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Generational Changes, Political Stagnation, and the Evolving Dynamics of Religion and Politics in Senegal

From: Africa Today
Volume 46, Number 3/4, Summer/Autumn 1999
pp. 129-147 | 10.1353/at.2003.0106


Religious institutions, in the form of Muslim Sufi orders, have been an integral feature of Senegal's stable and relatively democratic socio-political system. Over the course of the 1990s, this system has experienced strains due to two factors: generational changes and a crisis of legitimacy of the political system. This has resulted in three potentially significant types of phenomena: 1) the growing (though still limited) appeal of reformist Islamic ideology; 2) contestatory movements for leadership of the orders; and 3) succession struggles within religious families. This article examines these three trends by means of a discussion of the Muslim students' movement at the University Cheikh An-ta Diop de Dakar, the Hizbut-Tarqiyyah movement in the Mouride Order, and the Moustarchidine movement which has resulted in a schism in the Sy Tijan family. While the socio-political system remains well in place, its evolution is likely to be shaped by these dynamics.