Contemporary salafism and the Rightly Guided Caliphate: why is it emulated and what was its reality?
Urban, Jacob C.
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The contemporary Salafist movement idealizes the Rightly Guided Caliphate. Given the tumultuous nature of the period and the grandeur of the Golden Age of Islam that occurred several centuries later, its veneration seems paradoxical. To explain the reality of the Rightly Guided Caliphate and the reasoning behind its emulation, this study explores both the traditional historical account and the contemporary Salafist narrative of the period. Comparative analysis indicates that the period is revered, despite the paradoxical turmoil and violence associated with it, because it is perceived as the summit of both spiritual purity and temporal power in Islamic history. Contemporary Salafists long for a resurgence of Muslim power in the world but do not want to sacrifice religious purity to obtain it. The Rightly Guided Caliphate epitomizes this notion because its earliest generation was the most pure, in terms of the practice of Islam, of any Muslim generation. In addition, its seemingly miraculous expansion signified enormous temporal powerrelative to its competitors, who have since overtaken themthat is easily romanticized. Much of the periods violence is omitted from the narrative to protect an idealized remembrance of the states power, not its religious unity.
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