This monograph deals with the sweeping emergence of the Tablighi Jama'at - a transnational Islamic missionary movement that has its origins in the reformist tradition that emerged in India in the mid-nineteenth century - in the Gambia in the past decade. It explores how a movement that originated in South Asia could appeal to the local Muslim population - youth and women in particular - in a West African setting. By recording the biographical narratives of five Gambian Tablighis, the book provides an understanding of the ambiguities and contradictions young people are confronted with in their (re)negotiation of Muslim identity. Together these narratives form a picture of how Gambian youth go about their lives within the framework of neoliberal reforms and renegotiated parameters informed by the Tablighi model of how to be a 'true' Muslim, which is interpreted as a believer who is able to reconcile his or her faith with a modern lifestyle.
Marloes Janson is a lecturer in anthropology at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies, University of London, and was previously a researcher at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (Centre for Modern Oriental Studies) in Berlin, Germany. She is the book reviews editor of the Journal of Religion in Africa. Dr Janson has conducted extensive ethnographic field research in the Gambia, Senegal, and Nigeria. She received her Ph.D. from Universiteit Leiden, The Netherlands.
1. 'Life is a test, the hereafter is the best'; 2. 'Welcome to the smiling coast': Muslim politics in the Gambia; 3. The global meeting the local: the Tablighi Jama'at contextualized; 4. Back to the ghetto; 5. A jihad for purity; 6. Learning to be a good Muslim woman; 7. Male wives and female husbands; 8. Hungry for knowledge; 9. 'Muslims are sleeping and we have to wake them up'.