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    Katz, Kimberly 2012. URBAN IDENTITY IN COLONIAL TUNISIA: THE MAQĀMĀT OF SALIH SUWAYSI AL-QAYRAWANI. International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 44, Issue. 04, p. 693.

  • International Journal of Middle East Studies, Volume 44, Issue 1
  • February 2012, pp. 71-92



The Islamic reformist movement known as Salafism is generally portrayed as a relentlessly literalist and rigid school of religious thought. This article pursues a more nuanced picture of a historical Salafism that is less a movement with a single, linear origin than a dynamic intellectual milieu continually shaped by local contexts. Using 1930s Aden as a case study, the article examines how a transregional reformist discourse could be vulnerable to local interpretation and begins to unpack the transformation of Salafi activism from a broad, doctrinaire, and, above all, foreign ideology to an integral part of local religious discourse. It situates reform within an evolving Islamic discursive tradition that in part developed as a result of its own theological logic but was equally shaped by local and historically contingent institutions, social practices, and power structures. It thus explores Salafism as a dynamic tradition that could be adapted by local intellectuals to engage the problems facing their own communities.

Corresponding author
Scott S. Reese is an Associate Professor in the Department of History, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Ariz.; e-mail:
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Itzchak Weismann , “Between Ṣūfī Reformism and Modernist Rationalism—A Reappraisal of the Origins of the Salafiyya from the Damascene Angle,” Die Welt des Islams 41 (2001): 206–37

Michael Francis Laffan , Islamic Nationalism and Colonial Indonesia: The Umma Below the Winds (London: Routledge-Curzon, 2003)

Samuli Schielke , “Hegemonic Encounters: Criticism of Saints-day Festivals and the Formation of Modern Islam in Late 19th and Early 20th-century Egypt,” Die Welt des Islams 47 (2007): 319–55

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International Journal of Middle East Studies
  • ISSN: 0020-7438
  • EISSN: 1471-6380
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-middle-east-studies
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