Recent Books on Islam in Africa: Launay, Loimeier, and Salomon

In the past month, several exciting books have come out that deal with Islam in Africa.

  • Robert Launay’s edited collection Islamic Education in Africa: Writing Boards and Blackboards (Indiana) brings together a number of major scholars and covers a wide variety of countries from Mauritania to Tanzania. Islamic education in Africa has been the subject of increasing scholarly interest in the past fifteen years, with major titles by Louis Brenner and Rudolph Ware. This volume will take the conversation even further. I have a chapter in the book – a sketch of trilateral connections between Nigeria, Britain, and the Arab world during the colonial period.
  • Roman Loimeier has published Islamic Reform in Twentieth-Century Africa (Edinburgh). Loimeier is a senior scholar of Islam in Africa, and he has followed up classic books on northern Nigeria and Zanzibar with recent work that takes a continental scope. His latest book features “twelve case studies (Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar and the Comoros) [and] looks at patterns and peculiarities of different traditions of Islamic reform. Considering both Sufi- and Salafi-oriented movements in their respective historical contexts, it stresses the importance of the local context to explain the different trajectories of development.”
  • Noah Salomon, an exciting thinker who works on Sudan and South Sudan, has published For Love of the Prophet: An Ethnography of Sudan’s Islamic State (Princeton). Salomon’s publications on Sudan so far have raised important issues about relations between Salafis and Islamists, and about the meaning of “the rule of law.” His book “depicts contemporary Islamic politics not as a response to secularism and Westernization but as a node in a much longer conversation within Islamic thought, augmented and reappropriated as state projects of Islamic reform became objects of debate and controversy.”

I have not yet read Loimeier and Salomon’s books, but I am very much looking forward to doing so (I read the chapters in Launay’s volume while it was in press). If you read any of the three books, please share your thoughts in the comments section here.


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