Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Four of the most populous countries in Africa—Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Zaire—account for well over 160 million Muslims; nearly half of the continent is now Muslim. There were five primary modes by which Islam entered Sub-Saharan Africa: conquest (eleventh-century al-Moravid invasions of West Africa); Muslim migration and settlement in non-Muslim areas (Yemeni, Omani, and Indian Muslims settled in East Africa, and Malay slaves were imported into South Africa); trans-Saharan trade among modern-day Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Niger, and parts of Uganda, Zaire, Malawi and Mozambique; dawah (missionary activities); and periodic revivalist movements. The last two modes of transmission were sometimes internal, as part of a purifying jihad or conducted by self-proclaimed Mahdis. Muslim-Christian relations vary markedly throughout the region, depending on history and culture: relations in Senegal, South Africa, Malawi, and Tanzania reflect the liberality of indigenous African culture; relations in Nigeria, Sudan, and Ethiopia reveal ethnoreligious cleavages, the roots of which can be traced to colonial rule.

Subjects: Islam.

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