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Week 13, Islam in Africa Notes

by: Raleigh Zook

Week 13, Islam in Africa Notes RELA 3900/ RELI3900

Marketplace > University of Virginia > RELA 3900/ RELI3900 > Week 13 Islam in Africa Notes
Raleigh Zook
GPA 3.55

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About this Document

These notes cover contemporary issues of Islam in Africa. This focus on Northern Nigeria, the bori cult, the globalization of indigenous religions, and Boko Haram.
Islam in Africa
Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton
Class Notes
islam, Muslim, religion, Africa, boko, haram, nigeria, bori, cult
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Raleigh Zook on Monday May 2, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to RELA 3900/ RELI3900 at University of Virginia taught by Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 8 views.


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Date Created: 05/02/16
Week 13 Islam in Africa Notes Contemporary Issues I. Bori • Expanding and growing (into Saudi Arabia , as well) in face of Islamists who are attacking this cult in Northern Nigeria • To facilitate healing • Resilience of African indigenous models • Women’s involvement in Bori and spirit mediums o Extremely widespread in pre-Islamic Africa; continuity; ubiquity o Women predominated in spirit cults. Men are involved, and sometimes held leadership positions, but women were the most active o Why have women been so active? 1. “Relative deprivation” a. Most common theory b. In patrilineal societies, spirit cults comprise a feminist sub-culture so that women can use spirits to command husbands c. Request goods, luxuries, and/or status and people are compelled to agree…Healers/Channel powerful, influential spirits d. Women manipulating this belief—used to prophesize and cure people e. Commanded respect/authority to some extent 2. Psychological theory a. Gives women opportunity to creatively and openly express oneself—the self becomes more integrated/wholesome i. Can question and challenge mainstream norms (patriarchy) 3. Enabled people to integrate foreign elements/agents a. Indigenous way of domesticating the foreign into the cosmology b. Integrate local African communities with the world i. E.g. Zar cult in Sudan II. Gender (Status of Women) • Contentious issue • Scriptural foundations o Sharia (rules based on Quran or found in Sunna) o Quran—protections for women th § Backdrop (context of 7 century Arabia/jahiliyya—age of ignorance) must be ignored Women were not valued 1. Female babies were killed—Quran forbids this 2. Women had no say in marriage. But, Quran states (chapter 2) that a woman cannot be married without her wishes and widows cannot be inherited. 3. Men had right of unlimited polygamy before the Quran limited it to four (if treated equally 4. Women had very few rights and welcomed the Sharia o Protections, equality (spiritual), inequality (socially), veil/dress, seclusion (Like the Prophet’s wives), feminist reform III. Bori and Globalization (N. Nigeria primarily) • O’Brien’s article—Saudi Arabian interest in medicines and healing powers of yan Bori…powerful, holistic, exotic, alternative approach (Not openly seeking it…secretive) • Power of bori depends on power of djinn o A marginalized group found ways of navigating and taking advantage of this to gain status, mobility, and recognition • Flexible gender groups o E.g. yan daudu—iffeminite men/homosexuals o E.g. Karuwal—prostitutes/unmarried women (independent) o Connection between these groups and Saudi Arabia • Returning from the hajj o Rewarded for their service o Transform themselves into respected members of society/ their community; privileged status o Bring back knowledge of Mecca o Rare and highly valued o Shows how local, African, indigenous religions are globalized via this medical trade (revival of bori) o Impact of Sokoto Caliphate, Izala Movement, etc. IV. Boko Haram th th • This insurgency is based on what was Kanem-Bornu Empire (11 -18 centuries) • Islamist militant groups have socio-economic, political purposes rather than simply terrorizing o Response to the larger problems (Historical, psychological, etc.) • Socio-Economic Problems o Disparity in ability to get jobs due to type of schoolings. High unemployment in younger generations § Aimless, frustrated young men finding a purpose o Undeveloped areas (not many centers/ developments) • Kanem-Bornu relation to Sokoto Caliphate o On fringes—trying to resist Sokoto Caliphate • Deeply local/regional problems • Current leader: Abu Bakr Sheakau—pledged allegiance to ISIS last year


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