Conversion to Islam and the Promotion of ‘Modern’ Islamic Schools in Ghana

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
David E. Skinner History Department, Santa Clara University 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053

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This article analyzes the transformation of Islamic education from makaranta (schools for the study of the Qurʾān) to what are called English/Arabic schools, which combine Islamic studies with a British curriculum taught in the English language. These schools were initially founded in coastal Ghana during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, primarily by missionaries who had converted from Christianity and had had English-language education or by agents of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission based in London. The purposes of these schools were to provide instruction to allow young people to be competitive in the colonial, Christian-influenced social and economic structure, and to promote conversion to Islam among the coastal populations. New Islamic missionary organizations developed throughout the colonial and postcolonial eras to fulfill these purposes, and English/Arabic schools were integrated into the national educational system by the end of the twentieth century. Indigenous and transnational governmental organizations competed by establishing schools in order to promote Islamic ideas and practices and to integrate Ghanaian Muslims into the wider Muslim world.

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