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Salafis in Cape Town in Search of Purity, Certainty and Social Impact

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Salafism has become part of a public discourse in Cape Town since the last decade of the 20th century. Drawing on extensive interviews with a number of such Salafis and anti-Salafis, this article examines how this search was manifested and then negotiated within the local religious sphere of the city. This article confirms the view presented in the general literature that Salafism represented the aspiration of individuals who desired to chart an independent approach to Islamic practices. Nevertheless, by focussing attention on a number of individuals and measuring their successes, strategies and life-trajectories, the social dimension of Salafi practices is brought into sharp focus. Salafis were not only effective as lone figures who were prepared to break away from everybody; they were also involved in founding communities for their ideas. And in this regard, they could not escape the social contexts in which they found themselves.

Affiliations: 1: Cape Town


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