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Adams, Raymond A. (1972) Muslim Brotherhoods and Social Change in Some Societies in West Africa. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Muslim Brotherhoods have been prominent feature in the spread of Islam in West Africa. Missionaries and traders from North Africa brought with them the cult of baraka, a spiritual power which inhered in certain holy men and was transmitted to their disciples who formed a tariqa or Sufi brotherhood. The leaders of the brotherhoods became focal points of loyalty and obedience within a network of religious centres scattered throughout West Africa. In this way the brotherhoods formed cohesive groupings over a wide geographical area which cross-cut ethnic ties. The religious obligations and ritual practices of the tariqas enabled the members to maintain close relationships with one another. As a result, the brotherhood leaders emerged as rivals of the traditional rulers who had been the patrons of the holy men. The jihads of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries aimed at eliminating those rulers and chiefs who refused to accept the stringent religious ethic advocated by the Muslim leaders and establishing in their place theocratic sates under the rule of the religious reformers. The policies pursued by the two colonial powers the area altered the course of events. In Nigeria, the British policy of Indirect Rule gave a large measure of autonomy to the Fulani Emirs who were members of the Qadiriyya Brotherhood and had gained power through the jihad of Uthman dan Fodio. In Senegal the Muslim leaders and the semi-pagan rulers joined in an uneasy alliance to defeat the French. When Wolof resistance to the French collapsed, the Calonial Administration destroyed the indigenous political system by replacing hereditary rulers with appointees of the central govern eat. As a result, the Muslim leaders became the sole representatives of popular aspirations. The agricultural policy sponsored by the French enabled the Muslim leaders to rally their followers by encouraging them to engage in groundnut production. Thus, the leaders of the Muridiyya and Tijaniyya Brotherhoods managed to achieve a nodal position in the economic life of Senegal. Because of their acknowledged religious and economic position the Brotherhoods have continued to play a decisive role in Senegalese political development even after independence. In Nigeria the Fulani Emirs discouraged brotherhood activity along their Hausa subjects. During the post-war period when Nigeria was preparing for self-governments the Fulani viewed the end of Indirect Rule as a threat to their monopoly of political power in the Northern Region. The dramatic increase in the activity of the Tijaniyya order at that time indicated the extent of popular resent tent felt by the Hausa with regard to the Fulani rulers. Hence in both regions the activity of the brotherhoods is a sign and a symptom of profound social and political changes.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:22

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