In the journal Africa, I have a new article out titled “Northern Nigerian intellectuals, Sudan, and the “eclectic style” in contemporary Islamic thought.” It’s part of a special issue on “Remapping the study of Islam and Muslim cultures in postcolonial Nigeria.”
Here’s the abstract:
This article examines two northern Nigerian Muslim intellectuals – Aminu Sagagi and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (enthroned as Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II of Kano, 2014–20) – whose approaches, in different ways, exemplify a self-consciously eclectic Islamic intellectual style. Their eclecticism breaks with categories familiar from the study of Islam in Africa and Nigeria, categories such as Sufis, Salafis and Islamists. The eclecticist style – or rather, styles – draw on northern Nigerian Islamic modernist traditions, the curriculum and atmosphere of Sudan’s International University of Africa (where both of these Nigerian intellectuals received degrees), and a wider set of global influences. Given their diverse intellectual formation, the eclecticists’ writings and careers allow for an examination of the translocal exchanges that have shaped what is sometimes perceived as a self-contained unit called ‘northern Nigeria’. The article further explores how the eclecticist style manifests in legal and political thought, analysing the critiques that Sagagi and Sanusi made of sharīʿa implementation in northern Nigerian states in the early 2000s. The article draws on Nigerian and Sudanese sources, as well as unpublished and published writings by Sagagi and Sanusi, to describe their intellectual trajectories and outlooks and offer a portrait of the eclecticist style.