The growth of rural <i>madrasa</i>

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:

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

The growth of rural madrasa

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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In parallel with mosques, centres of Quranic education, known locally as madrasa, sprang up in the countryside between c.1920 and 1960. They were small, poor, and often transient; their one defining feature was the presence of a mwalimu, a teacher. Comparison of the parallel development of madrasa and mission schools makes clear that the main reason for this divergence was not resistance to Christian elements in the missionaries' syllabus, but to the perceived interference of mission teachers with the authority of students' families and with local religious practices. By contrast, madrasa tolerated these practices and were more closely integrated into the social networks of parents. The spread of madrasa and of mission schools involves three subtle long-term processes. Topics covered include educational practice and the status of knowledge, madrasa and mission schools, unyago, colonial politics and local networks, schools and madrasa as local institutions, madrasa as sites of encounter with Muslim knowledge, imagining Muslim scholarship, and performance and orality in Muslim education. In general, the history of madrasa emphasizes an indirect association between education and social control – the complex status of knowledge.

Keywords: madrasa; mission schools; unyago; colonial politics; local networks; Muslim knowledge; Muslim scholarship; Muslim education

Chapter.  13256 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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