Spanning a thousand years of historyand bringing the story to the present through ethnographic fieldwork in Senegal, Gambia, and MauritaniaRudolph Ware documents the profound significance of Qur'an schools for West African Muslim communities. Such schools peacefully brought Islam to much of the region, becoming striking symbols of Muslim identity. Ware shows how in Senegambia the schools became powerful channels for African resistance during the eras of the slave trade and colonization. While illuminating the past, Ware also makes signal contributions to understanding contemporary Islam by demonstrating how the schools' epistemology of embodiment gives expression to classical Islamic frameworks of learning and knowledge.Today, many Muslims and non-Muslims find West African methods of Qur'an schooling puzzling and controversial. In fascinating detail, Ware introduces these practices from the viewpoint of the practitioners, explicating their emphasis on educating the whole human being as if to remake it as a living replica of the Qur'an. From this perspective, the transference of knowledge in core texts and rituals is literally embodied in people, helping shape themlike the Prophet of Islaminto vital bearers of the word of God.
About the Author
Rudolph T. Ware III is assistant professor of history at the University of Michigan.
Table of Contents
Orthographic Notes xv
Introduction: Islam, the Quran School, and the Africans 1
Chapter 1 Education, Embodiment, and Epistemology 39
Chapter 2 Embodying Islam in West Africa: The Making of a Clerisy, ca. 1000-1770 77
Chapter 3 The Book in Chains: Slavery and Revolution in Senegambia, 1770-1890 110
Chapter 4 Bodies of Knowledge: Schooling, Sufism, and Social Change in Colonial Senegal, 1890-1945 163
Chapter 5 Disembodied Knowledge?: "Reform" and Epistemology in Senegal, 1945-Present 203
Conclusion: The Quran School, the Body, and the Health of the Umma 237
What People are Saying About This
Ware's treatment of the body and bodily encounters in the transmission of knowledge and construction of authority in Islam is truly path-breaking. This book is a major contribution to African history and Islamic epistemology.Ousmane Kane, Harvard Divinity School