Walking Qur'an: Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge, and History in West Africa (Paperback)

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by Rudolph T. Ware


Spanning a thousand years of history -- and bringing the story to the present through ethnographic fieldwork in Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania -- Dr. Rudolph Ware documents the profound significance of Qur'an schools for West African Muslim communities. Such schools peacefully brought Islam to much of the region, becoming striking symbols of Muslim identity. Ware shows how in Senegambia the schools became powerful channels for African resistance during the eras of the slave trade and colonization. While illuminating the past, Ware also makes signal contributions to understanding contemporary Islam by demonstrating how the schools' epistemology of embodiment gives expression to classical Islamic frameworks of learning and knowledge.
Today, many Muslims and non-Muslims find West African methods of Qur'an schooling puzzling and controversial. In fascinating detail, Ware introduces these practices from the viewpoint of the practitioners, explicating their emphasis on educating the whole human being as if to remake it as a living replica of the Qur'an. From this perspective, the transference of knowledge in core texts and rituals is literally embodied in people, helping shape them--like the Prophet of Islam--into vital bearers of the word of God. 

About the Author

Dr. Rudolph T. Ware, also known as @butchware on Instagram, is a historian of Africa and Islam. He earned his Ph.D. in 2004 at the University of Pennsylvania, where he trained in African History, African-American History, and Islamic Intellectual History. His research spans the last thousand years, centering on West Africa, while reaching into the Mediterranean lands of Islam and the Atlantic worlds of the African Diaspora.

What has it meant to be an African Muslim? This question interests him across space and time, leading him to publish works on the histories of Qur’an schooling, Muslim Mysticism, Slavery and Abolition, and Islamic Devotional poetry.

He primarily investigates with the tools of a historian, but his approach is interdisciplinary. His research relies on conventional sources of Africanist historiography: archival and documentary work in European languages, and oral history in African languages. Yet his methods have been deeply shaped by the Arabic textualist tradition, anthropology, and philosophy. So, although he writes as a historian, he sees himself as straddling a crossroads where two broad interdisciplinary fields meet. His work seeks to engage with, intervene in, and push the edges of African and Islamic studies.

Product Details

Category: Motherland Studies, West Africa, Islam Studies, History

Language: English

Format/Binding: Paperback

Book Condition: New

ISBN-10: 1469614316

ISBN-13: 978-1469614311

Publisher: University of North Carolina Press

Date Published: June 16, 2014

Pages: 352

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