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.
Quintan Wiktorowicz“Anatomy of the Salafi Movement”Studies in Conflict & Terrorism29 (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).
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.
Henri Lauzière“The Construction of Salafiyya: Reconsidering Salafism from the Perspective of Conceptual History”IJMES42:3 (2010) 369-89; and Lauzière The Making of Salafism: Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century (New York: Columbia University Press 2015).
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.