Skip to content

Mobilizing Salafism against Jihadism

The Middle East Studies Forum invite you to the upcoming webinar ‘Mobilizing Salafism against Jihadism‘ presented by Dr Raihan Ismail (Australian National University).

Salafism has received scrutiny as an ideological source for violent extremism propagated by jihadi groups. However, Salafism is not a monolith: it contains numerous streams, and an understanding of all such streams is crucial to comprehending the socio-political dynamics of Muslim societies that Salafism influences. Besides Salafi jihadis—those who sanction violence—there are two other broad trends of Salafism: quietist and activist. Each stream is led by ‘ulama, seen as the preservers of Salafi traditions. These ‘ulama engage in activities that are transnational in nature through Salafi satellite television channels, social media outlets, and Salafi websites. The paper examines the responses of Salafi ‘ulama in Egypt, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, of both quietist and activist persuasions, to the threat of Jihadi Salafism.

Salafi ‘ulama race to absolve themselves from being associated with jihadi ideas but also blame those in the opposing faction, quietist or activist, for the rise of jihadi groups. Quietist ‘ulama accuse activists for advocating disobedience to rulers, causing dissension and instability in Muslim societies. The quietists criticise activists for, in their view, inspiring Muslims to fight in various conflicts in the region. The debate is both doctrinal and political. The core argument of this paper is that despite the fact that Salafi ‘ulama of both quietist and activist trends oppose jihadi Salafism, the rise of groups such as al- Qaeda and ISIS has only reinforced the divide between the two groups.

The flyer can be downloaded here.

Speaker Bio

Raihan Ismail is an ARC DECRA fellow and a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, ANU. She was the co-recipient of the Max Crawford Medal in 2018, awarded by the Australian Academy of the Humanities for ‘outstanding achievement in the humanities by an early-career scholar’.

Her research interests include Political Islam, sectarianism, and the intertwining nature of religion and politics in the Middle East. She is currently working on a book project on the transnational networks of Salafi clerics in Egypt, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, under contract with Oxford University Press.

13 May 2020,  12:00pm – 1:00pm,
Please join us via *Zoom

Please RSVP to by Monday 11 May 2020

*You will be provided with a Zoom link and password via a calendar invite that will be sent to the email address you RSVP’d with on Tuesday 12 May 2020.