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9 Muslims on the Horn of Africa

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9

Muslims on the Horn of Africa

Historical and Thematic Patterns

The Horn of Africa forms one of the smallest regions of Islam in Africa. The arid lowlands of the Horn are characterized by fairly homogeneous ethnic, linguistic, and religious structures dominated by Somaal tribal groups. The history of the Horn has been characterized by competition over scarce resources, as well as tribal feuds.

At the same time, the region has been marked by the absence of a central government until the early twentieth century. As such, the Horn can be seen as a huge bilād al-sība, where tribal self-governance has historically prevailed over processes of state formation.

While Ethiopia was linked with the lands on the Nile and those on the Red Sea, the

Horn of Africa formed links with southern Arabia in the north and the East African coast in the south. Islam in the Horn originated in three regions: the ports of Zaylaʿ and

Berbera in the north; Harär and other centers of Islamic learning in the eastern Ethio˙ pian highlands; and the ports of the Banādir coast, namely Mogadishu, Brawa, Marka, and Kismayu. From at least the thirteenth century, these market places, harbors, and trading places had sizeable settlements of traders and scholars from Hadramawt in

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7 Egyptian Colonialism and the Mahdī in the Sudan

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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

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Appendix

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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

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5 Dynamics of Jihād in the Bilād al-Sūdūn

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Dynamics of Jihād in the Bilād al-Sūdān

Patterns of Jihād

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the bilād al-sūdān experienced a series of wars which led to the establishment of new states and empires that were ruled, for the first time in the history of these societies, by Muslim religious scholars. The wars which ended with the victory of these religious scholars were legitimated in religious terms and came to be regarded as jihāds, while the new states which arose from these movements of jihād came to be seen as imāmates. In major parts of the bilād al-sūdān, the jihāds of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries brought to an end the rule of non-Muslim rulers and of those Muslim rulers who had tolerated the coexistence of Islam and local cults. They also set the stage for the European colonial conquest of Africa since the late nineteenth century which encountered a series of imāmates and Muslim empires, from the Atlantic to Lake Chad. When looking at the development of these Muslim states in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, we see that there was never a single model but a spectrum of expressions of jihād, and consequently not a single model of Islamic rule but a spectrum of expressions of rule: as each movement of jihād developed its own character, each imāmate developed its own style and structure of governance, from the almost ideal type of a Muslim state,

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2 The Bilād al-Maghrib: Rebels, Saints, and Heretics

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2

The Bilād al-Maghrib

Rebels, Saints, and Heretics

Historical Themes and Patterns

Between the late seventh and thirteenth centuries, the bilād al-maghrib saw a bewildering variety of religious and political developments, including a series of efforts toward religio-political hegemony. In the thirteenth century, the last efforts to unite the bilād al-maghrib came to an end and particularistic forces prevailed. The bilād almaghrib remained politically divided into the four major regions that we know today, namely Morocco in the west, Algeria in the center, and Tunisia as well as Tripolitania

(Libya) in the east. Not only the political divisions have remained the same since the thirteenth century, but major religious features which today still characterize Muslim society in the bilād al-maghrib were also defined conclusively at that time.

These features include adherence within the bilād al-maghrib as a whole to Sunni

Islam and the Mālikī school of law. Shīʿī efforts to gain a foothold in the bilād almaghrib eventually failed, despite the successful beginnings of the Fātimid caliphate

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