Since 9/11, Salafism came into the global spotlight as a vicious Islamic discourse justifying abhorrent violence. A tendency has developed to essentialise Salafism as a fringe movement of Islam which shares a close affinity to the Saudi Wahhabis that, by virtue of its fundamentalism, seeks the implementation of a new world order through violence. The reality is however more nuanced. In fact, some Salafists are better known as scriptural popularisers or quietists, while others have a strong belief in the electoral process. A closer scrutiny would reveal that Salafism and Saudi Wahhabism are not intimately related discourses, both being rather contextually contingent. This seminar will address these biases and, through a comparative perspective, will shed light on the various manifestations of Salafism and the socio-political factors which contribute to their diversity in the Middle East, Europe and Southeast Asia.
About the Speakers:
Dr Madawi al-Rasheed was Professor of Anthropology of Religion at King’s College, London (1994-2013). Before joining MEI, she was Visiting Professor at the Middle East Centre, London School of Economics. Professor Al-Rasheed specializes in the history, politics and society in Saudi Arabia. Her interdisciplinary research includes focus on Christian minorities in Iraq, Arab migration to London, Gulf transnational connections, gender relations in Saudi Arabia, and the Islamist movement. She has published widely on Saudi Arabia including, Muted Modernists: The Struggle over Divine Politics in Saudi Arabia, London (Hurst 7 Co. & Oxford University Press 2015) and A Most Masculine State: Gender, Politics and Religion in Saudi Arabia, Cambridge (Cambridge University Press 2013). At MEI, Al-Rasheed is working on a new research project on the resilience of monarchy in Saudi Arabia in the context of the Arab uprisings in 2011.
Dr Mohamed-Ali Adraoui is a Political Scientist and a Historian working on International Relations and Middle East politics. He received his PhD in Political Science at Sciences Po Paris (France) in 2011. In 2013-2015 he was a Max Weber fellow at the European University Institute (Florence), and was a Postdoctoral Researcher at Paris Saint-Denis University, and a part-time Lecturer at the Institute of Political Studies in Grenoble (France) in the field of History of Political Thought. His research is concerned with the history and development of Salafism, with a special focus on how the quietist approach to Salafism has impacted Western, particularly French, youth, and has gone global over the last few decades (mainly from Saudi Arabia to the rest of the world). He has published ‘Du Golfe aux banlieues. Le salafisme mondialisé’ (with English and Arabic versions coming soon). He has also edited a volume dealing with the foreign policies of Islamist Movements, ‘Les islamistes et le monde. Islam politique et relations internationales’. His current research is on the history of Jihadi thought. He is also involved in a project dealing with the US foreign policy towards political Islam.
Dr Mohamed Nawab Osman is the Coordinator of the Malaysia Program at RSIS. His research interests include the domestic and international politics of Southeast and South Asian countries, transnational Islamic political movements and counter-radicalization. Nawab has written various papers, books and journal articles relating to his research interests. Some of these articles have been featured in prominent journals such as Southeast Asia Research, South Asia, Terrorism and Political Violence, Indonesia and the Malay World and Contemporary Southeast Asia. Several of his opinion pieces have been featured in leading dailies such as The Straits Times, India Express, The Nation (Thailand), Jakarta Post, Manila Times and Today’s Zaman (Turkey). Nawab is a frequent commentator on political Islam, terrorism and Southeast Asian politics on CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera and Channel News Asia. Nawab is a social activist and serves as the President of Critical Xchange, an organization that seeks provide a mutually beneficial platform for Muslim citizens and incoming expats to exchange news, views and skills with the local Singaporean community. He also sits in the boards of Association of Muslim Professionals and Jamiyah Singapore. In 2014, he was nominated to attend the inaugural Young Southeast Asian Leader’s Initiative, a program initiated by President Barack Obama. He also attended the inaugural YSEALI workshop in Singapore as a mentor. Nawab has attended a number of prestigious fellowship program organized by the governments of the United States, France and China.