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  • Middle East and Islamic Studies x
  • African Studies x
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Sara Katz

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.

Sakariyau Alabi Aliyu

Poised between its Emirate heritage and the mixed-religious culture of fellow Yoruba-speakers, the city of Ilorin has long served as a centre of Islamic learning in Yorubaland. In the colonial period Yoruba Muslims became strongly aware of the need to compete educationally with Christians who had access to Western education, Ilorin also became a location for the modernisation of Islamic schooling. This article explores two pedagogical models that were successfully established in Ilorin during the colonial and post-colonial period, the Adabiyya and Markaziyya. While the emergence of these madrasa-type educational systems reflects some epistemological changes away from embodied learning, the variation between different models illustrates that there are many different ways in which Islamic education can be modernised. The article also highlights that practices of embodiment continue to play an important role in Ilorin, which demonstrates the ongoing importance of Sufi values in modern Islamic education.

Ahmed Parkar

This article briefly examines the production of Swahili-Islamic manuscripts with specific reference to Swahili ink making in coastal Kenya. The Swahili scribes used organic, carbonic and carbonic-iron inks to write their manuscripts for centuries. Currently, the knowledge on what sort of ink ingredients were used and how to make the inks themselves is in the domain of a dwindling number of elderly individuals. This paper tries to explain the types of ingredients mentioned by these individuals during interviews carried by the researcher in the period of 2015–2017 in East Africa.

Collet Hadrien

This piece is a presentation and a translation of al-Jazīrī’s al-Durar al-farāʾiḍ chapter on the royal pilgrims from Takrūr. This chapter presents notably an entirely new account on the pilgrimage of Idrīs b. ʿAlī, greatest sultan of Borno. The Cairene Sufi historian al-Jazīrī was at the time heading the office administrating the pilgrimage to Mecca. He was then at the center of the information traffic. An introduction presenting the author, his work, and royal pilgrims from West Africa opens the article, followed by the translation and the Arabic text.

Adeyemi Balogun

Among the religiously mixed Yoruba people of southwest Nigeria, the knowledge and values involved with being a Muslim are taught by both Muslim clerics in Qurʾanic schools and modern madrasas and by non-scholarly Muslims in different contexts. While some research has focussed on Yoruba clerics, little is known about the teaching initiatives of other Muslims. An important movement led by ordinary Muslims is the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (mssn), formed in 1954 to provide guidance to Muslim students in a predominantly non-Muslim educational environment. Since the 1950s, the mssn has engaged young Muslims in a series of socio-cultural, educational and religious activities aimed at encouraging young Muslims to engage with Islam, but which also equips them with the socio-economic skills necessary to operate in a modern, mixed religious world.

André Chappatte


This article offers a twofold analysis of the popularity of Cherif Ousmane Madani Häidara and the Muslim association Ansar Dine (founded by Haïdara in 1983) in the contemporary Malian Islamic sphere. The author initially observed signs in southwest Mali supporting the view that Häidara was more popular than neo-Hanbali reformist tendencies. In order to frame the debate in a self-critical way, however, the author later argues and elaborates that his perception of the unmatched popularity of Häidara and Ansar Dine in Mali possibly emanates from the persuasive arousal that he experienced as a crowd-fellow during the yearly Ansar Dine ‘pilgrimage’ of Maouloud in Bamako. Through this self-ethnography based on the phenomenology of a religious movement’s gathering, the article states that experiencing popularity is about persuasion. In this sociohistoric context of rivalry measuring popularity is above all speculative due to politics, media, and sensationalism.

Siena de Ménonville


This article aims to illustrate through a social narrative the role and function of the debtera and their affiliation with the sacred and the profane in the Christian Orthodox regions of Ethiopia today. The article argues that though the debtera are subject to moral opprobrium, they are able to breach both the sacred and the profane because of their close relationship to knowledge and money.