The word “Salaf” means the past of something, its origin, its roots, its primal source. The origins of Salafi thought are deep in the sands of the Arabian Peninsula. Salafi thinkers and theologians believe that the Islamic civilization will be cured of all ills, and thrive and flourish again once Muslims adopt and apply the Islamic codes, law, norms and values to their everyday lives as they were in the 7th century during the time of the Prophet Muhammad and his first four successors, known as Al-Khulafa-ur-Rashidun, The Rightly-Guided Caliphs.
The Salafis believe that the establishment of the Caliphate (a global Islamic cultural, political, and religious entity) is a marathon process, which has to be achieved mostly through preaching, education, social activities, voluntarism, charity work, and political action. As a side note, some Salafi inspired groups have given up the idea of changing and affecting their environment, and out of despair have chosen to physically segregate themselves into their own communities believing that their efforts to improve society through encouraging Muslims to return to the values, morals and codes of the early days of Islam are fruitless.
The core belief of Salafi-Jihadi ideology (represented by groups like Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Islamic Jihad, etc.) is also that Islam will thrive again once it adopts the codes, laws, and values as they were in the time of the Prophet Muhammad and his first four successors. However, unlike the Salafi affiliated organizations, in order to implement the codes, law, and values, Salafi-Jihadists call for proactively and violently (militantly) spreading and implementing their ideology.
The values and goals of Salafi-Jihadi Militant Islam are:
- To immediately and urgently create a global Islamic cultural, political, and religious entity known as Khalafa / Caliphate in which no other independent or sovereign state exists.
- The Caliphate will be ruled by a Khalifa / Caliph. The word Khalifa is part of a term Khalifat Rasul Allah, which translated means “the Replacer of Allah’s Messenger” – Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam.
- The Caliphate will be governed and ruled by Islamic law; the Shari’ah (literally translated “the path”).
- They believe that the Shari’ah, the moral and religious law, is the Master Plan given by Allah (literally translated “the God”) to mankind. As such, it is the manifestation of Allah’s ultimate will, and therefore people should live their life only according to the Shari’ah.
- Accordingly, the Shari’ah should be the only source of legislation and the supreme governing authority, and should govern all areas of life – public and private.
- Therefore, every aspect of life in the Caliphate will be conducted according to the strict orthodoxy of the Sharīʿah.
- To overthrow all current political structures in the Muslim and Arab world.
- In the eyes of the followers of Militant Islam, the current governments and rulers in the Muslim and Arab world are illegitimate because they do not rigidly enforce Sharīʿah.
- Any other political philosophy or political system (communism, democracy, socialism, etc.) is unacceptable because it is man-made, therefore it is imperfect, unjust, and doomed to fail. Furthermore, adopting these systems is in defiance of Allah’s will.
- To wage war on the West and its values, which are perceived to threaten the Islamic religion and the Islamic civilization.
- They completely reject political frameworks, ideologies, and values that are not Islamic.
- They oppose, and are in direct conflict, with Western values such as gender equity, homosexuality, liberalism, pluralism, secularism, etc. They are less tolerant of diversity, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, human rights, individualism, liberty, open-mindedness, etc. because they view western values as an imminent and existential threat to Islam.
- They believe that a global caliphate should be achieved through a short, intensive process – and that all means necessary to achieve it are acceptable, including—and primarily using—violence. Violence is justified for the sake of establishing the caliphate.
- To wage war on the Jews.
- Absolute and uncompromising opposition to the existence of the State of Israel.
- The animosity towards Israel is justified upon Islamist theology.
- According to the ideology of Salafi-Jihadist Militant Islam, Jews are not a nation. Judaism, as a religion was once a valid religion, but the Jews betrayed the Divine Mission that they were given by Allah, – to spread Allah’s rule and justice upon the land – and therefore, he punished them and dispersed them in the world and sent Islam as the real religion to guide mankind.
- Therefore, in the eyes of Salafi-Jihadist Militant Islam, the existence of Israel is not only unjustified because Jews are not a nation; but the existence of Israel is a direct defiance of Allah’s will.
The total devotion and commitment of the individual is needed to achieve these objectives.
- Stemming from its rigid ideology and clear goals, Militant Islam praises two core values.
- One is talb a-shahada (the quest for martyrdom).
- In Militant Islam, life is not the most sacred value; there is a higher and nobler objective—and that is the glory of Islam and the establishment of Allah’s rule over the human race. Muslims are expected to not only be willing to sacrifice their lives, but also to want to sacrifice their lives.
- The second value is jihad (an effort).
- Jihad comes from the broad Arabic concept of jihad fi sabil Allah (an effort to implement Allah’s way). In the very early phases of Islam, jihad referred to an intensive spiritual journey of Muslims to reach a higher degree of inner purity in their beliefs, and a purer worship of Allah. Throughout the evolution of Islam, it has become much more violent. *
- One is talb a-shahada (the quest for martyrdom).