Chapter

Teachers, elders and <i>shehe</i>: how Islam came to the villages

Felicitas Becker

in Becoming Muslim in Mainland Tanzania, 1890-2000

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780197264270
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734182 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197264270.003.0004

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

Teachers, elders and shehe: how Islam came to the villages

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The contrast between the deep involvement of urban Muslims' exclusionary attitudes in the social struggles of the late pre-colonial period and the absence of references to such struggles in oral accounts of early rural Muslims could give the impression that conversion constituted a slightly anachronistic pursuit of coastal allegiance. Oral sources suggest that conversion occurred as part of an active search for new ritual and social options, and that villagers interpreted their Muslim allegiance to suit the pursuit of divergent aspirations. The ways of conversion among villagers are first described. The chapter also traces how rural Muslims in the inter-war period managed to depart from and reinterpret the problematic associations of Muslim allegiance. It explores the early history of rural mosques, focusing on a group of four mosques founded between c.1925 and 1947. The republicanism of rural Muslims is discussed. Islam had become a fundamental, albeit low-profile, element of social life.

Keywords: Islam; teachers; elders; shehe; villages; mosques

Chapter.  13565 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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