Salafist Muslims in general,
and Saudi Arabia (the home of many Salafists) in particular, did not like an event which took place in August 2016 at Grozny, Chechnya, Russia. This under-publicized event was an international Islamic Conference. Over 200 leading Sunni imams, scholars and clerics, including from Egypt, India, Russia, Syria, Turkey, Britain, Lebanon, South Africa and Jordan, attended. The purpose of the conference was to bring Muslims together and to answer the question of what it meant to be a Sunni Muslim. The Sunni leaders in attendance made a point of distancing themselves and disassociating from Salafist people and groups, the most famous of which is ISIS. According to many commentators, this important event didn’t receive the wide coverage that it should have due to the influence of Saudi Arabia, who assert that the conference was designed to exclude Wahhabi Salafism.
Salafist, Wahhabi and Takfiri
The key Sunni leaders at the conference made it clear that the radical, violent and murderous actions of some Arabs calling themselves Muslims (Salafist, Wahhabi or Takfiri) did not represent Islam. Although the main 2 sects of Islam are Sunni and Shia, there are some smaller branches. Salafist, Wahhabist and Takfiri Muslims are the kind of extremists some associate with radical Islamic terrorism. The 3 terms are often used interchangeably, although technically, a Salafist is one who practices fundamental Islam (from the Arabic term “salad” [predecessors, ancestors] used to identify the earliest Muslims). Wahhabism is synonymous with Salafism and is named after Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, a fundamentalist Muslim who lived in Saudi Arabia from 1703-1792. Takfiri denotes a Muslim who accuses another Muslim of apostasy (i.e. being a non-believer or kafir). The accusation itself is called a takfir. Many writers now refer to groups like ISIS as Salafist-Takfiri, because they claim the right to declare, as they see fit and according to their interpretation of Muhammad’s teachings and Islam, any Muslim an apostate, as well as any non-Muslim…