Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Islam In Africa

Islam In Africa History

From its beginning, Islam has been a central feature in Africa. Africa was the first continent into which Islam expanded, and it has become an integral part of many African cultures and histories.[1] There are conflicting statistics of religions in Africa and the world, from different sources. According to Britannica Online, the Muslim population of Africa in 2010, was 421,938,820 (40.84%), while Christians were 488,880,000 (47.32%), African traditional religions (ethnoreligionists) were 109,592,000 (10.6%), and all other remaining beliefs were 12,632.200 (1.22%), from the 1,033,043,000 total population of Africa (100%) in 2010.[2] According to both Encyclopædia Britannica (2003) and World Book Encyclopedia, Islam is the largest religion in Africa, followed by Christianity.[3][4]

Contents  [show] 
Population [edit]

There are conflicting statistics on religious practitioners in Africa (including North Africa). Britannica Online Encyclopedia, in its article "Religion: Year in Review 2010 : Worldwide Adherents of All Religions", states the religious statistics of Africa in 2010, as: 488,880,000 Christians (47.32%), 421,938,820 Muslims (40.84%), 109,592,000 African traditional religions (ethnoreligionists) (10.6%), and 12,632.200 for all other remaining beliefs (1.22%), from the 1033,043,000 total population of Africa (100%) in 2010.[5] Nevertheless, according to a May 9, 2009 Congressional Research Service report, there were 371,459,142 Muslims, 304,313,880 Christians, 137,842,507 who practiced indigenous religions, and 9,818,542 people who practiced other religions in Africa.[3] 1020410.82
History [edit]

Main articles: Muslim conquest of North Africa, Muslim conquest of the Maghreb, Muslim conquest of the Sudan, Shirazi era, and Migration to Abyssinia
Islam by country

The Americas[show]
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The Great Mosque of Djenne, Mali, originally built in the reign of King Mansa Musa of the Mali Empire in the 13th century. A prime example of the Sudano-Sahelian architectural style of West Africa.

The Great Mosque of Kairouan (also known as the Mosque of Uqba), founded in 670 by the Arab general and conqueror Uqba Ibn Nafi, is the oldest and most prestigious mosque in North Africa,[6] located in the city of Kairouan, Tunisia.
The presence of Islam in Africa can be traced to the seventh century when the prophet Muhammad advised a number of his early disciples, who were facing persecution by the pre-Islamic inhabitants of the Mecca, to seek refuge across the Red Sea at the court of Axum in Zeila, under the rule of al-Najashi. In the Muslim tradition, this event is known as the first hijrah, or migration. These first Muslim migrants provided Islam with its first major triumph, and the coastline of Somalia became the first safe haven for Muslims and the first place Islam would be practiced outside of the Arabian Peninsula. Seven years after the death of Muhammad (in 639 AD), the Arabs advanced toward Africa and within two generations, Islam had expanded across the Horn of Africa, North Africa and all of the Central Maghreb.[1][3] In the following centuries, the consolidation of Muslim trading networks, connected by lineage, trade, and Sufi brotherhoods, had reached a crescendo in West Africa, enabling Muslims to wield tremendous political influence and power. During the reign of Umar II, the then governor of Africa, Ismail ibn Abdullah, was said to have won the Berbers to Islam by his just administration. Other early notable missionaries include Abdallah ibn Yasin, who started a movement which caused thousands of Berbers to accept Islam.[7]
Similarly, in the Swahili coast, Islam made its way inland - spreading at the expense of traditional African religions. This expansion of Islam in Africa not only led to the formation of new communities in Africa, but it also reconfigured existing African communities and empires to be based on Islamic models.[3] Indeed, in the middle of the eleventh century, the Kanem Empire, whose influence extended into Sudan, converted to Islam. At the same time but more toward West Africa, the reigning ruler of the Bornu Empire embraced Islam.[7] As these kingdoms adopted Islam, its populace thereafter devotedly followed suit. In praising the Africans' zealousness to Islam, the fourteenth century explorer Ibn Battuta stated that mosques were so crowded on Fridays, that unless one went very early, it was impossible to find a place to sit.[7]
History of Islam in Africa and accounts of how the religion spread, especially in Sub-Sahara Africa has always been contentious. Head of Awqaf Africa London, Sheikh Dr. Abu-Abdullah Adelabu has written in his Movements of Islam in face of the Empires and Kingdoms in Yorubaland claims about early arrival of Islam in the southwestern Nigeria. He seconded the Arab anthropologist Abduhu Badawi in the argument that the early Muslim missionaries had benefited their works from the fall of Kush in southern Sudan and the prosperity of the politically multicultural Abbasid period in the continent which, according to him, had created several streams of migration, moving west in the mid-9th Sub-Sahara.[8] Adelabu pointed at the popularity and influences of the Abbasid Dynasty (750-1258), the second great dynasty with the rulers carrying the title of 'Caliph' as fostering peaceful and prosperous migration of the inter-cultured Muslims from Nile to Niger as well as of the Arab traders from Desert to Benue. Adelabu's claim seems to be in line with the conventional historical view that the conquest of North Africa by the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate between AD 647–709 effectively ended Catholicism in Africa for several centuries.[9]
In the sixteenth century, the Ouaddai Empire and the Kingdom of Kano embraced Islam, and later toward the eighteenth century, the Nigeria based Sokoto Caliphate led by Usman dan Fodio exerted considerable effort in spreading Islam.[7] Today, Islam is the predominant religion of Northern Africa, mainly concentrated in North, Northeast Africa and the Sahel, as well as West Africa.
Characteristics [edit]

The 13th century Larabanga Mosque of Ghana, one of the oldest surviving mosques in West Africa.

The 12th century Sankore Madrasah, Timbuktu, Mali. One of the earliest universities in the world. The three mosques of Sankoré, Djinguereber Mosque and Sidi Yahya compose the famous University of Timbuktu. Madrasah means school/university in Arabic and also in other languages associated with Muslim people.
Although the majority of Muslims in Africa are Sunni or Sufi, the complexity of Islam in Africa is revealed in the various schools of thought, traditions, and voices that constantly contend for dominance in many African countries. African Islam is not static and is constantly being reshaped by prevalent social, economic, and political conditions.[3]
Islam in Africa often adapted to African cultural contexts and belief systems forming Africa's own orthodoxies. Africans have generally appropriated Islam in more inclusive way, or in the more radical way, as with the Almoravid movement.[10][11]
African Islam has both local and global dimensions. On the local level, experts assert that Muslims (including African Muslims) operate with considerable autonomy and do not have an international organization that regulates their religious practices. This fact accounts for the differences and varieties in Islamic practices throughout the African continent. On the global level, however, African Muslims belong to the ummah, the worldwide Islamic community, and follow global issues and current events that affect the Muslim world with keen interest. With globalization and new initiatives in information technology, African Muslims have developed and maintained close connections with the wider Muslim world.[3]
Analysts argue that African Muslims, like other Muslims in Asia, the Middle East and the rest of the world, seem to be locked into an intense struggle regarding the future direction of Islam. At core of the struggle are questions about the way in which Muslims should practice their faith. The scholars assert that the majority seems to prefer to remain on the moderate, tolerant course that Islam has historically followed. However, a relatively small, but growing group would like to establish a stricter form of the religion, one that informs and controls all aspects of society.[3]
Shari'a [edit]

The Sharia law broadly influences the legal code in most Islamic countries, but the extent of its impact varies widely. In Africa, most states limit the use of Shar’ia to “personal-status law” for issues such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody. With the exceptions of Nigeria and Somalia, secularism does not seem to face any serious threat in Africa, even though the new Islamic revival is having a great impact upon segments of Muslim populations. Cohabitation or coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims remains, for the most part, peaceful.[3]
Nigeria is home to Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest Muslim population. In 1999, Nigeria’s northern states adopted the Shar’ia penal code, but punishments have been rare. In fact, dozens of women convicted of adultery and sentenced to stoning to death have later been freed. Egypt, one of the largest Muslim states in Africa, claims Shar’ia as the main source of its legislation, yet its penal and civil codes are based largely on French law.[3]
Sects [edit]

Muslims in Africa mostly belong to the Sunni denomination, though there are also a significant number of Shias and Ahmadiyya followers. In addition, Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam, also has a presence. The Maliki madh'hab is the dominant school of jurisprudence amongst most of the continent's Sunni communities, while the Shafi'i madh'hab is prevalent in the Horn of Africa, eastern Egypt, and the Swahili Coast. The Hanafi fiqh is also followed in western Egypt.
Sufism [edit]
Sufism, which focuses on the mystical elements of Islam, has many orders as well as followers in West Africa and Sudan, and, like other orders, strives to know God through meditation and emotion. Sufis may be Sunni or Shi’ite, and their ceremonies may involve chanting, music, dancing, and meditation.[3]
Many Sufis in Africa are syncretic where they practise Sufism with traditional folklore beliefs. Salafis criticize the folklorists Sufis, who they claim have incorporated "un-Islamic" beliefs into their practices, such as celebrating the several events, visiting the shrines of "Islamic saints", dancing during prayer (the whirling dervishes).[12]
West Africa and Sudan have various Sufi orders regarded skeptically by the more doctrinally strict branches of Islam in the Middle East. Most orders in West Africa emphasize the role of a spiritual guide, marabout or possessing supernatural power, regarded as an Africanization of Islam. In Senegal and Gambia, Mouridism Sufis claim to have several million adherents and have drawn criticism for their veneration of Mouridism’s founder Amadou Bamba. The Tijani is the most popular Sufi order in West Africa, with a large following in Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Gambia.[3]
Salafism [edit]
Relatively recently, Salafism has begun to spread in Africa, as a result of many Muslim Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) such as the World Muslim League, the World Assembly for Muslim Youth, the Federation of Mab and Islamic Schools. These Salafist organizations, often based in Saudi Arabia, promote conservatism, and regard Sufi Islam as "heterodox" and contrary to the traditional Islam.[1][3] Such NGOs have built of mosques and Islamic centers in Africa, and many are staffed by puritanical African Muslims, often trained in the Middle East. Academic scholarships are also offered to further Salafism.[3]
Notable kingdoms and sultanates [edit]

Kanem Empire (700 AD - 1376 AD)
Caliphate of Córdoba (756 AD – 1031 AD)
Idrisid dynasty (789 AD - 974 AD)
Sultanate of Mogadishu (c. 900 AD - 16th century)
Maghrawa dynasty (987 AD - 1070 AD)
Kingdom of Kano (1000 AD - 1805 AD)
Almoravid dynasty (1073 AD – 1147 AD)
Almohad dynasty (1147 AD – 1269 AD)
Mali Empire (1230s CE – 1600s CE)
Marinid dynasty (1258 AD – 1420 AD)
Ifat Sultanate (1285 AD - 1415 AD)
Warsangali Sultanate (1298 AD - present)
Ajuuraan Empire (1300s AD - 1600s AD]
Songhai Empire (1340 AD - 1591 AD)
Bornu Empire (1369 AD - 1893 AD)
Adal Sultanate (1415 AD - 1555 AD)
Wattasid dynasty (1420 AD – 1554 AD)
Sennar Sultanate (1502 AD - 1821 AD)
Saadi dynasty (1554 AD – 1659 AD)
Dendi Kingdom (1591 AD - 1901 AD)
Sultanate of Darfur (1603 AD - 1874 AD)
Alaouite dynasty (1666 AD - current)
Kong Empire (1710 AD - 1894 AD)
Majeerteen Sultanate (mid-1700s – early 1900s)
Imamate of Futa Jallon (1727 AD - 1896 AD)
Imamate of Futa Toro (1776 AD - 1861 AD)
Sokoto Caliphate (1804 AD - 1903 AD)
Kingdom of Gomma (early 1800s AD – 1886 AD)
Kingdom of Jimma (1830 AD – 1932 AD)
Kingdom of Gumma (1840 AD – 1902 AD)
Wassoulou Empire (1878 AD - 1898 AD)
Sultanate of Hobyo (1880s AD - 1920s AD)
Further reading [edit]

Spencer Trimingham, History of Islam in West Africa. Oxford University Press, 1962.
Nehemia Levtzion and Randall L. Pouwels (eds). The History of Islam in Africa. Ohio University Press, 2000.
David Robinson. Muslim Societies in African History. Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Bruce S. Hall, A History of Race in Muslim West Africa, 1600-1960. Cambridge University Press, 2011

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