Common questions


Islamism is a concept in which the individual interpretation of Islam not only defines the personal relationship with God, but also determines an all-encompassing societal and federal system of order. These interpretations can contradict each other, and thus create a heterogeneous movement without clear consensus of common content.

The term “Salafism”

The term “Salafism” is derived from the Arabic name of the first three generations of Muslims. These “righteous forefathers”, the “al-salaf al-salih”, serve as a model for most Muslims due to their proximity to the Prophet Muhammad. Using the term “Salafism” is problematic, because a term which has positive connotations for most Muslims is being used to describe a specific, highly politicised scene outside the majority of Islam. Although the term is common both in scientific and media discourse, an alternative should be found for the long-term. Especially as referring to Salaf, does not lead to the derivation of clear ideological contents, which movements make clear which also refer to Salaf, however, see this as a way of connecting to modern times. 


Contrary to the reference to the first generations of Muslims, Salafism describes a rigorous purist reform movement of modern times, which developed from a combination of the Whahabi doctrine of faith and political Islamism.

In turn, internationally, heterogeneous movements emerged from this combination. In Germany, the emergence of such a movement has been increasingly observed since around the turn of the millennium.

Indicative for Salafist scenes in Germany is less a common, specifically detailed, theological foundation, but more the perception of being the only true Muslims and the associated rejection of other Islamic movements, the superficial connection to the first Muslim generations by means of a dress code or behaviours, public missionary work with a distinctive reference to Germany and the life worlds of young people here, as well as an absolute claim to truth based on a literal interpretation of selective contents from the Quran and Sunnah.

Appeal of Salafist offers

The religious offerings are not the main appeal of Salafism, but rather its ability to address young people in their life worlds. 
Different to many established associations, which are often organised according to countries of origin or religious movements, the Salafist offerings are aimed at young people from all backgrounds. Salafism offers them, among other things, a simple identity pattern, clear guidelines for a “correct” life and ordered daily routines, the integration into a group of “brothers”, which offers a feeling of belonging and support, a bipolar world image, in which “Muslims” are suppressed by “the West” and in which experiences of marginalisation or injustice can be classified and strengthened, however, through missionary work also provides the feeling of doing something good for Muslims, taking responsibility and bettering oneself and earning respect by spreading the “divine truth”. The variety of motifs of people from different backgrounds for joining the Salafist scene demonstrates the necessity of a wide range of prevention offers, which can address young people in their individual situations.

Situation in Germany

Currently, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution associates around 11000 people with the Salafist scene. In the Saarland a figure of 200 recorded people has been reported. 


The appeal of Salafist offerings through clear uniqueness and missionary work, which is specifically addressed to the life worlds of young people, demonstrates the necessity for prevention, which shields young people against these offerings of uniqueness. In this context, prevention is not necessarily aimed at a specific group, but it should strengthen and stabilise positive attitudes across society.