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Weaving Modernity in Salafism: A Comparative Study of Muhammadiyah and Izala Movements


This study examines the parallels between Muhammadiyah, the oldest and largest modernist Islamic movement in Indonesia, and Jama’atu Izalatil Bid’a Wa Ikamatus Sunnah, also known as Izala, the most significant Islamic reformist movement in West Africa, which originated in northern Nigeria. Concurrently, these groups share a common focus on socio-religious reform and a commitment to puritan Islam. It is undeniable that various Islamic movements/groups have existed and continue to exist outside the Arab world, but relatively few studies have focused on Islamic groups operating in West Africa or Southeast Asia, for example. This study highlights the importance of examining Islamic movements in regions beyond the Arab world, particularly in West Africa and Southeast Asia. The large Muslim populations in Indonesia and Nigeria offer a rich context for exploring the dynamics of Islamic movements. The research reveals, despite the groups’ Salafi-inspired ideologies, they mediate socio-religious reform, indicating the modernising rather than conservative aspects of Indonesian and Nigerian Islam. Within their respective contexts, these groups represent forms of reconstructed alternative modernity, or distinctly Islamic interpretations of modernity, which they define through executing their reform activities within Islamic frameworks. They navigate the complexities of modernity by balancing adherence to traditional values with adaptation to contemporary developments. Notably, the study is driven by a belief that comparative studies across different Salafi-inspired groups in distinct contexts could provide broader understanding of the evolving relationship between Salafism and modernity.


Indonesia, Izala, Modernity, Muhammadiyah, Nigeria, Salafism, Tajdid/reform



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