The heritage of slavery and the educationalist <i>shehe</i> of the Sufi brotherhoods

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 heritage of slavery and the educationalist shehe of the Sufi brotherhoods

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This chapter describes the significance of the Sufi brotherhoods. It starts by addressing the arrival of the tarika in Southeast Tanzania. The tarika-shehe of the inter-war period, who are most clearly remembered in the coastal towns, were themselves fairly well travelled, well connected, and partly of patrician parentage. Ritual practices constitute a crucial unifying element for the tarika. Two tarika became influential in the late nineteenth century in Southeast Tanzania. The main characters of twentieth-century saints are summarized. The outlines of the shehes' lives and work already give a sense of the tensions they negotiated: between urbanites versed in Arabic script and immigrants to town versed in ngoma, between the ideology of patrician separateness and superiority, and the self-assertion of villagers struggling to make the colonial towns their home. The ritual expertise, colonial domination, and the reformulation of categories of social distinction are discussed. The spread of the tarika and their ritual practices along the Swahili coast illustrates the unity in diversity of this culture area at work.

Keywords: Sufi brotherhoods; shehe; slavery; tarika; Southeast Tanzania; ritual practices

Chapter.  13840 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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