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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This article explores conflicts around noise and silence in Rwanda’s postgenocide religious soundscape. After the genocide, new Pentecostal (or abarokore) churches grew rapidly in the country and offered up noise and a specific understanding of praise and worship music (guhimbaza Imana) as important ways to enact healing. However, Catholics emphasised silence and viewed the new Pentecostal churches as distracting interlopers. Far from being trivial differences, I argue that these conflicts around sound hint at wider divides in Rwandan society and a worrying new convergence between religious and ethnic identity. Focusing on aural conflicts between Christian denominations can therefore help us gain a better sense of the limits of Pentecostal conversion. Instead of assuming that Pentecostals are necessarily ‘noisy’, I suggest we pay closer attention to the ways in which they may also cultivate silence, and how this relates to wider power structures.
Pluralism is a discernible feature of many modern states. However, among the variants of pluralism, religious pluralism appears to be the most intractable in many modern states because faiths and values underpin the conflicts that are associated with it. As one of the legacies of the Enlightenment, secularism is a normative prescription for managing religious pluralism. Nevertheless, while many African states profess to be secular, more often than not there are no concrete strategies to objectify the secular arrangement thereby provoking questions on the status quo. Such was the case with the 2015 Muslims’ protest of discrimination in the public basic and second cycles schools in Ghana. Through primary (interviews and archival and historical documents) and secondary data, this paper examines the protest in light of the secularist arrangement. It first reviews the contours of the secularist’s lenses. Second, it historicizes Muslim-Christian relations in Ghana. It also analyzes the checkered partnership between the state and the Christian missions in the provision of education. Moreover, it evaluates the debates that ensued and the ambivalent communiqué that the National Peace Council (NPC) issued. The paper concludes with a note that underscores the dynamics and tensions that characterize many plural societies in their attempt to objectify the secularist principle.