The Making of Salafism

Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century

Henri Lauzière

Columbia University Press

The Making of Salafism

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Pub Date: November 2015

ISBN: 9780231175500

328 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $55.00£46.00

Pub Date: November 2015

ISBN: 9780231540179

328 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $54.99£46.00

The Making of Salafism

Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century

Henri Lauzière

Columbia University Press

Some Islamic scholars hold that Salafism is an innovative and rationalist effort at Islamic reform that emerged in the late nineteenth century but gradually disappeared in the mid twentieth. Others argue Salafism is an anti-innovative and antirationalist movement of Islamic purism that dates back to the medieval period yet persists today. Though they contradict each other, both narratives are considered authoritative, making it hard for outsiders to grasp the history of the ideology and its core beliefs.

Introducing a third, empirically based genealogy, The Making of Salafism understands the concept as a recent phenomenon projected back onto the past, and it sees its purist evolution as a direct result of decolonization. Henri Lauzière builds his history on the transnational networks of Taqi al-Din al-Hilali (1894–1987), a Moroccan Salafi who, with his associates, participated in the development of Salafism as both a term and a movement. Traveling from Rabat to Mecca, from Calcutta to Berlin, al-Hilali interacted with high-profile Salafi scholars and activists who eventually abandoned Islamic modernism in favor of a more purist approach to Islam. Today, Salafis tend to claim a monopoly on religious truth and freely confront other Muslims on theological and legal issues. Lauzière's pathbreaking history recognizes the social forces behind this purist turn, uncovering the popular origins of what has become a global phenomenon.

This book brings much needed clarity to the history of Salafism and revises common accounts of a little known yet much talked about Islamic intellectual trend. Henri Lauzière has skillfully fleshed out the genealogy of Salafism, and his work will have an important impact on the field of the history of ideas in the modern Muslim world.

Malika Zeghal, Harvard University

An essential resource for those trying to understand Salafis and Salafism, confusing terms with very contested histories. Henri Lauzière brings sense and order to a debate that reaches back to medieval times yet still flashes across screens today. The Making of Salafism illuminates a crucial aspect of the intellectual history of the Middle East and North Africa in the twentieth century.

Jonathan Brown, Georgetown University

This book fills a crucial gap in modern Islamic intellectual history: it untangles the now ubiquitous term Salafism, showing how the concept was invented, used, and contested through the twentieth century as both an analytical tool and a self-identifier. This conceptual history is paired with rich biographical material, which locates the shifting meanings of Salafism in the context of the wider historical processes of colonialism and independence.

Ahmed El Shamsy, University of Chicago

As a scholar of Islam, Lauzière remains unmatched.

Washington Book Review

[Lauzière] takes readers on a journey through the influences of political and social movements, their collaborators, and media pundits on a theological term—salafi.... Highly recommended.

Choice

An excellent book that provides a brilliant historical analysis of the emergence and trajectory of the concept of Salafism.... a major contribution to the field.

Middle East Journal

While Lauzière's impressive exposition of the term's slippery semantic history is primarily of interest to specialists, his analysis is of crucial importance in demonstrating Salafism's commitment to textual literalism.

New York Review of Books

A masterpiece of original scholarship and very highly recommended.

Midwest Book Review

Timely and important contribution.... excellently crafted. [The Making of Salafism] serves as an invaluable tool for a continuous interrogation of the concept of Salafism.

Islamic Africa 7
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Being Salafi in the Early Twentieth Century
2. Rashid Rida's Rehabilitation of the Wahhabis and Its Consequences
3. Purist Salafism in the Age of Islamic Nationalism
4. The Ironies of Modernity and the Advent of Modernist Salafism
5. Searching for a Raison d'Être in the Postindependence Era
6. The Triumph and Ideologization of Purist Salafism
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Read an excerpt from the conclusion:

About the Author

Henri Lauzière is assistant professor of history at Northwestern University.