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A reform movement founded by Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī and Muḥammad ʿAbduh at the turn of the twentieth century, the Salafīyah has religious, cultural, social, and political dimensions. It aimed at the renewal of Muslim life and had a formative impact on many Muslim thinkers and movements across the Islamic world.

The term salafīyah is often used in conjunction with iṣlāḥ (reform) and tajdīd (renewal), which are concepts fundamental to Islam's worldview. For some, however, the term connotes reaction and rigidness because of the Salafīyah's strict adherence to the Qurʿān and sunnah and its exaltation of the past.

The word salaf īyah is derived from the Arabic verb salaf (precede). The Qurʿān uses the word salaf to refer to the past (5:95, 8:38), and in Arabic lexicons, the salaf are the virtuous forefathers (al-salaf al-ṣāliḥ), and a salafī is one who draws on the Qurʿān and the sunnah as the only sources for religious rulings (Al-muʿjam al-wasīṭ (intermediate lexicon), vol. 1, p. 461).

The issue of who is a salafī is a controversial one, but most Muslim scholars agree that the salaf comprise the first three generations of Muslims. They span three centuries and include the Companions of the Prophet (al-Ṣaḥābah), the last of whom was Anas ibn Mālik (d. 91 AH/710CE or 93/712); their followers, al-Tābiʿīn (180/796); and the followers of their followers, the Tābiʿ al-Tābiʿī (241/855). Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal (164–241/780–855) is considered the last of the generation of the salaf. These three generations were highly esteemed by later Muslims for their companionship with the Prophet and proximity to his time and for their pure understanding and practice of Islam and contribution to it.

A chronological definition of the salaf is not sufficient: the salaf are not confined to a specific group or a certain era. Muslims recognize later prominent scholars and independent figures as members of the salaf, including Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī (d. 1111), Ibn Taymīyah (d. 1328), Ibn Qayyim al-Jawzīyah (d. 1350), Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb (d. 1792), and others. Moreover, the views of the members of the earliest Muslim generations were varied. The ideology of the Salafīyah changed over the years in response to the challenges faced by the Muslim community as its dedication to reform and revival persisted.


As Muslims began to expand beyond the Arabian Peninsula, they came into contact with different cultures, religions, and philosophical trends, among them those of Jews, Christians, Sabaeans, and Zoroastrians. They were also confronted with new situations and intellectual challenges for which they had to devise answers that reflected the ideals of the new faith. In addition to the Qurʿān, they used reasoning to present and explain Islamic concepts and doctrines, applying this technique to such issues as the existence and attributes of God, the nature of the Qurʿān, and whether God is seen in paradise.

The violent conflicts that took place among Muslims over the caliphal succession following the death of ʿUthmān (d. 35⁄656) opened controversies on such topics as the nature of faith, the status of the sinner, the nature of human acts, freedom and determination, and the imamate. Hence new intellectual currents and disciplines emerged in Islamic thought. Among the early developments was the discipline of kalām (theology), whose advocates addressed the aforementioned issues and resorted to subjective interpretations of the Qurʿān, using analogy and philosophy. The major representatives of this trend were the Qadarīyah, Jabarīyah, Ṣifatīyah, Khawārij, and Muʿtazilah. Several of these schools, particularly the first two, gained popularity and created divisions among the ummah. Some of their views represented a threat to the orthodox understanding of the issue of tawḥīd (the unity of God), the core concept of Islam. They also gave rationalism and theology precedence over revelation see THEOLOGY and TAWḥīD.

Ibn Ḥanbal, Articulator of Classic SalafĪyah.

The diversity in opinions and fierce debate among the adherents of the theological schools gave rise to another intellectual trend that advocated a return by Muslims to pure and simple Islam and to the understanding of doctrine on the basis of the Qurʿān, the sunnah, and the ḥadīth traditions of the salaf. Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, the founder of the fourth school of Sunnī jurisprudence, was the major articulator of this trend. In his fight against the Muʿtazilah's doctrine of the creation of the Qurʿān, he laid out the tenets that later shaped the Salafīyah.

Ibn Ḥanbal focused on several principles. The first is the primacy of the revealed text over reason. Ibn Ḥanbal saw no contradiction between reason and scripture. Unlike the mutakallimūn (scholastic theologians) who subjected the revealed text to reason, he dismissed taʿwīl (subjective or esoteric interpretation) of the texts and explained them in accordance with Arabic philology, ḥadīth, and the understanding of the salaf. The second principle is the rejection of kalām. The Salafīyah considered as bidʿah (innovation) the issues raised by the theological schools and confirmed the orthodox view of these matters. The third is strict adherence to the Qurʿān, the sunnah, and the consensus (ijmāʿ) of the pious ancestors. In agreement with the major Sunnī schools, Ibn Ḥanbal held the Qurʿān and the teachings of the Prophet to be the authoritative sources for understanding the matters of religion, from which the principles of the sharīʿah are derived. He set strict guidelines for the use of ijtihād (independent reasoning) and restricted the use of qiyās (analogical reasoning).

The Salafīyah approach evolved over the years to address new issues confronting the Muslim community. Taqī al-Dīn ibn Taymīyah, a jurist and theologian of the Ḥanbalī school, contributed greatly to the evolution of the Salafīyah. He combated accretions and innovations in religious practices and beliefs, particularly those introduced by the Ṣūfī orders (such as pantheism, syncretism, and saint-worship). His approach focused on confirming tawḥīd, proving the compatibility of reason and revelation, and refuting the ideological arguments of the theological schools, which he believed were influenced by Greek philosophy and terminology. Ibn Taymīyah regarded himself as a mujtahid of the Ḥanbalī school, but as a result of changes in time and conditions, he departed from it in some respects: he rejected taqlīd (adherence to tradition) and ijmāʿ and approved of the use of qiyās, and had his own views on several jurisprudential issues see IBN TAYMīYAH, TAQī AL-DīN AḥMAD].

Because of its emphasis on the restoration of Islamic doctrines to their pure form, adherence to the Qurʿān and sunnah, rejection of accretions, and maintaining the unity of the ummah, the Salafīyah has embodied the potential for reform and renewal, particularly at times of weakness and degeneration of the Muslim community. It has been a major influence on many movements that sought to reform their own communities on the basis of the original principles of Islam.

Premodern SalafĪyah.

In the eighteenth century several reform movements emerged to address the moral and social decay of the Muslim community. The Wahhābīyah is the most important. Its founder, Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb (1703–1792), drew on the teachings of Ibn Ḥanbal and Ibn Taymīyah in his drive to purify the Arabian Peninsula from un-Islamic practices and build an Islamic state modeled on that founded by the Prophet. The Wahhābīyah influenced other movements such as the Sanūsīyah and Mahdīyah, notwithstanding their Ṣūfī tendencies see WAHHāBīYAH].

Similar movements arose beyond the Arab world, including the movement of Usuman Dan Fodio (1754–1817) in Nigeria, and the movements of Aḥmad Sirhindī (1564–1624), Shāh Walī Allāh (1702–1762), and Sayyid Aḥmad Barelwī (1786–1831) on the Indian subcontinent. They all advocated religious purification, moral and social reform, and unity among Muslims but remained literalist in their reinterpretation of religion and tied to the past; they struggled not to build a viable model for the future but to replicate the early model of the Prophet and his companions. Nonetheless, these movements left a legacy that inspired reform movements in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries see BARELWī, SAYYID AḥMAD; DAN FODIO, USUMAN; SIRHINDī, AḥMAD; and WALī ALLāH AL-DIHLAWī, SHāH.

Modern SalafĪyah.

The modern Salafīyah was established by Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī (1839–1897) and Muḥammad ʿAbduh (1849–1905) at the turn of the twentieth century. It aimed to rid the Muslim ummah of a centuries-long mentality of taqlīd (blind imitation) and jumūd (stagnation), to restore Islam to its pristine form, and to reform the moral, cultural, and political conditions of Muslims. It is distinguished from the classic Salafīyah by its essentially intellectual and modernist nature and by the diversity and expanse of its objectives.

Against a legacy of stagnation, moral and social decay, political despotism, and foreign domination, the Salafīyah of Afghānī and ʿAbduh sought to revitalize Islam, to bridge the gap between historical Islam and modernity, and to restore Muslim solidarity and vigor. The writings of Afghānī and ʿAbduh—and of other reformist intellectuals such as ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Kawākibī (1854–1902), Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā (1865–1935), and ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd ibn Bādīs (1889–1940)—focused on certain issues that constituted the ideological foundations of the modern Salafīyah. Among these were the causes of Muslim weakness, the reinterpretation of Islam, and comprehensive and institutional reform see IBN BāDīS, ʿABD AL-ḤAMīD; KAWāKIBī, ʿABD AL-RAḥMāN AL-; and RASHīD RIḍā, MUḥAMMAD].

The overwhelming supremacy of the West posed a dilemma for Muslim intellectuals, who probed the causes of Muslim weakness in an attempt to remedy them. This issue has dominated the intellectual discourse of the reformist thinkers. It permeated the articles in Al-ʿurwah al-wuthqā (literally “the firm tie or grip”; published by Afghānī and ʿAbduh in 1884 while in exile in Paris), Riḍā's periodical Al-manār (1889–1935), the writings of al-Kawākibī (particularly Umm al-qurā, literally “the mother of villages,” i.e., Mecca), and those of Ibn Bādīs.

They identified the roots of the evil not in the teachings of Islam but in the infiltration of alien concepts and practices, the disintegration of the Muslim community, and the practice of political despotism. Distortion of basic Islamic beliefs spread attitudes of predeterminism, passivity, and submission among Muslims, leading to stagnation and blind imitation by the traditionalist ʿulamāʿ. They also precluded the advancement of Muslims and prevented them from pursuing power and independence. Thus they restricted the exercise of ijtihād, the force that preserves the vitality of Islam and links it to real life.

In the face of the threat of cultural submission to Western colonialism, the Salafīyah worked to assert the validity of Islam in modern times and to prove its compatibility with reason and science. They viewed it as a holistic message covering all aspects of life and as the driving force for advancement. For them, Islam provides Muslims with the foundations of progress. It honors humans and asserts their sovereignty on earth, blesses Muslims with the creed of tawḥīd, and sanctions the pursuit of knowledge and progress (Afghānī, 1973, pp. 136–139). Thus the reformist thinkers were trying to restore the pride of Muslims in their religion, to pave the way for reinterpreting Islam in a manner compatible with modernity, and to legitimize the acquisition of some Western scientific and technological achievements.

The reinterpretation of Islam constituted the second major principle of the modern Salafīyah. Like the classical thinkers, the modern Salafīs emphasized the importance of tawḥīd (ʿAbduh, 1897), purifying the Muslims’ beliefs and practices from accretions, and restoring the unadulterated form of Islam. ʿAbduh summarized the objectives of the Salafīyah: “To liberate thought from the shackles of taqlīd, and understand religion as it was understood by the elders of the community before dissension appeared; to return, in the acquisition of religious knowledge, to its first sources, and to weigh them in the scales of human reason” (cited in Hourani, 1962, pp. 140–141).

The modern reformers shared with classic Salafīyah the belief that the Qurʿān was the uncreated word of God, and they rejected any esoteric interpretation of its verses. Although they sought a return to the authoritative sources of Islam—Qurʿān, sunnah, and a few authentic ḥadīth—the modern Salafīyah went a step further in their attempt to devise a synthesis between text and reason. They found no contradiction between revelation and reason; whenever there seemed to be a disagreement between the two, they employed reasoning to reinterpret the text. In particular, ʿAbduh's and Aḥmad Khān's reinterpretations of Qurʿānic verses sometimes went beyond the orthodox interpretations. For ʿAbduh, “reason is the source of unshakable truth about the belief in God, His knowledge and omnipotence, and the belief in His message” (Islam and Christianity with Science and Modernity, Cairo, 1954, p. 113). The Islamic reformists were well versed in theology and philosophy and used them in their discourse.

In their commentaries on the Qurʿān, the reformists tried to link the scriptures to modern-day conditions. This approach helped to revive the Qurʿānic message, restoring its relevance and making it understandable to ordinary Muslims. It offered an alternative to the literalism of traditionalist interpretations. The reformists’ commentaries also suggested avenues for the renewal of Islamic disciplines and new approaches to jurisprudence, ethics, and law (Merad, 1960–, p. 147; Jurshī, 1991, pp. 212–213).

By emphasizing return to the fundamental sources of Islam, the Salafīyah thinkers strove to unleash the potential for exercising ijtihād. Their confidence in the ability of the Muslim mind to deal directly with revelation would eventually liberate Muslims from slavish obedience to traditionalist authorities. This, it was hoped, would give rise to a new jurisprudence and a positive rationalism that would unify the different legal schools and draw on ijtihād without compromising the fundamentals of Islam.

To achieve this ambitious objective, the Salafīyah, following the example of Ibn Taymīyah, emphasized the distinction between the immutable and the mutable in religion. The former deals with matters of creed and rituals (ʿibādāt), which have been prescribed in the Qurʿān and the authentic sunnah; any additions to them were condemned as unacceptable innovation. The Salafīs therefore launched fierce campaigns against the Ṣūfī orders, accusing them of introducing bidʿah, practicing alien rituals, and spreading submissive and superstitious attitudes.

The mutable part of religion (muʿāmalāt) includes human transactions and laws governing social relationships. These were considered the domain of ijtihād that ought to be exercised in accordance with the requirements of modernity and scientific advancement. Al-Kawākibī interpreted the Qurʿānic statement, “Nothing have we omitted from the book” (6:38) as pertaining only to religious matters, not to worldly affairs. ʿAbduh issued several fatwās (legal opinions)—permitting Muslims to wear Western attire, eat meat slaughtered by Christians and Jews, and earn interest—that were considered departures from tradition.

A third foundation of the modern Salafīyah is the comprehensive yet gradual nature of the reforms they proposed. Like most other Arab and Muslim countries, the Egyptian society in which the Salafīyah arose was already undergoing fundamental changes. Foreign laws had replaced or supplemented indigenous laws; the educational system had bifurcated into Western and traditional; and the intellectual elite was split between advocates of the wholesale adoption of Western values and institutions and adherents to long-held traditions and practices.

The Salafīyah hoped to bridge the gaps in their respective societies by introducing sweeping reforms at the individual and institutional levels. Education was the cornerstone of their reform plan. The Salafīyah were convinced that no reform would be effective unless the moral and social values of Muslims were revived by education. They aspired to educate a new type of elite, combining Islamic and modern education, to close the gap between the conservatives and the westernized. They worked to restructure the educational system and modernize the curricula in traditional educational institutions, as well as to establish new schools that offered both Islamic and modern subjects.

Important to the improvement of education was the reform of the Arabic language. As a result of an overall state of stagnation and imitation, the Arabic language had suffered for centuries from rigidity and artificial style. The reform of the language was intended to revive it and to liberate it from classical forms so that it could be easily understood and absorb modern terminology. The Salafīyah in the Arab world hoped thereby to preserve their national identity and restrict the spread of foreign languages.

The reform of law was also important to the reformists’ efforts to revitalize Islam. The Salafīyah reformers maintained that law should reflect the “spirit” of the nation, its dominant values and belief system. Imported or foreign law could never strike deep roots because it would always lack acceptance and therefore legitimacy. Sharīʿah should continue to regulate the legal and social affairs of Muslims. However, the reformers rejected the literal interpretation of law and advocated its reinterpretation on the basis of reason, maqāṣid (objectives), and maṣlaḥah (common good), particularly in areas where there was no Qurʿānic stipulation. On the institutional level, they worked to establish specialized schools for sharīʿah judges or to reform the existing ones, and to reform the sharīʿah courts.

The Salafīyah viewed political reform as an essential requirement for the revitalization of the Islamic community. They denounced despotism and held autocratic rulers responsible for the spread of acquiescent political attitudes and the disintegration of the Muslim nation. Salafī intellectuals advocated a gradualist plan for political reform. They were convinced that political reform could not be achieved unless the people were educated about their rights and responsibilities.

Many reformist intellectuals attempted to reformulate Islamic concepts in the light of modern political ideals and practices. They reinterpreted such concepts as shūrā (counsel) and ijmaʿ (consensus) and equated them with democracy and a parliamentary system. In practice, they called for gradually increasing representation in administrative and political institutions.

European colonialism and the threat of cultural subjugation gave the modern Salafīyah a strong nationalist tone. The reformers—perhaps with the exceptions of ʿAbduh after his return to Egypt from exile in 1888 and of Aḥmad Khān—maintained an anticolonialist stance. They tried to promote a common awareness of Islamic nationalism and to preserve the solidarity of the ummah, advocating Pan-Islamism and the restoration of a form of political nucleus. Nonetheless, most of them had to compromise their idealist position to meet the realities of their time, accepting the imposed national divisions of the Muslim world.

Expansion of SalafĪyah.

The teachings of the Salafīyah spread across the Arab and larger Muslim world, and wherever it took root, the Salafīyah acquired different expressions and emphasis. In Algeria, Ibn Bādīs focused his reform efforts on education as the means for countering the assimilationist policy of the French and preserving national identity, and on combating the Ṣūfī orders. He produced a commentary on the Qurʿān, and with other reformist religious scholars he established the Association of Algerian ʿUlamāʿ, which played a prominent role in the struggle for independence.

Morocco had been exposed to the teachings of the Wahhābīyah since the eighteenth century. A neo-Salafīyah movement with a modernist orientation emerged in the nineteenth century under such reformist scholars as Abū Shuʿayb al-Dukkālī (1878–1937) and Muḥammad ibn al-ʿArabī al-ʿAlawī (1880–1964). Their ideas had a profound formative impact on many leaders of the Moroccan nationalist movements, notably Muḥammad ʿAllāl al-Fāsī, the leader of the Istiqlāl Party and a student of al-ʿAlawī. Al-Fāsī took the Salafīyah to new levels by linking Islamic reformism to the nationalist movement for independence and political liberalism see FāSī, MUḥAMMAD ʿALLāL AL-; and ISTIQLāL.

The Salafīyah was introduced in Tunisia in the early years of the twentieth century; ʿAbduh visited in 1885 and again in 1903, and Al-manār was read there. The Salafī ideals were adopted by several ʿulamāʿ of the Zaytūnah Mosque, including Bashīr Ṣafar (d. 1937), a teacher of Ibn Bādīs;Muḥammad al-Ṭāhir ibn ʿĀshūr (b. 1879), who produced a commentary on the Qurʿān; and his son Muḥammad al-Fāḍil ibn ʿĀshūr (1909–1970). ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz al-Thaʿālibī (1879–1944), the founder of the Destour Party, was an advocate of the Salafīyah and Islamic reform.

Islamic modernists also emerged in Syria. Some were influenced by the Ḥanbalī orientation, such as Jamāl al-Dīn al-Qāsimī (d. 1914); others were disciples of Afghānī and ʿAbduh, such as ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Maghribī (d. 1956) and Shakīb Arslān (d. 1946).

In India, Sayyid Aḥmad Khān (1817–1898) founded a movement of Islamic modernism that had a profound impact on reform among Indian Muslims. Though a contemporary of Afghānī and ʿAbduh, Aḥmad Khān was distinguished by his acceptance of British rule, by his reinterpretation of the Qurʿān with a far more rationalist and naturalist approach than most Salafī intellectuals, and by his promotion of Western education through the educational institutions and journals he established. Another prominent Muslim modernist in India was Muhammad Iqbal (1875–1938); combining Islamic and Western education, he attempted to reconstruct an Islamic intellectual model that would revive the Muslim community and address modern needs see AḥMAD KHāN, SAYYID; and IQBAL, MUHAMMAD.

The Salafīyah principles also spread to Indonesia. In 1912, the reformist Muhammadiyah movement was established there as an educational and cultural organization that attracted a wide following.

With a dearth of comparable thinkers following the death of Afghānī and ʿAbduh, the course of the reformist Salafīyah began to change. Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā represented a link between the reformist Salafīyah of Afghānī and ʿAbduh and the activist Muslim Brothers in Egypt. He continued to propagate the ideas of his mentors as well as his own in his periodical Al-manār, which had considerable influence on Muslim intellectuals (known as the Manarists) throughout the Islamic world. Under increasing threats of political disintegration and cultural submission, Rashīd Riḍā drew the movement into more conservative and orthodox paths. The liberal and secular disciples of the reformist thinkers benefited from the rationalist approach of the Salafīyah in advancing secular nationalism and liberalism, as in the cases of Saʿd Zaghlūl in Egypt and Mohammad Ali Jinnah in India.

Influence on Modern Islamic Movements.

The teachings of the Salafīyah continued to inspire later generations of Muslim activists. In the 1930s new Islamic movements emerged sharing many of the ideas of the Salafīyah. The most influential of these were Ḥasan al-Bannā's (1906–1949) Muslim Brothers in Egypt and Abū al-Āʿla Mawdūdī's (1903–1979) Jamāʿat-i Islāmī on the Indian subcontinent.

These movements too upheld the centrality of Islam to future progress and were convinced of its adaptability to modern life. However, they responded to different circumstances: continued Western occupation, anticolonial struggle, and the domination of secular political and social concepts. They therefore combined activism (ḥarakīyah) with their message of Islamic reform. They were more skeptical and critical of the West, and, while accepting modernity, they believed in the self-sufficiency of Islam as the basis for society and state (Esposito, 1991, pp. 152–160). They did not attempt to build on the intellectual venture the modern Salafīyah had undertaken in legal, political, educational reform, or to devise a systematic intellectual framework for reform. Instead, through their organizational structures and populist appeal, these movements focused on reforming the morality and beliefs of the Muslim individual as a precondition for the reform of the society as a whole. The Muslim Brothers and the Jamāʿat became an example for many subsequent movements; however, their ideological orientation, activism, and sometimes militant tendency distinguish them from the modern Salafīyah see MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD; AND JAMāʿAT-I ISLāMī.

Present-day groups known as al-Jamāʿah al-Salafīyah or al-Salafīyūn have more in common with the classic Salafīyah than with the modernist thought of Afghānī and ʿAbduh. Like the classic Salafīyah, they focus on matters of creed and morality, such as strict monotheism, divine attributes, purifying Islam from accretions, anti-Sufism, and developing the moral integrity of the individual (ʿAbd al-Khaliq, 1975; Ibn Bakr, 1990). These societies, however, remain very limited in their following and in the extent of the reforms they propose.


With changing conditions, Salafīyah has taken different forms and expressions, but throughout its history it has remained in essence a movement for reform and renewal. The classic or Ḥanbalī Salafīyah, to which several premodern reform movements belong, focused on issues of creed, the purity of Islam, and the restoration of a past Islamic model, and so it remained doctrinal and limited in its scope of reform.

While emphasizing the need to return to original Islam, the modern Salafīyah expanded the dimensions of reform to counter the threat of European colonialism and to accommodate the needs of modernity. While often criticized for being apologetic and conciliatory, they were nonetheless able to demonstrate to their coreligionists the adaptability of Islam and its relevance in modern times. Their intellectual efforts provided grounds for accepting and legitimizing change.

Despite its significant contribution to the revival of Islamic thought and noticeable impact on generations of Muslim intellectuals and activists, the modern Salafīyah stopped short of devising a solid foundation of reform on which later followers could build systematically. Therefore, the continuation of the Salafīyah reformist message has depended on the individual efforts of Muslim intellectuals.



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  • ʿAbduh, Muḥammad. Risālat al-tawḥīd. Cairo, 1897. Translated by Ishaq Musaʿad and Kenneth Cragg as The Theology of Unity. London, 1966. Series of lectures on theology delivered at al-Madrasah al-Sulṭānīyah while in exile in Beirut.
  • ʿAbduh, Muḥammad. Al-islām wa-al-naṣrānīyah maʿa al-ʿilm wa-al-madanīyah (Islam and Christianity in Relation to Science and Civilization). Cairo, 1954. Excellent source for ʿAbduh's intellectual arguments on various issues, originally published 1905.
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  • Abun-Nasr, Jamil M.“The Salafiyya Movement in Morocco: The Religious Bases of the Moroccan Nationalist Movement.” In St. Antony's Papers, no. 16, Middle Eastern Affairs, no. 3, edited by Albert Hourani, pp. 90–105. London, 1963.
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  • Amīn, Aḥmad. Zuʿamāʿ al-iṣlāh fī al-ʿaṣr al-ḥadīth (The Leaders of Reform in the Modern Time). 4th ed.Cairo, 1979. Detailed biographies and study of several reformist intellectuals.
  • Amīn, ʿUthmān. Muhammad ʿAbduh. Translated by Charles Wendell. Washington, D.C., 1953. Good introduction to ʿAbduh's life and thought.
  • Būṭī, Muḥammad Saʿīd Ramaḍān al-. Al-salafīyah: marḥalah zamanīyah mubārakah, lā madhhab islāmī (Al-Salafīyah: A Blessed Period, Not an Islamic Theological School). Damascus, 1988. Thorough study on the evolution and intellectual components of the Salafīyah.
  • Commins, David Dean. Islamic Reform: Politics and Social Change in Late Ottoman Syria. New York, 1990. Excellent analysis of Islamic reformism in Syria in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
  • Esposito, John L.Islam: The Straight Path. Rev. 3d ed.New York, 2005. Well-written introduction to Islam and contemporary developments in the Muslim world.
  • Fakhry, Majid. A History of Islamic Philosophy. 3d ed.New York, 2004. Excellent reference for the Muslim philosophical and theological schools.
  • Fattah, Hala. “ ‘Wahhabi’ Influences, Salafi Responses: Shaikh Mahmud Shukri and the Iraqi Salafi Movement, 1745–1930.”Journal of Islamic Studies14, no. 2 (2003): 127–148.
  • Ḥilmī, Muṣṭafā. Al-salafīyah bayna al-ʿaqīdah al-islāmīyah wa-al-falsafah al-gharbīyah (Salafīyah Between Islamic Doctrine and Western Philosophy). Alexandria, 1991. Discusses the Salafīyah from Western and Islamic perspectives, its objectives and role.
  • Hourani, Albert. Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 1798–1939. London, 1983. Chapters on Afghānī, ʿAbduh, and Rashīd Riḍā provide detailed background and analysis of their life and views. Originally published 1962.
  • Ibn Bakr, Abū Yūsuf. Muḥāḍarāt fī al-salafīyah (Lectures on Salafīyah). Shibin al-Koum, Egypt, 1990. Sample of the intellectual orientation of contemporary Salafīyah.
  • ʿImārah, Muḥammad. Tayyārāt al-fikr al-islāmī (The Trends of Islamic Thought). Cairo, 1982. Overview of the classic Islamic intellectual schools.
  • ʿImārah, Muḥammad. Tayyārāt al-yaqaẓah al-islāmīyah al-ḥadīthah (The Trends of the Modern Islamic Awakening). Cairo, 1982. Overview of the Islamic reformist movements and modernist intellectual trends.
  • Jābirī, Muḥammad ʿĀbid al-. “Al-ḥarakah al-salafīyah wa-al-jamāʿah al-dīnīyah al-muʿāṣirah fī al-maghrib” (The Salafīyah Movement and the Contemporary Religious Community in Morocco). In Al-ḥarakah al-islāmīyah al-muʿāṣirah fī al-waṭan al-ʿarabī (The Contemporary Islamist Movement in the Arab World), pp. 187–235. Beirut, 1989.
  • Jurshī, Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-. “Al-taʿthīrāt al-salafīyah fī al-tayyārāt al-islāmīyah al-muʿāṣirah” (The Influence of the Salafīyah on Contemporary Islamic Trends). Ishkālīyat al-fikr al-islāmī (Islamic World Studies Center), no. 1 (1991): 203–230.
  • Kedourie, Elie. Afghani and ʿAbduh: An Essay on Religious Unbelief and Political Activism in Modern Islam. London, 1997.
  • Kerr, Malcolm H.Islamic Reform: The Political and Legal Theories of Muḥammad ʿAbduh and Rashīd Riḍā. Berkeley, 1966. Thorough analysis of ʿAbduh's and Rashīd Riḍā's legal thought.
  • Merad, ʿAlī, et al.“Iṣlāḥ.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2d ed., vol. 4, pp. 141–171. Leiden, 1960–.
  • Shakʿah, Muṣṭafā al-. Islām bi-lā madhāhib (Islam without Doctrinal Sectarianism). 5th ed.Cairo, 1976. Excellent study of Islamic sects, theological and intellectual schools.
  • ʿUthmān, Fatḥī. Al-salafīyah fī al-mujtamaʿāt al-muʿāṣirah (The Salafīyah in Contemporary Societies). [Cairo, 1982?] Focuses on the Wahhābī movement and its influence on later Muslim thinkers and movements.
  • Weismann, Itzchak. Taste of Modernity: Sufism, Salafiyya, and Arabism in Late Ottoman Damascus. Leiden and Boston, 2001.
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