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L.I.S.A. Redaktion | 01/11/2017 | 4415 Views | Movies by the Gerda Henkel Foundation |

Taking Charge of Faith: Salafism and the Balkans

The Spectre of Salafism | Episode 1

Islam has a long historical tradition in the Balkans. In the course of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the 14th century various Muslim currents also took root in Southeast Europe. One of them is Salafism, considered an ultraconservative fundamentalist strand of the Islamic faith and which is currently above all associated with terrorism motivated by an Islamicist outlook. In a project supported by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, Islamic scholar Prof. Simeon Evstatiev from Sofia University is researching the ambiguous forms of Salafism in the Balkans and in particular in his native Bulgaria. He is interested in how Salafism justifies the jihad, which religious sources it cites, and how the Koran is interpreted. His research trip initially takes him to a town on the edge of Bulgarian society that is settled by Roma.



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The Research Project
"The project seeks to understand modern Salafism as a complex transnational Islamic movement that evokes normative texts and paradigmatic historical antecedents. I focus on Salafiyya comparing them with strict Ḥanafīs in interrelated contemporary and historical contexts included in provinces of the former Ottoman Empire. Proposing an ethnography of modern Salafism in the Balkans, I thus suggest a parallel historical amplification of an early modern trajectory of revivalist Islam as represented by the spread of the seventeenth-century Istanbul-based Qāḍīzādeli movement. The project draws on both ethnographic and historical evidence, and the pursuit of its intermediate goals will result in integrating the revealed Salafī patterns of adherence to Islam vis-à-vis alternative forms of “fundamentalist” Islam, particularly strict Ḥanafism, into the large of Islamic history. The project will contribute to the ongoing academic and societal discussions on Islamic fundamentalism and to the definition of Salafism as a contemporary and historical phenomenon via debate and publications. The main product of the research will be a monograph – the first history of Salafism in the Balkans."

Project leadership

Prof Dr Simeon Evstatiev



Academic Project Manager
Prof Dr Simeon Evstatiev

Editorial Teams
Peter Prestel  

Camera Technicians
Martin Pogac

Editing Technicians
Martin Pogac

Overall Planning Teams
Gisela Graichen and Peter Prestel

All episodes
The Spectre of Salafism
Episode 1
Discovering evidence in the National Library
Episode 2
The Grand Mufti
Episode 3
Traditionalists and Salafis
Episode 4
New Self-confidence
Episode 5
Visiting a Woman
Episode 6
The general interview with Prof Dr Simeon Evstatiev
Episode 7

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