Salafis’ everyday lives, social relations, and attitudes towards both Muslims and non-Muslims are often shaped implicitly or explicitly by the theological concept of al-wala’ wa-l-bara’
(“loyalty and disavowal”). It indicates whom to be loyal to on the one hand, and whom to disavow on the other hand—or from which persons, deeds, and practices one should distance oneself. However, within the highly heterogeneous spectrum of Salafi orientations, beliefs, and religious practices, interpretations of al-wala’
differ as well as its actual relevance and its implications for concrete life situations. This article explores how Muslims in Germany who identify themselves with non-violent, so-called ‘purist Salafism’ perceive and practice social relations, social closeness, or separation in their everyday lives by drawing implicitly or explicitly on principles of loyalty and disavowal. Based on qualitative interviews and participant observations (data gathered between 2014 and 2018), we shed light on how individuals’ ideas of loyalty and disavowal intersect with issues of identity, belonging, inclusion, and exclusion. The article thus shows how local interpretations and implementations of a Salafi core concept are strongly interwoven with realities of everyday life.
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