15 Slices
Medium 9780253007889

Conclusion

Roman Loimeier Indiana University Press PDF

Conclusion

When considering more than 1,300 years of historical development of Muslim societies in Africa, it is tempting to look through the lens of politics and to see Muslim societies in a longue durée perspective as primarily political bodies: after all, Muslims have built powerful empires and have inscribed Islam in African history in a way which cannot be disputed, in particular considering the emergence of the imāmates of sub-Saharan West Africa in the context of the movements of jihād in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I would contend, however, that the true dimensions of the impact of Islam cannot be grasped by looking at political development only. Islam has become the religion of more than 450 million Africans today (see map 8), because Muslims have offered multiple solutions in periods of crisis as well as in contexts in which

Africans were looking for new orientations. In addition, Muslims have advanced an agenda of societal development that was and is attractive beyond purely political considerations, such as stability and protection, as well as economic prosperity through trade, new modes of production, and integration in translocal networks of exchange.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253007889

10 The East African Coast

Roman Loimeier Indiana University Press PDF

10 The East African Coast

Historical and Thematic Patterns

Whereas seas of sand connect the northern and southern shores of the Sahara, the

Indian Ocean and annual monsoon winds connect the East African coast with the shores of India and Arabia. The regional orientation toward India and southern Arabia also informed the development of East Africa’s Muslim societies. The Shāfiʿī school of law came to predominate in eastern Africa, whereas the Muslims in sub-Saharan

West Africa joined the Mālikī school of law. In contrast to the bilād al-maghrib, the

Sahara and the bilād al-sūdān, as well as the Nile Sudan and even Ethiopia, Islam in

East Africa remained confined for almost one thousand years to the littoral zones, the sawāhil, where a Muslim culture developed, characterized by a common language

˙

(Kiswahili) and a culture of seafaring and long-distance trade. In the East African interior, Islam started to spread, again through Muslim traders, in the nineteenth century only. The possible emergence of Muslim states, as in Buganda, was stopped by encroaching colonial rule. We have to understand thus the historical development of Muslim East Africa as two separate histories: the long history of the Muslim societies on the coast which were oriented toward the Indian Ocean; and the short history of the Muslim populations of the East African interior, upcountry Kenya, Uganda, mainland Tanzania, and also eastern Congo, where small Muslim communities started to develop from the late nineteenth century. While the history of Islam in the

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253007889

7 Egyptian Colonialism and the Mahdī in the Sudan

Roman Loimeier Indiana University Press PDF

7

Egyptian Colonialism and the Mahdī in the Sudan

Historical Themes and Patterns

After the collapse of the Funj empire in the early nineteenth century, the lands on the two Niles became one of the few regions in Africa not colonized by a European colonial power but by an Arabo-African empire, Egypt. As in pharaonic times, Egypt sought to secure its southern marches, to control the Nile valley, and to gain access to the natural resources of the Sudan. Egyptian power politics were linked with a program of modernization in Egypt as well as in the new Egyptian provinces in the Sudan. While the Egyptian colonial conquest of the Sudan succeeded, Egyptian efforts to modernize the Sudan remained superficial and created unrest and instability. The new administration, often based on a bureaucracy staffed by Copts, turned social structures upside down, and marginalized established authorities while pampering new social and religious movements, especially among the Sufi orders and religious scholars. The extension of the Egyptian administration into the southern and western marches of the

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253007889

3 The Sahara as Connective Space

Roman Loimeier Indiana University Press PDF

3

The Sahara as Connective Space

Historical Themes and Patterns

In both North African history and the history of sub-Saharan Africa, the Sahara has been seen as a geographical, political, and economic periphery. As a result, the Sahara and its populations have been presented as forming merely an extension of either the bilād al-maghrib or the bilād al-sūdān. This perspective neglects the fact that the

Sahara has been a major connective space and has been as such an intrinsic part of the economic systems of both the bilād al-maghrib and the bilād al-sūdān. Due to these entanglements, the Sahara cannot be seen as an isolated backwater of world history and economics. The economic importance of the Sahara and its trade routes in fact has been so important for the bilād al-maghrib and the bilād al-sūdān that the rulers in the north and the south have repeatedly tried to gain control over the Sahara and trans-Saharan trade routes. Consequently, knowledge of trade and trade routes, wells, oases, and terrain was of paramount importance and collected eagerly. At the same time, knowledge was withheld as far as possible from possible competitors, especially

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253007889

Appendix

Roman Loimeier Indiana University Press PDF

Appendix

In Europe and North America, sub-Saharan Africa has been presented until at least the mid-twentieth century as a continent devoid of pre-modern literatures. This perspective on sub-Saharan Africa has been widely shared by orientalists and is reflected in the fact that

Carl Brockelmann’s monumental Geschichte der Arabischen Literatur, published between

1937 and 1942 (five volumes), had very few entries on scholars from sub-Saharan Africa. In recent decades, however, research has shown that Muslim societies in sub-Saharan Africa have not only produced a large number of chronicles and local histories (see chapter 4), but a tremendous number of texts on a large array of themes, as documented, for instance, in the current four (soon six) volumes of the Arabic Literature of Africa series, edited by John

Hunwick and Sean Rex O’Fahey or in Ulrich Rebstock’s Maurische Literaturgeschichte. As of today, we know that the corpus of Arabic writings composed in the central bilād al-sūdān comprised more than 2,200 texts, not considering king lists, diplomatic notes, and business or private letters, as well as amulets or recipes. Yet this number, though impressive, is still defective. Many texts have been lost or are still hidden, as Muslim scholars chose to hide their libraries when colonial administrations as well as postcolonial national and international bodies, such as museums or universities, appeared too keen on appropriating private libraries for their own purposes. Only recently (since 1996), twenty-one private libraries have been made accessible in Timbuktu alone, among them the Mamma Haidara collection (9,000 manuscripts), the Fondo Kati (7,026 manuscripts), and the Wangari collection (3,000 manuscripts). A similar situation prevails in the western bilād al-sūdān, in

See All Chapters

See All Slices