Despite the widespread of Salafism – scholarly, political and educational, the political elites deal with all of its trends as if they came from another planet without delving into its diversification and political participation after the Arab revolutions, which have changed the key players in the region.
The Arab revolutions have allowed some Islamist groups to rule in some countries or take part in the ruling of others.
The Salafists have joined the political race in a number of countries like the Gulf, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt. The Salafi rise has urged Jordanian author Mohammad Abu Rumman to write his book titled “Struggle for Salafism: A reading into Ideology, Disagreements and Spread.
The author delved into the different trends of Salafism and disagreements about a number of topics such as democracy, elections and many others. Abu Rumman pinpointed a number of transitions that hit the Salafi entity in the wake of political changes, which have turned them from isolation into the heat of the political scene.
The five-chapter book outlined the inter-Salafi conflict. In the first chapter, Abu Rumman talked about the Salafi presence in four Arab Gulf countries: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Yemen. He overviewed Salafism in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.
In the second chapter, he analyzed the Salafi presence in Egypt following the Arab Spring.
Salafists consider themselves people of Hadith who lived in the second and third Hijri centuries, according to the author.
The book, published by the Beirut-based Arab Network for Research and Publishing, has argued that the Salafi movements are divided over two main questions: the definition of the present Arab political status quo and the reform strategy.
The author divided the Salafi movements into four trends: traditional, Jamia (some Saudi Sufism), radical and jihadism. Inside each of the aforementioned Salafi movements conflict about the legitimacy of representation in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine.
The second chapter delves into the Salafi conflict in Syria, where Jihadi Salafism expanded due to sectarian chaos which nourishes this trend of Salafism, especially in the rural and suburban areas. The author has stressed it is difficult to predict the future of Salafism in Syria. The very same applies to Iraq, the author said, citing ISIS, which adopts an ideology of the Jihadi Salafism.
As for Lebanon, Abu Rumman said Salafism cannot be united in one entity due to its static ideology and changing from being loyal to the regime to opposition.
The author allocated the third chapter for Salafism in Egypt. He delved into what he described as the Salafi isolated islands in Egypt, especially after January 25, 2011. Some of them headed towards democracy in a way that raises a question if this transition is tactical or strategic.
This chapter has exposed the differences among Egypt’s Salafi groups. These differences have emerged after the January 25 revolution. Some Safalfists joined in the political scene. This trend is represented by Qutbi Salafism and led by takfiri Mohamed Abdel Maqsood, who fled Egypt.
A second Salafi trend disdained from the political scene according to Shaykh Al-Albani saying “It is political to leave politics alone”. This trend is led by a number of shaykhs like Mohamed Saeed Raslan, Hisham El-Bialy and Mahmoud El-Radwany.
Other Salafis remained silent considering what took place was a sort of sedition that should be avoided. The conflict about the constitution was the chariot that moved the Salafis from rejection of political engagement to the heart of the political race using the pretext of safeguarding the Islamic identity and to exploit democracy to reach power and dominate the parliament.
The fourth chapter delves into the political role of Salafis in the Arab world. It proposes two opposing suppositions. The first supposition is that the Salafi political parties will upgrade its ideology and discourse to be more pragmatic and realistic.
The second assumption predicts that Salafis will disdain from political engagement and that Salafis won’t be committed to the principles of democracy. Abu Rumman has not advocated any of the two assumptions as the experience is still in the making.