At a time when so-called fundamentalism has become the privileged analytical frame for understanding Muslim societies past and present, this study offers an alternative perspective on Islam. In an innovative combination of anthropology, history, and social theory, Benjamin Soares explores Islam and Muslim practice in an important Islamic religious centre in West Africa from the late nineteenth century to the present. Drawing on ethnography, archival research, and written sources, Soares provides a richly detailed discussion of Sufism, Islamic reform, and other contemporary ways of being Muslim in Mali and offers an original analytical perspective for understanding changes in the practice of Islam more generally.
Benjamin F. Soares is Senior Researcher, African Studies Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands.
CONTENTS; Illustrations (Maps, Photos)ii; Acknowledgements iii; Notes on Orthography and Translation v; List of Abbreviations vi; Glossary vii; Introduction; Part I History; Islam and Authority before the Colonial Period; Colonialism and After; Saints and Sufi Orders I - the Hamawiyya; Saints and Sufi Orders II - the Tijaniyya; Part II Authority; The Esoteric Sciences; The Prayer Economy; 'Reform'; The Public Sphere and the Postcolony; Conclusion: The Market, the Public, and Islam; Bibliography; Index.