Dynamics of reform in Sub-Saharan Africa

Authored by: Roman Loimeier

Routledge Handbook of Islam in Africa

Print publication date:  December  2021
Online publication date:  December  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367144234
eBook ISBN: 9780367144241
Adobe ISBN:


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Muslims have known efforts and movements of reform since the time of the Prophet. Owing to different historical as well as social/political/economic contexts, such movements of reform have acquired many different guises. In contemporary times, we may differentiate between a broad range of Sufi-oriented movements of reform as well as Salafi-oriented movements. Despite their obvious differences – due to the specific local context in which movements of reform develop – movements of reform are characterized by a number of common traits such as the reference to the Qur’an as the most basic text as well as the reference to the Prophet as the “first and supreme reformer”. Beyond these basic commonalities, movements of reform are characterized by dynamics of development that point to characteristic “path dependencies”. They differ, of course, with respect to the intensity in which they pursue a specific path. In the course of time, they may modify their course (path) in specific historical constellations or simply due to generational change. My contribution will discuss both patterns of reform and the importance of “path dependencies” on the basis of a number of regional case studies in Africa.

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