Monday, February 16, 2015

Chinese Salafism and the Saudi Connection

In China, the Hui Salafi sect, and its links with Saudi Arabia, have a long and complex history.

By Mohammed Al-Sudairi

The Diplomat - October 23, 2014

Salafism, or Salafiyya, is a doctrinal-intellectual current within Islam that espouses a return to the ways of the Salaf As-Salih (the Pious Ancestors), the first three generations of Muslims who lived during and after the death of the Prophet Mohammed. Often described as being rooted in the works of the medieval scholars Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Taymiyyah, Salafism seeks to establish a more “authentic” religious experience predicated on a presumably correct reading of the Quran and the sunnah (the sayings and practices of the Prophet) and away from the supposed bid’ah (innovations) and heretical practices that have “polluted” it.
This current moreover embraces to a certain extent a rejection of the madhhab (legal school) Sunni traditions that had emerged in Islam’s early centuries. As a relatively modern phenomenon building on the Sunni orthodox revivals of the 18th century, the failures of traditional Muslim authorities to contend with mounting internal and external challenges, as well as the spread of new modernistic discourses, Salafism found a popular following across many Muslim societies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its growth was facilitated by Saudi Arabia – which embraced its own idiosyncratic brand of Salafism rooted in the mid-18th century religious revivalism that swept central Arabia (usually denoted by its detractors as Wahhabism after its “founder” Mohammed bin Abdul Wahhab) – especially after its annexation of Mecca and Medina in 1924-25, and the subsequent influx of oil wealth, which endowed the country with the religious authority and means (universities, charities, organizations, preachers, and communicative mediums) to promote this current globally.

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