Making Africa Muslim

History 103H.001

Fall 2017
2231 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Th 12-2
Class Number: 
  • This course has been cancelled.
  • In this course, we will ask how and why Islam was adopted by so many people in Africa (slightly less than 50% of Africans are Muslims today). Although we will pay some attention to the larger history of the spread of Islam in Africa, we will be primarily interested in issues of religious practice and identity among different strata of African populations over time. One of the principle vehicles for the extension of Muslim practice in Africa was the teachings and institutional structures embodied in Islamic mysticism (which is known by the term "Sufism"). Islamic mysticism was central to the spread of Islam in Africa, and to its particular dynamism in different parts of the continent. For many African Muslims today—s in the past—Islamic mysticism is an essential part of their practice and belief as Muslims. But conversely, Islamic mysticism has also become a primary target for criticism by many reformist Muslims. The course assumes no prior knowledge of Islam or African history. The approach that we will take will be in some ways based on the curriculum that an African Muslim student would have followed. Each week, we will read two types of texts: academic articles and chapters about different aspects of the history of Muslim Africa, and English translations of important Islamic texts written and read in Africa. By approaching the subject through some of the texts used to spread the message of Islam to different Africans over time, we will learn about the intellectual framework of Islam in Africa. The objective of the course is to provide students with both a working knowledge of Islamic history in Africa and the intellectual framework of an initiate's understanding and appreciation of the body of thought and practice of Muslim Africans.