Why are African religions not taken into account


Roman Loimeier

To person

Dr. phil. habil., born 1957; since 2000 head of the subproject C4 "Islamic Education in East Africa" ​​within the framework of the cultural studies research college at the University of Bayreuth. Address: University of Bayreuth, Chair for Islamic Studies, 95440 Bayreuth. E-Mail: [email protected] Numerous publications on the Islamic societies of Africa.

As in other Islamic countries, Islam in Africa is a multifaceted structure. This diversity has been preserved to this day.

Excerpt from:
From Politics and Contemporary History (B 37/2003) - Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa


The Muslim societies of Africa are neither historically nor presently a single entity. Rather, they are characterized by their different historical experiences, their different regional geographic embedding and development, their specific teaching traditions and the way in which "Islam" is implemented in their past and present into a life reality that is typical for them. In this way we can distinguish at least ten larger Muslim regions in Africa with a specific regional geographic and historical character: Egypt, the countries of the Maghreb (i.e. today's countries Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco), the greater Sahara, the steppe and savanna belts of the Sudan countries , the tropical forest areas of West Africa, the countries of Upper Nile Sudan, the highlands of Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa, the East African Swahili region and the Muslim diaspora communities of South Africa, especially Cape Town and Natal [1].

In addition to this regional, geographical and historical structure of the Muslim societies in Africa, we have to make a number of further fine gradations and differentiate between regions with a long tradition of Islamization (such as Mauritania, Senegal, parts of Mali, northern Nigeria, northern Sudan, Somalia, Zanzibar, etc.) in which Islam was only able to establish itself recently and only in parts (as in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Cameroon, South Sudan, the hinterland of Tanzania and Kenya, Uganda and others). In addition, there are marked differences between regions in which the Muslims make up a more or less clear majority of the population (such as in Mauritania, Senegal, northern Nigeria, northern Sudan, Somalia and Zanzibar) and regions in which they only make up a minority of the population, however , as in the case of Ethiopia, can be considerable. This minority may in turn be well integrated into the respective national society (e.g. in Ghana, Malawi, Cameroon) or be in a marginalized position (as in Ivory Coast, Uganda). Muslim minorities can also be distinguished with regard to the question of whether they play a respected and recognized role (such as in Tanzania and South Africa) or an outsider role (such as in Kenya and Ethiopia) in the political formation of their respective societies. Finally, a distinction should be made between regions in which Sufi brotherhoods were significantly involved in the social and political shaping of their societies (as in Mauritania, Senegal, Northern Nigeria, North Sudan and Somalia), and regions in which Sufi brotherhoods (also historically) one have played a comparatively minor role in the social, political and economic development of their societies (as in Mali, southern Nigeria and Ethiopia).