Imagine a 7th century Arab Bedouin village being replicated in north Malabar in verdant Kerala, with its linguistically and sartorially arabised Malayali inhabitants grazing cattle, shunning modern education and re-creating the material and cultural conditions of the Prophet???s time, safely away from the polluting influence of a pluralist India. Mind you, it is not a museum, but a village named Athikkatt near Nilambur in Malappuram district.Also, conjure up young Muslim men from Kerala fleeing with their families to Dammaj, a small town in the Sa???dah Governorate in Yemen, in order to live out a pure, Spartan, gender-segregated, and jurisprudence-obsessed version of Islam, unadulterated by the nearly one and a half millennia of history since the inception of the faith. The theology that guides these reclusive seekers of a barren spiritual haven is an austere, literalist, reason-proof and atavistic version of Salafism, which, thankfully, is apolitical on the surface.Both scenarios may sound beyond imagination, but are very much part of reality, and inextricably interlinked too. Both these weird experiments were enacted as part of adherence to what is called Dammaj Salafism, which has been finding favor among young Muslims from different parts of the world over the past couple of decades. The number of these escapists may yet be small, but the fact that such a disastrously eremitic theology has attracted diehard followers across the world is inexplicable.Before anybody jumps into conclusions, let me reassure that they are not a bunch of holy warriors (at least not yet); they actually do not care for anything of this world, let alone Jihad and big political ideas. Much to the relief of the Arab political establishments, they argue against political rebellion against the status quo, even if the rulers are corrupt and unjust. They are absolutely harmless, except for themselves and their progenies who are deprived of education, modern life and a decent future.The story
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