The history of Islam in Africa is almost as old as Islam itself, stretching back to the 7th century. Below, Mustafa Briggs lists 8 books that highlight different aspects of this deep-rooted tradition, the achievements (at times even existence) of which are often overlooked.
a detailed mapping of the cultural, political, geographic and religious past of Islam in Africa.
Ousmane Kane aims to illustrate the rise of the Muslim intellectual tradition in West Africa, from the time of Islam entering the region in the 10th century, until the modern day. It shows how the famous intellectual capital of Timbuktu was not unique and part of a larger and very widespread culture of Islamic intellectualism in the pre-colonial period.
The Walking Quran details the spread of Islam through Quranic education and traditional schools in West Africa, beginning with the formation of Islamic clerical families and intellectual traditions between the 10th and 18th centuries. It reviews the complex relationship between Islam, slavery and rebellion in the 18th century; the Islamic Schools and Sufi brotherhoods and how they affected social change during the colonial period; and the current relationship between the traditional Quran schools and modern reform movements.
Ibraheem Sulaiman explores the rise of the 17th century Nigerian Islamic Scholar-turned-emperor, Usman Dan Fodio, who established the Sokoto Caliphate or Islamic State in Northern Nigeria. Remnants of the state still exist in modern Nigeria and play a huge role in government administration, the economy and politics today.
One Woman’s Jihad highlights the career and work of the daughter of Usman Dan Fodio, Nana Asma’u, an intellectual powerhouse who lead a women’s movement during her father’s reign, which aimed to empower women though education and social activism- a must read!
Loimeier provides a concise overview of Muslim societies in Africa, in light of their role in African history and the history of the Islamic world.
Fighting the Greater Jihad explores the life and times of Sheikh Ahmad Bamba, the famous Senegalese Sufi sheikh, pacifist, and social activist, whose brotherhood flourished under colonial rule, despite attempts to suppress and contain it by the French Colonial Authorities. It still plays a huge role in all areas of Senegalese society, politics and economy.
Wright investigates the rise and spread of the movement of Sheikh Ibrahim Niasse of Senegal, which was named by certain prominent academics to be the single largest Muslim movement in Africa. It examines the history of Islam in the region and the development of the clergy and intellectual tradition that gave birth to the movement, alongside the relationship between Ibrahim Niasse’s movement and the manifestation of African Liberation Theory, Pan-Africanism and Postcolonialism and Global Islamic Solidarity, which highlighted the later years of Ibrahim Niasse’s international career.
Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below!