African Studies Islamic Politics
by
Kenneth Menkhaus, Maren Milligan
  • LAST REVIEWED: 25 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0168

Introduction

“Political Islam,” like “Islamism,” is a contested term employed in different ways by different scholars (see General Overviews). For our purposes it encompasses all dimensions of Islamic activism and organization directly focused on the public sphere, either social reform or an increased role for Islam in the state. Until recently, the study of political Islam in Africa was dominated by research on North African countries and Sudan, all part of the Arab world with a long history of Islamic politics. The rest of Islamic Africa was marginal to the analysis of political Islam, despite the fact that 270 million sub-Saharan Africans are Muslim, which is about 15 percent of the Islamic world. The Arab uprisings of 2011 have sparked even more academic interest in Islamic politics in North Africa. Islamic politics in sub-Saharan Africa is now a richer subfield as well, thanks to changes since the 1990s. Democratization across Africa created new space for Islamic associations and political expression; failed states attracted Islamic charities and missionaries introducing new, reformist interpretations of Islam; lawlessness in some regions prompted Islamic communities to turn to Sharia as a source of rule of law; the Internet globalized African Islamic identity to a new degree; and heightened communal tensions in some ethnically divided countries took on religious dimensions. Rising jihadism—first, Al Qaeda’s operations in East Africa, then homegrown Islamic extremism such as Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb, Al-Shabaab, and Boko Haram—is the subject of many recent studies, mostly produced by security analysts. But violent extremism remains a small slice of a much broader story of African political Islam. The literature in this article sits at the intersection of Islam and politics: it covers religious movements that have political implications as well as political systems that shape the interpretation and practice of Islam. The bibliography is organized thematically as well as geographically. There are subsections on east Africa and the Horn, central and southern Africa, as well as west Africa and the Sahel. There are also breakout sections for “large literature” countries such as Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Egypt about which there has been much scholarship written. Several themes emerge from this collection: (1) Africa is incredibly diverse, making it difficult to generalize across the continent. As a result, most research on African political Islam has a local or national focus; (2) local context is essential to understanding political Islam in Africa; (3) African political Islam is ascendant; (4) the main political struggle in Islamic Africa is between competing Islamic movements; (5) the outside Islamic world is a powerful factor in shaping African Islamism; (6) communal tensions and violence between African Muslims and Christians are mounting but are often entangled with conflict over land and other issues; (7) the trajectory of political Islam in north African states and Sudan continues to be quite distinct from trends in sub-Saharan Africa, even though spillover from those states has powerful impact in the rest of Africa.

General Overviews

Overviews highlighted here fall into one of three categories: general introductions to political Islam that are not specific to Africa (such as Crisis Group 2005, Ayoob 2008, and Mandaville 2007); analyses of the intersection of religion and politics in Africa (Ellis and Ter Haar 2013); and introductory works surveying the specific question of political Islam across the African continent. Mandaville 2007 and Crisis Group 2005 are especially helpful for readers new to the study of political Islam who seek clarification on how one defines political Islam and the many variations it can take on. Of the sources specific to Africa, Otayek and Soares 2007 is the best analysis for integrating recent trends both on the ground and in academic research. Dickson 2005 is a short and easily accessible introduction to the topic. For a good source framing political Islam in Africa as a set of debates, see Mazrui, et al. 2013. Quinn and Quinn 2003 is an example of a qualitative comparative approach to generalizing about trends in Islamism across Africa, drawing on five cases.

Bibliographies

Although there are many bibliographies, annotated bibliographies, and bibliographic essays on Africa and African politics, few specifically address political Islam in Africa. Likewise, bibliographies on political Islam globally typically devote little attention to sub-Saharan Africa. The sources listed below constitute the best combination of bibliographies treating at least a section of African political Islam. The four entries listed here that are devoted to Islam in Africa (Hanson 2013, Schrijver 2006, Zoghby 1978, Osman 1991) are all broad in scope and focus primarily on more historical or anthropological research. Hanson includes a number of sections devoted to political Islam. The most comprehensive collection of sources on Africa is Schrijver 2006. The two annotated bibliographies listed here on political Islam globally (Voll and Sonn 2009, Haddad and Esposito 1997) were assembled by leading experts. Voll and Sonn 2009 is more up to date but has fewer references to works on Africa than Haddad and Esposito 1997. The volume Women Living Under Muslim Laws 1994 provides a more specialized focus on women and Islamic law in Africa.

  • Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck, and John L. Esposito. The Islamic Revival Since 1988: Critical Survey and Bibliography. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1997.

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    Annotated bibliography of the Islamic revival globally, including nearly ninety pages of general citations on social issues such as democracy. Includes a twenty-page section on Africa, focusing on east Africa, north Africa, and west Africa.

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  • Hanson, John A. Islam in Africa. Oxford Bibliographies Online. Edited by Thomas Spear. 2013.

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    Broad annotated bibliography that includes sections on political dimensions of Islam in Africa, as well as a strong selection on the history of Islam on the continent. Subscription required.

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  • Osman, Abdal Rahman Ahmed. Annotated Bibliography on Islam in Africa. Khartoum, Sudan: Islamic African Center, 1991.

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    Written in both English and Arabic, this volume compiles an annotated list of works available at various educational institutions in Sudan. Includes useful entries for sources in Arabic.

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  • Schrijver, Paul. Bibliography on Islam in Contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa. Leiden, The Netherlands: African Studies Centre, Research Report, 2006.

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    An exhaustive collection of the citations of 4,293 publications on Islam in contemporary Africa, organized by country, with sections on the Arab world and the West. No annotations are provided, but an author index is included. Available in print and online.

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  • Voll, John, and Tamara Sonn. “Political Islam.” Oxford Bibliographies Online. Edited by Tamara Sonn. 2009.

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    Annotated bibliography on the vast general literature on political Islam globally, directing readers to the seminal studies of interpretations of Islam that serve to mobilize political identity and action. Only a few citations specific to Africa are included. Subscription required.

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  • Women Living Under Muslim Laws. Islam, Islamization and Women in Africa: A General Introductory Bibliography. Lahore, Pakistan: Women Living Under Muslim Laws, 1994.

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    With an introductory essay written in both English and French authored by Ayesha Iman, this twenty-three-page bibliography is organized regionally. Sections on east/central/southern Africa, north Africa, and west Africa include numerous citations without annotations.

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  • Zoghby, Samir M. Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Partially Annotated Guide. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1978.

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    Although somewhat dated, this 300-page volume includes a rich variety of sources in English, French, and Arabic. The guide is organized chronologically, listing works that examine various historical periods ranging from 900 through to 1978. Each period is organized regionally (central, east, southern, west) and then thematically (e.g., politics, society).

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Reference Works

There are no reference works devoted specifically to political Islam in Africa. The reference works suggested here are either devoted to political Islam in general, religion in Africa, or African politics and current events. Oxford Islamic Studies Online is the best source on political Islam. Bongmba 2012 includes a number of short essays on aspects of Islam in Africa. Europa Regional Surveys of the World 2013 and CIA World Factbook are the best general reference sources for statistical information about individual countries. Mehler, et al. 2004– is especially useful for the year-in-review summaries of events it provides for each country.

Map Collections

Similar to the lack of general reference work devoted to Islam in Africa, there are no cartographic monographs or collections focused on maps related to Islam in Africa. However, there are two atlases of Islam that prioritize African content. Both the Bikken 2010 and Ruthven and Nanji 2004 use non-Mercator projection maps so that Africa’s geographical significance in the Islamic world is accurately represented. Moreover, both these collections have several maps whose thematic emphasis is of central importance to Africa. Similarly, there are no online collections devoted to maps of Islamic Africa, but the University of Texas has several maps of the Islamic world that include Africa as well as one map on Islam in Africa specifically.

  • Bikken, Andreas. Atlas of Islam: 1800–2000. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2010.

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    Includes several useful maps focused on Africa, including: ethno-linguistic groups of north Africa, migration, and refugees. Several maps of colonial holdings in Africa as well as the Fulani Empire are included. Finally, there is information about nonreliance on Mercator projection and also general Muslim world maps that visually present the significance of Africa in the Islamic world.

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  • Ruthven, Malise, with Azim Nanji. Historical Atlas of Islam. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

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    This atlas includes several sections with maps and explanatory essays focused on Africa, including: “Subsaharan Africa-East,” “Subsaharan Africa-West,” “Jihad States” (focused on the Sahara-Sahel region and north Africa). It also includes maps and explanatory essays of British and French colonial rule in Islamic Africa.

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  • University of Texas Perry-Castanada Library Map Collection.

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    Has an extensive digital map collection, including one of Africa. In addition to a map of Islam in Africa, the collection also has several maps of mainly Muslim subregions such as the Horn of Africa and north Africa.

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Collections

Because of the size and diversity of Africa, few scholars are in a position to write authoritatively about continent-wide trends on political Islam. Instead, comparative research has typically gravitated to collections of case studies by country experts, with an editor attempting to draw on those cases to identity wider trends. Of these, Otayek and Soares 2007 is the most authoritative and up to date, and it includes not only excellent case studies but also a well-crafted synthesis in the introduction. Brenner 1993 is important as a baseline study and as the earliest recognition of ascendant political Islam in sub-Saharan Africa. Bierschenk and Stauth 2002 is useful for highlighting a sociological angle to African political Islam and the role of associations. Gomez-Perez 2005 and Triaud 2007 are both good edited works for their rich Francophone research on Islam in Africa, with special attention to west Africa and the Sahel. Some of the chapters in Gomez-Perez 2005 emphasize the primary of the struggle between Sufi and Salafi Islam in west Africa.

  • Bierschenk, Thomas, and Georg Stauth, eds. Islam in Africa: Yearbook of the Sociology of Islam. Vol. 4. Münster, Germany: Lit Verlag, 2002.

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    A collection of close case studies of aspects of Islam and society in sub-Saharan Africa, with an emphasis on Islam and social change, associations, and political conflict in a setting of weak states.

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  • Brenner, Louis, ed. Muslim Identity and Social Change in Sub-Saharan Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

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    Though dated, this collection was an early recognition and analysis of rising Islamism in African politics, and a corrective to an earlier generation of work on Islam in Africa.

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  • Gomez-Perez, Muriel, ed. L’Islam Politique au Sud du Sahara: Identités, Discours et Enjeux. Paris: Éditions Karthala, 2005.

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    A large collection of twenty-seven essays on various aspects of Islam and politics in sub-Saharan Africa, with an emphasis on case-study material from Francophone west Africa and the Sahel. Special attention is placed on the internal political tensions between Sufi brotherhoods and Salafi influences. Most chapters are in French.

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  • Otayek, Rene, and Benjamin Soares, eds. Islam and Muslim Politics in Africa. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

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    A collection of case studies from across the continent, with a useful introductory essay. This is the best comparative analysis of collected case studies on the topic.

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  • Triaud, Jean-Louis, ed. Islam: Sociétés et Politique en Afrique Subsaharienne. Paris: Les Indes Savantes, 2007.

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    Included here are case studies and comparative analysis of Islamic politics in selected west African states. This collection provides useful access to Francophone discourse and citations. In French.

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Journals

Most academic journals on Africa tend to focus on sub-Saharan Africa, leaving coverage of north Africa to journals devoted to the Middle East. This list includes top journals from both categories. The top journals devoted to current African politics are African Affairs and Review of African Political Economy. Journal of Religion in Africa and the Annual Review of Islam in Africa are devoted specifically to religion in Africa, with occasional pieces devoted to Islam and politics. The Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs often contains articles on Islam in Africa. Good coverage of north Africa and the Magreb is found in Jadaliyya and Middle East Journal. Middle East Research and Information Project is a superb source of short, timely analyses and covers the Horn of Africa as well as north Africa.

Think Tanks and Research Institutes

Dozens of think tanks and research institutes around the world devote some or all of their energies to applied political research on Africa and in recent years have turned their attention to political Islam in Africa. Most or all of their research products are available on their websites. In addition to in-depth analyses, a growing number of think tanks host blogs on their websites that can include coverage of political Islam in Africa. Their work tends to be policy oriented rather than academic. Some have political or ideological leanings that can shape the nature of the analyses they produce. Crisis Group is by far the most useful: its research on crisis spots in Africa is extensive and combines both rich original data and strong analysis. Chatham House produces a series of briefing papers that have included excellent coverage of political Islam in selected countries. The Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point has a monthly journal, CTC Sentinel, that is devoted to analysis of terrorist groups and is the best source for current analysis of militant Islamic movements in Africa. Institute for Strategic Studies produces a range of different studies and briefing papers on security-related matters in Africa, including militant Islamism. Center for Strategic and International Studies, Africa Program periodically releases issues of Africa Notes that address current political issues in Africa, and hosts events on African affairs that can be watched on-line. African Studies Center Leiden is one of several excellent European research institutes devoted to Africa, and with a website that guides users to a range of resources. International Africa Institute, SOAS is especially strong on interdisciplinary work on Africa. Institute for Strategic Studies is a leading African think tank with a focus on policy and on current political and strategic issues, including militant Islamism in Africa. Center for Contemporary Islam, University of Cape Town provides a forum for more academic work on Islam in Africa, mainly by African scholars.

Primary Sources

Expanding Internet access has increased the availability of primary sources. Although use of primary sources used to be the preserve of those with extensive research funds to travel to archives or collect and/or purchase data, both qualitative and quantitative information is increasingly available.

Digital Humanities Collections

The growth of digital humanities in the early 21st century has led to an explosion of archival material available online. There are a number of projects on Islam generally at Princeton, Harvard, Yale, University of Michigan, SOAS, Leeds, and Cambridge. Efforts have focused mainly on digitizing manuscripts, but the field of digital humanities is slowly expanding to include more sound and video recordings. Some projects, such as the Africa Online Digital Library, include several collections that contain important ethnographic materials for contemporary politics in Islamic Africa, such as pluralism and oral narratives projects. Other digital collections focus more on historical manuscripts. Although the bulk of the manuscripts are pre-colonial, they are important references for contemporary Islamist thought in Islamic Africa. Some of these manuscripts inform contemporary localized interpretations, such as the SOAS Early Nigerian Quranic Manuscripts (Kanuri Collection) of the Lake Chad region, the area from which Boko Haram arose. Others such as the Endangered Archives Project, British Library the Oriental Manuscript Resource, University of Freiburg preserve these manuscripts from destruction by Salafist groups (see Islamist Reformers and Salafists). Manuscripts and papers are available in Arabic.

Public Opinion Data Sets

Given the nature of the topic and the difficulties of survey research in much of Africa, only a limited number of publically available data sets exist that are relevant to the study of political Islam. However, there are several open access data sets that are particularly well regarded. The Pew Center’s Religion and Public Life Project has generated excellent survey and demographic data from around the world that includes aspects of religion and politics in Africa. The Afrobarometer project tends to focus more on public opinion surveys directed toward democracy and public policy but has a number of excellent surveys exploring religious identity and political preferences in Africa. The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism website is indispensable for scholars looking specifically at militant Islamism in Africa.

History

Islamic reformist movements, systems of governance, application of Sharia law, and even jihadism are hardly new to Africa, and any assessment of current political Islam must take account of the history of Islamic political mobilization on the continent. Nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Islamic movements still have contemporary relevance, particularly in northern Nigeria, Sudan, and Somalia. A complete review of this historical literature can be found in Hanson (see Bibliographies) Here, several seminal works are cited, each a sample of different regions or historical topics. Anderson 1955 is an early classic on the applications of Sharia. Lewis 1966 was the first major comparative effort to understand Islam in Africa. Kaba 1974 provides a good introduction to the history of Islamic reform movements in west Africa; Holt 1970 is a classic account of what is sometimes considered Africa’s first modern jihad: the Madhist rebellion in Sudan. Last 1977 is one of several excellent studies of the Islamic states that arose in what is today northern Nigeria. Levtzion and Pouwels 2000 provides a good introduction to Islam in African history. Paden’s work provides an essential framework for understanding a central strand of Islamic politics in Africa: Sufism. Journal of African History Forum on Islam in Africa includes some stellar review essays with a mainly historical focus; the Soares essay in that collection is especially useful as an overview.

Sufism

Sufism has been a central Islamic political force in Africa, especially west Africa. As such, scholarship has focused on this region with seminal texts such as Cruise O’Brien and Coulon 1989, which focuses almost exclusively on west Africa. Sufi brotherhood networks have been especially important politically in Senegal and Nigeria, two large literature countries. Foundational works such as Villalon 1995 focus on the relationships of the brotherhoods to colonialism and the state in Senegal. Subsequent work on Sufism in Senegal has examined the role it plays in promoting tolerance, such as in Stepan 2012. Other work has focused on Sufism and democracy, such as Diouf 2013. Across the continent, Sufism has been challenged by the growth of textualists since the 1970s (see Islamist Reformers and Salafists). These textualists reject Sufi thought and practice as bid’a, or innovation. Rosander and Westerlund 1997 examines this phenomenon on the continent. Loimeier 1997 provides an excellent overview of Sufi-Islamist competition in Nigeria. Haron 2005 also examines this competition in the South African context. Recent scholarship has also examined the Sufism from a civil society and capacity-oriented perspective. Barnes 2009 examines the role that Sufi networks could play in development.

  • Barnes, Shailly. “Religion, Social Capital, and Development in the Sahel: The Niass Tijaniyya in Niger.” Journal of International Affairs 62.2 (2009): 209–221.

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    In arguing that the order can contribute to developmental work, the article provides a useful overview of the Tijaniyya brotherhood, especially the Niass branch. Includes a discussion of important Sufi concepts and their role in politics, such as baraka. Also includes discussion of leadership and gender.

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  • Cruise O’Brien, Donal, and Christian Coulon. Charisma and Brotherhood in African Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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    A timeless collection underscoring the centrality of Sufism in Islamic politics. Broad regional coverage but with a west African focus.

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  • Diouf, Mamadou, ed. Tolerance, Democracy and Sufis in Senegal. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.

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    Edited volume brings together many luminaries of the study of Sufi politics and democratic culture in Senegal. Chapters examine the impact of various orders on the public sphere, gender, and pluralism throughout the country.

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  • Haron, Mohammed. “Da’wah Movements and Sufi Tariqahs: Competing for Spiritual Spaces in Contemporary South(ern) Africa.” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 25.2 (August 2005): 273–297.

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    Offers an important overview of general Islamic activism in southern Africa, especially in South Africa. The article also focuses on various Sufi brotherhoods and their competition with missionary movements targeting both non-Muslims and “lapsed” Muslims such as Tabligh Jamma’at. Provides an unparalleled overview of Sufi taruq in South Africa.

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  • Loimeier, Roman. Islamic Reform and Political Change in Northern Nigeria. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1997.

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    A study of the confrontation among Sufi orders, as well as with the Izala movement as the latter rose to prominence.

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  • Rosander, Eva Evers, and David Westerlund, eds. African Islam and Islam in Africa: Encounters between Sufis and Islamists. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1997.

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    This edited volume includes several essential chapters on Sufi movements in Sudan, Senegal, Algeria, and Africa more generally. Explores their interaction with reformist Islamism.

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  • Stepan, Alfred. “Rituals of Respect: Sufis and Secularists in Senegal in Comparative Perspective.” Comparative Politics 44.4 (January 2012): 379–401.

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    Examines “rituals of respect” (such as joking relationships) as a component of Sufi practice in Senegal. Argues that these Sufi practices have led to political toleration and democratic resilience within contemporary Senegalese politics.

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  • Villalon, Leonardo. Islamic Society and State Power in Senegal: Disciples and Citizens in Fatick. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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    A seminal study of the role of Sufi brotherhoods in modern Islamic African politics, drawing on the Senegal case study.

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Democracy, Civil Society, and Social Movements

After what was called the “third wave” of democratization, there was a renewed interest in democratization in sub-Saharan Africa and the Islamic world. The victory of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) and subsequent coup in Algeria in 1991 led to more attention on the relationship of Islam and Democracy (see North Africa). The current debate has moved beyond the question of whether Islam can be democratic and whether Muslims support democracy. Indeed, Bratton 2003 shows that Muslims support democracy to the same degree as non-Muslims. Recent literature seeks to move the debate forward by showing how democratic ideas and practices are tailored to local conditions (such as in the work of Schaeffer 2000) and which social actors are best positioned to advance democratic interpretations (such as the work of Bayat 2007). Detailed case studies have examined the potential of specific movements to promote democracy in Nigeria (Paden 2002), Senegal (Diouf 2013) and Africa generally (Keller and Iyob 2012). Sounaye 2009 situates Islamic associational life in the context of democratization using Niger as a case study.

  • Bayat, Asef. Making Islam Democratic: Social Movements and the Post-Islamist Turn. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007.

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    Although situated within a general comparative examination (with two cases of Iran and Egypt), this book emphasizes the role of Muslims in reshaping Islamic discourse. It also moves beyond the study of formal politics to examine social movements and post-Islamist activism.

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  • Bratton, Michael. “Briefing: Islam, Democracy and Public Opinion in Africa.” African Affairs 102 (2003): 493–501.

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    Short analysis of an important public opinion survey in four African countries measuring attitudes toward democracy. Demonstrated that Muslim Africans were as supportive of democracy as non-Muslims.

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  • Diouf, Mamadou. Tolerance, Democracy and Sufis in Senegal. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.

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    Edited volume focuses on Islam and the public sphere in Senegal. Although the focus is on Sufi brotherhoods, there is significant general discussion of democratic culture and institutions.

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  • Keller, Edmond, and Ruth Iyob. Religious Ideas and Institutions: Transitions to Democracy in Africa. Pretoria, South Africa: Unisa, 2012.

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    Despite the general title, this edited volume focuses on the role of Islamic ideas and institutions in democratic transitions especially in Nigeria, South Africa, and the Maghreb. The collection includes chapters by leading experts and focuses on several issues of central importance for democratic transitions.

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  • Paden, John. “Islam and Democratic Federalism in Nigeria.” CSIS Africa Notes 8.4 (March 2002).

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    A rich and detailed typology of Islamic strains and actors in northern Nigeria, and a still- relevant catalogue of political issues in which political Islam will be mobilized as Nigeria moved back to democratic rule.

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  • Schaeffer, Fredric. Democracy in Translation: Understanding Politics in an Unfamiliar Culture. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000.

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    Examines Wolof understandings of democratic practice in rural Senegal, focusing on demokaraasi, which incorporates consensus, solidarity, and evenhandedness. Central work in interpretivist approaches to the study of democracy.

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  • Sounaye, Abdulaye. “Structuring Islam and the Culture of Democratization: The Case of Niger.” In Africa’s Islamic Experience: History, Culture, and Politics. Edited by Ali Mazrui, et al., 147–164. New Delhi: Sterling, 2009.

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    Explores the rise of and challenges to Islamic associational life, the impact of democratization, and the relationship between Islamic associations and political power in a country that rarely gets close academic attention.

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Islamic Governance, Sharia, and Constitutions

The implementation of Sharia in the 1990s led to a renewed examination of Sharia within Islam generally and within Africa specifically. Indeed, the majority of scholarship on Islamic governance focuses on Sharia. This includes edited volumes examining Sharia in the region generally, such as Chesworth and Kogelmann 2014, Hefner 2011, and Otto 2010. Some works have an exclusive or significant focus on Nigeria, such as Kendhammer 2013 and Cook 2012. However, while the bulk of the literature is on Sharia, some work branches out to examine the role of Islam in the constitution more generally, such as the comparative study An-Naʿim 2006. Vanderpoel 2012 uses the case of Kenya’s constitutional reform to highlight the wider political disputes that arise in multisectarian countries over the place of Sharia in the constitution.

Role of Women

Although women’s rights have long been a topic of scholarship, the field was invigorated following the implementation of Sharia in some Muslim countries (see Islamic Governance, Sharia, and Constitutions). Personal status law (especially family codes) has been the focus of contemporary Sharia implementation. Several studies examine this issue from a comparative perspective. As part of the ISIM series, Jeppie, et al. 2010 examines the colonial and Islamic legal foundations of contemporary legal systems in Africa, offering varied perspectives on women’s rights and personal status laws. Other works have examined sought to emphasize female agency. For example, Badran 2011 contains several chapters on the work of female Islamic scholars, as well as the origins and development of the legal codes. The “agentive” orientation is most clearly articulated in Abu-Lughod 2013. Other works have examined the role and belief systems of women in the rank and file of contemporary Islamist activist movements. Mahmood 2005 work on Egypt is an example of this trend. Alidou 2005 is also an example, writing about Niger.

  • Abu-Lughod, Lila. Do Muslim Women Need Saving? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013.

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    Written by one of the most prominent scholars of gender studies in the Islamic world, this book challenges what it sees as a mainstream tendency to present Muslim women as victims. Although general in orientation, the book draws extensively on material from the continent, especially Egypt.

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  • Alidou, Osseina. Engaging Modernity: Women and the Politics of Agency in Post-Colonial Niger. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005.

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    Situated within an agentive approach to the study of gender in the Islamic world, this book examines how women engage their multifaceted identities. In doing so, Alidou problematizes “modernity” as experienced in the political and economic context of post-1990s Niger. Although there is a substantial focus on various forms of education, the author discuses political contestation in the public sphere as well as armed conflict.

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  • Badran, Margot, ed. Gender and Islam in Africa: Rights, Sexuality and Law. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011.

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    This exceptional volume offers a rare collection of studies of women’s issues from throughout the continent. It includes cases from Nigeria, Niger, Morocco, South Africa, Somalia, Gambia, Mauritania, and Mali. The chapters combine theoretical rigor with empirical richness in examining a range of topics: marriage, personal status laws, religious leadership, and popular culture.

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  • Jeppie, Shamil, Ebrahim Moosa, and Richard Roberts, eds. Muslim Family Law in Sub-Saharan Africa: Colonial Legacies and Post-Colonial Challenges. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2010.

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    Part of the ISIM series, this edited volume provides overarching framework for personal status law, with historical foundations and contemporary politics. Chapters on South Africa, Sudan, Kenya, Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, and South Africa.

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  • Mahmood, Saba. Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

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    Although focused on the case of Egypt, this work is situated within broader debates on the role of women—and constructions of gender—in Islamic politics. The book emphasizes agency in its analysis of various aspects of gender and personal piety and social activism.

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Islam and Communalism

Sub-Saharan Africa is both ethnically and religiously diverse. Most African Muslim communities are part of multisectarian states. In some cases religious and ethnic identity correspond, but religious affiliation usually cuts across ethnic groups. While Muslim and non-Muslim Africans have generally enjoyed tolerant, collaborative relations over the centuries, communal tensions and even violence in some countries have become research topics. Soares 2006 is the best general comparative introduction to this topic. Several of the works cited here document the extent to which mobilization of religious tensions is rooted in other issues. Milligan 2013 links sectarian violence in Nigeria to political struggles over federalism and decentralization. Abbink 2011 focuses on external missionaries as factors polarizing Christian-Muslim relations in Ethiopia. Schlee and Shongolo 2012 points to the role of political elites as violence entrepreneurs stoking religious tensions for parochial gain. Crisis Group 2010 provides a broad overview of the many drivers of rising sectarian tensions in northern Nigeria. Human Rights Watch 2014 is the best current source on the recent Christian-Muslim violence in the Central African Republic. Mamdani 2009 is an important critical study of the crisis in Darfur that reflects on the role of Islamist actors there.

Islamist Reformers and Salafists

Historically, Sufis played an important role in Islam in Africa (see Sufism), as well as in many parts of the Muslim world. However, globalization has given rise to textualism, which has emphasized exoteric forms of knowledge. While historically, esoteric forms of knowledge and exoteric forms of knowledge have coexisted socially and politically, there are increasing tensions between Sufis and rising textual traditions. Rosander and Westerlund 1997 provide a continent-wide examination of conflict between Sufis and textualists. Loimeier 1997 provides an important analysis of Sufi-textualist competition within Nigeria. Among Islamists who emphasize textualism, there are important disagreements about the role of interpretation or ijtihad. Some Islamists are reformist in orientation, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (see Egypt) or Izala (see Nigeria). Kane 2003 provides a detailed examination of the origins and development of Izala. Rooted in textual traditions, these Islamists call for “reinterpretation” and “reform.” Using Qurʾan and other written sources of knowledge, these Islamists believe that Islam must be reinterpreted for contemporary political institutions such as the state and democracy. However, there are also textualists who are not reformers but rather originalists. These are Salafis, meaning those who follow the predecessors (the original community of Islam). Salafis reject what they regard as an unauthorized (re)interpretation of Islam and instead argue that the community should practice Islam as it was during the time of the prophet Mohammed. Boko Haram in Nigeria is one such example (see Boko Haram). This originalist approach is growing across the continent. Crisis Group 2013 provides an overview of Salafism in Tunisia; Dumbe and Tayob 2011 provides an overview of Salafism in Cape Town specifically and South Africa generally. McCants 2012 provides an overview of Salafism in Egypt; and Ostebo 2011 provides an overview of Salafism in Ethiopia. Although as textualists, Reformist Islamists and Originalist Islamists (Salafists) are overlapping categories. This can either be a point of contention or confusion. At times, reformers and originalists (Salafists) compete for support as discussed in Crisis Group 2013, Dumbe and Tayob 2011, McCants 2012, and Ostebo 2011. In other cases, as Kobo 2012 demonstrates, reformist impulses can emanate from Sufi movements too.

  • Crisis Group. “Tunisia: Violence and the Salafi Challenge.” Middle East and North Africa Report 137 (February 2013).

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    Provides an overview and analysis of Salafism, as well as a discussion of the origins and development of Salafism within Tunisia. It examines the role of Salafism within post-revolutionary Tunisia, including its relationship with reformist Islamists (i.e., al-Nahda), participation in elections, and role in ongoing violence.

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  • Dumbe, Yunus, and Abdelkader Tayob. “Salafis in Cape Town: In Search of Purity, Certainty and Social Impact.” Die Welt des Islams 51 (2011): 188–209.

    DOI: 10.1163/157006011X573473Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Article examines growing Salafism in South Africa (especially Cape Town) from an individual vantage point, especially leadership within the community. The article examines how individual Salafist practices interact with social context: being shaped by their education in the Gulf and shaping Islamic sociopolitical practice in Cape Town.

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  • Kane, Osmane. Muslim Modernity in Post-Colonial Nigeria: A Study of the Society for the Removal of Innovation and Reinstatement of Tradition. Boston: Brill, 2003.

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    A detailed case study of Izala, a major Islamic reformist movement in Nigeria, and its opposition to Sufism, its external influences, and its place in Nigerian politics. Focus is on pre-1991 developments in the movement.

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  • Kobo, Ousman. Unveiling Modernity in Twentieth Century West African Reforms. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1163/9789004233133Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Author explores the rise and decline of a Salafi reform network in Ghana and Burkina Faso and the extent to which Islamic reformism there took place in multiple sources of religious authority, including among Sufis, and in a distinctly west African context.

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  • Loimeier, Roman. Islamic Reform and Political Change in Northern Nigeria. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1997.

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    A study of the confrontation between Sufi orders and the Izala movement as the latter rose to prominence.

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  • McCants, William. “The Lesser of Two Evils: Salafi Turn to Party Politics in Egypt.” Washington, DC: Brookings Institute, Middle East Memo 23, 2012.

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    Provides a background on Salafism generally and Egypt specifically. The memo focuses on electoral politics and provides an overview of Salafist political parties, including al-Nur as well as some of the smaller parties. It also examines the decision of Salafists to enter elections and compares Salafist party positions.

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  • Ostebo, Terje. “Local Reformers and the Search for Change: The Emergence of Salafism in Bale, Ethiopia.” Africa 81.4 (2011): 628–648.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0001972011000660Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Counters the notion that Salafism is entirely new and foreign in Ethiopia and instead traces the origins and development of Salafism as a result of factors “on both sides of the Red Sea.” The article also provides an important overview of Islam in Ethiopia.

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  • Rosander, Eva Evers, and David Westerlund, eds. African Islam and Islam in Africa: Encounters between Sufis and Islamists. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1997.

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    This edited volume includes several essential chapters on reformist Islamist movements in Africa, as well as country case studies on movements in Egypt and Nigeria. The book also examines the interaction of Sufism and Islamism.

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Islamic Militancy and Jihadi Groups

Prior to the 1990s, the topic of Islamic militancy in Africa would have constituted a minor subject area. The presence of Al Qaeda in Sudan from 1991 to 1996, the rise of the Islamic Salvation Front in the Algerian civil war, and the east Africa Al Qaeda cell began to change that. In recent years, jihadi groups from Somalia to northern Nigeria to the Sahel have become major security concerns and hence have generated an enormous volume of research and analysis, all of variable quality. Much of this research has been produced by security experts, not regional specialists. Ostebo 2012 is an accessible introduction to the topic that focuses on the local grievances fueling Islamic militancy. Pham 2014 provides a short introduction to each of the African jihadi groups and discusses counter-terrorism responses. Menkhaus 2013 assesses the wider political impact of terrorism and counter-terrorism on Africa and the extent to which other priorities have been securitized in the name of counter-terrorism. For the top analyses of specific militant groups in Africa, see separate sections on Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, and AQIM/Ansar al-Dine/MUJOA.

  • Menkhaus, Ken. “Terrorism, Security, and the State.” In Routledge Handbook of African Politics. Edited by Nic Cheeseman and David Anderson, 390–403. London: Routledge, 2013.

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    Survey of 21st-century research on terrorism and security in Africa. Concludes that Western preoccupation with terrorism has led to the “securitization” of state building and development, and that some African governments have exploited counter-terrorism to attract aid and target local rivals.

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  • Ostebo, Terje. “Islamic Militancy in Africa.” Africa Security Brief no. 23. Washington, DC: Africa Center for Strategic Studies, 2012.

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    Argues that rising Islamic militancy poses a security threat in some African regions, that these insurgencies are driven mainly by local grievances, and that ill-advised armed responses can enflame them.

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  • Pham, Peter. “Terrorism and Counterterrorism in Africa: Evolving Focus.” In Routledge Handbook of African Security. Edited by James J. Hentz, 43–55. London and New York: Routledge, 2014.

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    A general overview of Al Qaeda operations in Africa and the rise of its African “franchises” since 2001, as well as US counter-terrorism initiatives.

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Al-Shabaab

No other topic related to political Islam in Africa has attracted as much attention since 2007 as Al-Shabaab, the jihadi movement operating in Somalia and more recently in Kenya and other parts of east Africa. With so much written on the movement, quality is highly variable. In Al-Shabaab’s early years (2006–2009) research on the group spanned a wide spectrum, ranging from alarmist to somewhat sympathetic. More recent scholarship on the group has tended to converge around a general conclusion that the group is politically weaker and much less popular than before but at least in the short term more violent and dangerous. Al-Shabaab’s activities in Kenya are covered in East Africa and the Horn. Marchal 2011 and Hanson 2013 are both strong studies of the evolution of Al-Shabaab, and both offer critical, alternative perspectives on the group. Turbiville, et al. 2014 is also a good overview of the group but with a much stronger emphasis on counter-insurgency strategy as well. Gartenstein-Ross 2009 is one of the strongest pieces on al-Shabaab written from a Western national security perspective. Shinn 2011 explores the specific issue of Al Shabaab’s foreign fighters and affiliations. Anzalone 2011 is one of a series of excellent short pieces on Al-Shabaab published in the CTC Sentinel; it documents the crises the group suffered starting in 2009. Bryden 2014 offers unmatched detail on Al-Shabaab in the aftermath of consolidation of power by hardliner Ahmed Godane.

Boko Haram

The organization commonly known as “Boko Haram” (meaning “Western education is prohibited”) gained public attention starting in 2009. Both academic and policy-oriented scholarship soon followed. Although some of this scholarship has been sensationalist in orientation, there is a growing body of academic work on the group and its offshoots. Academic work has focused on understanding the origins and theological diversity within the organization. Brigaglia 2012 and Anonymous 2012 (name was withheld given security concerns) both address the ideological differences between the Adam and Yousef factions of the group. Anonymous 2012 probes the ways in which the ideologies have been propagated through popular networks in Nigeria. Brigaglia 2012 calls attention to the Salafist ideology of the group and situates it within these regional and international networks. Given the security implications of the group’s activities in the Sahel, there has been tremendous policy interest, which has generated several reports based on extensive fieldwork and careful analysis of group texts and activities. Crisis Group 2014 and the Walker 2012 report offer readable overviews of the group’s development and activities.

  • Anonymous. “The Popular Discourse of Salafi Radicalism and Salafi Counter-radicalism in Nigeria: A Case Study of Boko Haram.” Journal of Religion in Africa 42.2 (2012): 118–144.

    DOI: 10.1163/15700666-12341224Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides a detailed and careful analysis of Boko Haram’s ideology, focusing on internal disagreement within the leadership. The article also situates Boko Haram within the development of various Islamist ideologies within Nigeria, especially textualist and Salafist trends.

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  • Brigaglia, Andreas. “Ja’far Mahmoud Adam, Mohammed Yousef and al-Muntada Islamic Trust: Reflections on the Genesis of the Boko Haram Phenomenon in Nigeria.” Annual Review of Islam in Africa 11 (2012): 35–44.

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    A stated objective of the article is to “inscribe Boko Haram in its original ideological context.” Also highlights the ideological origins of the group’s true name (abbreviated to AS-DJ) rather than the popular moniker. The article also traces the organizational development that has informed ideological development, focusing on Salafist networks.

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  • Crisis Group. “Curbing Violence in Nigeria II: The Boko Haram Insurgency.” Africa Report 216 (3 April 2014).

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    Provides a detailed analysis based on intensive on the ground research. Offers meticulous account of internal factional politics and shifting political relationships. Analyzes the group’s ideology, narratives, tactics, and trajectory.

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  • Walker, Andrew. “What is Boko Haram?United States Institute of Peace no. 308 (2012).

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    Written by a former BBC correspondent, this report provides an excellent overview of the group, including its history and scope. The report also offers a careful analysis of current and possible activities, as well as prospects for negotiation with the group.

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AQIM/Ansar al-Dine/MUJOA

Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is a jihadi group that traces its origins to a breakaway faction of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA). It has operated in part of the Sahel for over a decade. For a time it was considered more of a criminal racket than a jihadi movement, but it resurrected its jihadi credentials during the Mali crisis in 2012 when it became a major player in that complex insurgency, working for a time through a local jihadi group Ansar al-Dine. Top works on both AQIM, Ansar al-Dine, and a third jihai group, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJOA), are identified here. Because the Mali crisis is relatively recent, most analyses to date have been produced by security analysts and for think tanks and research institutes that can release short papers quickly. Crisis Group 2005 is an essential starting point for understanding the context in which multiple jihadi groups emerged in northern Mali, and is a reminder that close observers were aware of the vulnerabilities of the region. Council on Foreign Relations 2014 is a good primer for readers new to the topic. Flood 2012 provides an assessment of the rapid series of events that resulted in an ethno-nationalist insurgency to lay the groundwork for the advance of multiple jihadi groups. Lebovich 2013 explores the more local rather than global source of the jihadi groups, and Bøås 2014 updates that analysis with an assessment that concludes AQIM has astutely tapped local grievances to maintain a strong base of support. Chivvis and Liepman 2013 reach a similar conclusion, while directing attention to AQIM’s ability to launch attacks in Algeria as well.

Transnational Islamic Relations and Africa

Islamic Africa has always maintained lines of communication with the rest of the Islamic world, whether over the Sahara desert or via the Indian Ocean. But the impact of external Islamic movements, via missionaries, charities, foreign aid, diasporas, business links, global media, and other vectors has dramatically increased in Africa since the 1990s, sparking new scholarly interest in the transnational links of African political Islam. A broad overview of the topic is provided in Hunwick 1997. McCormack 2005 looks at transnational dimension of Islamism in Africa through a counter-terrorism lens. Global Witness 2003 explores the financial dimension of Al Qaeda’s presence in Africa. More specific citations related to Al Qaeda in Africa and external Islamic Missionaries and Charities are available in those sections of the bibliography.

Al Qaeda in Africa

In 1991, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda relocated from Afghanistan to Sudan for a six-year period. Since that time, Al Qaeda has engaged in a range of activities in Africa, ranging from recruitment to business ventures to terrorist attacks. The group has in recent years been of marginal importance in Africa compared to local jihadi groups—including Al-Shabaab, AQIM/Ansar al-Dine/MUJOA, and Boko Haram. Lyman and Morrison 2004 provides a solid general overview of the threat Al Qaeda poses to Africa as it was viewed in the West shortly after 9/11, and warns against Western over-reaction. LeSage 2007 provides a strong overview of Al Qaeda’s operations across the continent and assesses counter-insurgency strategies of African states. Rotberg 2005 is an excellent source for country case studies of Al Qaeda activities in the Horn of Africa. Pirio 2007 also explores Al Qaeda in the Horn of Africa and expresses alarm at what it sees as extensive and committed Al Qaeda operations across the region. Smith 2010 gives critical voice from African scholars challenging Western terrorism discourse on Africa. Menkhaus and Shapiro 2010 critically assesses the assumption that Al Qaeda thrives in Africa’s “ungoverned space.” Both Combatting Terrorism Center 2007 and Lehoud 2012 provide assessments based on valuable primary documentation from Al Qaeda itself. They demonstrate that Al Qaeda struggled to operate in lawless zones of state failure in Africa and had deep disagreements with local “affiliates” like al-Shabaab over indiscriminate use of violence.

  • Combatting Terrorism Center. Al Qa’ida’s (Mis)Adventures in the Horn of Africa. West Point, NY: US Military Academy, 2007.

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    Seminal study based on declassified documents captured from Al Qaeda. It documents the many challenges the group faced in its attempts to build a network in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia in the early 1990s.

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  • Lehoud, Nelly. Beware of Imitators: Al Qa’ida through the Lens of its Confidential Secretary. West Point, NY: Combatting Terrorism Center, Harmony Project, 2012.

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    Revealing analysis of the diary of Al Qaeda operative Harun Fazul, who masterminded the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Nairobi and later worked with Al-Shabaab. Highlights tensions between Al Qaeda and Al-Shabaab over the latter’s indiscriminate use of violence.

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  • LeSage, Andre, ed. African Counterterrorism Cooperation: Assessing Regional and Subregional Initiatives. Washington, DC: Potomac, 2007.

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    Collection of essays, mainly by African analysts, on African regional and continental terrorist threats and counter-insurgency strategies. See especially chapter 1, “Terrorist Threats and Vulnerabilities,” for a good overview of jihadi threats in Africa.

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  • Lyman, Princeton N., and J. Stephen Morrison. “The Terrorist Threat in Africa.” Foreign Affairs 83.1 (January/February 2004): 75–87.

    DOI: 10.2307/20033830Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An early post-9/11 assessment of Al Qaeda’s interests and activities in sub-Saharan Africa by two leading American Africanists. Concludes that the rising threat of Islamic militancy in Africa cannot be dealt with mainly through military response.

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  • Menkhaus, Ken, and Jacob Shapiro. “Non-State Actors and Failed States: Lessons from al-Qa’ida’s Experiences in the Horn of Africa.” In Ungoverned Spaces? Alternatives to State Authority in an Era of Softened Sovereignty. Edited by Anne L. Clunan and Harold Trinkunas, 77–94. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010.

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    Draws on evidence from the Horn of Africa to challenge conventional wisdom by arguing that al Qaeda and other terrorist groups do not prefer “ungoverned” space, as it poses too many security and other challenges. Concludes that Al Qaeda fares better in weak states such as Kenya than collapsed states such as Somalia.

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  • Pirio, Gregory. The African Jihad: Bin Laden’s Quest for the Horn of Africa. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea, 2007.

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    A review of Al Qaeda’s activities in the Horn of Africa starting with its base in Sudan in 1991. Makes the case that Al Qaeda views the Horn of Africa as a major front and possesses a dangerous, integrated network across the region.

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  • Rotberg, Robert, ed. Battling Terror in the Horn of Africa and Yemen. Washington, DC: Brookings, 2005.

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    Comparative study of Al Qaeda in the Horn of Africa in the post-9/11 era. Country case studies from top regional experts are valuable, though now partially out of date. Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Yemen are covered. Significant for its recognition of the need to include Yemen in discussions of Islamism in the Horn.

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  • Smith, Melinda, ed. Securing Africa: Post 9/11 Discourses on Terrorism. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2010.

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    Essays mainly by African scholars devoted to critical assessment of the post-9/11 discourse on security, terrorism, and Islam in Africa.

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Islamic Missionaries and Charities

Since 1990, sub-Saharan Africa has seen a surge of Islamic charities, schools, and missionaries from Egypt, and Gulf states, and south Asia. This trend has often been associated with rising Salafism on the continent and in a few cases has been accused of supporting terrorism. Kohlman 2006 explores the extent to which Islamic charities have been exploited by terrorist groups in Africa. Haynes 2005 looks at the same question but with a specific focus on east Africa. Salih 2004 explores the pressures Islamic nongovernmental organizations in the Horn of Africa have endured since the 9/11 attacks. Kaag 2014 provides a more sympathetic assessment of Gulf charities working in Africa. LeSage 2007 provides an excellent case study of Islamic charities and the local partners in Somalia, filling the vacuum left by the collapsed state to provide education and other essential services. Islamic missionary movements, especially Tabligh, which focus mainly on proselytizing in Africa are explored in Muhamed 2000. Haron 2005 provides an assessment of Islamic missionaries in South Africa.

  • Haron, Mohammed. “Da’wah Movements and Sufi Tariqahs: Competing for Spiritual Spaces in Contemporary South(ern) Africa.” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 25.2 (August 2005): 273–297.

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    Offers an important overview of general Islamic activism in southern Africa, especially South Africa. The article also focuses on missionary movements targeting both non-Muslims and “lapsed” Muslims and their interactions with Sufi brotherhoods. Provides an excellent overview of the various missionary organizations, including activities and leadership.

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  • Haynes, Jeffrey. “Islamic Militancy in East Africa.” Third World Quarterly 26.8 (2005): 1321–1339.

    DOI: 10.1080/01436590500336807Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Assessment of Islamist networks, charities, and nongovernmental organizations in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya in the post-9/11 period. Concludes that militants seek to exploit marginal status of Muslims in east Africa, and successfully use charities to disguise activities and movement of money.

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  • Kaag, M. M. A. “Gulf Charities in Africa.” In Gulf Charities and Islamic Philanthropy in the “Age of Terror” and Beyond. Edited by J. Benthall and R. Lacey, 79–94. Berlin: Gerlach, 2014.

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    In contrast to most work on this topic, this chapter is a more sympathetic account of the role of Gulf state Islamic charities and philanthropy in Africa.

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  • Kohlman, Evan. The Role of Islamic Charities in International Terrorist Recruiting and Financing. DIIS Working Paper. Copenhagen: Danish Institute for International Studies, 2006.

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    Assesses extent to which foreign Islamic nongovernmental organizations have been used as fronts by Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Africa to disguise fundraising, recruitment, money laundering, and operations.

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  • LeSage, Andre. “Islamic Charities in Somalia.” In Understanding Islamic Charities. Edited by Jon Alterman and Karin von Hippel, 147–166. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2007.

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    Includes discussion of external sources of Islamic charities that filled the vacuum left by the collapsed Somali state after 1991.

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  • Muhamed, Khalid, ed. Travellers in Faith: Studies of the Tablighi Jamacat as a Transnational Islamic Movement. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2000.

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    Detailed comparative study of the important Islamic reformist missionary group Tabligh, which has had a major impact in Islamic Africa. Two chapters in the book relate to African cases in both Morocco and South Africa.

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  • Salih, M. A. Mohamed. “Islamic NGOs in Africa: The Promise and Peril of Islamic Voluntarism.” In Islamism and its Enemies in the Horn of Africa. Edited by Alex De Waal, 146–181. London: Hurst, 2004.

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    Richly detailed and thoughtful analysis of the recent rise of Islamic nongovernmental organizations across Africa, the nature of Islamic voluntarism, relations between local and transnational Islamic NGOs, and the varied objectives and orientations of external Islamic NGOs, especially those from Saudi Arabia. Includes useful tables that list NGOs and their work.

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The African Diaspora

Most literature on the Muslim African diaspora (i.e., the millions of Africans who have relocated to other regions of the world but who retain close links to their country of origin) focuses either on the challenges they face in integrating in their newly adopted countries, the remittance economies they are part of, or the prospect of radicalization of the diaspora. The bulk of research is on African Muslim diasporas in the West, even though large numbers of African Muslims can be found in the Gulf states and Southeast Asia. Most of the research on Muslim diasporas in Europe concentrates on the north African diaspora. This research is of relevance to the wider study of political Islam in Africa inasmuch as the diaspora can serve as vectors of new interpretations of Islam and its place in society and politics back in Africa. Crisis Group 2006 is one of many reports to come out after riots in parts of France highlighted frustrations of the African Muslim population there, and Leiken 2011 explores the same topic with a specific focus on the threat of radicalization of that diaspora. Laurence and Vaisse 2006 provides a broad survey of issues regarding the integration of French Muslims. Cesari 2004 looks at the changes in political culture when Muslims relocate to the United States, and the extent to which democratic norms are absorbed. Kane 2010 uses the case study of Senegalese diaspora to examine how membership in Sufi brotherhoods mediates the diaspora’s engagement with their communities back in Senegal. Hammond, et al. 2011 draws on extensive fieldwork across multiple continents to assess the role of one African Muslim diaspora group, the Somalis, in peace building and investment back in Somalia. US Senate 2009 provides written statements and discussion at a widely followed Senate hearing on Somali-American fundraising for and recruitment into the jihadi group Al-Shabaab. Menkhaus 2009 examines the puzzle of why so few sub-Saharan Africans in the diaspora joined Al Qaeda in the years following the 9/11 attacks and the “war on terrorism.”

Islamism and New Media

The telecommunications revolution in Africa has dramatically changed the way Islamic scholars, activists, and militants disseminate ideas; it has also linked Islamic Africa to global discourses in a more effective way than ever before. Scholarly analysis of the impact of new media on Islamist movements in Africa is only beginning to document this phenomenon. Much of the writing on this topic has been devoted to the specific issue of Al-Shabaab’s savvy use of new media. Anzalone 2013 documents Al-Shabaab’s media messaging during its recent period of internal crisis, while Meleagrou-Hitchens, et al. 2012 provides a detailed empirical content analysis of Al-Shabaab’s core media messages. Schulz 2012 is a more general analysis of Islamists and new media in West Africa.

East Africa and the Horn

With the exception of Somalia and Djibouti, east Africa’s many Muslims are all members of multisectarian countries, most of which have been politically dominated by Christians. This makes the expression of political Islam in east Africa a matter of special interest, often articulating wider grievances about marginalization in national politics. Political Islam in two east African countries, Sudan and Somalia has attracted so much academic attention that they are accorded their own sections here. Hansen and Twaddle 1995 is a good point of departure for exploring religious mobilization in east Africa in general. De Waal 2004 is the first region-wide study of Islamism in the region in the post-9/11 era and provides a critical interpretation of both Islamism in the region and Western efforts to combat violent manifestations of it. Østebø 2010 is a comprehensive and detailed review of Islamism in the Horn and the single most valuable study on the subject. A number of excellent case studies from the region provide a close look at political Islam in country settings. Turner 2008 sheds light on the role of returning migrant laborers as vectors of Salafi interpretations of Islam in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Desplat and Østebø 2013 collects local-level case study material to examine aspects of Islam and Islamic reform movements across Ethiopia. Østebø 2010 documents the Ethiopian government’s efforts to control expressions of Islamism and Muslim reaction to that manipulation. Of the many recent works on rising Islamism and radicalization in Kenya, Crisis Group 2012 provides excellent and well-documented detail and considers the political implications. It focuses more on Somali Kenyan Muslims. Kresse 2009 focuses mainly on Kenya’s restive Swahili coastal Muslims and uses a political anthropology lens to capture local narratives and grievances.

Sudan

Sudan has a long history of Islamic activism in politics, sometimes expressed through the mobilization of Sufi brotherhoods (taruq) as rival political parties, sometimes as armed rebellion and revolution, and more recently through the National Islamic Front. Sudan even hosted Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda from 1991–1996. Islamism remains a powerful current in Sudanese politics but has been beset by scandals, power struggles with the military, and internal divisions. Sidahmed 2011 is the best short introduction to Sudanese Islamism, ideal for those new to the subject. Warburg 2003 provides a detailed history of Islam and politics in Sudan over the past hundred years. El-Affendi 1990 was an early analysis of the role of Hassan al Turabi as leader in the National Islamic Front (NIF) as it rose to power in the 1980s. Gallab 2008 examines both the rise and decline of the NIF in Sudan. Johnson 2003 is the standard reference on the drivers of the long Sudanese civil war and documents the complex role that the Islamists played in that crisis. Fluer-Lobban 2011 is especially useful for those studying the politics and long-term impact of the Sudanese government’s imposition of Sharia.

  • El-Affendi, Abdel Wahab. Turabi’s Revolution: Islam and Power in Sudan. London: Grey Seal, 1990.

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    Analysis of the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood’s ascent to power and the leadership of Hassan al Turabi.

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  • Fluer-Lobban, Carolyn. Shari’a and Islamism in Sudan: Conflict, Law and Social Transformation. London: I. B. Tauris, 2011.

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    Explores the attempts by the National Islamic Front to codify and implement Sharia law in all of Sudan following the 1989 coup, and examines the long-term impact of the Islamization project in Sudan.

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  • Gallab, Abdullahi. The First Islamic Republic: Development and Disintegration on Islamism in the Sudan. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2008.

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    Traces the rise and decline of the National Islamic Front (NIF) in Sudan, with a strong focus on the role played by Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi.

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  • Johnson, Douglas. The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars. Oxford: James Curry, 2003.

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    The standard reference on Sudan’s civil wars since independence, this work is valuable for situating Islamic politics in the country in a wider context of core-periphery tensions and treating it as one of many factors driving armed conflict.

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  • Sidahmed, Abdel Salam. “Islamism and the State.” In The Sudanese Handbook. Edited by John Ryle, et al., 94–107. Oxford: James Currey, 2011.

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    A clear and useful short analysis of the rise of Islamism in Sudan since the 1940s, its splits and mutations over time, and the role of Islamists in the state.

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  • Warburg, Gabriel. Islam, Sectarianism, and Politics in Sudan since the Mahdiyya. London: Hurst, 2003.

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    History of Islamist politics in Sudan from the Madhist state in the late 19th century to the turn of the 21st century. Provides good historical and cultural background, explains the political role of rival Sufi orders, and addresses important issues such as Islamists’ relations to the military and their interpretation of democracy.

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Somalia

Much of the recent literature on political Islam in Somalia is devoted specifically to the jihadi group Al-Shabaab. For those analyses, see Al-Shabaab. Political Islam, however, has taken on many other forms in Somalia. For a seminal study of rising political Islam in Somalia, Crisis Group 2005 is essential, providing the first detailed inventory the range of new Islamist actors on the scene. Tadesse 2002 is an alarmist but still useful study of the first Islamist group in Somalia, Al-Ittihad al-Islamiyya. The most authoritative study of the evolution of Al-Ittihad and other Islamist groups in the 1990s is Marchal 2004. The growing network of businessmen, Islamic charities, and reformists in Mogadishu is documented in close detail in LeSage 2004. For scholars interested in the rise and fall of the Islamic Courts Union in 2006, Barnes and Hassan 2007 is the single best source. Growing disarray and division in the Islamist camp in Somalia is documented in Crisis Group 2010.

Central and Southern Africa

Muslim populations are small in most of central and southern Africa, except in South Africa, so the literature on political Islam in this region of Africa is modest. Funke and Solomon 2006, Tayob 1998, and Botha 2005 all explore aspects of the armed Islamist group PAGAD in South Africa. Haron 2005 is the best overview of political Islam’s many manifestations in South Africa, including the competition between reformists and Sufi Muslim authorities.

West Africa and the Sahel

Scholarship on Islamic politics in west Africa has traditionally focused on the role of Sufi brotherhoods (see Sufism). While the literature on Sufis examines their interaction with colonial and state institutions, recent literature examines their contribution to democracy. Diouf 2013 examines the role of Sufism in promoting democratic culture in Senegal. Similarly, Stephan examines the role of Sufism in promoting toleration in Senegal. Barnes 2009 examines the potential contribution of Sufi networks and traditions of authority to developmental goals. The growth of Islamist reformists—and their interactions with Sufis—has also been a subject of vibrant debate and scholarship. Diouf and Lichtman 2009 examines the role of a variety of Islamic actors, Sufi and Islamist, in contemporary politics in Senegal. Miles 2006 and Villallón 2013 also examine the role of a variety of Islamic sociopolitical actors, but from a comparative regional perspective. In the early 21st century, geographical categories began to shift. The study of the Sahel has gained ground, especially since the creation of the Pan Sahelian Initiative in 2002, which increased attention to security issues in the Sahelian region. International Crisis Group 2005 provides an excellent overview of the shifting security environment of the Sahel, situating the analysis within historic trends of moderation (and Sufism) while documenting the growth of extremism. Reeve 2014 is a two-part study in the Oxford Research Group that engages the debate regarding securitization of the Sahel. Although there is tremendous debate within the literature about how to best approach security in the region, there is increasing consensus that the Sahel represents a significant subregion that should be analyzed in its own right.

Nigeria

As the most populous country in Africa, Nigeria is exemplary of general trends regarding Islam and politics in Africa—and its scholarship reflects this. Nigeria has a long-standing Sufi tradition, as documented by Paden 2008 and Loimeier 1997. Although Sufi traditions and networks run deep, textualism has been gaining ground for decades. The Izala movement is the most important textualist reformist trend and is the subject of Kane 2003. Sufism and Reformists are increasingly in conflict, which is also documented in Loimeier 1997. In addition to intra-Muslim conflicts, there is also increased communal conflict in Nigeria. Although religion has not been on the census since 1996, the Muslim and Christian populations are considered roughly equal. There are significant Muslim populations in the south, especially among the Yoruba. However, the majority of Muslims are in the north where there have been a number of ongoing communal conflicts (see Islam and Communalism). Crisis Group 2010 provides a useful overview of these conflicts but argues they are not religion based but instead a result of historical, economic, and political factors. The conflict that has received the greatest degree of media attention is that involving the group popularly known as “Boko Haram” (see Boko Haram), and Walker 2012 provides an important overview of the history and development of the group.

  • Crisis Group. “Northern Nigeria: Background to the Conflict.” Africa Report 168 (December 2010).

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    Provides an excellent overview of the foundations of ongoing Muslim versus Muslim and Muslim versus Christian conflicts in northern Nigeria, situating them within historical institutional development. Examines Sufi-Salafist competition and the impact of Sharia debates.

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  • Kane, Ousmane. Muslim Modernity in Post-Colonial Nigeria: A Study of the Society for the Removal of Innovation and Reinstatement of Tradition. Boston: Brill, 2003.

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    Best monograph examining Izala, a major Islamic reformist movement in Nigeria based on ethnographic work. Although focused on northern Nigeria, this book provides general insights into textualist political trends within Nigerian Islam.

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  • Loimeier, Roman. Islamic Reform and Political Change in Northern Nigeria. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1997.

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    An invaluable contribution to understanding contending Sufi brotherhoods as well as reformist movements, most notably Izala. The book is based on extensive ethnographic work and textual analysis and is an excellent reference for the various movements of northern Nigeria.

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  • Paden, John. Faith and Politics in Nigeria: Nigeria as a Pivotal State in the Muslim World. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 2008.

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    Part of a general series on Muslim states that begins by outlining Nigeria’s centrality in the Islamic world as well as within Africa. Although the author is an expert on northern Nigeria, the book also engages Muslim politics in other cultural or geopolitical zones of the country.

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  • Walker, Andrew. “What is Boko Haram?” Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 2012.

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    Brief report providing an essential overview of Boko Haram, including its development and ideology. Situates the movement in relationship to other violent actors in Nigeria.

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North Africa

Following the first experiment in Islamist contested elections in Algeria and the subsequent coup in Algeria, there was an explosion of literature on Islam and Politics in North Africa. Burgat and William 1993 is one of the examples of this early wave of scholarship, providing an essential overview of movements and their history. During the 1990s and 2000s, the debate centered on the violent/nonviolent divide and whether Islamists were “committed” democrats. Entelis 1997 represents an important contribution to the study of “non-violent Islamism.” Literature after 9/11 focused on the relationship of regional and international factors (see Al Qaeda in Africa) However, some literature emphasized country contexts, such as Crisis Group 2004–2005. Other authors instead analyzed political developments on localized factors, such as Pargeter 2009. After the Arab Uprisings, there was a renewed attention to democratization, such as more critical examination of the “moderation thesis” by Driessen 2012. The increased role of electoral politics has also led to greater attention on pro-democracy Islamist intellectuals, such as Tunisia’s Rachid Ghannouchi, whose life and work is the focus of Tamimi 2014.

  • Burgat, Francois, and Dowell William. The Islamic Movement in North Africa. Austin: Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas, 1993.

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    Adapted from a previous French version, this classic of Islam and Politics in North Africa provides a rich and detailed analysis. The book is organized both thematically and by country cases, examining nationalism, democracy and key intellectuals in the four countries of the Maghreb: Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia.

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  • Crisis Group. Islamism in North Africa. 2004–2005.

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    This five-part series provides an excellent overview of Islamism with North Africa. Two general reports, one on Islamism in general and one on North Africa specifically, are followed by careful case studies of key countries: Egypt, Algeria, and Mauritania.

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  • Driessen, Michael. “Public Religion, Democracy and Islam: Examining the Moderation Thesis in Algeria.” Comparative Politics 44.2 (2012): 171–189.

    DOI: 10.5129/001041512798838049Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Through an examination of Algeria, this article develops what has been called a “moderation thesis,” detailing both “moderating effects,” as well as outlining the resulting vision of groups. Offers an important overview of Islamist participation in Algeria, as well as scholarship examining their involvement.

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  • Entelis, John P., ed. Islam, Democracy and the State in North Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.

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    Early and important edited volume bringing together key experts on North Africa to examine possibilities for nonviolent democratic Islamist participation in North Africa.

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  • Pargeter, Alison. “Localism and Radicalization in North Africa: Local Factors in the Development of Political Islam in Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya.” International Affairs 85.5 (2009): 1031–1044.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2346.2009.00845.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Rare work comparing Islamism in the Maghreb countries other than Algeria. In contrast to emphasis on international and regional factors, Pargeter examines the role of localized politics in Islamist development in Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya.

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  • Tamimi, Azzam. Rachid Ghannouchi: A Democrat within Islamism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

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    Important biography of central Islamist thinking, who has influenced not only Tunisian Islamic politics but Islamism throughout North Africa and the greater Islamic world.

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Egypt

Egypt has always been a large literature country for the study of Islam and Politics in Africa. However, the Arab Uprisings of 2011 have not only dramatically transformed Egypt but also transformed the field. Scholars who have long been studying Islamist movements in Egypt published definitive studies of the Muslim Brotherhood, such as Wickham 2013. Others have contextualized contemporary politics within historical developments of social movements, such as Al-Arian 2014. Post-Mubarak electoral politics has led to a number of studies on Islamist political parties and their role in elections, such as Brown 2013. Masoud 2014 is an essential text for understanding Islamists and institutions, usefully updated prior to publication so as to explain Islamist electoral success during Mubarak’s rule and after his removal.

  • Al-Arian, Abdallah. Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Egypt 1968–81. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199931279.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the Muslim Brotherhood from a social movement perspective, focusing especially on the ideological and organizational development during an important, yet often-overlooked period.

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  • Brown, Nathan. “Islam and Politics in the New Egypt.” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) Paper 23 April 2013.

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    This detailed report by a leading religion and constitution scholar examines Islamism in Egypt broadly. Not only does the report provide an overview of Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood, it also examines the role of state religious institutions. Appendix also offers invaluable overview of Islamist groups and parties.

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  • Masoud, Tarek. Counting Islam: Religion, Class, and Elections in Egypt. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511842610Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An essential text for understanding Islamism and electoral politics in Egypt. The book challenges dominant explanations of Islamist electoral success, both Islamic exceptionalism and organized service provision. Instead, Masoud argues that an institutionalist approach better explains outcomes under both Mubarak as well as in post-Mubarak elections.

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  • Wickham, Carrie. The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013.

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    Written by a leading scholar on Islam and politics in Egypt, this book provides a comprehensive overview of the Muslim Brotherhood from its founding through the post-Mubarak period. Situated within comparative context, the book examines the Brotherhood’s ideology, electoral politics, response to repression, and relationships with other parties.

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