This essay constructs and deconstructs three main discourses created by different and opposing trends in modern Islamic thought that are normally and mistakenly lumped together as Islamism, fundamentalism, salafism, neo-salafism, Wahhabism, jihadism, political Islam, Islamic radicalism and others.
Orthodox Sunni Muslims believe that they are the true bearers of pure Islam since the time of al-salaf and that they, therefore, have roots in al-salaf. They are represented however today by the four surviving authentic schools of Islamic jurisprudence: Hanafi, Shafi‘i, Maliki, and Hanbali schools (madhahib). This is on the one hand. On the other, the Wahhabis -- who claim to be the champion of Sunni Islam -- perceive the Sunnis as having been wrong for over ten centuries and have been living a state of pre-Islamic paganism (jahiliyya [literally, ignorance]) since they moved away from the way of al-salaf. They even accused the majority of orthodox Sunni Muslims who were living under the Ottoman caliphate and the caliphate itself of reprehensible innovation (bid‘a) and unbelief (kufr) because they had been living under a political system that is unknown to al-salaf .
Admin: This is reminiscent of the "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin" debates in Christianity. The key issue for non-Muslims here is really the four schools of sharia law.