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History Of Islam In Africa

Nehemia Levtzion

Publication Year: 2012

The history of the Islamic faith on the continent of Africa spans fourteen centuries. For the first time in a single volume, The History of Islam in Africa presents a detailed historic mapping of the cultural, political, geographic, and religious past of this significant presence on a continent-wide scale. Bringing together two dozen leading scholars, this comprehensive work treats the historical development of the religion in each major region and examines its effects.

Without assuming prior knowledge of the subject on the part of its readers, The History of Islam in Africa is broken down into discrete areas, each devoted to a particular place or theme and each written by experts in that particular arena. The introductory chapters examine the principal “gateways” from abroad through which Islam traditionally has influenced Africans. The following two parts present overviews of Islamic history in West Africa and the Sudanic zone, and in subequatorial Africa. In the final section, the authors discuss important themes that have had an impact on Muslim communities in Africa.

Designed as both a reference and a text, The History of Islam in Africa will be an essential tool for libraries, scholars, and students of this growing field.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This volume is intended to pioneer an approach to the history of Islam in Africa on a continent-wide scale. The editors are gratified that the balance has been redressed between East and West Africa. Although the study of Islam in West Africa is by far more advanced than the study of Islam...

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Introduction: Patterns of Islamization and Varieties of Religious Experience among Muslims of Africa

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pp. 1-31

Islam reached Africa through two gateways, from the east and the north. From both directions the carriers of Islam navigated across vast empty spaces, the waters of the Indian Ocean, and the desert sands of the Sahara. Both ocean and desert, which so often are considered barriers

Part I: Gateways to Africa.

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Chapter 1: Egypt and North Africa

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pp. 21-36

In May 1989, an eighteen-year-old woolcarder set fire to the Husayn Mosque in Cairo. The incident was written up in an Islamic newspaper by a journalist who deplored the act. The article began by asking why this young man would travel from his northern suburb all the way downtown to pray...

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Chapter 2: The Indian Ocean nad the Red Sea

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pp. 37-60

This chapter describes the role of the Indian Ocean, and more specifically the western corridor or sector of this ocean, the Arabian Sea, in the spread and continuance of Islam in eastern Africa...

Part II: West Africa and the Sudan

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Chapter 3: Islam in the Bilad al-Sudan to 1800

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pp. 63-92

The earliest Arab expeditions in North Africa in the seventh and eighth centuries penetrated into the Sahara in two directions, the one from Tripoli toward Fezzan and the other from the Sus in southern Morocco. The Arab expeditions must have made their way on beaten routes along which...

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Chapter 4: The Juula and the Expansion of Islam into the Forest

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pp. 93-116

The Julla (or Dyula) defy easy identification. The Mandekan word juula is of doubtful etymology, but has come to mean "trader" in many dialects. 1The Juula of this chapter are those who, over several centuries, established networks of trade in the savannah country between the Middle...

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Chapter 5: Precolonial Islam in the Eastern Sudan

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pp. 117-130

With the fall of Egypt to the Muslims in 641 preparations began at once for the conquest of Nubia, and raiders annually probed the southern frontier. By 652 all was in readiness; a large Islamic force equipped with heavy cavalry and artillery in the form...

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Chapter 6: Revolutions in the Western Sudan

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pp. 131-152

Over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a number of West African Muslim scholars and military leaders organized successful movements of reform and state-building. The reform movements they called jihad; the regimes, they characterized as Islamic states...

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Chapter 7: The Eastern Sudan, 1822 to the Present

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pp. 153-168

Islam and modern state structures are closely related in Sudan. Muslim movements and concepts have provided important foundations for the development of a centralized state and have been crucial to the definition of the modern Sudanese political system. However, Islam does not provide...

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Chapter 8: Islam in Africa under French Colonial Rule

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pp. 169-188

The colonial period played a decisive role in the history of Islam in Frenchspeaking Africa: it was the period of the greatest expansion of the Muslim presence in Africa. This paradox should be borne...

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Chapter 9: Islam in West Africa: Radicalism and the New Ethic of Disagreement, 1960-1990

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pp. 189-208

This chapter examines the origins and forms of the current Islamic vitality in the Francophone states of Guinea, Mali, and Cote d'Ivoire in West Africa since their independence, with special attention to new attitudes. A broad attempt at reflection on religion and politics...

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Chapter 10: Religious Pluralism in Northern Nigeria

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pp. 209-224

Fewer than one-half of Nigeria's people are Muslim, yet the country has far more adherents to Islam-around 45 million-than any other country in sub-Saharan Africa. 1 The demographics, moreover, fall short in explaining the significance of Islam in this, Africa's most populous...

Part III: Eastern and Southern Africa

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Chapter 11: Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa

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pp. 227-250

From its emergence in the seventh century, Islam has formed an integral part of the history of what are today Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia. The old notion of Ethiopia as "an island of Christianity in the sea of...

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Chapter 12: The African Coast, c. 780 to 1900 C.E.

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pp. 251-272

The Swahili of East Africa have one of the most venerable Islamic traditions in sub-Saharan Africa. Much as elsewhere on the continent, Islam made its first impressions through commercial exchanges between Africans and Muslims, though jihad never became the important instrument...

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Chapter 13: The Coastal Hinterland and Interior of East Africa

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pp. 273-302

Although Islam has been present on the East African coast for more than twelve centuries (chapter 12), in assessing the extent ofIslamic influence we need to distinguish between the Swahili towns...

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Chapter 14: East Central Africa

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pp. 303-326

Historically, East Central Africa stands at the margin of the Islamic world. Although Arab traders probably introduced Islam to the coast of modern Mozambique no later than the thirteenth century and a small community of Muslims existed in the Zambezi valley during the fifteenth...

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Chapter 15: Islam in Southern Africa, 1652-1998

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pp. 327-348

Ideas follow trade routes, but not necessarily voluntarily. This was the case when the first Muslim, Ibrahim van Batavia, a slave, splashed ashore in Table Bay in the second half of the seventeenth century, shipped to southern Africa by an unlikely agent of Islam-the Dutch East India...

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Chapter 16: Radicalism and Reform in East Africa

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pp. 349-370

The emergence of Islamic radicalism in East Africa in recent decades is fired by a vision of the universal umma, the commonwealth of all believers over time and space. This radicalism is in some sense...

Part IV: General Themes

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Chapter 17: Islamic Law in Africa

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pp. 373-396

The history of Islamic law in Africa is a vast and varied terrain, only roughly charted in now dated academic maps.1 To venture through it, we need sturdy conceptual containers suitable for the many types of data to be collected. The most fundamental is that ofIslamic law itself...

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Chapter 18: Muslim Women in African History

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pp. 397-418

As members of society, women reside in social and political contexts that propose images and expected roles. Historical factors of culture, colonial rule, and post-independent political and economic patterns constitute pervasive shaping themes of context...

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Chapter 19: Islamic Education and Scholarship in Sub-Saharan Africa

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pp. 419-440

In many African states and societies, Islamic education and its various institutions have held for long and still continue to hold a significant place in both individual and public life. The influence of this education was by no means restricted to Muslims alone but extended...

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Chapter 20: Sufi Brotherhoods in Africa

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pp. 441-446

Although it is evident that Islam in Africa is closely interwoven with sufism, there has been considerable disagreement over the result of this influence; has it been a political and radical force or a conservative and pious one? Partly, this stems from a lack of clarity...

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Chapter 21: Prayer, Amulets, and Healing

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pp. 447-488

Prayers and amulets are two of the common means by which Airican societies have addressed illness. Through such agencies, the spiritual causes of sickness are appealed to, or confronted, to let go of afRictions. The theory of disease that ascribes illness to spiritual sources reflects...

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Chapter 22: Islamic Art and Material Culture in Africa

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pp. 489-518

To look at the arts and material culture of Islamic Africa is to engage a particularly vital frontier, one marked by the blending of belief and the artistic imagination. Africa is a long-ignored portion of Islamic civilization, a religious culture that has helped shape much...

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Chapter 23: Islamic Literature in Africa

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pp. 519-544

What is "Islamic literature"? In this literary overview we seek to locate Muslim identities in actors whose awareness of themselves, as purveyors or critics of the faith, is reflected in their words as well as their acts. For the literary critic, this is reflected in the texts' participation...

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Chapter 24: Music and Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa

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pp. 545-574

From Sengal in the west to Indonesia in the east, music flourishes in, and is an essential part of, Muslim societies, achieving remarkable degrees of technical and aesthetic sophistication, widespread patronage, and striking diversity....


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pp. 575-578


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pp. 579-582


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pp. 583-591

E-ISBN-13: 9780821444610
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821412978

Publication Year: 2012