Shifting Trajectories of Salafi/Ahl-Sunna Reformism in Ghana

in Islamic Africa
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This article explores the shifting trajectories of Salafi-inclined reforms in Ghana since the 1950s. I illustrate that Ghanaian expressions of Salafism emerged in the 1950s from local doctrinal debates between members of the Tījāniyya Sufi brotherhood and those who opposed Sufism. The opposition against the Tījāniyya evolved to become part of the worldwide Salafi reform movement. Tracing the movement’s development, I illustrate further that the Ghanaian expressions of Salafism was neither homogenous nor static in its strategies of proselytization or its doctrinal emphases. Rather, many local Salafi scholars continuously defined and sharpened their ideas and strategies to accommodate changing local and global realities. Moreover, while seeking intellectual and financial support of Salafi sponsors in the Arab world, Ghanaian Salafis remained focused on local needs. The history of Ghanaian Salafiyya will thus sharpen our knowledge of the dynamism of global Salafiyya, and the processes by which local doctrinal concerns find affinities with debates in other parts of the Muslim world.




Østebø, Ibid. p. 6.


Rüdiger Seesemann, The Divine Flood, 71–72.


 Ibid. See also Christopher Gray, “The Rise of the Niassene Tījāniyya, 1875 to the Present,” Islam et sociétés au sud du Sahara 2 (1988): 34–60.


Reinhard Schulze, “La da’wa saoudienne en Afrique de l’ ouest,” in Le radicalisme Islamique au sud du sahara: da’wa, arabisation et critique de l’occident, ed. René Otayek (Paris: M.S.H.A, 1993), 25. The university’s objectives were stated in its charter published in the May 11, 1962 edition of the Muslim World League (Rabita al-Alam al-Islam Muslim, founded in Mecca in 1962).


Kobo, “The Development of Wahhabi Reforms,” Unveiling Modernity, Dumbe, Islamic Revivalism.


Dumbe, Ibid., p 27–28.


 See for example, Suleyman Nyang, “Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Policy toward Africa,” Horn of Africa 5, no. 2 (1982): 2–17; and “Islam in West Africa.” Also Schulze, “La da’wa Saoudienne.”


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