Muslim Brotherhoods in Nineteenth-Century Africa

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Cambridge University Press, Feb 13, 2003 - History - 284 pages
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The mystical and hierarchically organized brotherhoods, the sufi, were first formed in the twelfth century in Iraq, Iran, central Asia, and North Africa. These brotherhoods drew their members from all kinship groups and all classes and professions. By the end of the eighteenth century, however, the African orders were faced, as was the Muslim world in general, with the steady growth of European imperialism in the Near East, dramatically symbolized by the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt. The sufi's fear that their world was endangered combined at this point with the evident political and military weakness of the Ottoman Turks and with a pervasive and general sense of cultural decline to bring about a religious revival under the aegis of the Muslim brotherhoods. This revival has as its main goal the defence of Islam, and through it the sufi orders acquired great, and indeed unprecedented, political and social influence. Professor Martin considers the social and the political aspects of this revival. He focuses on eight sufi brotherhoods and their leaders; five moderates who taught mysticism, carried on jihads, or instituted social reforms; and one conservative sufi leader very little affected by the changing world of the nineteenth century. The book should appeal to all readers interested in African, Islamic, and Middle Eastern history, and to those anthropologists, sociologists, and historians interested in religion.

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Page 7 - These societies . . . were being subjected to a gathering flood of external experience which finally increased beyond the 'stretch' of the indigenous categories that might render it meaningful . . . The social forms of communication appear inadequate. The society is as near to atomization as it could be. The last resort is a new stress upon the individual as that society conceives it, an emphasis upon history, upon individual possession by spirits, upon the individually inspired leader. Messianic...
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