Horn and Crescent: Cultural Change and Traditional Islam on the East African Coast, 800-1900

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Cambridge University Press, Jun 6, 2002 - History - 288 pages
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In this first major historical study of Islam among the Swahili, Randall Pouwels shows how Islam and other aspects of coastal civilization have evolved since about AD 1000 as an organic whole. Coastal Africans, he argues, simply adopted Islam as the spiritual vehicle best suited to their expanding intellectual needs and to meeting the opportunities presented by their physical and cultural environment. The culture and religion that developed were strong, rich, supple, self-assured. yet capable of accommodating change where it was unavoidable or preferable. All these characteristics were put to the test in the nineteenth century, when coastal peoples were subjected to intense Arabizing and Westernizing influences. Pouwels demonstrates how local people went on asserting their own traditions while assimilating what they chose from both worlds. East African Muslims, therefore faced the twentieth century divided on issues of local cultural autonomy and the need to conform to external cultural pressures.
 

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Contents

The roots of a tradition 8001500
6
The emergence of a tradition 9001500
17
A northern metamorphosis 15001800
32
Appendix
55
Town Islam and the umma ideal
63
Wealth piety justice and learning
75
The Zanzibar Sultanate 181288
97
New secularism and bureaucratic centralization
125
A new literacy
145
The early colonial era 18851914
163
Currents of popularism and eddies of reform
191
Notes
209
Glossary
253
Bibliography
256
Index
269
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