Embodied Knowledge and The Walking Qur’an: Lessons for the Study of Islam and Africa
Abstract

More than a study of Qur’an schooling in Senegambia, Rudolph Ware’s The Walking Qur’an offers a new reading of West African history and a compelling argument about Islamic epistemologies. According to Ware, the embodied knowledge practices preserved in Senegambian Qur’an schools up to the present day have their roots in the early days of Islam. This article focuses on Ware’s intervention in the debate about epistemology and engages with his distinction between embodied knowledge, which he uses to characterize the knowledge practices in the Qur’an schools, and disembodied knowledge, which Ware sees as predominant among modern Muslims. Expanding on Ware’s exceptional study, the article argues that the embodied knowledge paradigm is closely connected to a wider Islamic tradition that can be labeled the Maliki-Ash’ari complex. Further, the article raises questions about Ware’s depiction of the disembodied knowledge paradigm and calls for further research into Salafi epistemology.


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