Practicing Sufism and Performance in Africa

Publication Year



Edited by Abdelmajid Hannoum, Ph.D. 1996.

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.

Table of Contents

Introduction Abdelmajid Hannoum, University of Kansas
Chapter 1: Semiotics of Sufism; or How to Become a Saint, Abdelmajid Hannoum, University of Kansas
Chapter 2: The Path of Sainthood: Structure and Danger, Abdallah Hammoudi, Princeton University
Chapter 3: Sufi eschatology and hagiography as Responses to Colonial Repression, Cheick A. Babou, University of Pennsylvania

Chapter 4: Gender and Agency in the History of a West African Sufi Community: The Followers of Yacouba Sylla, Sean Hanretta, Northwestern University

Chapter 5: Historical Perspectives on the Domed Shrine in the Nilotic Sudan, Neil McHugh, Fort Lewis College

Chapter 6: Genealogies of "Orthodox" Islam: The Moroccan Gnawa Religious Brotherhood, "Blackness" and the figure of Bilal ibn Rabah, Amanda E. Rogers, Georgia State University

Chapter 7: The Promise of Sonic Translation: Performing the Festive Sacred in Morocco, Deborah A. Kapchan, New York University

Chapter 8: The Visual Performative of Senegalese Sufism, Allen F. Roberts and Mary Nooter Roberts, University of California, Los Angeles

Chapter 9: A Darfur-Doha Encounter and a Sufi Mystic’s Whirling for Peace, Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf, Georgetown University

Chapter 10 Rethinking the Distinction between Popular and Reform Sufism in Egypt: An Examination of the Mawlid of Muhammad Mitwalli Sha‘rawi, Jacquelene Brinton, University of Kansas

New York
Cloth: 9781138649187; paper: 9780367877880; ebook: 9781315625935