Given the salience of the terms 'Salafism' or 'Jihadi-Salafism,' not only in specialist analysis but also in the media, the currents of Islamic thought grouped under these terms are poised to become more widely known. Yet much western analysis suffers from a lack of sophistication and discernment on this important doctrinal trend in contemporary Islamic thought, so that 'Salafism' is some what liberally employed to denote, with far too much specificity, a phenomenon that is only opaquely defined to the western reader. The contributors to "Global Salafism" are careful to map out not only the differences in the Salafist schools, but also to underscore the fluidity of this broad doctrinal tendency. They examine the phenomenon both in its regional manifestations - which demonstrate surprising diversities, ambivalences and contradictions - and in its shared essential doctrines. In so doing they highlight the ambivalences inherent in Salafism itself, and the Salafist believers' claim to be reviving Islamic thought for the modern age - albeit through the paradox of 'out-antiquing the antique' by appealing to a greater, older, purer authenticity. With considerable subtlety the tensions between the local and the global aspirations of exponents and claimants to the 'Salafist method' are explored and the parallels and divergences weighed. This is a unique book that can justifiably claim to be pioneering, as it is the first of its kind to take the phenomenon of Salafism as a whole, and address the task of defining what is, despite its crucial importance, a relatively neglected field.
Roel Meijer trained as an Arabist and is Senior Lecturer in the History of the Middle East, Radboud University, Netherlands.He also heads a team at the International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam, that is building an archive on social movements in the Middle East and Islamist publications on the Internet.