RADICAL ISLAM IN AMERICA: Salafism's Journey from Arabia to the West

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RADICAL ISLAM IN AMERICA: Salafism's Journey from Arabia to the West, Christopher Heffelfinger, Potomac Books Inc., Dulles, VA, 2011, 135 pages, $29.95.

Sounding less like a scholar then an FBI agent on his third cup of coffee, Chris Heffelfinger in Radical Islam in America compiles too many names and numbers while barely scratching the surface of the sociopsychological complexities of Salafi Islam, the initially apolitical Salafi movement started by Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab in Saudi Arabia.

Salafism calls for traditionalism as set forth by 13th-century Islamic scholars, and it calls for Muslims to return to Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama'a. However, unrest ranging from anti- Colonialism sentiments in the 1800s to anti-Western hegemony sentiments in the 1990s divided Salafism into various sects. Dogmatic, albeit initially benign, scholarly discussions gave way to violent social activism meant to establish Sharia laws.

The author repeats one point nearly verbatim in almost every chapter: Salafism transcended international boundaries, fueled by a vast ever-growing pool of mismanaged petrodollars and a new common Muslim identity. …


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