‘I’m a weak servant’ - The Cultivation of Weakness and the Problem of Sincerity in the life of Dutch Salafi Muslims
Abstract: "It is often noted that Salafi Muslims acquire a sense of pride and empowerment by belonging to a community of the righteous and being part of the perfect religion of Islam. This is often contrasted with daily life where conflicting loyalties, ambiguities and temptations are abound. In my lecture I will show that Salafi religiosity is not only about reaching for ‘pious’ perfection within the Salafi movement on the one side and dealing with the ambiguities and vulnerabilities of daily life (with other and often competing loyalties and sensitivities) on the other side. Instead of juxtaposing Salafi organized religiosity and daily life, I will argue that the relation between organized religion and lived religion is a dialectical one, resulting in Salafi Muslims fashioning themselves as weak servants of God. Through exploring the interrelationship of everyday life and Salafi organized religiosity I focus on how a sense of failure among Salafi Muslims is mediated and cultivated through organized Salafi events and institutions. I will show how their continuous doubts about personal sincerity turn into a cultivation of weakness whereby perfection is not about making no mistakes, but about struggling to satisfy Allah and to returning to him in case of errors."