you’re a coward by not leaving your name/contact info!! Let’s see. You said, “You seem to be making some extremely ignorant statements, and looking at some of the links on your website, it doesn’t surprise me why you feel that way”.

    Now, as pertaining to the links, how does it make me ignorant? Literacy.org makes me ignorant? Ha!! Man, you are a character. Oh, right. I see. It’s links to Zaytuna or Amal Press that scares/bothers you? Yeah, you kinda have to have a brain to deal with that stuff. Salafi’s are notoriously anti-academic. Not the brightest or greatest of thinkers.

    As to Salafis condemning/condoning Osama Bin Laden, I never said they did or didn’t. Do you know how to read? Literacy.org, my man. I am not a Sufi, so I don’t know why you’re ranting to me about Sufis. Oh, right. You’re a Salafi, or at best, highly influenced by the Salafi movement. (Chuckles). You guys are funny, in a not-so-funny kinda way.

    My point about the Salafis is that they have this mixture of historical romanticism and hard-liner mentality that serves no one. It does not serve the best interests of the people. Let me quote Professor Jackson’s book, Islam and the Blackamerican for a moment to address what I’m saying about the Salafis:

    “…Even the Salafis, who are most insistent in restricting doctrine and practice to scripture and authentic precedent, fail to conceal completely the synthetic element in their constructions. While they emphatically invoke the model of the Pious Ancestors, (the real Salafis) they cannot conceal the fact that the latter (the original Salafis) were not unanimous in all they believed or practiced. For example, the Pious Ancestor, Ibn Khuzaymah (d. 311/924), records disagreement among the Companions (of the Prophet Muhammad [S]) Ibn ‘Abbas, Anas bin Malik, Abu Dharr, and the Prophet’s wife (RAH) A’ishah over whether the Prophet actually saw God during his lifetime. Yet, no Salafi would accept this as an “excuse” for a contemporary Muslim to claim that the Prophet saw God. Similarly, in his Book of Consensus, Ibn al-Mundhir (d. 318/930) catalogued all the views on which the religious scholars up until his time agreed. This book amounted, however, to only a single installment of barely 130 pages of proper text. Meanwhile, his contemporary, the famous jurist and exegete, Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d.310/923) wrote a book cataloging all the disagreements among the religious scholars, and this work fell into several hefty volumes, originally some 3,000 pages in length!”

    So, my point being is that the Salafis try to convey that Islam is this gigantic, universal, monolithic entity in which “unity” equals “uniformity”. There is no room for religious pluralism. And this is wrong. People must be able to feel comfortable in their own shoes. So, for an example, Blackamericans must not only adopt Arab culture as their modus operandi but also reject their own culture as it is of a unique Western tradition and therefore tainted somehow.

    I give you a little credit for making a post but you are highly lacking any real critical analysis. My advice to you is stop worrying about the Sufis or the Shi’ah or anyone else and take care of yourself. Stop trying to police the rest of the religious world. I’m sure the grass in your own backyard has grown quite wild and out of control in your absence.

  9. I’ve just found you blog. I really like it.

    Your point about Salafis being a problem for the African American community is so on point. Unless youve lived in a city like Philly or NYC you would not understand the extent of the damage they are doing to the deen and social health of the community.

  10. Man, I just can’t stay away!! You also made some funny comments I’d like to breifly comment on:

    “…but recently I got into a discussion with someone that takes knowledge from SUFIS. And this individual said that one is allowed to follow his sheikh without knowing why. Imagine this scenario, a sufi sheikh tells his followers to go kill innocent civilians and the followers do that. This is a real danger, and this is the danger of the modern day sufi. A lot of this kind of extremism is in places like Pakistan (not sure about the killings, but other stupid practices). As Muslims we have to do our part and stop all these modern sufi movements from doing these extremist practices.

    Okay. Slow ’em up fo’ a second. You talked to someone who said, “And this individual said that one is allowed to follow his sheikh without knowing why.” – Big deal. Perhaps they simply meant that they’re more interested in being obedient than in rationalizing everything (we cannot rationalize everything in Islam – the Afterlife, is a case in point and yet we believe in it).

    Warning Will Robinson, Sufis on the attack!! How stupid is this: “Imagine this scenario, a sufi sheikh tells his followers to go kill innocent civilians and the followers do that. This is a real danger, and this is the danger of the modern day sufi.” – You know, this did create the perfect mental picture of a Sufi shaykh going over a cliff and a bunch of his Derivshes followers whirling over after him!! Stop it!! You’re killin’ me!!

    You also said, “A lot of this kind of extremism is in places like Pakistan (not sure about the killings, but other stupid practices).” – Are you some kind of investigative reporter? No? Didn’t think so. So you can say that Sufis are running wild in the streets ready to off citizen Joe and yet you’re not quite sure about the “killings”. I have one phrase for you: Fact Check.

    You also brilliantly added this piece of prose: “As Muslims we have to do our part and stop all these modern sufi movements from doing these extremist practices.” – Ah…, am I detecting a pattern here? Sufis aren’t running wild (that would make a cool video, Sufis Gone Wild!). This is horse manure. Stop looking outward – turn inward and you’ll find your problems (that goes for all of us).

  11. Salafis are wahabis, who originated from the najd area of saudi arabia led by Mohamed Abdul wahab. They believe and are influenced by the teachings of an old cleric called ibn taymiya who had views regarding tawassul to dead saints. The wahabi allied themselves with the al saud family and waged a conquest to take over arabia. They basically believe all the people of the world and 90 per cent of muslims are in hell.

  12. It is said that “ignorance” is so bad that even an ignorant person says, “I am not ignorant.” So, I advice all of you to study your deen from Qur’aan and Sunnah. And as for the owner of this blog, it seems like you’ve seen the wrong side of salafiyyah. All I can tell you is that salafiyyah is based on the quran and sunnah and it has been here longer than you and will stay here longer than you as Allah wills; so why waste your time. You should spend your free-time gaining knowledge about this vast deen of which you are ignorant about.

    Wa salaamu allaykum,

    P.S.
    see Hamza Yusuf, Zayid Shaakir, Habeeb ‘Ali get exposed.

    http://clarifications.blogspot.com/

  13. About Salafis and Wahhabis…

    It’s important that one keeps in mind that, like any group, you’ll find not a monolith, but an ideological spectrum. Your hardcore and moderate Salafis are out there if you dig deep enough. (For an example of a moderate Salafi group, check out the last few sentences to the 22nd citation of Imam Zaid’s Jihad is not Perpetual Warfare.) As for Wahhabis, Abdul Hakim Murad states:

    The neo-Kharijite nature of Wahhabism makes it intolerant of all other forms of Islamic expression. However, because it has no coherent fiqh of its own–it rejects the orthodox madhhabs–and has only the most basic and primitively anthropomorphic aqida, it has a fluid, amoebalike tendency to produce divisions and subdivisions among those who profess it. No longer are the Islamic groups essentially united by a consistent madhhab and the Ash’ari [or Maturidi] aqida. Instead, they are all trying to derive the shari’a and the aqida from the Quran and the Sunna by themselves. The result is the appalling state of division and conflict which disfigures the modern salafi condition. From Islamic Spiritualisty–the forgotten revolution

    There should also be a distinction made between Salafis and Wahhabis (although Wahhabis like to call themselves Salafis.) As Marqas said, Salafism started with Muhammad Abdu and his student Rashid Rida. Wahhabism started in the Najd. Now, Rashid Rida did sympathize with Wahhabism, however, I don’t think he went to the extent calling other Muslims kafirs. He did inspire Sayyid Qutb (Muslim thinker who inspired the idea of Jihad as perpetual warfare against the Jews and the Christians) to some extent (check out the next to the last section of Dr. Sherman Jackson’s paper Domestic Terrorism in the Islamic Legal Tradition.) And as you can guess, Qutb’s thinking, like what you find in Milestones, fits well with Wahhabis.

  14. I’m glad you found the post interesting. Salafiyyah, like any other movement, is too extreme and exhausting on its followers to maintain any sort of longevity. The question is not whether salafi’ism is going to die out – it already is. but what will those people, who are/were salafis, flee to? or will they just fade from religion period. these should be the questions (along with why would a movement such as salafi’ism form in the first place) we ask.


    ? ???? ????

  15. Thank you for your comments.

    I will say that for me, one of my major critiques of the Salafis – both those who label themselves such and others that are influenced by association, is that there is little to no room for the process of ijtihad (the process of making a legal decision by independent interpretation of the legal sources, the Qur’an and the Sunnah). Many Salafis espouse adherence to Qur’an and Sunnah, as if this is a monolithic entity. As Dr. Jackson and others have pointed out, Unanimous Consensus (‘ijma’) is the form by which the original Salafis (here meaning the early community of Muslims just after the death of the Prophet – peace and blessings upon him) themselves came to understandings between one another. By this I mean that Qur’an and Sunnah were understood to mean different things to different people. And that what was agreed upon unanimously was numerically small in comparison to what was not agreed upon. The concept that there is in a sense, only one Qur’an and Sunnah (the practice thereof) must be dismissed in the Tradition of Islamic Pluralism that has been present since the death of the Prophet (may God send peace and blessings upon him).

  16. As Salaamu Alaikum

    One must use caution in approaching this subject, in order to not fall into extremes either way.

    I see there were mentions of 9-11 and other terrorist attacks and the term Salafi as well. I don’t want to get into 9-11 because I have contradicting views with the overall notion of 9-11 to begin with, so I will not even entertain the notion of that discussion as to who did what because I think we have all been lied to in the first place.

    What we currently see being done in the name of the Salafi Dawaah here in the US and the UK, isn’t the Salafi Dawaah. The Salafi Dawaah is practical straight forward and plain. It encourages adherence to the Quraan and the Sunnah. It promotes Al Wala wa Bara (Love for your fellow Muslims and disdain for kufr and evil). It promotes balance. Not the sectarianism we currently see by “so-called Salafies” and certain Sufi groups.

    What we currently see is a situation that has blown completely out of control which has resulted in emnity between certain Muslims, and apathy on the part of other Muslims. Where the only solution is first learning our deen, understanding it and implementing it to the best of our abilities. Second, providing constructive solutions to the problems we currently face and not throwing stones at other Muslims who don’t entirely agree with our outlook.

    Ironically, if one looks at the number of Muslims indicted and imprisoned since 9-11, one will see Salafies who did nothing other than promote Dawaah and balance such as Dr. Rafil Dhafir and Ali Timimi. In fact certain Salafies (even those who do not call themselves Salafies but who are because of either their associations or just being labeled Salafi by others) have come under extreme pressure when they have done nothing more than teach true Islaam.

    One thing that we as Muslims should do is use this challenge as an opportunity to do the right thing and call people to true Islaam and not fall victim to the sectarian war that is going on. What I mean by that is we can’t fall victim to certain Sufi propaganda nor should be become apathetic and hateful of other Muslims like certain neo-Salafies have become.

    May Allah aid us during this time of fitnah and prevent us from falling into further confusion.

  17. As Salaamu Alaikum

    In terms of what was agreed upon, based on clear evidence, I don’t think anyone (Salafi or not) disagrees upon. Anything that isn’t agreed upon clearly, shouldn’t be a matter of anyone’s dispute. I believe the approach of many Salafies of some of the earlier years in the US was just to leave issues like those alone. While I will agree that in recent years, these areas where there isn’t a clear consensus or clear proof in terms of say position a or position b, the response has been rather monotone or short sighted (without much evidence from the Qura’an or the Sunnah). I believe earlier, the emphasis was on the methodology of finding the correct answer instead of the answer and just parroting the answer.

    I tend to agree with Qardawi in that there needs to be a way of addressing a number of current issue, while staying inside of the fold of Islaam (I won’t say there is a need of a new Fiqh because that usually draws ire from a number of circles) but I will say that we need to look closely at a number of issues because the parrotted answers of certain neo-Salafies and certain others are falling far short in addressing a number of contemporary issues.

    In fact, we probably really need to define who or what would classify a student or person of knowledge. Because many people who we classify as people of knowledge (at least within the last few years) have alot to learn about how to apply Islaam in the current environment. This is a short coming of many groups to including Tablighi Jama’at, certain Sufi orders as well as many neo-Salafies.

    Not to unjustly defend the Salafies or show bias to the neo-Salafies (because honestly I am not a neo-Salafi nor do I call myself a Salafi) but some of the things that they brought to the table were good. The call for learning one’s deen as well as promoting knowledge, those things were good. Likewise one could say that certain Sufies do good by encouraging rememberance of Allah and so on. But it’s the negatives that have occurred that have to be addressed.

    The hostilities created by neo-Salafies and emnity that has divided (if not destroyed) masjids and families that has to be addressed. The likewise could be said of certain other groups as well so in essense, what we have to do is establish (to the best of our abilities during these times of fitnah) Islaam. First within our own homes and then among those around us.

  18. Certainly learning about one’s deen is an honorable thing, but the problem with this movement is that it stops there. And not only does it stop there, they berate you for moving on with your life. (i.e. getting a job, getting married, having children, educating the children)

    They have nothing concrete to offer to a person after getting married and having children and educating the children. When a brother does these things and tries to move forward with his family life, then he is labeled as being “off the manhaj”

    The salaf themselves were not like this.

  19. my feelings on this are mixed and I am someone who was educated by salafis and spent a lot of time with salafis.

    One some items they have done a lot of good for the ummah; they have acted to revive the ummah in Central Asia, the Caucauses and other places.

    In other places they have resurected the study of the knwodeldge of the deen and let us rememeber that Muhamamd Abdul-Wahab arose in an era where people were worshipping their shayukh and the graves. Also, yes the madhabs are valid and they are a knowledge, but they are not perfect and I follow the same madhab as the sahababh.

    Now, on a social and political level, in America and many other places, Salafis have done a lot of damage and I canot go to an American Salafi masjid anymore and this problem is worst in the Northeast.

    Also, everyone interprets Quran and Sunnah to suit their points, that is hardly unique to salafis, every group does it.

    Then you make outright distortions, The 9-11 and 7-*7 bombers were not salafis, they are offshoorts of salafis from the Jihadi moveemnt that accepts some of the salafi teachings and rejects others and disses the scholars. Even if they were so what? The people who chopped Daniel Pearls heard off were sufis, what does that mean? Salafis have also been out front in comdeming terrosim.

    Zaytuna is OK and I like Imam Zaid, I dont have a big problem with them, but some seek to pass themselves off us “safe” Muslims and immunize themsleevs from islamophobia and after Hamza Yusuf kicked it with Bush that was it for me and him and to some extent this group has become the home to yuppie Muslims.

  20. define islamic pluralsim as it means to you? are there any limitations to this? Or do we have to sit back and wait for lesbian imams? because believe me, that is the direction many MWU and “progressive” types would have us heading as they follow their model, which is not “Islamic pluralsim”; but is the disastorous movements of Reform Judaism and Mainline Protestantism.

  21. I’ve had really good responses and I thank all of you. My purpose for this is precisely that – a dialog. So I hope to hear from more of you.

    I will try to address a few points here:

    The brother said, “I tend to agree with Qardawi in that there needs to be a way of addressing a number of current issue, while staying inside of the fold of Islaam (I won’t say there is a need of a new Fiqh because that usually draws ire from a number of circles)”

    Why not a new fiqh? What would constitute a new fiqh? What does fiqh even mean? We may have the dictionary definition as jurisprudence (the theory and/or philosophy of law), but what does it really mean for us in its application? This is why we had the formation of a fiqh council, although some of its founding members have left due to various reasons.

    The Salafis as a group do not address (and I believe it was never their intention to address) the needs and situations of Western Muslims. It is shocking and appalling to see East Coast Salafi ranks swelled by Blackamerican Muslims, whom for many, live in poverty, drug and gang-ridden neighborhoods. Their populations have little to no access to health care, educational or economic opportunities. They are often taught an anti-Jewish, anti-Western rhetoric (which for the vast majority of which never had bad relations with Jews and on the reverse, many had a legitimate gripe with the established white authority). Combating white supremacy or institutionalized racism has taken a back seat to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict (which is made out to be the 6th Pillar of Islam). Having been convinced that everything about their Western heritage is haram and corrupt, many of these Muslims focus on “learning the Deen” or “going overseas” to learn Arabic when most have a less than a 3rd or 4th-grade grammatical education (I can say this from experience – I’ve tried teaching Arabic courses in places like these and most people lack rudimentary grammar skills). The men spend all day in the mosques soaking up this “knowledge” instead of getting an education and or a job so they can take care of themselves, their families and contribute something to this society instead of just bitching about it.

    P.S. – What ever happened to just soaking up the ethical and moral message of Islam and incorporating that into the daily life? Nah…

    It also begs the question: Did these brothers and sisters think by becoming Muslims that they could just leave their demographics? AIDS plagues our inner city black communities, Muslim or non-Muslim.

    If I can also address ‘Umar’s comments. He said, “define Islamic Pluralism as it means to you? are there any limitations to this? Or do we have to sit back and wait for lesbian imams?”

    I think I made myself fairly clear by what I mean by Pluralism but I’ll say it again: There is more than one way of being Muslim. There is more than one way of practicing Islam. Not all Muslims agree on all matters. And in the absence of Unanimous Consensus (ijma’), we must agree to disagree. In other words, in the absence of Unanimous Consensus or the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) coming back and saying Bob is right and Marqas is wrong (why am I always wrong??), then we must simply agree to disagree. I must tolerate your practice and you must tolerate mine. Does this mean we’ll have lesbian imams? I dunno. I doubt it. Define lesbian imam? Someone who is a lesbian and calls themselves an imam? They could do so but would they be accepted by the greater community? And in all honesty, don’t we have bigger issues to deal with than a thousand “what if’s?” Poverty is a real issue. Health care is a real issue. Economic disparity is a real issue. Being misunderstood, marginalized and disenfranchised are real issues of the day we ought to be dealing with. Just my two cents. Thanks for the thoughts.

  22. Perhaps I should have written Looking For Comedy In the Muslim World. But seriously, I don’t mean these words solely for the purpose to blast certain Muslims just for no purpose. I say this because I see this movement as an endangerment to the people who partake in it or who are influenced by it. I do not believe it serves their best interests.

    Whether or not you agree with the Nation of Islam in a doctrinal sense (I am not condoning the doctrine of the Nation – this is not the intention of this post to participate in a polemical debate between orthodox Islam and the Nation), you must acknowledge the fact that as a movement, they wanted to address the needs of black folk through a religious and spiritual discourse and THAT is where the Salafis fail (ironically, the Arabs, Pakistanis and other historically entrenched Muslim ethnic groups have done this – ergo, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict being made into a de facto religious commitment). Going over seas should be the last thought on someone’s mind who has no money, no marketable skills and no plan of lifting themselves out of a socially and perhaps culturally reinforced quagmire.

    So, my point is, through a process of Islamic Pluralism, blacks and for that matter, any other social or ethnic group, may find a path to better social and economic opportunities that will also lead them to Enlightenment through the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) and God’s revelation.

    And God knows best…

  23. (Second attempt…computer messed up)

    LOL…The Palestinian conflict made into a 6th pillar of Islam…Subhanullah brother you are on point.

    The point of “going overseas” is a copout for doing nothing, but 99% of them want to “go study”. You can go into one of their masjids close your eyes and point and that one will say he wants to “go overseas”. But upon further investigation, this brother has no money (not even enough to get a passport) no education and no plan..so for him it is nothing other than a pipedream.

    As for the ones that DO make it, they come back within 6 months after running out of money and learning little to no Arabic. But all is not lost…his marriage resume has improved as his status has been lifted to “student” and he can now get married a few times more.

    This would be funny if it weren’t true

  24. I think simple labels dont do justice here. Salafi, as described by Tariq Ramadan, falls into like 5 or 6 different categories, some of which are radically different.

    Some of the Salafi types in the Middle East are all about change, social and political reform. hence, they fall into one category of Salafi, again, as defined by Tariq Ramadan.

    I dont know if this is an African American convert thing, because as a white convert, labeling myself, which school I belong to, none of it has meant much to me, nor to any other white converts I know.

    My wife is from Saudi Arabia and has the same take on the issue and rejects the whole ultra-puratanical strain of religion there. We both feel they are way off base with their take on the deen. The Prophet said Islam was about being in the middle of the road.

  25. Umar – As-Salaamu ‘alaykum.

    You made a very interesting observation: “You seem to be influenced by the mushy middle, that say core belief does not matter, all that matters is having a feel good attitude”.

    Was this directed at me? Mushy middle of the road? Hmm…, I would be curious as to how you came to that conclusion. The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) advocated a middle of the road approach. So I would be curious as to how you define me as mushy? Well, truth be told, I did put on a few pounds over the winter months but I assure you, I’m all “deen” inside. Let’s be careful before we start too much mud-slinging without good fact checking. Or at least wait until I take off my expensive, mushy, middle-of-the-road, yuppie clothing off before it gets dirty.

    Salaams

  26. poverty and health care are real issues; but there are those who seek to say that anyone who advocates on behalf of those postions gets a pass despite their religous deviancy. there is room for disagrement in Islam, but there are limits. I am not anti-West, but I recognize that there is a sickness in much of the West of moral and cultural decadence and I dont want to give that a pass. There is more to the West than moral relativism and what you hear from your teachers. You seem to be influenced by the mushy middle, that say core belief does not matter, all that matters is having a feel good attitude, and that is what I see in the failed movements of Reformed Judaism and Mainline Protestantism.

  27. of all the Muslims groups I will say Salafis are the least concerend with Palestine and if you do not belive me talk to some Palestinian organizations who never got any help from Salafis. Youa re right when you state that the NOI was better at dealing with socila probelms; an area which Salafis have failed badly.

  28. Salaam ‘Alaikum

    // to some extent this group has become the home to yuppie Muslims. //

    It’s interesting that you say this, Umar, as people we might label “yuppies” out there have a very different take on it and are supposedly starting to avoid Zaytuna b/c they think there are too many students from the “ghett-oh,” too many of the “wrong” color, converts, etc.

    Of course, then one has to ask if some people, by virtue of their middle class economic status, are somehow less deserving than the rest of us of a good Islamic education?

    Better ‘ulema than Sheikh Hamza advised much worse people… tyrants than GWB.

  29. salaams

    Umar

    Ok, let me get this straight. We are critisizing the salafis for being out of touch and uneducated, but yet the Hamza Yusuf supporters are critisized for HAVING education? (Yuppie??)

    Are we critisizing for the sake of it here?

    I have seen Marqas offer some solutions to the madness of these people…can you offer any Umar?

  30. Assalamu alaikum, well, I guess if Zaytuna is a “yuppy” organization, or “yuppies” go there, well, then I guess I’m a yuppy, then. Because I think they’re a highly respected organization! So I guess I’m a yuppy / kafir / “my bllod is halal”, yeah, some really extreme Wahhabis / Salafis / whatever you want to call it would say this, and this is how these types of people use this as a justification to kill fellow Muslims and non-Muslims.

    Am I saying that all “salafis” are this way, no, but when you see whole websites dedicated to nothing more th denigrating peole such as Shaikh Hamza Yusuf, Imam Zaid Shakir, Et al., well, it just makes me angry. Sorry but it does! If you want to follow the Salafi methodolgy fine, but leave those of us whole follow a different opinion alone. I don’t call you a kafir just becuase you call yourself a “Salafi” or whatever you choose to call yourself. So I just ask to please don’t call me one! And I never should have looked at the clarifications.blogspot.com site. Ugh…

    I really don’t know hwo to put what else I want to say into words. And maybe it’s better that I don’t. But in short, I will say that the problem with the “Salafi” methodology is the throwing out of any kind of foundation for fiqh. From what I understand, many “Salafi” groups advocate an approach of throwing out the last 1,000 years or so of Islamic scholarship and “returning to the Qur’an and Sunnah”. How do we do this? Which books of ahaddith do we use? Which of the 7? is it? recitations of the Qur’an do we use? Or do we use the Warsh or the Hafs? Or is one an bida and one not? Hmmm. There is just such a vast wealth of Islamic knowledge, why should we throw it all away for just Sahih Muslim, Sahih Bukhari, the writings of Ibn Tamiyya, Ben Baz, and the others I cna’t think of right now? Islam, or I should say, Islamic scholarship is so much more vast than that. Why throw it all away? For what?

    And what is the “purified Sunnah” the “authentic Sunnah” the “correct manhaj (sorry for the spelling)? Are differences of opinion good or not? Are they a “bida” or not? I’m just putting some questions out there.

    For me, I follow a madhhab. I trust Zaytuna. So what does that make me? A yuppy kafir I guess, huh?

    It’s just so sad. We’ve lost a great Muslimah, in the person of Umm Ibrahim, Shaik Muhammad Al-Yakoubi’s wife, and yet there are even articles refuting him? Would some of these so-called “Salafi” people call them kafirs? Subhanallah.

    I just want to cry!? For a myriad of reasons!? Islam is just so beautiful and vast, and yet some want to reduce it to just a narrow few sources and sayings and be done with it, and that’s just sad. Anyway, I should go now, before I make even more of a fool of myself than I already have!

  31. Umar said, “cant we all just hold hands and go out once a year and give out turkeys on thanksgiving.”

    Well, I’m free that Thursday if you are.

  32. yuppie was not said as something bad, it was just an observation of what kind of people are attracted to that group.

    Yes we are the ummah of the middle path; but not the middle path of all, the middle path of those within the deen, at least that is what some scholars say.

    There is a religous lie of thought, prominent in religous graduate programs, that say what you belive does not matter, doctrine does not matter, and trying to find truth oes not matter; the only thing that matters is being good people and giving to the poor what not.

    This same rationale is used to denergrate Americans who vote against their class interests because they will not vote for those advancing the gay agenda and abortion.

    That is what I mean by mushy middle; nothing matters, who says I am right and you are wrong, cant we all just hold hands and go out once a year and give out turkeys on thanksgiving.

    One thing is clear, I do not know you brother, but from your writers, you have ZERO knowledge of Salafis.

    I am also critical of Salafis; but I know who is and who sint a Salafi for starters.

  33. Ginny, calm down. First of all these sites do not call these people kafir they call them deviants but do not say they are not Muslims. The ones that would call Hamza or Zaid kufar will more than likely call Saalfis kufar. That is a main problem; people blame shit on Salafis that ahs nothing to do with Salafis.

  34. It seems that our brother Umar has COMPLETELY missed the point. I think people, including Marqas, have made it clear that the salafis are not *THE* problem, but a problem.

    Here’s the point: African Americans have massive problems that the salafis IGNORE because they think they are in their own world.

    That movement outside of Philly and NY/NJ area is fading away fast.

  35. Pingback: The Manrilla Blog | Life. Art. Religion. Culture. | Documenting the American Muslim Experience one pixel at a time » Salafiyyah - The Conversation Really Continues
  36. Pingback: The Manrilla Blog | Life. Art. Religion. Culture. | Documenting the American Muslim Experience one pixel at a time » The Salafi Problem: Part II
  37. Pingback: The Manrilla Blog | Life. Art. Religion. Culture. | Documenting the American Muslim Experience one pixel at a time » The Living Islam Show
  38. Pingback: The Manrilla Blog | Life. Art. Religion. Culture. | Documenting the American Muslim Experience one pixel at a time » Salafiyyah - The Conversation Continues
  39. Salaams, Aziza.

    I lived in the Bay Area a couple of years ago. Loved it. I never made it out to Hayward/Zaytuna but I am familiar with the conditions and you are right. Many folks would avoid Hayward/Oakland and so forth.

    And while you are quite correct that Salafis are not unique in creating enviornments of extremism, as far as Blackamerican Muslims are concerned, they’re certainly one of the key groups to study.

    I will have to check out your blog. Thanks for stopping in…

  40. Salaams,
    Interesting…I’m from the Bay Area and spent lots of time in various communities. Zaytuna attracts a wide range of folks from all sorts of ethnic and class backgrounds. One, most people from the East Coast have a hard time identifying a Cali hood or ghetto. Everything looks nice and prettier here (i.e. Watts and South Central LA, as well as West Oakland). Zaytuna is located in the hood and lots of yuppies wouldn’t be seen in Hayward or the East Bay (except for maybe Berkeley).

    I know that Zaytuna also attracts idealistic “students” of sacred knowledge. People come to Zaytuna expecting to find some idealistic community, when it is really just a school. Some come feeling like they are making a mini-hijrah and they are the muhajiroon and the Muslims living here are the Ansar. I remember reading on some forums that there were people who came to the Bay Area with little money (and this is one of the most expensive places to live) expecting people to be hospitable (like in Yemen or Mauritania) and put them up for indefinite time while they got their study on. I can imagine the drama, since most Americans who work really hard aren’t used to random families camping out in their living rooms for free.

    Salafis aren’t alone in creating environments of extremism and isolation. I see that in the cultishness that develops around places like Zaytuna. It is not always the fault of the leaders, I know that they try to create balanced views in accordance to the Quran and Sunnah. I also know some of the hijrah type, who are not Salafi but Sufi. Some folks left the states because they couldn’t cope with the pressures (this goal is often unstates, but evidenced by the many children they left behind or responsibilities they shirked). Some think learning Arabic somewhere in malaria zones or harsh desert environment gives them all sorts of prestige (they want to come back and start their own communities). Others felt like they couldn’t get their act together because the dunya was too strong for them, so going abroad give them some moral resolve.

  41. “So, my point being is that the Salafis try to convey that Islam is this gigantic, universal, monolithic entity in which “unity” equals “uniformity”. There is no room for religious pluralism. And this is wrong. People must be able to feel comfortable in their own shoes.”

    I would like to bring to your attenttion the Hadith:

    “Awf ibn Malik reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, ‘The Jews split into 71 sects: one will enter Paradise and 70 will enter Hell. The Christians split into 72 sects: 71 will enter Hell and one will enter Paradise. By Him in Whose hand is my soul, my Ummah will split into 73 sects: one will enter Paradise and 72 will enter Hell.’ Someone asked, ‘O Messenger ofAllah (Peace be upon him), who will they be?’ He replied, ‘The main body of the Muslims (al-Jama’ah).’ Awf ibn Malik is the only one who reported this Hadith, and its isnad is acceptable.” And in another version of this Hadith the Prophet (Peace be upon him) goes onto say that the saved sect, “…Are those who follow my and my Sahaba’s path” (Tirmidhi, vol. 2, pg. 89)

    My point is NOT that the salafs are the saved sect (that only Allah knows) but that pluralism is not encouraged in the case of matters of BELEIF and we are required to follow Prophet PBUH and Sahaba’s path without a single deviation.

    “So, for an example, Blackamericans must not only adopt Arab culture as their modus operandi but also reject their own culture as it is of a unique Western tradition and therefore tainted somehow.”

    Culture, faith and custom are entirely different aspects. We must have islamic faith (Shahadah, prayer, fasting, etc), islamic Customs (greet others with salam, dua when waking, pants above ankles, etc) but not necessarily islamic culture (like wearing arab’s Dishdasha, or or eating arab food, etc). For example we need not travel on camels as the prophet did but we must say the prayer he said while travelling. We are very much free to follow our own local traditions (south indian in my case) unless they are seeped in pagan/christian/jew/cultures. Case in point- its ok to celebrate independance day but not christmas.

    “One of the problems with the Salafi is that they throw out madth’habs (Islamic schools of thought). So if you say you’re a Maliki, a Hanbali and so forth, they’ll tell you that your viewpoint is invalid and that everything must go back to Qur’an and Sunnah, as if the madth’habs aren’t of Qur’an and Sunnah!”

    Imam Shafi said “If I say something, then compare it to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His messenger and if it agrees to them, then accept it and that which goes against them, then reject it and throw my saying against the wall”
    Here Imam Shafi himself says not to bindly follow the madhabs but to compare, think and follow Quran and Sunnah. Our model is Prophet PBUH and his madhab was ISLAM. Did he pray in four different ways? Was his asr twice? Or did he pray asr only once (thereby making him a shafi or hanfi)? The point is 1300-1400 years ago, the information highway was not present. In fact information collection was highly difficult matter. The respected imams had to travel far and wide to get the hadiths and aquire knowledge. Its so happened that these imams did not each get the complete records about islam but together their collection is very much COMPLETE. Thus we must follow all of the madhabs and not any single one. Please refer here .

    PS: These are my views only and though i follow the salaf-as-saliheen, i donot claim these to be the views of the salafs as i’m not highly educated on the islamic subjects. And, pleeeeeeeeese donot insult me. Only reply. This is a humble request.

    Ejas

  42. My point is NOT that the salafs are the saved sect (that only Allah knows) but that pluralism is not encouraged in the case of matters of BELEIF and we are required to follow Prophet PBUH and Sahaba’s path without a single deviation.

    I will contend you on the pluralism of belief issue. And take a breath here. If were are to study the understanding of belief on the parts of ‘Aisha, Ibn Abbas, and other Sahabah and members of the Prophet’s [S] household, we will find differing matters of their understanding of faith. Case in point, they all differed over such things as to whether the Prophet [S] saw Allah during his lifetime. This is a matter of faith/belief. And yet, none of them can be considered to be outside the belief fold of Islam [far from it]. What we have here is a pluralistic sense of belief [i.e., they had differing opinions on whether or not they believed that he [S] saw Allah in his lifetime.

    But my point in this point was more about social practices and not about comparative theology. In fact, I cast no aspersions about Salafi theology, but rather about their practice of Islam as well as other issues like anti-intellectualism, apathy towards poverty and crime [as in they’ve done little to lift themselves out of poverty or combat crime and other social ills in their midst] and so forth. I believe you’re misconstruing two separate arguments.

    Culture, faith and custom are entirely different aspects. We must have islamic faith (Shahadah, prayer, fasting, etc), islamic Customs (greet others with salam, dua when waking, pants above ankles, etc) but not necessarily islamic culture (like wearing arab’s Dishdasha, or or eating arab food, etc).

    As one who makes a professional as well as academic study of such things as faith and culture, they are no entirely different entities. In fact, they influence one another to a great deal. In fact, one of my critiques of this brand of Salafism is how it fails to see any agency of the culture in which those very Muslims hail from [Blackamerican, for example]. A false ideology, to use a double redundancy, is presented in the form of religiosity; just follow the Qur’an and Sunnah, and that’s all you’ll ever need. While they are correct in their verbiage they fall miserably short in their own myopic understanding of the context in which Qur’an and Sunnah were fostered.

    And not the least of which is that they assume that what they are branding as “Salafism” is in fact what the Pious Ancestors were like in deed and faith [this takes us back to my earlier point of not all of the Companions, even members of the Prophet’s [S] household had the same understandings of items of faith].

    All this is said as a critique against this brand of Salafism – it in no way says that they are not Muslims or that they may not even be “good Muslims”. Rather, the crux of my argument as been is this the most prudent, intelligent, resourceful and responsible interpretation of Islam given this group’s [and mine as well] background.

    And, pleeeeeeeeese donot insult me. Only reply. This is a humble request.

    It is my sincere intention to engage and not insult. I pray you have not been the latter. Your comments are, as always, much appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.