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The seventeenth century was a period of major social change in central sudanic Africa. Islam spread from royal courts to rural communities, leading to new identities, new boundaries and new tasks for experts of the religion. Addressing these issues, the Bornu scholar Muḥammad al-Wālī acquired an exceptional reputation. Dorrit van Dalen’s study places him within his intellectual environment, and portrays him as responding to the concerns of ordinary Muslims. It shows that scholars on the geographical margins of the Muslim world participated in the debates in the centres of Muslim learning of the time, but on their own terms. Al-Wālī’s work also sheds light on a century in the Islamic history of West Africa that has until now received little attention.
Decolonizing the Judiciary and Islamic Renewal in the Sudan, 1898-1985
The book investigates the Islamic renewal in Sudan as symptomatic of a larger postcolonial predicament. It investigates the dual judiciary, dubbed “Manichaean” by Fanon, whose laws have been at the center of this renewal. This colonial organization of the institution was characterized by a conflict between its dominant Civil Division and the subordinated Sharia Division. The book analyzes the political forces that converged since the independence of the country (1956) to profit from the resources of this dual judiciary.