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Compulsions and Faultlines


Adnan Farooqui

IMUSLIMS REWIRING THE HOUSE OF ISLAM
Edited by Gary R. Bunt
Aakar Books, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 374, Rs. 675.00

THE BORDERS OF ISLAM EXPLORING SAMUEL HUNTINGTONS FAULTLINES FROM AL-ANDALUS TO THE VIRTUAL UMMAH
Edited by Stig Jarle Hansen , Tuncay Kardas and Atle Messy
Aakar Books, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 396, Rs. 695.00

GLOBALSALAFISM: ISLAMS NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT
Edited by Roel Meijer
Cambridge University Press, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 484, Rs.795.00

VOLUME XXXIV NUMBER 2 February 2010

It would be a considerable understatement to say that these are difficult times for the spiritual and devout Muslim. Assaulted by the non-reli-gious elite as retrograde, forced to defend his faith from the spiritually-barren and puritanical Salafist movements that have come to dominate Sunni Islam, and accused by Islamophobes as a terrorist (or at least a terrorist dupe), the spiritual Muslim finds himself beset by foes on all sides. Yet, unless one is to dismiss the substantial numbers of devout Muslims in the world, the views of these Muslims deserve greater attention. It is, therefore, time to seriously engage with ideas from the Muslim world about what it is that renders Islam so compelling to so many, and what the sources of discontent are among Islam’s devout and spiritually committed community. The Salafi movement (often referred to as the Wahhabis) represents a diverse community.All Salafis share a puritanical approach to religion which inhibits religious innovation by strictly replicating the model of the Prophet Muhammad. Yet the community is broad enough to include such diverse figures as Osama bin Laden and the Mufti of Saudi Arabia. Individuals and groups within the community reflect varied positions on such important topics as jihad, apostasy, and the priorities of activism. In many cases, scholars claiming the Salafi mantle formulate antipodal juristic positions, leading one to question whether they can even be considered part of the same religious tradition. Salafis are united by a common religious creed, which provides principles and a method for applying religious beliefs to contemporary issues and problems. This creed revolves around strict adherence to the concept of tawhid (the oneness of God) and ardent rejection of a role for human reason, logic, and desire. Salafis believe that by strictly following the rules and guidance in the Qur’an and Sunna (path or example of the Prophet Muhammad) they eliminate the biases of human subjectivity and self-interest, thereby allowing them to identify the singular truth of God’s commands. From this perspective, there is only one legitimate religious interpretation; Islamic pluralism does not exist. Although Salafis share this religious perspective, divisions have emerged as a result of the inherently subjective nature of applying religion to new issues and problems. In this light, Roel Meijer edited Globalsalafism: Islam’s New Religious Movementmay be considered a worthy and valuable contribution. To cover the complexity of Salafism this book has brought together ...


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