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Yemeni Salafis Reject Terrorism

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    Posted: 24 January 2010 at 8:02am
Yemeni Salafis reject terrorism accusations

Mohammad Bin Sallam


SANA’A, JAN. 20 ­— A Yemeni Salafi sheikh has refuted allegations made by the German press that the Dar Al-Hadeeth Center for Islamic Studies in Sa’ada is encouraging terrorism.

German officials reportedly said that German Muslims had been invited to be trained in the Sa’ada center, where they said students were urged to attack Christians and Jews.

According to a traditional Salafi sheikh based in Sana’a who asked for anonymity, students at the center are trained to use of light weapons, but only to be used if necessary as a self-defense and that the training started only after the students felt increasingly threatened by the Houthis.

The German accusations against the center follow the failed attempt, by Nigerian youth Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, to blow up a Detroit-headed plane on Christmas day, and the increased international focus on Al-Qaeda in Yemen as a result.

Adulmutallab, who attended university in London, has admitted to having received military training and equipment from Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

“The students and their supervisors in Sa’ada, where civil war is spreading, are in touch with Al-Qaeda elements. It is believed that there are training camps belonging to the mentioned center,” the spokesman of the General Prosecution in Munich told the German press.

According to the German press, many new converts to Islam from Europe and the US are still studying at the Dar Al-Hadeeth Center for Islamic Studies, among them  are ten Muslims from Germany. The Yemen Times was unable to verify these figures.

The Dar Al-Hadeeth Center for Islamic Studies was established in 1979 by Moqbil Bin Hadi Al-Wade’e, a Salafi scholar and is an Islamic center for teaching Quran sciences and the traditions of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

The center’s establishment was funded by the Islamic Scholarship Fund in Mecca and, before September 2001, had reportedly attracted 5,000 students from countries all over the world.

Unlike the Iman University in Sana’a, where different Islamic ideologies are taught, Dar Al-Hadeeth only teaches the Quran and the Hadith, according to the Salafi source.

The Dar Al-Hadeeth Center became the center for Salafism in Yemen, but now has branches in other parts of Yemen as well. Dozens graduate from the center and with their own interpretations now manage their own Salafi institutes. Examples include the Ma’bar Center headed by Mohammad Al-Imam in Dhamar and the Marib Center headed by Egyptian Abu Al-Hasan “Al-Maribi” in Marib, in addition to many other small centers in Sana’a, Aden, Taiz, Ibb and Hadramout.

Traditional Salafism is not political
According to Abdulfatah Al-Hakimi, a Yemeni academic, Al-Wade’e was particular is arguing for a split between religion and politics. Among his strict views, he rejected political associations and viewed elections as invalid. He also disapproved of eating with a spoon.

Al-Wade’e’s stand against forming political associations which led to a serious split among Salafis, starting in the early nineties. After the death of Al-Wade’e in 2001, an argument about who would succeed him as head of the Dar Al-Hadeeth Center led to a split in Salafism in Yemen. Sheikh Yahya Bin Ali Al-Hajori has now taken up his position.

A new, more active Salafi trend has appeared with the founding of the Al-Hikma Al-Yemeniyya and Al-Ihsan charitable associations. Abdullah Al-Zaidy, the head of Al-Hikma Al-Yemeniyya has published a magazine titled Al-Forkan in which Sheikh Al-Wade’e’s thoughts are refuted.

Where the followers of recent Salafi trends can be involved in politics, the followers of Al-Wade’e’s more traditional Salafism are usually not.

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