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Who are “the” Salafis?

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Insights into lifeworlds of persons connected to Salafis(m) in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

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This article explores the lifeworlds of so-called Salafi(st)s in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, by examining the ways their beliefs impact upon their everyday lives, identities, and religious practices. Based on participant observation, informal talks, and in-depth interviews conducted with persons visiting mosques ascribed to apolitical “puristic Salafism” (salafiyya ʿilmiyya), the article is intended to shed light on their ways of life, convictions, and everyday practices by presenting four case studies. The subjects of our case studies show a highly heterogeneous and individual synthesis of personal guidelines for conducting what they call a “good Muslim life”, according to their translation of the role model of the salaf ṣāliḥ (“the pious ancestors”, i.e. the first three generations of Muslims) as well as a heterogeneity in their emic identity ascription and definition of what Salafism means to them.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Islamic Studies, University of CologneGermany ; 2: Department of Islamic Studies, University of CologneGermany


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