The book, the wilderness, and the family: Islamic doctrine and African practice

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 book, the wilderness, and the family: Islamic doctrine and African practice

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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The renegotiation of relationships of dependency within households and families in which Muslim teachings became implicated took place amid the consolidation of the political practice that is termed ‘republican’, and was similarly low key. Differences in the way men and women related to the sphere of commerce existed before the colonial period in Southeast Tanzania. Muslim teachings could be readily evoked to argue for changes that affected women. The villagers' views of religious change are discussed. Funerary practices common among non-Muslims have come to be redefined as Muslim. In addition, the chapter presents the problems surrounding healing and dealing with witchcraft. The development of witchcraft cleansing in Southeast Tanzania shows the resilience of pre-existing ways of addressing misfortune. Witchcraft cleansing constituted a significant field of religious practice, whose dynamics cannot be reduced to the concurrent spread of Islam. Furthermore, the chapter reports the survival and decline of sacrifice.

Keywords: Islamic doctrine; African practice; Southeast Tanzania; Muslim teachings; witchcraft cleansing; sacrifice

Chapter.  13743 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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