In the period c. 1880-1940, organized Sufism spread rapidly in the western Indian Ocean. New communities turned to Islam, and Muslim communities turned to new texts, practices and religious leaders. On the East African coast, the orders were both a vehicle for conversion to Islam and for reform of Islamic practice. The impact of Sufism on local communities is here traced geographically as a ripple reaching beyond the Swahili cultural zone southwards to Mozambique, Madagascar and Cape Town. Through an investigation of the texts, ritual practices and scholarly networks that went alongside Sufi expansion, this book places religious change in the western Indian Ocean within the wider framework of Islamic reform.
This article focuses on the manuscript collection currently located in the Riyadha Mosque in Lamu, Kenya. From its foundation in the late nineteenth century, the Riyadha has had a close connection to the Ḥaḍramī-ʿAlawī scholarly network of the Indian Ocean, through family and intellectual links. The article investigates the impact of the ʿAlawī devotional, Sufi and genealogical traditions, as reflected in the manuscript collection of the Riyadha.