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Sharia or Shura

Contending Approaches to Muslim Politics in Nigeria and Senegal

Sakah Saidu Mahmud

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This book explores the differences in Muslim attitudes and approaches to the public square in sub-Saharan Africa via a comparative-historical analysis of Muslim politics in Northern Nigeria and Senegal since independence in 1960. While Northern Nigeria has been mired in intermittent religious conflicts and violence, Senegal has maintained peaceful and tolerant relationships in inter-faith and public affairs. Yet, the two Muslim societies had similar Islamic backgrounds in Sufi orders —Qadiriya and Tijaniya in Northern Nigeria; and Tijaniya, Muridiya, Qadiriya and Lahiniya in Senegal — known for their peaceful approach to public affairs. Furthermore, the two Muslim societies belong to the “black African Islamic cultural zone.” These common traits would suggest similar approaches to public affairs, but this has not been the case.

The salient factors which are analyzed in the book include the historical factors (the success or failure to establish an Islamic state and the impact of different colonial administrations and ideologies), the extent of homogeneity of the social structure in each country, and strength of the contemporary state in both countries. The combination of these factors illustrates the experiences of the Muslims which further determine their divergent approaches to the public square.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 196Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-7564-4 • Hardback • August 2013 • $74.00 • (£49.95)
978-1-4985-5713-9 • Paperback • April 2017 • $42.99 • (£29.95)
978-0-7391-7565-1 • eBook • August 2013 • $42.99 • (£29.95)
Sakah Saidu Mahmud is associate professor of Political Science and the Head of the Department of Social Sciences and Global Studies at Kwara State University, Malete, Ilorin, Nigeria. His writings on politics of religion (Islam) include contributions to the Choice award-winning, Democracy and Religion: Free Exercise and Diverse Vision, (2004), and The Borders of Islam: Exploring Samuel Huntington’s Faultlines, from Al-Andalus to the Virtual Ummah (2009).
Part I. Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on Muslim Politics
Chapter 1: Diversity of Muslim Politics
Chapter 2: History of Muslim Politics in Northern Nigeria and Senegal
Part II. Social Structure, Muslim Organizations and Politics
Chapter 3: Nigerian Socio-Political Structure and Muslim Politics in Northern Nigeria
Chapter 4: The Social Structure, Muslim Brotherhoods and Politics in Senegal
Part III. The State, Political Institutions and Muslim Politics
Chapter 5: The Weak State and Muslim Politics in Nigeria
Chapter 6: Strong State and Management of Muslim Politics in Senegal
Chapter 7: Explaining the Diversity of Muslim Politics
This rare book exemplifies the best in comparative politico-religious analyses to capture differences in violent and pacifist Muslim (Sufi) responses, as tools to negotiate space(s) and resources in Northern Nigeria and Senegal, respectively. Professor Mahmud ably traces these contrasting Muslim experiences to historical junctures— colonial policies and outcomes, leadership, organizational structures of Sufi Brotherhoods, as well as the role of post-colonial states. It is a carefully researched and eloquently written book that reminds us of Islam's non-violent Jihadist tradition — an aspect of Islam too often forgotten or ignored in pursuit of the Global War on Terror.
Abdoulaye Saine, Miami University


The author must be praised for producing the first comparative study of two important West African Muslim societies.
Ousmane Kane, Harvard University


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