The literature on Salafism that emerged after the Arab Spring has discerned important changes within this highly orthodox Islamic movement from 2011 onwards. Most notably, it has emphasized the growing importance of political Salafism,[1] a previously largely unknown current within Salafism that is characterized by political engagement, such as the formation of political parties or politico-religious movements, and, thus, differs from both the non-political quietist and the jihadist Salafist current.[2]

Both this recent literature and the actual efforts of Middle Eastern Salafists to enter into politics following the widening of political space after Arab Spring have, to a large degree, been inspired by the case of Egypt where the Salafist party al-Nour won around 24 percent of the vote in the 2011 elections and became the second strongest force in the first post-Mubarak parliament.[3]

Several representatives of the research on Salafism assume that the integration of politically ambitious Salafists into the formal political process can promote a certain degree of tolerance and pragmatism, the emergence of proto-democratic practices and the renunciation of violence within the Salafist spectrum, while the political marginalization of Salafist actors will foster religious radicalization.[4] This assumption is in line with the influential inclusion-moderation hypothesis, which posits that the inclusion of Islamist actors into the existing political systems contributes to their ideological and strategic moderation while their exclusion from formal avenues of political participation radicalizes them.[5]

The recent research on Salafism has focused almost entirely on the Middle East, while neglecting other world regions, such as Asia. However, the region of former British India, and, especially, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh that emerged from the partition of India in 1947 and 1971, respectively, provide interesting insights into the trajectories that the development of political Salafism can take. In this region, the Ahle Hadith school of thought, the South Asian variant of Salafism,[6] has a tradition of political activism that predates the emergence of political Salafism in the Middle East. For instance, pioneers of the Ahle Hadith movement organized Muslim peasant rebellions against big, mostly Hindu landowners (zamindars) during the colonial period, founded sharia courts to defy the jurisdiction of the colonial administration, and undertook other efforts to establish para-state structures. Following the partition of India, some Ahle Hadith leaders in Pakistan were active party members of the Muslim League in the region of East Bengal that later became Bangladesh.[7]

The Ahle Hadith: South Asia’s Salafists

The South Asian school of Islamic thought that self-identifies as Ahle Hadith (the People of Hadith)[8] adheres to the core tenets of Salafism, owing to the facts that Ahle Hadith and Salafist scholars mostly draw on the same thinkers, including Ibn Taymiyya,[9] and that followers of the Ahle Hadith school have interacted with Wahhabi intellectuals and institutions since the 19th century.[10] Like their Salafist counterparts in the Middle East, the Ahle Hadith aim to return to the ‘only’ original ‘true’ version of Islam as it was supposedly practiced by the Prophet and his Companions. In so doing, they consider the Qur’an and the Hadith as the only legitimate sources of both religious and legal authority and reject the practice of taqlid (imitation), refusing to follow any of the established schools of Islamic jurisprudence (madhhabs) and asserting instead that the answers to all religious and worldly questions are clearly laid out in these holy scriptures. Owing to their quest to revive the (purportedly) only correct version of Islam, both Ahle Hadith and Salafist believers aim to cleanse the Islamic faith of erroneous innovations (bid’a). Accordingly, followers of the Ahle Hadith school of thought also echo the Salafist focus on the utmost adherence to the principle of the oneness of God (tawhid) and, consequently, reject the syncretistic traditions often associated with South Asian Sufi Islam, regarding them as impermissible polytheism (shirk).[11]   

Owing to this large degree of ideological convergence, the Ahle Hadith are normally considered as Salafists in the literature on Pakistan,[12] while experts on Bangladesh rather tend to consider the Ahle Hadith movement as a school of religious thought that is very similar to but not completely identical with Salafism.[13]

Lack of Popular Appeal and Political Influence

Despite that some of the movement’s leaders were involved in political resistance as early as during the British colonial period, political activists of the Ahle Hadith have largely failed to gather popular support and to develop noteworthy influence in the electoral politics of present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh. In Pakistan, the Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith (MJAH), Pakistan’s main Ahle Hadith organization, which traces its origins back to the All India Ahle Hadith Conference of 1906, established itself as a political party in 1986. It pursues a strongly sectarian approach, vehemently rejects ‘Western’ influences, and aims to establish a political system based on the sharia (Islamic law). The party controls the Wafaq al Madaris al Salafiyya, the umbrella organization of Ahle Hadith madrassahs in Pakistan, and has affiliated sectoral organizations, including the Ahle Hadith Youth Force that has considerable mobilizing capacity among the youth.[14]

Nevertheless, the MJAH’s ability to mobilize voters has remained extremely limited, and the party has been entirely unable to win any parliamentary seats on its own, forcing it to rely on alliance politics in order to establish a limited presence in the political arena.[15]For instance, the MJAH was part of the Muttahida-Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), a heterogeneous alliance of six diverse Islamist parties that won 11.3 percent of the vote in the 2002 polls, a result that was to no small extent due to the military’s backing of this alliance. Absent this support, the MMA became largely meaningless from the 2008 elections onwards.[16] In addition, an “allianc(e) of convenience”[17] with the conservative Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz Sharif (PLM-N) group has allowed the MJAH to be represented in parliament. Most notably, the MJAH’s amir, Professor Sajid Mir, contested the 2002 elections not on an MJAH but on a PLM-N ticket[18] and acts as a PLM-N senator up to the present day.[19] On this basis, the International Crisis Group (ICG) characterizes the MJAH as “far from influential”.[20] Similarly, Mariam Abou Zahab states that the MJAH’s activists “remain a tiny minority” who lack popular appeal beyond certain sections of the middle class,[21] while Bizaa Zeynab Ali describes the party’s influence on the Pakistani political system as “small but disruptive,” owing to its ability to organize street protests.[22]

In present-day Bangladesh, the organization that calls itself Bangladesh Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadith (BJAH) claims to have more than 25 million followers but has largely remained outside politics.[23] However, in 1978 Dr. Muhammad Asadullah Al-Ghalib, a former member of the BJAH, established the youth organization Ahle Hadith Jubo Sangha (AHJS), which in 1994 transformed itself into the Ahle Hadith Andolon Bangladesh (AHAB), an orthodox religio-political organization that has since aimed to turn Bangladesh into an Islamic state.[24] The AHAB soon developed the structure of a political movement, establishing a network of mosques, madrassahs, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and publishing houses and setting up affiliated front organizations for women, youth and children.[25] In 2006, the AHAB announced its plans to form a political party named Insaf (Justice) and contest at least 60 seats in the 2007 parliamentary elections,[26] which were suspended, however, following a military coup on January 11, 2007. When Bangladesh returned to electoral politics in December 2008, the AHAB could not follow up on its plans, and in 2010 the local press still speculated about the Ahle Hadith movement’s ability to successfully launch a political platform.[27]

Both in Bangladesh and in Pakistan, the lack of independent political influence of politically active Ahle Hadith groups can be traced to the facts that in both countries secular traditions retain influence and that moderate Islamic beliefs, often based on Sufi practices, are relatively widespread.[28] Although the public image of Pakistan has been tainted by several terrorist attacks, the majority of the Pakistani population adheres to moderate interpretations of Islam and rejects religious extremism.[29] Whenever elections have been free and fair, all Islamist parties together have never achieved more than 10 percent[30] and sometimes bagged only between 5 and 6 percent of the popular vote.[31]In the secular state of Bangladesh,[32] since 2001 the combined vote share of all Islamist has constantly remained between approximately 5 and 6 percent with the lion’s share of these votes being won by the Jamaat-e-Islami,[33] a more pragmatic Islamist party that is sometimes described as the Asian variant of the Muslim Brotherhood.[34]

Moreover, in both countries the Ahle Hadith spectrum is characterized by a high degree of factionalism,[35] bringing Ahle Hadith activists who participate in the existing political systems into conflict with both quietist and jihadist groups. In Pakistan, for instance, openly militant groups, such as the Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT), which has committed terrorist attacks in India,[36] and the LeT’s “sister organization” Jamaat-ul Da’wa (JuD, named Markaz Da’wa wal Irshad until 2001) that aims to spread the Ahle Hadith faith through charitable activities,[37] have rebuked the MJAH for lacking commitment to engage in jihad.[38]

Blurred Boundaries with the Violent Spectrum

While the politically active Ahle Hadith organizations in both Pakistan and Bangladesh officially portray themselves as following non-violent approaches,[39] there are overlaps between these groups and the terrorist spectrum, especially in Pakistan. Since 1989, for instance, the MJAH has a jihadist wing called Tehrik-e Mujadhidin that fights against the India administration in Kashmir and has some recruits who have reportedly trained in Afghanistan.[40] Moreover, the MJAH’s amir Sajid Mir has repeatedly spoken at gatherings of the militant LeT and its civilian front[41], the JuD.[42] The limited available literature on the topic indicates that the endorsement of jihadist violence by politically active Ahle Hadith in Pakistan can be traced predominantly to the strategic interests of the Pakistani state and, associated therewith, the Pakistani military’s support for jihadist activities in the conflicts in Kashmir and Afghanistan.[43] Under these circumstances, both Ahle Hadith and other Islamist parties have become able to “mediat(e) between militants and the state,”[44] encouraging not only the MJAH but also several other Islamist parties to maintain jihadist wings.[45] For instance, this also includes the Pakistani JI that officially adheres to non-violence, exhibits similarities with the Muslim Brotherhood and attaches great importance to political work and the aim to Islamize society through state politics.[46]   

In Bangladesh, both the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen-Bangladesh (JMB) that has claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks, including over 400 countrywide bombings in 2005, and other Sunni terrorist groups adhere to the Ahle Hadith strand of religious thought.[47] Ali Riaz and Kh. Ali Ar Raji argue that the AHAB and the JMB once worked together to establish an Islamic state in Bangladesh.[48] Similarly, several press reports and policy analyses have described the AHAB’s founder Dr. Muhammad Asadullah Al-Ghalib as the JMB’s ideological guide and as being personally close to Abdur Rahman, the JMB’s main leader, allegations that Ghalib has denied.[49] In 2005, Ghalib was arrested on accusations of terrorism, but was later acquitted, leading some to question the adequacy of his arrest.[50] However, personal overlaps existed between the JMB and the AHJS, the youth wing and predecessor organization of the AHAB, as several JMB cadres were active or former AHJS members.[51] Just like the JI and its student wing, the Islami Chattra Shibir, which have also seen some of their former members join the terrorist JMB in leading positions,[52] politically active Ahle Hadith groups thus appear to be largely unable (or unwilling) to moderate religious zealots who not gradually, but instantly want to turn Bangladesh into an Islamic state.[53]

Trajectories of Political Salafism: South Asia and Beyond

An analysis of the Ahle Hadith movement in Pakistan and Bangladesh provides interesting insights into the conditions that shape the development of political Salafism. Most notably, such an analysis suggests that the efforts of Salafist groups to participate in the existing political systems are neither always successful, nor do they necessarily make these groups — and the wider Salafist spectrum — more moderate. With regard to the conditions that may render the political participation of Salafist groups unsuccessful, the case of Pakistan and, even more so, the case of Bangladesh, indicate that in national contexts where secular and moderate Islamic traditions remain socially and politically relevant, political Salafists usually fail to gather the popular support necessary to achieve independent political influence. In addition, these cases also show that factionalism within the Salafist spectrum can deprive political Salafists of even the support of their fellow Salafist believers.

As far as the circumstances accounting for the lack of moderating effects of Salafist political participation are concerned, the case of Pakistan suggests that military support for jihadist activities in conflicts in neighboring countries promotes the blurring of boundaries not only between political and jihadist Salafist organizations but also between Islamist political parties and militant outfits more generally. Concurrently, the case of Bangladesh indicates that in largely secular states and societies personal overlaps between moderate and violent Islamist — including Salafist — groups may sometimes result from the inability of religious hardliners to achieve social and political impact through non-violent political participation.

A glance at the Maghreb, where secular and moderate Islamic traditions likewise remain influential, suggests that some of these insights might also be relevant beyond the South Asian context. Notably, in all three Maghreb states, the influence of political Salafists has remained limited after the Arab Spring. Concurrently, Tunisia has seen its formerly main politico-Salafist movement, the Ansar al-Sharia, turn to jihadist militancy, while Salafist political leaders in Algeria have made public statements that can clearly be seen as endorsing Islamist violence.[54] While in Algeria, the lack of the Salafists’ political cloud can also be traced to the authoritarian character of the political system in which Salafist political participation has remained largely banned, the cases of Morocco and Tunisia aptly illustrate the lack of popular support for Salafist parties in largely moderate societies. Specifically, in Morocco, none of the Salafist leaders who campaigned on the tickets of existing political parties was elected in the 2016 elections.[55] Similarly, in Tunisia where Salafist parties were legalized after the ‘Arab Spring’ their vote share in the 2014 elections was vanishingly small. Despite the moderate Islamic beliefs of most Tunisians, factionalism within the Salafist spectrum and the inclination of ideologically radical Salafist believers to support jihadist rather than political Salafist groups likely also account for this result. For instance, a leader of the country’s most established Salafist party, Jabhat al-Islah, stated in an interview that sometimes radical Salafist youth had pressured their whole families not to vote, because for them democracy was haram (forbidden), leading them to reject any form of electoral participation, including to vote for Salafist parties.[56]

On a more general level, these cursory elaborations show that when studying the phenomenon of political Salafism there is value in looking beyond the Middle East and in engaging in cross-regional comparisons as well.


[1] See Aaron Zelin, “Who is Jabhat al-Islah?” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, July 18, 2012,; Anna K. Zajac, “Between Sufism and Salafism: The Rise of Salafi Tendencies after the Arab Spring and Its Implications,” HEMISPERES 29, 2 (2014), esp. 5; Francesco Cavatorta, “Salafism and the Arab Spring,” Critical Muslim 10 (2014), esp. 68, 71, 74; Laurent Bonnefoy, “Quietist Salafis, the Arab Spring and the Politicisation Process,” in Francesco Cavatorta and Fabio Merone (eds), Salafism after the Arab Awakening: Contending with People’s Power(London: Hurst & Company, 2016): 205-206; Mohammed Masbah, “Salafi Movements and the Political Process in Morocco,” in Cavatorta and Merone (eds), Salafism after the Arab Awakening, 83-98; Roel Meijer, “Conclusion. Salafis and the Acceptance of the Political,” in Cavatorta and Merone (eds), Salafism after the Arab Awakening, esp. 223, 230-237.

[2] On the distinction between quietist, political and jihadist Salafists see Quintan Wiktorowicz, “Anatomy of the Salafi Movement,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 29 (2006): 207-239; and Francesco Cavatorta, “Salafism and the Arab Spring,” 64-68.

[3] Jasmin Lorch and Annette Ranko, Salafisten im Maghreb: Politische Ambitionen nach dem „Arabischen Frühling,“ GIGA Focus Nahost 7 (December 2016): 2-3,

[4] For example, see Anna K. Zajac, “Between Sufism and Salafism,” esp. 5, 15; Francesco Cavatorta, “Salafism and the Arab Spring,” 74; Georges Fahmi, “The Future of Political Salafism in Egypt and Tunisia,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, November 16, 2016,; Mohammed Masbah, “Moving towards Political Participation. The Moderation of Moroccan Salafis since the Beginning of the Arab Spring,” SWP Comments 1, January 2013, Berlin: Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP); Stefano M. Torelli, “The Multi-Faceted Dimensions of Tunisian Salafism,” in Cavatorta and Merone (eds), Salafism after the Arab Awakening, esp. 159, 164.

[5] For an overview, see Jillian Schwedler, “Can Islamists Become Moderates? Rethinking the Inclusion-Moderation Hypothesis,” World Politics 63, 2 (2014): 347-376.

[6] On this characterization see further below.

[7] For example, see Mumtaz Ahmad, Ahl-e-Hadith Movement in Bangladesh: History, Religion, Politics and Militancy, Iqbal International Institute for Research & Dialogue (IRD), International Islamic University Islamabad, 2006,

[8] Nipu Roy, “What is the Ahl-e Hadith Movement?”  Dhaka Tribune, March 11, 2018,

[9] Christophe Jeffrelot, “South Asian Muslims’ Interactions with Arabian Islam until the 1990s,” in Christophe Jaffrelot and Laurence Louer (eds), Pan-Islamic Connections. Transnational Networks between South Asian and the Gulf (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017): 26.

[10] Ayesha Siddiqa, “Pakistani Mardrasas: Ideological Stronghold for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States,” in Jaffrelot and Louer (eds), Pan-Islamic Connections, 60-61; Christophe Jaffrelot, “South Asian Muslims’ Interactions with Arabian Islam until the 1990s,” 24-28; 40; Christophe Jaffrelot and Laurence Louer, “Introduction: The Gulf-South Asia Religious Connections. Indo-Islamic Civilization vs. Pan-Islamism?” in Jaffrelot and Louer (eds), Pan-Islamic Connections, 13.

[11] Christophe Jaffrelot and Laurence Louer, “Introduction: The Gulf-South Asia Religious Connections,” 13; Mariam Abou Zahab, “Salafism in Pakistan. The Ahl-e Hadith Movement,” in Roel Meijer (ed.), Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009): 127-128; OMICS International: Ahlehadeeth Movement Bangladesh; Scott S. Reese, Imperial Muslims. Islam, Community and Authority in the Indian Ocean 1839-1937 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018): 143. On the core tenets of Salafism see: Roel Meijer, “Introduction”, in: Roel Meijer (ed.), Global Salafism, esp. 3-6.

[12] For example, see Bizaa Zeynab Ali, The Religious and Political Dynamics of Jamiat Ahle-Hadith Pakistan, Columbia Academic Commons,; Christophe Jaffrelot and Laurence Louer, “Introduction: The Gulf-South Asia Religious Connections,” 13; Mariam Abou Zahab, “Salafism in Pakistan.”

[13] Interview, Dhaka, March 7, 2017.

[14] Madeeha Anwar, “Pakistani Coalition Vows to Impose Sharia if Elected,” VOA Extremism Watch, June 7, 2018,; Mariam Abou Zahab, “Salafism in Pakistan,” 131; Samina Yasmeen, Jihad and Dawah. Evolving Narratives of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamat Ud Dawah (London: Hurst and Company, 2017) 41.

[15] See esp. Bizaa Zeynab Ali, The Religious and Political Dynamics of Jamiat Ahle-Hadith Pakistan, 2-3.

[16] International Crisis Group (ICG), Islamic Parties in Pakistan, Asia Report N°216 (December 12, 2011): i, 1-2, 5-6, 14-15. See also Bizaa Zeynab Ali, The Religious and Political Dynamics of Jamiat Ahle-Hadith Pakistan, 2-3. On the military’s backing of the MMA in the 2002 elections, see ICG, Islamic Parties in Pakistan, 1,5.

[17] ICG, Islamic Parties in Pakistan, 2.

[18] Bizaa Zeynab Ali, The Religious and Political Dynamics of Jamiat Ahle-Hadith Pakistan, 2-3; ICG, Islamic Parties in Pakistan, 4.

[19] Senate of Pakistan,

[20] ICG, Islamic Parties in Pakistan, 2.

[21] Mariam Abou Zahab, “Salafism in Pakistan,” 141.

[22] Bizaa Zeynab Ali, The Religious and Political Dynamics of Jamiat Ahle-Hadith Pakistan, 14-16, quote on 16.

[23] American Foreign Policy Council, World Almanac of Islamism 2011 (Lanham, Boulder, New York, Plymouth, UK: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc., 2011) 665.

[24] Ali Riaz and Kh. Ali Ar Raji: “Who are the Islamists?” in Ali Riaz and C. Christine Fair (eds), Political Islam and Governance in Bangladesh (Oxon: Routledge, 2011): 46-70.

[25] “Ahle Hadith: New moves in religion-based politics,” PROBE News Magazine, September 23, 2010,

[26] Abu Sufian, “Ahle Hadith to Contest 60 Seats in 2007 election,” Bdnews24, September 3, 2006,; “Ahab to Float ‘Insaf’, Contest Next Elections,” The Daily Star, September 2, 2006,

[27] “Ahle Hadith: New moves in religion-based politics.” To date, the 2008 elections remain to be the last elections that saw broad political participation, as the 2014 elections were boycotted by virtually all parties that opposed the ruling, secular Awami League (2008 to present).

[28] On Bangladesh see, for example, Jasmin Lorch, Politischer Islam in Bangladesh. Wie schwache Staatlichkeit und autoritäre Regierungsführung islamistische Gruppen stärken, SWP Studie, S 34, November 2008, Berlin: Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), 5-9, 12-13, 20; Jasmin Lorch,  “Islamization by Secular Ruling Parties: The Case of Bangladesh,” Politics and Religion (2018): 1, 11, 22, On the prevalence of moderate Islamic traditions in Pakistan see Christian Wagner, “Der ‘Islamische Staat‘ in Südasien,” in Felix Heiduk (ed), Das kommende Kalifat? Islamischer Staat in Asien, SWP Studie 2018/S 09, Berlin: Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), 27, 37. On the debate about secularism in Pakistan see, for example, Humeira Iqtidar and David Gilmartin, “Secularism and the State in Pakistan,” Modern Asian Studies 45, 3 (2011): 491-499. 

[29] Christian Wagner, Brennpunkt Pakistan. Islamische Atommacht im 21. Jahrhundert(Bonn: Dietz, 2011).

[30] Ahsan I. Butt, “Street Power: Friday Prayers, Islamist Protests, and Islamization in Pakistan,” Politics and Religion 9 (2016): 1.

[31] Christian Wagner, “Der ‘Islamische Staat‘ in Südasien,” 27.

[32] Jasmin Lorch, Politischer Islam in Bangladesh, 5-9, 12-13, 20; Jasmin Lorch, “Islamization by Secular Ruling Parties: The Case of Bangladesh,” 1, 11, 22.

[33] Ali Riaz, “Islamist Parties, Elections and Democracy in Bangladesh,” in Quinn Mechan and Julie .C. Hwang (eds), Islamist Parties and Political Normalization in the Muslim World (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press): 163-165.

[34] Humayun Kabir, “Beyond the Jamaat-e-Islami: The Political Rise of the Deobandis, the Mystic Leaders, and Islamism in Bangladesh,” in Ingrid Mattson, Paul Nesbitt-Larking, and Nawaz Tahir (eds), Religion and Representation. Islam and Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015): 51.

[35] On Pakistan see Mariam Abou Zahab, “Salafism in Pakistan,” 130; on Bangladesh see Mumtaz Ahmad, Ahl-e-Hadith Movement in Bangladesh.

[36] Christian Wagner, “Der ‚Islamische Staat‘ in Südasien,” 28.

[37] Animesh Roul, “Jamaat-ud Daawa: Into the Mainstream,” ETHzürich, Center for Security Studies, May 19, 2015,, accessed 27 September 2018.

[38] Mariam Abou Zahab, “Salafism in Pakistan”, 134, 137.

[39] On the Pakistani MJAH see Bizaa Zeynab Ali, “The Religious and Political Dynamics of Jamiat Ahle-Hadith Pakistan,” 10; ICG, “Islamic Parties in Pakistan,” 25; on the Bangladeshi AHAB and its main leader Muhammad Asadullah Al-Ghalib see “Ahle Hadith: New moves in religion-based politics.”

[40] ICG, Islamic Parties in Pakistan, 24; Mariam Abou Zahab, “Salafism in Pakistan,” 131.

[41] Christian Wagner, “Der ‘Islamische Staat‘ in Südasien,” 24.

[42] ICG, “Islamic Parties in Pakistan,” 14.

[43] Bizaa Zeynab Ali, “The Religious and Political Dynamics of Jamiat Ahle-Hadith Pakistan,” 10-11; Mariam Abou Zahab, “Salafism in Pakistan,” 130, 141.

[44] ICG, “Islamic Parties in Pakistan,” 21.

[45] Ibid., 21-24.

[46] Humayun Kabir, “Beyond the Jamaat-e-Islami,” 68-73; telephone interview, JI leader, February 27, 2017; interview, JI adviser, Dhaka, March 4, 2017. It is noteworthy in this regard that the JI is a transnational Islamist movement that maintains branches in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

[47] “Ahle Hadith: New moves in religion-based politicsNipu Roy, “What is the Ahl-e Hadith Movement?”. 

[48] Ali Riaz and Kh. Ali Ar Raji: “Who are the Islamists?”

[49] See, for example, Andrew Holt, “Islamists Pose an Increasing Threat to Stability in Bangladesh,” Terrorism Focus 3, 2 (January 2006),; Anwar Ali, “Ahab Chief Ghalib Still Engaged in Spreading Militancy. Alledge Jamaat-e Ahle Hadith Leaders,” Daily Star, October 2, 2009,; Waliur Rahman, “Bangladesh Bombs Suspect Arrested,” BBC News, Dhaka, August 22, 2005,

[50] See, for example, “Ahle Hadith: New moves in religion-based politics”; Mumtaz Ahmad, Ahl-e-Hadith Movement in Bangladesh.

[51] Anwar Ali, “Ahab Chief Ghalib Still Engaged in Spreading Militancy,” “Prof. Yunus Murder. 8 JMB Men Charged,” Daily Star, September 11, 2007,

[52] International Crisis Group (ICG), “Bangladesh Today,” Asia Report N° 121 (October 23, 2006): 18-19; Shamim Ashraf, “All 7 JMB Shura men had links to Jamaat, Shibir,” The Daily Star, April 28, 2006.

[53] For instance, an exiled leader of the JI stated that if former JI members were to be found in terrorist groups this meant that they were too radical for the JI and had, thus, left the party in order to join more militant organizations; see telephone interview, JI leader, February 27, 2017.

[54] Jasmin Lorch and Annette Ranko, “Salafists in the Maghreb Region: Political Ambitions in the Aftermath of the Arab Spring,” GIGA Focus 7 (December 2016) [full text in German],

[55] Hanspeter Mattes, Islamistischer Wahlsieg in Marokko lost Krise bei der Regierungsbildung ausGIGA Focus 5 (November 2016): 6,; Lorch and Ranko, “Salafists in the Maghreb Region,” 7.

[56] Interview with a high-ranking leader of Jabhat al-Islah, Tunis, 6 October 2016; also cited in Lorch and Ranko, “Salafists in the Maghreb Region,” 6.

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