Salafi Violence and Sufi Tolerance? Rethinking Conventional Wisdom

Mark Woodward, Muhammad Sani Umar, Inayah Rohmaniyah, Mariani Yahya


It is often assumed that there is a strong correlation, if not a causal relationship between varieties of Muslim thought and violent tendencies. Salafism is often associated with intolerance and violence and Sufism with tolerance and nonviolence. In this article we demonstrate that these assumptions are baseless. Based on analysis of historical and contemporary cases from Southeast Asia and West Africa, we show that there is no significant correlation between theology and violent tendencies. Some violent groups are Sufi and others Salafi, while some non-violent groups are Salafi, others Sufi. Policy makers are therefore ill-advised to use theological orientation as a factor in assessing the violent potential of Muslim movements and organisations. 

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Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

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