Analysis of the so called Sufi/Salafi Schism

By Sister Danya

First things first, we must define our terms. What is a Salafi? What is a Sufi?

From my understanding, Salafism is a movement started by Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh (who was ironically enough, a Sufi), and Rashid Rida. The movement was meant to be and “Islamic revival” movement. The founders believed that taqlid (imitation), particularly in matters of fiqh (jurisprudence) was one of the leading causes of Islam’s decline (particularly in relation Enlightenment-period Europe).

Sufism, on the other hand, at its core, is a science developed over the centuries that bring one close to Allah. Traditionalists (ie, those who follow madhhabs, are within one of the three schools of creed, and espouse some form of tasawwuf) believe it to be one of the three branches of Islam (derived from Islam, Iman, and Ihsan). A Sufi, as I like to see it, is a master of Sufism. The students of Sufism, are not Sufis, but in a sense, “Sufi-wannabes.” I like to liken the term “Sufi” to the term faqih (legal scholar).”

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~ by usma on 11, April, 2007.

One Response to “Analysis of the so called Sufi/Salafi Schism”

  1. salam..interesting observation, though i think sufi and salafi are not diametrically opposed. There are many fuqaha who espouse the following of madhhab’s but who do not necessarlily accept tasawwuf either…
    the issues which make up the sufi-salafi divide are the disagreements with regards to Shaykhs/Bay’ah, grave visiting, tawassul, istighatha, mawlid, dhikr in a group, taking the name of ‘Allah’ singularly as a form of dhikr etc and other issues.

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