Home Contact Us  
   

India - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4755, 24 November 2014
 
Understanding the Attraction of Salafi and Wahhabi Movements
Saneya Arif
Research Intern, IPCS
Email: saneya.arif08@gmail.com
 

This year, 17 October 2014, celebrated as Sir Syed Day in the memory of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, founder of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), refreshed memories and raised questions related to various Islamic movements till date and their relevance in today’s world. Why have traditional Islamic movements failed today? Why have the Salafi and Wahhabi movements gained traction among the Muslim populations? 

Aligarh, Deoband and Barelvi Movements
The Aligarh movement, like other movements, was initiated for a cherished goal. Aggrieved by the decimation of his community in the aftermath of the 1857 revolt, Khan saw modern scientific education to be the only ray of hope for restoring the lost glory of his people. Notwithstanding the opposition from his co-religionists, Khan succeeded in bringing modern education to Muslims. However, the fulfillment of the goal put a halt on the movement. Although a pioneering institution for imparting modern education, the AMU rarely occupies a space in the minds of Muslims today in the same sense. It is instead viewed as a hub where political dogma convert themselves into propaganda against the status quo. 

Reasons more or less similar led to the loss of traction in the Deobandi and Barelvi movements – both of which are different from each other for an array of reasons. The Sunni groups, the Deobandis and the Barelvis are the two major groups of Muslims in the Indian subcontinent apart from the Shia Muslims. Barelvis consider the Deobandis as kafir (infidels). The latter accuse the Barelvis of being ignorant shrine and grave-worshippers. Both impart traditional education that is not much in fashion today due to the growing numbers of liberal and modern Muslims. Fatwas (legal opinion or learned interpretation) issued by madrassas affiliated to both movements, e.g. the Madrasa Manzar-e-Islam and Darul Uloom Deoband, have little following. The world view of the expanding Muslim moderates are in complete contrast with those of these institutions. 

Contrary to popular perceptions, Muslims in India wish to keep themselves out of any trap of radicalisation today. Their affinity to modern ideas is a contrast to the paradigms propagated by these institutions. Today, the role of madrassas is confined to being mediums of imparting the knowledge of Quran only, and not centres of higher education. As a result, the Deoband and the Barelvi movements stand somewhat unwanted and irrelevant, as their preaching borders on the margins of intolerance and radicalism. 

Salafi and Wahhabi Movements 
Today, the Salafi and Wahhabi movements, now a pivot of Islamic movements, dominate the global panorama. Salafi in traditional Islamic scholarship means someone who died within the first four hundred years after Prophet Mohammed. It was revived as a slogan and movement among latter-day Muslims by the followers of Muhammad Abduh to propagate the view that Islam, subject to several interpretations and explanations, had not been properly understood by anyone since the Prophet. It was here the Salafi school of thought gained importance among Muslims, claiming the power of rightful interpretation of the religion and serving as a beacon for the ignorant and easily-swayed Muslims. 

The Wahhabi movement, on the other hand, is regarded as the central movement by most Muslims, due to its teachings regarding state and religion. According to this school of thought, the Ulema are responsible for the protection of the divine law and one can accept the rule of anyone who follows Shariah. Based on the principle of pure monotheistic worship, this movement also advocated purging of practices such as popularising cults of saints, and shrine visitation, widespread among Muslims since the spread of Sufi Islam. The movement considered these as impurities and innovations in Islam, an extreme form of which they believe may lead the believers to shirk (by practising idolatry or polytheism). 

Such attempts to project a puritan form of Islam bereft of impurities and innovations have further benefited from and have been influenced by the rapidly transforming geopolitical scenarios in the modern era, resulting in Wahhabim becoming more open and inclusive – by targeting not just Sunni Muslims, but also non-Sunnis and non-Muslims in their preachings – and thereby attracting more audiences. Additionally, the spread of education and advancements in communication systems have made it easier to transmit Wahhabi doctrines to different segments of Muslim populations across the globe. 

In the early years of the Wahhabi movement, there were instances where the press in Saudi Arabia was not allowed to publish photographs, illustrations and imagery of human faces as it was considered a taboo among the Wahhabis. That is no longer the case today. Noticeable positive changes such as education for girls and changing attitudes towards smoking, among others – that are no longer considered moral negligence deserving punishment – result in the movement being perceived as relatively open and therefore, acceptable. Lastly, the rise of terrorist group, the Islamic State (IS) has given much assemblage to the Wahhabi movement. While the IS practices an extreme interpretation of the sharia, at a fundamental level, it follows Wahhabism. 

Once considered to be an extremist pseudo-Sunni movement, Wahhabism has a different face in India. Although the seeds of polarisation continue to be sown from the outside world, Shias and Sunnis co-exist peacefully in India.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Indian Mujahideen: A Vehicle for Hire for Al Qaeda?

Al Qaeda in South Asia: Zawahiri will Fail in India

India and Nepal: Let There Be Light

The Islamic State: Affecting Shia-Sunni Relations in India?

Combating Maoism: Lessons from Jharkhand

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.