Between Social Skills and Marketable Skills

The Politics of Islamic Education in 20th century Zanzibar


The present volume is a pioneering study of the development of Islamic traditions of learning in 20th century Zanzibar and the role of Muslim scholars in society and politics, based on extensive fieldwork and archival research in Zanzibar (2001-2007). The volume highlights the dynamics of Muslim traditions of reform in pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial Zanzibar, focussing on the contribution of Sufi scholars (Qādiriyya, ʿAlawiyya) as well as Muslim reformers (modernists, activists, anṣār al-sunna) to Islamic education. It examines several types of Islamic schools (Qurʾānic schools, madāris and “Islamic institutes”) as well as the emergence of the discipline of “Islamic Religious Instruction” in colonial government schools. The volume argues that dynamics of cooperation between religious scholars and the British administration defined both form and content of Islamic education in the colonial period (1890-1963). The revolution of 1964 led to the marginalization of established traditions of Islamic education and encouraged the development of Muslim activist movements which have started to challenge state informed institutions of learning.
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Biographical Note

Roman Loimeier, Ph.D (1990) and Habilitation (1997) in Islamic Studies, University of Bayreuth (Germany), taught at the Universities of Bayreuth, Göttingen and Florida (Gainesville, Center for African Studies), and is presently research fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (Berlin). He has published extensively on Muslim societies in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, Senegal, Nigeria and Tanzania.

Review Quotes

[...] Loimeier has not only recovered a remarkable tradition of Islamic scholarship and understanding but also made an important contribution to our appreciation of Islam in the modern world [...] Francis Robinson, The Journal of JRAS, Series 3, Volume 20/3 (2010)


All those interested in Islam in Africa, regional history (Zanzibar, East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean), Islamic traditions of learning, education, Sufi brotherhoods (Qādiriyya, ʿAlawiyya) relations between state and religion, religious studies, anthropology, political science, British Empire.


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