Coded Language Among Muslim Activists: Salafīs and the Prophet’s Sermon of Necessity


in Die Welt des Islams
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This article examines how use of the Prophet Muḥammad’s Khuṭbat al-ḥāja (Sermon of Necessity) became a distinguishing marker of Salafism. To understand the Sermon’s role, the article draws on the notion of “coded language,” messages that communities use to communicate with insiders while excluding outsiders. The article analyzes the content of the Sermon and describes its spread among Salafīs. The Sermon was championed by Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī (1914-99), who played a pivotal role in shaping Salafī practice. Relating the Sermon’s spread to methodological debates about studying Salafism, the article suggests that the Sermon furnishes one empirical criterion that can be used to date Salafism’s crystallization to the mid-twentieth century. The article closes by examining how jihādīs selectively use the Sermon to “Salafize” their speech, and by discussing how instances of opposition to the Sermon’s use were connected to debates over the validity of Salafism and the status of al-Albānī.


Coded Language Among Muslim Activists: Salafīs and the Prophet’s Sermon of Necessity


in Die Welt des Islams

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References

11

 Quintan Wiktorowicz“Anatomy of the Salafi Movement”Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 29 (2006) 207-39; Haykel “On the Nature of Salafi Thought and Activism” 47-50; and Daniel Lav Radical Islam and the Revival of Medieval Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2012).

13

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 Ian Haney-LopezDog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Wrecked the Middle Class (New York: Oxford University Press2014) 3.

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 Chanfi AhmedWest African ʿulamāʾ and Salafism in Mecca and Medina: Jawāb al-Ifrῑqῑ - The Response of the African (Leiden: Brill2015); and David Commins “From Wahhabi to Salafi” in Saudi Arabia in Transition: Insights on Social Political Economic and Religious Change ed. Bernard Haykel Thomas Hegghammer and Stéphane Lacroix (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2015) 151-66 pp. 155-61. Worth mentioning here is Reinhard Schulze’s distinction between the “Salafiyya” of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and what he calls the “neo-Salafiyya” that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s. Schulze’s “neo-Salafiyya” however is an extremely broad category that is not tied to any theological position and includes groups ranging from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to Morocco’s Istiqlal Party. This categorization is not compatible with the scholars cited above or with my own. See Schulze A Modern History of the Islamic World translated by Azizeh Azodi (New York: New York University Press 2002) 96.

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 LauzièreMaking of Salafism14.

38

 Ibid. 6; and Lauzière“What We Mean Versus What They Meant By ‘Salafī’: A Response to Frank Griffel”Die Welt des Islams 56 (2016) 89-98.

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 LauzièreMaking of Salafism31-32.

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 Frank Griffel“What Is the Task of the Intellectual (Contemporary) Historian? – A Response to Henri Lauzière’s ‘Reply’”Die Welt des Islams 56 (2016) 249-55p. 255.

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 See for example Erin Augis“Dakar’s Sunnite Women: The Dialectic of Submission and Defiance in a Globalizing City” in Tolerance Democracy and Sufis in Senegaledited by Mamadou Diouf (New York: Columbia University Press2013) 73-98.

46

 Al-AlbānīKhuṭbat al-Ḥāja3. Qurʾanic translation adapted from Abdullah Yusuf Ali The Holy Qurʾan: Text Translation and Commentary Fourth Edition (Elmhurst New York: Tahrike Tarsile Qurʾan 2004).

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 BrownCanonization323-24.

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 BrownCanonization324.

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 Al-AlbānīKhuṭbat al-ḥāja4-5.

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 Al-AlbānīKhuṭbat al-ḥāja10.

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 Al-AlbānīKhuṭbat al-ḥāja16.

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 Al-AlbānīKhuṭbat al-ḥāja36-37.

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 BonnefoySalafism in Yemen54-59.

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 Frank VogelIslamic Law and Legal System: Studies of Saudi Arabia (Leiden: Brill2000) 78.

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 Frank VogelIslamic Law and Legal System: Studies of Saudi Arabia (Leiden: Brill2000) 80-81.

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 Daniel LavRadical Islam and the Revival of Medieval Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2012) 55.

93

 LavRadical Islam55.

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 Sayyid QuṭbMa‘ālim fī al-ṭarīq (Cairo: Kazi Publications1964).

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 Lawrence WrightThe Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Vintage Books2007) 56.

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 Eli Alshech“The Doctrinal Crisis within the Salafi-Jihadi Ranks and the Emergence of Neo-Takfirism: A Historical and Doctrinal Analysis”ILS 21:4 (2014) 419-52.

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