Islamism, Salafism, Jihadism

Dealing with the topic of "Salafism" initially triggers many uncertainties. This is because it is difficult to draw a clear line between Salafism and other movements such as "Islamism" or "jihadism. The relationship between ideology, militancy and terrorist violence is also not clear from the terms used.


Islamism is the name given to a political ideology whose origins go back to the early 20th century. Islamism is a form of extremism in which religious rules and norms of Islam (or those that are claimed to be so) are understood as concrete social and political instructions for action. The various forms of Islamism are represented by different organizations and parties. The goal is to reshape the legal system, state and society and to abolish the separation of state and religion. Central elements of a pluralistic society and principles of a free, democratic basic order, such as the separation of powers or human rights, are rejected. Violence to achieve goals is legitimized by part of the Islamist spectrum. The respective interpretation of Islam then offers controversial answers to central questions that arise in society. At the same time, the respective interpretation of Islam offers a binding guideline for individual and social life.


In its political-missionary and jihadist form, Salafism is an Islamist current. The term Salafism is derived from the Arabic "as-salaf as-salih," which means "the pious ancients. This refers to the first three generations of Muslims who lived at the time of the Prophet Muhammad or shortly thereafter. Their teachings and actions are regarded by Salafists as a binding model. They claim to understand the religious sources according to their wording. They see this as the only correct interpretation of Islam and reject other interpretations and contextualizations as developed over centuries in Islamic theology (cf. Seidensticker 2016, 24ff.). Salafists see it as their duty to proselytize both Muslims and people who are not of the Muslim faith and to convince them of the supposedly only true reading of Islam.  

  • Salafist purists
  • Political missionary Salafists
  • Salafist jihadists, see Jihadism above.
  • The Wahhabism line of tradition


Jihad means "effort", "struggle", "endeavor" or "commitment". Jihad is generally understood to mean an effort "in the way of God," by which is meant all efforts that serve this goal. Jihadists see violence as a legitimate means of achieving their goals. They justify violence as a supposed defensive struggle for Islam. To this end, they refer to the Islamic concept of jihad and use the term to legitimize their acts of violence. Yet the concept of jihad has different meanings in Islamic theology and is not necessarily associated with violence. Jihadists use the Internet and especially social media to spread their propaganda and present the use of violence as a religious act.

In order to combat agitation from the Salafist spectrum, pedagogically prepared material is needed in addition to commitment. The brochure "Salafism online. Recognizing propaganda strategies - escaping manipulation" by klicksafe and in cooperation with combines the specific know-how of competent organizations. The brochure can be ordered and downloaded from klicksafe.