Locating Politics in Ethiopia's Irreecha Ritual Serawit Bekele Debele gives an account of politics and political processes in contemporary Ethiopia as manifested in the annual ritual performance. Mobilizing various sources such as archives, oral accounts, conversations, videos, newspapers, and personal observations, Debele critically analyses political processes and how they are experienced, made sense of and articulated across generational, educational, religious, gender and ethnic differences as well as political persuasions. Moreover, she engages Irreecha in relation to the hugely contested meaning making processes attached to the Thanksgiving ritual which has now become an integral part of Oromo national identity.
Jesus for Zanzibar: Narratives of Pentecostal (Non-)Belonging, Islam, and Nation Hans Olsson offers an ethnographic account of the lived experience and socio-political significance of newly arriving Pentecostal Christians in the Muslim majority setting of Zanzibar. This work analyzes how a disputed political partnership between Zanzibar and Mainland Tanzania intersects with the construction of religious identities.
Undertaken at a time of political tensions, the case study of Zanzibar’s largest Pentecostal church, the City Christian Center, outlines religious belonging as relationally filtered in-between experiences of social insecurity, altered minority / majority positions, and spiritual powers. Hans Olsson shows that Pentecostal Christianity, as a signifier of (un)wanted social change, exemplifies contested processes of becoming in Zanzibar that capitalizes on, and creates meaning out of, religious difference and ambient political tensions.
This article explores how the Nigerien intellectual and politician Boubou Hama (1906/09–1982) represented the relationship between Islamic and “traditional” educational ideals. Based on an understanding that Islamic education was closely linked to the historical dissemination and establishment of Islam, Hama advanced a particular interpretation of the reception and circulation of Muslim knowledge in West Africa. He argued that, first, the presence of Islam should be understood in its African historical context; second, that the foundations of African culture were equally “traditional” and Islamic; and third, that the forms of education that had shaped such culture could be used as the basis for a political plan of development. By doing so, Hama asserted that just as Islam was crucial to the continent’s history, it was a central part of Africa’s engagement with the wider world.
In West Africa, Muslim learning has historically been shaped by two key engagements: the participation in wider Islamic debates and the co-existence with non-Muslims. In the twentieth and twenty-first century, Islamic education in West Africa was transformed by the imposition of the secular state and Western education. But as Muslims encountered secularism and Christianity, they also increasingly drew on pedagogies that emanated from Middle Eastern and Asian Islam. The articles in this Special Issue illustrate that as Islamic scholars and leaders from different backgrounds engaged simultaneously with the diversity of global Islam and the growing presence of secular and Christian institutions, they developed a multiplicity of educational practices and visions. Thus learning to be Muslim in West Africa reflects both the engagement with Islamic discourse and debates about the boundaries of Islam.
This article explores how the revival of the Tijaniyya and the Salafi movement shaped public discourse about Islam in Ghana. Examining the debates which characterised the religious sphere in the 1990s re-democratisation, the article highlights the power struggle which shaped the relations between the contending Muslim groups. It argues that the recognition of the Tijaniyya movement as a representative for all Muslims during Ghana’s re-democratisation in the 1990s emboldened its sympathisers to adopt repressive measures against the Salafi minority. While the local success of Salafism was often linked to locally specific forms of ethnic, political or generational self-assertion, the shared experience of political disadvantage during this period led to a consolidation of Salafi activities at the national level. Thus, as the Tijaniyya influence was politicised by Government, the ensuing conflicts between Sufi and Salafi groups also led to a politicisation of Salafism from below. Illustrating that intra-Muslim debates and disagreements cannot be divorced from their political context, this study demonstrates that learning to be Muslim in Ghana is deeply embedded in political, ethnic, and intergenerational dynamics.
This article discusses the debates about Islam and Muslim behavior in colonial Lagosian newspapers from the 1920s to the 1940s. It argues that the content of debates about Islam varied depending on the language in which they took place: while Islamic debates in English advocated reforming both Islam and Muslim behavior through practices that reflected British and Christian missionary values and aesthetics, Yoruba-language discourses centered on the moral obligations of the individual to the wider community.