‘One of the most important questions that human beings have to understand’

Salafism as Islamic deferentialist fundamentalism



Salafism, Fundamentalism, Deferentialism, Inferentialism, Theofundamentalism


In the present article, the authors argue that the study of Salafism as a contemporary Islamic new religious movement could benefit from an analytical perspective separating fundamentalism into the modes of inferentialism and deferentialism. The basics of these concepts are outlined and discussed in relation to different aspects of contemporary Salafism as well as in relation to previous tendencies in Islamic history. As a case study, the authors employ the concept in an analysis of a contemporary Swedish Salafi discourse on the ‘wiping of the (leather) socks’ in the context of ritual purity. The authors argue that the concept of ‘deferential fundamentalism’ has a potential in the study of Salafism in that it allows for comparative analysis, both cross-religiously and diachronically, in contextualising Salafism historically. It also allows for an analysis of Salafi thought and practice in relation to theories of how human beings in general process social information.




How to Cite

Olsson, S., & Svensson, J. (2022). ‘One of the most important questions that human beings have to understand’: Salafism as Islamic deferentialist fundamentalism. Approaching Religion, 12(2), 59–76. https://doi.org/10.30664/ar.112804