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Subjects of Empires/Citizens of States: Yemenis in Djibouti and Ethiopia – Samson A. Bezabeh

“Although the Horn of Africa was historically one of the earliest destinations for Yemeni migrants, it has been overlooked by scholars, who have otherwise meticulously documented the Yemeni presence in the Indian Ocean region. Subjects of Empires/Citizens of States draws on rich ethnographic and historical research to examine the interaction of the Yemeni diaspora with states and empires in Djibouti and Ethiopia from the early twentieth century, when European powers began to colonize the region. In doing so, it aims to counter a dominant perspective in Indian Ocean studies that regards migrants across the region as by-products of personal networks and local oceanic systems, which according to most scholarship led to cosmopolitan spaces and hybrid cultures. Samson Bezabeh argues that far from being free from the restrictions of state and empire, these migrant communities were constrained, and their agency structured, by their interactions with the institutions and relations of states and empires in the region. Elegantly combining theoretical readings with extensive empirical findings, this study documents a largely forgotten period in the history of Yemeni migration as well as contributing to the wider debates on class, citizenship, and ethnicity in relation to diaspora groups. It will appeal to specialists in Middle East studies and to those who study the Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa regions, as well as to migration and diaspora studies scholars, nongovernmental organizations, and policy makers concerned with the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden region.”

 

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Islam and Christianity in the Horn of Africa: Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan – Haggai Erlich

Can Christianity and Islam coexist? Or are Muslims and Christians destined to delegitimize and even demonize each other? Tracing the modern history of the region where the two religions first met, and where they are engaged now in active confrontation, Haggai Erlich finds legacies of tolerance, as well as militancy. Erlich’s analysis of political, military, and diplomatic developments in the Horn of Africa from the late nineteenth century to the present is combined with an exploration of the ways in which religious formulations of the nearby ‘other’ both influenced policymaking and were reshaped by it. His work also demonstrates in a compelling way how initial Islamic and Christian concepts remain directly relevant in the region today, perhaps more so than ever before.

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Islamic Sufi Networks in the Western Indian Ocean (C.1880-1940): Ripples of Reform – Anne K. Bang

In the period c. 1880-1940, organized Sufism spread rapidly in the western Indian Ocean. New communities turned to Islam, and Muslim communities turned to new texts, practices and religious leaders. On the East African coast, the orders were both a vehicle for conversion to Islam and for reform of Islamic practice. The impact of Sufism on local communities is here traced geographically as a ripple reaching beyond the Swahili cultural zone southwards to Mozambique, Madagascar and Cape Town. Through an investigation of the texts, ritual practices and scholarly networks that went alongside Sufi expansion, this book places religious change in the western Indian Ocean within the wider framework of Islamic reform.

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Al-Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group – Stig Jarle Hansen

Since early 2007 a new breed of combatants has appeared on the streets of Mogadishu and other towns in Somalia: the ‘Shabaab’, or youth, the only self-proclaimed branch of al-Qaeda to have gained acceptance (and praise) from Ayman al-Zawahiri and ‘AQ centre’ in Afghanistan. Itself an offshoot of the Islamic Courts Union, which split in 2006, Shabaab has imposed Sharia law and is also heavily influenced by local clan structures within Somalia itself. It remains an infamous and widely discussed, yet little-researched and understood, Islamist group. Hansen’s remarkable book attempts to go beyond the media headlines and simplistic analyses based on alarmist or localist narratives and, by employing intensive field research conducted within Somalia, as well as on the ground interviews with Shabaab leaders themselves, explores the history of a remarkable organisation, one that has survived predictions of its collapse on several occasions. Hansen portrays al-Shabaab as a hybrid Islamist organization that combines a strong streak of Somali nationalism with the rhetorical obligations of international jihadism, thereby attracting a not insignificant number of foreign fighters to its ranks. Both these strands of Shabaab have been inadvertently boosted by Ethiopian, American and African Union attempts to defeat it militarily, all of which have come to nought.

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Islam in Africa South of the Sahara: Essays in Gender Relations and Political Reform – Pade Badru and Brigid M. Sackey

Islam in Africa South of the Sahara: Essays in Gender Relations and Political Reform draws together contributions from scholars that focus on changes taking place in the practice of the religion and their effects on the political terrain and civil society. Contributors explore the dramatic changes in gender relations within Islam on the continent, occasioned in part by the events of 9/11 and the response of various Islamic states to growing negative media coverage. These explorations of the dynamics of religious change, reconfigured gender relations, and political reform consider not only the role of state authorities but the impact of ordinary Muslim women who have taken to challenging the surbodinate role assigned to them in Islam.

Essays are far-ranging in their scope as the future of Islam in sub-Saharan Africa falls under the microscope, with contributing addressing such topics as the Islamic view of the historic Arab enslavement of Africans and colonialist ventures; studies of gender politics in Gambia, northern Nigeria, and Ghana; surveys of the impact of Sharia law in Nigeria and Sudan; the political role of Islam in Somalia, South Africa, and African diaspora communities.

Islam in Africa South of the Sahara is an ideal reader for students and scholars of international politics, comparative theology, race and ethnicity, comparative sociology, African and Islamic studies.

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Practicing Sufism: Sufi Politics and Performance in Africa (Routledge Sufi Series) – Abdelmajid Hannoum

Islam in Africa is deeply connected with Sufism, and the history of Islam is in a significant way a history of Sufism. Yet even within this continent, the practice and role of Sufism varies across the regions.

 

This interdisciplinary volume brings together histories and experiences of Sufism in various parts of Africa, offering case studies on several countries that include Morocco, Algeria, Senegal, Egypt, Sudan, Mali, and Nigeria. It uses a variety of methodologies ranging from the hermeneutical, through historiographic to ethnographic, in a comprehensive examination of the politics and performance of Sufism in Africa. While the politics of Sufism pertains largely to historical and textual analysis to highlight paradigms of sanctity in different geographical areas in Africa, the aspect of performance adopts a decidedly ethnographic approach, combining history, history of art and discourse analysis. Together, analysis of these two aspects reveals the many faces of Sufism that have remained hitherto hidden.

 

Furthering understanding of the African Islamic religious scene, as well as contributing to the study of Sufism worldwide, this volume is of key interest to students and scholars of Middle Eastern, African and Islamic studies.

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The Legacy of Arab-Islam In Africa: A Quest for Inter-religious Dialogue – John Alembillah Azumah

This new book reassess the presence of Islam in Africa.

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