Revolution, Modernity and (Trans)National Shi'i Islam: Rethinking Religious Conversion in Senegal

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
Mara Leichtman Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University, 310 Baker Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA

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The establishment of a Shi'i Islamic network in Senegal is one alternative to following the country's dominant Sufi orders. I examine Senegalese conversion narratives and the central role played by the Iranian Revolution, contextualizing life stories (trans)nationally in Senegal's political economy and global networks with Iran and Lebanon. Converts localize foreign religious ideologies into a 'national' Islam through the discourse that Shi'i education can bring peace and economic development to Senegal. Senegalese Shi'a perceive that proselytizing, media technologies, and Muslim networking can lead to social, cultural and perhaps even political change through translating the Iranian Revolution into a non-violent reform movement.

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