Indonesia's Salafist Sufis
Howell, Julia Day.
Date of Issue2009
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Islam's devotional and mystical tradition, Sufism (tasawwuf), is commonly cast as antithetical to Salafi Islam. Self-identified 'Salafis', with their ideological roots in anti-liberal strands of twentieth century modernist islam, do commonly view Sufis as heretics propagating practices wrongly introduced into Islam centuries after the time of the pious ancestors (the Salaf). Yet reformist zeal the fixes on the singular importance of the Salaf (particularly the Prophet Muhammad and his principle companions) as models for correct piety can also be found amongst Sufis. This paper calls attention to the Salafist colouration of Sufism in two areas of popular culture : television preaching, and the popular religious 'how-to' books and DVDs that make the preachers' messages available for purchase. it reprices the teachings of two of the best known Indonesian Muslim televangelists, 'HAMKA' (b. 1908- d. 1981) and M. Arifin Ilham (b. 1969), both of whom also happen to be champions of Sufism, and analyses the different rhetorical uses each makes of references to the 'Salaf' and the notion of 'Salafist' Islam.
RSIS Working Papers ; 170/09