Fayda-Tijaniyya and Islamic reform in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Africa

Authored by: Ousman Murzik Kobo

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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This chapter offers some insights to explain the resilience of Sufi reform in Africa during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries despite over half a century of aggressive efforts by Salafi-type organizations to eliminate Sufism from the African Islamic landscape. Focusing on the Tijaniyya order, primarily the Fayda Tijaniyya, whose pattern of development mirrored that of locally constructed Salafi organizations, the chapter analyzes some key factors that help to answer the question: why and by what processes did the Sufi brotherhoods maintain their dominance in Muslim ecclesiastical space in many parts of Africa? The evidence suggests that Sufi leaders of the Fayda movement established formidable intellectual and social infrastructures that allowed the Tijaniyya to experience sustained growth in Africa since the end of colonial rule, and expanded into Europe, North America, and Asia, through West African migrants as well as the active proselytism of Tijaniyya scholars. Arguing against the subtle assumption in academic research that the two twentieth-century reform trends in Africa remained deadlocked in doctrinal polemics, the chapter suggests that we pay attention to the ways these polemics also produced strategies of coexistence and mutual transformations that resulted in doctrinal modifications characteristic of African Islamic traditions of reform and renewal.

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