Followers of the history of Islam would be surprised at the transition from widespread Sufi Islam to widespread Salafist Islam. However, they are less surprised when they notice that the rise of religious extremism has coincided with a cognitive shift, as Sufism by nature rejects extremism. Salafist ideology, meanwhile, often bases its religiosity on extremism.
Political and social factors have helped set the stage for Salafist expansion in the face of Sufism. Moreover, the legacies of the colonial era in the Muslim world and the establishment of the State of Israel — which led to ongoing opposition in the Islamic world against the West — have provided fertile soil for revolutionary Islam in general.