Salafi Ritual Purity
In the Presence of God
Routledge – 2013 – 384 pages
Series: Islamic Studies Series
Since 9/11, Salafism has attracted a great deal of attention from the world’s media, which predominantly focuses on its potential for revolutionary violence. Salafism remains poorly understood both in Western media, where it is now the focus of considerable debate, and in Western academia, where until recently it was virtually undiscussed. In neither arena has a consensus emerged regarding what Salafism is or does.
This pioneering work fills this lacuna by redirecting the reader towards the sphere of ritual practice, within which the discussions of contemporary Salafi scholars prove equally revolutionary. Taking the theme of ritual purity (tahara) as the leitmotif of modern Salafism, this work combines an analysis of key developments in ritual purity law with detailed ethnographic investigations into ritual purity behaviour in specific Cairene settings.
The author’s research not only bridges the gap between anthropological and Islamicist approaches to Muslim ritual, but highlights the variety of ideas and experiences that contribute to Egyptian Salafism today. This book will be of interest to students of Islamic studies, Anthropology, Religious studies, as well as Middle East studies in general.
PART I: Salafism and Purity Introduction: Salafism and Purity: Natural Bedfellows 1. Purity and the Search for Meaning 2. En Route to Purity: Charting Egypt’s Salafi Map PART II: Ritual Purity in Cairene Salafi Settings 3. Pure Bodies, Purer Hearts 4. Surface Dirt 5. The Purest Pearls PART III: Salafism after the Uprisings 6. End of the Liminal Era?: Coalitions, Copts and Costa Salafis 7. Conclusion
Richard Gauvain is Associate Professor of Middle East Studies at the American University in Dubai.