MYTH: Salafi Jihadism and Saudi-sponsored Global Terror


by Abu Khuzaimah Ansari, Abu Hibban, and Abu Rumaisah

Modern writers have directed multifaceted attacks on Saudi Arabia by spreading a calculated smear campaign and all sorts of malicious allegations, ranging from; Saudi Arabia promotes terror and violence, it harbors extremists, sponsors militant Islam worldwide and is responsible for the global threat against humanity through radicalization and terrorism. This is and are, indisputably shameless lies that only emanate due to a lack of knowledge and a deliberate concerted effort to malign Saudi Arabia and ultimately Salafi school of thought, whereas the concise truth and reality could not be furthest from the truth in relation to these baseless allegations. Cdr Youseff H. Aboul-Enein writes:

The Saudi Kingdom as a government has tamed Militant Islamists and settled back to Salafi Islamists trends, spreading its peculiar and intolerant brands of Islam through dawa and not violence [1].

This contradicts the views and claims of other writers, that Saudi Arabia promotes violence, this in of itself shows the fallacy of their arguments. Some writers have expanded on this discourse while explaining key facts associated with Saudi Arabia. They say Saudi Arabia is known to spread Salafism and according to the definition of Salafism, which I must add, is self-concocted and a fabrication, in order to justify their narrative and an understanding that conforms to their falsehood. In reality, all such terms related to Salafism are false as there is only one type of Salafism. I am referring to terms like ‘Quietist Salafism,’ ‘Political Salafism’ and Jihadi Salafism,[2] which, undoubtedly apart from minor fact of being conjured up to categorize modern trends, is outright erroneous.

We can deliberate on this later, but when Jessica Stern; a research professor out of Boston University and who also served on the Clinton administration’s National Security Council Staff and J.M Berger; a fellow with George Washington University’s programme on extremism, explained these terms,[3] whilst borrowing them from Quintan Wiktorowitz.[4] According to their definition of ‘Quietist Salafism’ they say:

The quietist faction is, in a sense, the strain of Salafism that has responded the least to the world events of the twentieth century. Individuals in this group understand their central project to be the purification of Islam and do not participate in politics.[5] Though there are quietists Salafis across the Muslim world, the center of gravity for this movement is the existing religious establishment in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is somewhat atypical for a country in the Muslim world, but the very things that make it unique have made is hospitable to the quietists.[6]

On one hand, many like J. Stern and J.M. Berger, the example here; argue that Saudi Arabia has been an influential champion of Salafism, and we know from the first principles of Salafism; that it vehemently denounces, rejects, refutes and openly warns against terrorism, extremism and militancy. However, both writers, naively allude to:

It suggests, in a sense, that Saudi Arabia is responsible for movements such as ISIS because of the role that the Saudi Arabian government played in facilitating the spread of Salafism across the region.[7]

As injudicious and untruthful as it sounds, which is undoubtedly the case, this diatribe would have been just ridiculed and brazenly dismissed as a very poor judgment of error, but to add insult to injury, they quote an article of Ed Hussain as evidence![8] This article is a culmination of half-truths and some rudimentary information, spun to give a repulsive intent; the authors quote it to suggest a colossal claim, this has but except caused them stern embarrassment. Furthermore, both writers have themselves defined Salafism as:

Salafism is a loosely organised movement within Sunni Islam…but there are core features to the movement. Salafism is call for a return to the beliefs, practises and sincerity of early Islam. In fact, the term “Salafism” is a direct reference to these early years, and refers to the first few generations of Muslims, known as the salaf. Salafis prefer the Islam of these early Muslims and believe that centuries of human interpretation – influenced by pre-existing religious traditions, cultural biases, political agendas and individual self-interests – have corrupted Islam and led to decline across the Muslim world.[9]

So, should it not be the case for anyone who “suggests,” that at the very least they look at the teaching, ideology and methodology of the Salaf, who the Salafis ascribe to, with regards to the modern trends and themes and labelling Salafism and thus Saudi Arabia being responsible for the terrorist group, ISIS?

Is this not a huge leap over clear facts and perhaps total disregard for the truth while ignoring fundamentals precepts of Salafism. We find further contradictions in the understanding of these modern writers, and this is the case with most of them. They, Cdr Youseff H. Aboul-Enein argue that Saudi Arabia spread Islam through daʿwah and not violence, where as Stern and Berger argue Saudi Arabia exported their brand of Salafism which ultimately and by default led to the formation of ISIS and their activities. However, when have ISIS ever been at the forefront of giving daʿwah and in a non violent manner, in fact the total opposite. ISIS have killed Muslims openly, is this the daʿwah that is being referred to? These basic points are indeed sufficiently adequate to show the intelligent mind – the fallacy of these points suggested and hypothesized by these writers.

Some writers have focussed on the Wahhabīs as a movement and have also obviously projected a vivid view of the association between them and Salafism. Malise Ruthven labels the Wahhabīs as fundamentalists and asserts they formed close ideological ties with the Muslim Brotherhood from around circa 1960 to spread Wahhabī fundamentalism.[10] This is also a gross error chronologically and also false because their ideology and the ideology of the Wahhabis and Salafis is poles apart, in doctrine and in methodology (Manhaj).

Even in recent times, when Saudi Arabia has continued its efforts in curbing radicalisation and fighting terrorism, ISIS continues its campaign of terror in the Kingdom and there have been at least Nine separate incidences of violence and terror attacks carried out with ISIS claiming responsibility. So much so that even the holy sanctuary of Madīnah and the Prophet H‘s mosque was not spared by these mindless terrorists, while the people were preparing to pray and break their fast in the Holy month of Ramadhān.

Saudi Arabia has seen terrorism and violence in its Kingdom prior to 9/11, from around 2000, with an increase in the violent terrorist attacks year by year, with the most recent being July 2018. Does a country subject its citizens and its visitors, who are protected and under the safety of the sovereign state; to violent terrorism, suicide bombings, destruction of property and life, indiscriminate senseless killings? Of course not! Then how do these modern writers, without any regard for the truth and respect for the dead, hurl baseless and false allegations at Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism and Salafism for the spread of violent terrorism. Foreign secret services although implicated, were surprising cleared by the police of their country, very conveniently of any involvement, but the allegations of foreign involvement in destabilising Saudi Arabia with a relentless campaign of terror are very much still on the table.

This short treatise of the Saudi Arabian Salafī scholar, Shaykh ʿAbd al-Muḥsin b. Ḥamad al-ʿAbbād al-Badr is a repudiation of the people whose ideology is to cause corruption and chaos throughout the lands. They cause destruction and devastation physically; to life and property as well as emotional and psychological trauma to all those affected by their reckless killing, suicide bombings and indiscriminate killing under the satanic principle of ‘collateral damage’. In current times various groups and organisations have arisen, whose intent is to kill innocent civilians, Muslims and non-Muslim, the elderly, women and children. Such heinous crimes are severely reprimanded in Islam and they also oppose its pristine teachings based on divine scriptures. These wicked and evil people distort and manipulate the scriptural texts, so that they conform to their whims and desires.

This treatise, ‘With What Reasoning and Religion Can Bombings and Destruction Be Considered as Jiād?of Shaykh ʿAbd al-Muḥsin addresses the important issues of killing innocent people, suicide bombings and senseless destruction, which was authored after the Riyadh bombings in 2003. This treatise also clarifies the Salafist view on the unlawfulness of suicide bombings, violent terror, the killing of innocent people and the sanctity of human life, which the Salafis have always advocated. Let this treatise also serve as a reminder to the detractors, who exert considerable effort to discredit the teachings of Salafiyyah, which is free from the so called brands of Salafism. We pray that individuals affected with the ideas of the Khawārij and extremists, benefit from this treatise while reading it with an open and sincere mind.

Abu Khuzaimah Anṣari, Abu Ḥibban, and Abu Rumaiṣah are preachers based in Birmingham-UK.

References:[1] Cdr Youseff H. Aboul-Enein, Militant Islamist Ideology – Understanding The Global Threat, (Annapolis, Naval Institute Press, 2010), 106

[2] Shiraz Maher, an ex Hizb al-Tahrir member, authored ‘Salafi-Jihadism, The History of an Idea’, where he discusses themes revolving around Salafism and Jihad. Immaturely, he traverses the whole book with the misleading term, ‘Salafi-Jihadism’ (Hurst Publication, 2016, Penguin Books, 2017).

[3] Jessica Stern & J.M Berger, ISIS, The State of Terror, (London: William Collins, 2016), 265-268.

[4] Quintan Wiktorowitz, Anatomy of the Salafi Movement, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, (2006) 29:3, 207-239.

[5] Quintan Wiktorowitz, Anatomy of the Salafi Movement, 218.

[6] Jessica Stern & J.M Berger, ISIS, The State of Terror, 265-266.

[7] Jessica Stern & J.M Berger, ISIS, The State of Terror, 268.

[8], accessed, October, 2018.

[9] Jessica Stern & J.M Berger, ISIS, The State of Terror, 263.

[10] Malise Ruthven, Fundamentalism – The Search for Meaning, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004), 138

The article first published on

Share post:



Malala Yousafzai likens Taliban’s treatment of women to apartheid in Mandela lecture

"It's so important for the international community to not...

Height of Radicalization: Pakistani Teen Vows to Kill Hindus for Not Converting to Islam

The interview sheds light on the presence of radicalization...

India’s Economy surges with fastest growth in a year, propelled by strong services activity

Reuters This once again makes India the fastest growing major...

Anti-drone systems, 130,000 security officers to guard India’s G20 Summit

Reuters The city will be guarded by nearly 130,000 security...