The following is a summarised extract from the second chapter of The Battle for British Islam by Sara Khan with Tony McMahon. The chapter describes how Salafists and Islamists once competed against each other before realising they could more effectively achieve their aims by uniting. The result has been an extremist wave that has overwhelmed British Islam today.
Throughout the 1990s, two ideological strands competed for the loyalty of British Muslims seeking a globalised Islamic identity: Islamism and Salafism. The former operated like a political party advocating a caliphate governed by sharia law; the latter called for what it believed were the traditions and teachings of the first three generations of Muslims during and after the life of the Prophet.
Both opposed integration into wider British society and offered an identity based entirely on faith. Otherwise they were in opposition to each other. On university campuses, the two sides clashed and violence was not unknown. But after 9/11, the dynamic changed dramatically. With the emerging War on Terror, Islamists and Salafists replaced competition with co-operation.
They were not only reacting to counter-terrorism legislation, which they characterised as a war against the whole of Islam, but also the emergence of community groups advocating a reconciled British Muslim identity. This was anathema to them. Realising that the reconciled view would attract many ordinary Muslims, they went on the attack.
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