The Distribution of Wealth and the Making of Social Relations in Northern Nigeria
Author: Dauda Abubakar
In ‘They Love Us Because We Give Them’ Zakāt, Dauda Abubakar describes the practice of Zakāt in northern Nigeria. Those who practice this pillar of Islam annually deduct Zakāt from their wealth and distribute it to the poor and needy people within their vicinity, mostly their friends, relatives and neighbours.
The practice of giving and receiving Zakāt in northern Nigeria often leads to the establishment of social relations between the rich and needy. Dauda Abubakar provides details of the social relationship in the people’s interpersonal dealings with one another that often lead to power relations, high table relations etc. The needy reciprocate the Zakāt they collect in many ways, respecting and given high positions to the rich in society.
Author: Matthieu Pignot
In The Catechumenate in Late Antique Africa (4th-6th centuries) Matthieu Pignot explores how individuals became Christian in ancient North Africa. Before baptism, converts first became catechumens and spent a significant time of gradual integration into the community through rituals and teaching. This book provides the first historical study of this process in African sources, from Augustine of Hippo, to canon of councils, anonymous sermons and 6th-century letters. Pignot shows that practices varied more than is generally assumed and that catechumens, because of their liminal position, were a disputed and essential group in the development of Christian communities until the 6th century at least. This book demonstrates that the catechumenate is key to understanding the processes of Christianisation and conversion in the West.
Author: Tom Kwanya

Abstract

Night-runners are perceived as faceless, evil people who run naked in the darkness, thereby wreaking havoc in otherwise peaceful rural villages. This paper investigates the origins of night-running, the mysteries associated with it, the benefits and harms of night-running, and the impact of indigenous knowledge (IK) stigmatisation on this practice. Indigenous knowledge is the body of unique beliefs, attitudes, skills, and practices possessed by communities in a specific geographic setting. In spite of its potential value, scholars point out that indigenous knowledge has been neglected, vindicated, stigmatised, legalised, and suppressed among the majority of the world’s communities due to ignorance and arrogance. Night-running is one of the indigenous practices in Western Kenya that has been stigmatised. Given this, little is actually known about night-running. This study was designed as an ethnographic research through which the views of the residents of Homa Bay County on night-running were investigated, collated, and interpreted as a means of demystifying this indigenous practice. The findings of the study indicate that night-running is intrinsically a harmless practice. However, evil persons such as witches sometimes masquerade as night-runners and can hurt or kill people.

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
Author: Gülfem Alıcı

Abstract

This article analyses the Sufi treatise al-Ādāb al-marḍiyya fī l-ṭarīqa al-naqshbandiyya written by the Daghestanian Naqshbandī shaykh Jamāl al-Dīn al-Ghāzīghumūqī (d. 1866/67), the Sufi master, companion and father-in-law of Imām Shāmil (d. 1871). After providing an outline of the life and activities of Shaykh Jamāl al-Dīn I will examine the concepts, persons, and practices treated in his Ādāb which not only provide valuable insights regarding the mystical orientation of the Sufi shaykh, but the North Caucasian Naqshbandiyya during the anti-Russian jihād movement in the 19th century. My aim is to illustrate that this document indicates no or in a minor degree references to the Khālidiyya branch of the Naqshbandiyya. This leads me to the assumption that in the case of the Daghestanian Naqshbandiyya in the 19th century, we have a premature, i.e. not developed form of the Khālidiyya.

In: Journal of Sufi Studies
Author: Eyad Abuali

Abstract

In recent scholarship the notion that dreams and visions in Islamic societies are phenomena with no relevance to historic events or societal concerns has been challenged and overturned. However, the theoretical underpinnings of Sufi oneirology in the medieval period have yet to receive a full exposition. Furthermore, the relevance of such seemingly abstract texts to Sufi organisational and institutional structures has not been realised. This article argues that understanding the development of Kubrawī oneirology offers important insights into Islamic thought and society. Focusing on the first generation of Kubrawī Sufi thinkers, this article accounts for the emergence of diagnostic oneirology in the sixth/twelfth and seventh/thirteenth centuries in two steps. Firstly, by detailing the systematisation of oneiric theory which occurs in early Kubrawī thought. And secondly, by demonstrating that this systematisation crafted a close relation between Sufi theory and the communal and institutional bonds that allowed the Sufi community to adapt to changing socio-political circumstances.

In: Journal of Sufi Studies
Author: Blain Auer

Abstract

This article offers a reevaluation of studies on the origins of Sufism in South Asia. Generally, scholars have pointed to the thirteenth century as the genesis of Sufi orders in Northern India. However, this period supplies no textual evidence to support this claim. The vague picture of the thirteenth century is one of individual shaykhs unattached to specific Sufi orders or distinct religious teachings. By contrast, in the fourteenth century there is a wealth of Sufi textual sources available in the genres of malfūẓāt, letters and biographical texts that seek to institutionalize Sufi teachings and create genealogies of learning. Based on textual and archeological sources this author demonstrates that it was during the fourteenth century that we see the development of institutionalized forms of Sufism. Special attention is given to the origins and development of the Chishtiyya lineage of shaykhs during this critical period.

In: Journal of Sufi Studies
Author: Rachid El Hour

Abstract

This study presents some results from my fieldwork dealing with the female saints of the north Moroccan city of Alcazarquivir, which has been carried out between 2012 and 2014 in that village. The connections between orality and writing are more frequent as the educational level of the interviewee is higher; some of these informants raised roader issues regarding the evolution of the customs or the cult of saints. At the same time, it has been possible to observe the dissemination of oral traditions existing in other Moroccan regions that were not gathered in the hagiographical literature. In this study, I will offer some reflections concerning the data collected about a concrete example, that of Lallā ʿĀʾisha al-Khaḍrāʾ, one of the most important saints of Alcazarquivir and main character of a large part of the information compiled about the female saints of this city. Both the oral and written sources used in this study will be provided. Narrations related to Lallā ʿĀʾisha will be analyzed together with additional stories from ethnographic and anthropological sources on Moroccan female saints. The studied narrations highlight the problematic and complex character of Lallā ʿĀʾisha’s historicity, among other things. Finally, the symbolism of color green will be studied since al-Khaḍrāʾ (the Green) is the denomination by which Lallā ʿĀʾisha is known.

In: Journal of Sufi Studies
Author: Hans Olsson

Abstract

This article explores the role of Pentecostal-Charismatic teachings of growth and success in the context of Christian labor migrants’ efforts to “make it” in the predominantly Muslim society of Zanzibar. The study ethnographically assesses how dreams of making money and accumulating wealth in the islands’ growing tourist economy are addressed in teachings on how to mature spiritually through a combination of classic holiness living and ideas of how to reach and maximize people’s inner potential. Tracing the different theological ideas behind the promise of successfully attaining the good life suggests that the view of how prosperity is communicated within Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity in Africa needs to be nuanced in light of its diversity as well as in relation to local contextual circumstances. Thus, the case underlines how neo-Pentecostal ideas of realizing potential mingle with classic Pentecostal teachings emphasizing striving and hard work which, in Zanzibar, stress time and endurance in order to become a successful migrant in both material and spiritual terms.

In: Exchange