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Book Reviews 131 for her long dead father rather than address the business of government. The closest she came to making a political decision was to approve the demand to make Teferi Negus of Ethiopia. Even then, her choice of the date of coronation was overruled by Teferi's supporters who insisted on having the Ras crowned right away. Despite the restrictive environment in which it was written, the chronicle is a useful, contemporary reflection on a significant period of Ethiopian politics. The book is rich in insights and unbiased in its treatment of Iyasu. In many respects, it complements such sources as Zikre Neger (1962 Eth. C), Ya Tarik Mastawesha (1962 Eth. C) and the Autobiography of Emperor Haile Sellassie I (1976). The translation is done meticulously, although the English rendition is dense, repetitious and, at times, inaccurate. Molvaer goes to great lengths to try and explain the meaning of some Amharic parables, metaphors and common usages that really do not make for accurate and fluent English. In the process, he sacrifices readability for the sake of literal translation. On balance, though, Molvaer deserves to be congratulated not only for translating an important historical source but also for making available a beautifully calligraphed Amharic text. Ezekiel Gebissa Michigan State University The Sufi Brotherhoods in the Sudan Ali Salih Karrar Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1992. Pp. 234. This book is an important contribution to our understanding of Sufism in the Sudan and indeed to the history of Islam in Africa. Ali Salih Karrar has worked for many years in the National Records Office in Khartoum. He is also from the Shayqiyya people, "one of the most prominent riverain ethnic groups of the northern Sudan" (4). Each of these qualifications gives him unparalleled access to some of the most important documentation in the history of the Sufi orders, and also to major religious families in the Sudan. Based on both archival work and field research conducted in the Shayqiyya region in 1982, Karrar's account draws on interviews he made with some of the senior representatives of these families and their followers, on visits to major historical and religious villages and towns of 132 Book Reviews the region, as well as on a wide range of documentary material which includes published and unpublished, Arabic and non-Arabic sources (1901 ). Originally written as the author's Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Bergen, it has been revised and shortened for this edition. As Karrar notes at the outset, "Sufism was the most fundamental characteristic of Islam in the Sudan" (1). His aim in this study is . . . "to trace the historical developments and the impact of the Sufi brotherhoods on the Sudan until the end of the 19th century, with special reference to the Shayqiyya region" (xi), and particularly to the period of colonial rule (1820-1881), a time when the arrival of a new style of Sufi organization was to have profound impact on most Sudanese Muslims. After briefly summarizing the activities of the individual holy men {fuqara) who brought Islam to the Sudan, Karrar turns to the coming of the tariqas (sic) into the Shayqiyya region, describing "a gradual transition from what may be described as a 'Sudanic belt' pattern of individualfuqara to a Middle Eastern and North African one with organized Sufi brotherhoods" (20). He traces first the evolution of the "ancient," decentralized brotherhoods into "autonomous branches, each with its independent shaykh and its particular chain of spiritual authority, silsila"(20). In his discussion of the two brotherhoods which were important in the Shayqiyya homeland, the Qadiriyya and the Shadhiliyya, he provides rich detail on some of the major figures in the movements, past and present. In addition he discusses the ideas and doctrines governing the movements, as well as detailing their growth and decline "within the context of the political and economic conditions of the region" (40). Karrar then turns to the second stage in the coming of the tariqas: that of the centralized "reformist" brotherhoods. These were far more important in the Shaygiyya region than the ancient brotherhoods, attracting increasingly large numbers of recruits, especially during the colonial period (1820-1881). He looks particularly at the...


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