Localising Salafism

Religious Change among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia

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The political transition in 1991 and the new regime’s policy towards the ethnic and religious diversity in Ethiopia have contributed to increased activities from various Islamic reform movements. Among these, we find the Salafi movement which expanded rapidly throughout the 1990s, particularly in the Oromo-speaking south-eastern parts of the country. This book sheds light on the emergence and expansion of Salafism in Bale. Focusing on the diversified body of situated actors and their role in the process of religious change, it discusses the early arrival of Salafism in the late 1960s, follows it through the Marxist period (1974-1991) before discussing the rapid expansion of the movement in the 1990s. The movement’s dynamics and the controversies emerging as a result of the reforms are discussed, particularly with reference to different understandings of sources for religious knowledge and the role of Islamic literacy.
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Biographical Note

Terje Østebø, Ph.D. (2009) in History of Religion, Stockholm University, is Assistant Professor at the Center for African Studies & Department of Religion, University of Florida. He has published extensively on Islam in Ethiopia and in the Horn of Africa.

Review Quotes

" Localizing Salafism is a comprehensive and invaluable resource on religious change in Bale, Ethiopia, and on Islam in Africa" – Peter K. Kimosop, in: African Geographical Review 2012, 1–2

Table of contents

CONTENTS
Acknowledgements ............................................................................ xi
List of Acronyms ............................................................................... xiii
List of Illustrations ............................................................................ xv
Note on Transliteration .................................................................... xvii
Summary ............................................................................................. xix
Chapter One Introduction ............................................................ 1
Objectives ........................................................................................ 2
Setting the Scene ............................................................................ 5
Telling a Story ................................................................................ 11
Chapter Two Salafism, Localisation and Religious Change .... 13
The Concept of Religious Change .............................................. 14
Approaching Religious Change .................................................. 15
The Genealogy of Religious Change .......................................... 20
The Impetus for Change .............................................................. 22
Localising Salafism ........................................................................ 28
Identity and Ethnicity ................................................................... 40
Chapter Three The Islamisation of South-east Ethiopia and Bale ............... 43
The Introduction of Islam to South-east Ethiopia .................. 45
Agents of Change: Religious Preachers ..................................... 50
The Islamic Sultanates .................................................................. 56
The Oromo of Bale ........................................................................ 60
The Amhara Conquest and Islam .............................................. 77
Chapter Four The Religious Universe of the Oromo in Bale ... 83
Key Concepts ................................................................................. 84
Key Rituals ...................................................................................... 93
Key Institutions ............................................................................. 104
Knowledge, Karaama and Authority ......................................... 118
Chapter Five The Emergence of Salafism in Bale ..................... 125
Fascist Italy and Islam in Bale .................................................... 125
The First Emergence of Salafism in South-east Ethiopia ....... 131
Changes of a Locality ................................................................... 134
The Arrival of Salafism in Bale ................................................... 141
Encountering Salafism .................................................................. 150
Chapter Six Responding to Salafism ........................................... 157
Demarcating Salafism ................................................................... 157
The Basic Features of Salafism in Bale ...................................... 158
Contesting Authority .................................................................... 163
Convictions and Customs: Debating Religious Symbols ....... 170
Literacy and Change ..................................................................... 175
Salafism, Politics and the Bale Rebellion ................................... 186
Chapter Seven The Derg and Processes of Change .................. 195
The Revolution ............................................................................... 195
The Derg and Islam ...................................................................... 197
Revolution and Religion in Bale ................................................. 200
Armed Insurgency ......................................................................... 206
Repression ....................................................................................... 211
The Process of Modernisation .................................................... 222
Modernisation and Religious Change ....................................... 230
Chapter Eight Democratisation and Daʿwa ............................... 237
The Political Transition ................................................................ 237
The Resurgence of Salafism ......................................................... 241
Radicalisation and Ahl al-Sunna ................................................ 244
The Content of the Teaching ...................................................... 250
Attracting Followers ..................................................................... 259
Conflict and Controversy ............................................................. 263
Fragmentation ................................................................................ 269
Chapter Nine Salafism, Politics and Ethnicity .......................... 275
Political Islam: Old Prejudices and New Fear .......................... 275
Salafism and Ethnicity .................................................................. 287
Creating Meaning .......................................................................... 297
Chapter Ten Concluding Discussion .......................................... 311
The Dialectics of Religious Change ............................................ 311
The Continuous Process of Religious Change ......................... 320
Localising Salafism ........................................................................ 322
Appendix
Glossary ........................................................................................... 331
List of Informants ......................................................................... 335
References ........................................................................................... 341
Index .................................................................................................... 363

Readership

Those interested in Ethiopian Studies & Horn Africa, particularly Islam in that area, Islam in Africa, and those interested in the topic of conversion & religious change in Africa and beyond.

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