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Tue Jan 24, 2012, 06:09 AM

As Egypt's new parliament convenes, eyes on ultraconservative salafis

Salafis want to roll back the clock to their vision of sixth-century Islam. They captured a quarter of the votes, far more than many expected.
By Kristen Chick, Correspondent / January 23, 2012

(Cairo) As Egypt's new parliament holds its first session today, the Muslim Brotherhood took its seat at the head of the table, with a parliamentary plurality after decades of being hounded by the Egyptian security state.

But what's really interesting – or alarming, depending on your perspective – is the faction playing second fiddle: Nearly one quarter of the new representatives will come from the ultraconservative salafi movement that follows a strict interpretation of Islam like what is practiced in Saudi Arabia.

The official results from nearly two months of staggered voting, released Saturday, show that an alliance of salafis led by the Nour Party won about 25 percent of the seats. The alliance led by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party took about 47 percent, meaning that Islamist parties will make up about 70 percent of the first parliament since the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak.

While the strong showing of the Freedom and Justice Party was expected, few had predicted that parties following a stricter interpretation of Islam would capture so many votes. Now the spotlight will be on the Nour Party as Egyptians wait to see how it will handle its new power.


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Reply As Egypt's new parliament convenes, eyes on ultraconservative salafis (Original post)
ellisonz Jan 2012 OP
Violet_Crumble Jan 2012 #1
ellisonz Jan 2012 #2

Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 05:43 AM

1. Are Salafis the same thing as Wahabbists?

I hadn't heard of them till I read this article....

Anyway, I knew that Egypt was a socially conservative country, but the results for the Islamist parties surprised me, as I didn't think it'd be that large...

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Response to Violet_Crumble (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 25, 2012, 09:08 PM

2. Here you go:

As the second definition has predominated, the terms "Wahhabism" – which also pays great respect to Ibn Taymiyyah – and "Salafism" are now often used interchangeably. Followers of Salafiyyah consider it wrong to be called "Wahhabis" due to the 16th Name of Allah, al-Wahhab (the Bestower) and to be called a "Wahhabi," they see it as being associated equal to Allah, which the Salafis strictly prohibit anything being associated with Allah. Wahhabism has been called a "belittling" and derogatory term for Salafi,[41] while another source defines it as "a particular orientation within Salafism,"[39] an orientation some consider ultra-conservative,[46][47] and yet another describes it as a formerly separate current of Islamic thought that appropriated "language and symbolism of Salafism" until the two became "practically indistinguishable" in the 1970s.[48]

Scholar Trevor Stanley states that while the origins of the terms Wahhabism and Salafism "were quite distinct" – "Wahhabism was a pared-down Islam that rejected modern influences, while Salafism sought to reconcile Islam with modernism" – they both shared a rejection of "traditional" teachings on Islam in favor of direct, more puritan reinterpretation.

Stéphane Lacroix, a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at Sciences Po in Paris, also affirmed a distinction between the two: "As opposed to Wahhabism, Salafism refers here to all the hybridations that have taken place since the 1960s between the teachings of Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab and other Islamic schools of thought. Al-Albani’s discourse can therefore be a form of Salafism, while being critical of Wahhabism."[49]

But despite their beginnings "as two distinct movements", the migration of Muslim Brotherhood members from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and Saudi King Faisal's "embrace of Salafi pan-Islamism resulted in cross-pollination between Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab's teachings on tawhid, shirk and bid‘ah and Salafi interpretations of ahadith (the sayings of Muhammad).[50]

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