EDUCATING THE MURID: THEORY AND PRACTICES OF EDUCATION IN AMADU BAMBA'S THOUGHT

in Journal of Religion in Africa
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Abstract

The scholarship on the Muridiyya focuses mainly on the examination of the political and economic aspects of the brotherhood. Dominant scholarly interpretations see the organisation as an effective instrument of adaptation to a turbulent period in history. Disgruntled Wolof farmers joined the Muridiyya as a way of adjusting to the new order brought about by the demise of the pre-colonial kingdoms and the establishment of French domination in Senegal, in the second half of the nineteenth century. Since the role of religious innovations and beliefs was considered peripheral in this process of adjustment, not much attention has been devoted to doctrinal and spiritual issues within the brotherhood. Emphasis had been put on the analysis of the socio-political context of the founding of the Murid brotherhood, and the economic and psychological incentives that might have motivated people to join the organisation. In contrast to this interpretation, I conceive of the Muridiyya as the result of a conscious decision by a Sufi shaikh who saw it primarily as a vehicle for religious change, but also for social and political transformation. Education was the principal tool for the realisation of this social change. This article describes and analyses Amadu Bamba's views on educational theory and practices and explores how his Sufi orientation shaped Murid pedagogy. It reveals the centrality of the theme of education in his writings, sermons and correspondence and documents the continuing influence of this education on the Murid ethos.

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