African Salafism

Authored by: Terje Østebø

Routledge Handbook of Islam in Africa

Print publication date:  December  2021
Online publication date:  December  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367144234
eBook ISBN: 9780367144241
Adobe ISBN:


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There is much ambiguity in terms of how Salafism is understood as an empirical phenomenon and how it is used as an analytical concept. This is partly because it often occurs rather uncritically in the media and in public discourses and partly due to the fact that Salafism represents a phenomenon encompassing a broad range of issues. This chapter gives an overview of features and trends inherent in what I call African Salafism, focusing on issues such as the role of African agency, quests for religious purity, and processes of politicization of purity. The concept of African Salafism is obviously not unproblematic, as it may give the impression that we are dealing with a phenomenon that can neatly be delineated, and that it is characterized by a certain set of features making it distinct from other forms. It is important here to recognize that African Salafism signifies the representation of Salafism on the African continent, as something shaped by the African realities, and which obviously would contain significant local varieties.

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