North African Islamic Societies

Ebrahim Moosa

in The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780195137989
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

North African Islamic Societies


North Africa is a multicultural region comprised of North Africans who are ethnically of Hamitic stock as well as sizable numbers of Arabic-speaking communities, Berbers, Arab-Berbers, and some persons of European descent. The region includes five countries: Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. The region is dominated by Islam, but there are also minority communities of Christians, especially in Egypt. Most Muslims in the region adhere to the Sunni theological creed. Followers of the Shi'ite and Khariji creeds can also be found in smaller numbers in Egypt and Algeria. In terms of religious rites and rituals, the Sunnis follow the Maliki school of law that is predominant in the region, while the Kharijis follow the Ibadi school of law. In several parts of North Africa, old-style Islamic traditionalism or orthodoxy, represented by the “ulama”, the marabouts, and the shaykhs of the Sufi brotherhoods has been displaced by modernist revivalist discourses of two types: Salafiyya doctrines espoused by some “ulama” groups and the organized revivalist political movements.

Keywords: Islam; North Africa; Muslims; Egypt; Algeria; Sunnis; Kharijis; ulama; marabouts; shaykhs

Article.  3203 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Interfaith Relations ; Islam

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