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Becoming Muslim in Mainland Tanzania, 1890-2000$
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Felicitas Becker

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264270

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264270.001.0001

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Migration, trade, and religious change at the onset of colonialism, 1890–1905

Migration, trade, and religious change at the onset of colonialism, 1890–1905

(p.25) 1 Migration, trade, and religious change at the onset of colonialism, 1890–1905
Becoming Muslim in Mainland Tanzania, 1890-2000

Felicitas Becker

British Academy

This chapter sets out the hierarchical, exploitative conditions of the late pre-colonial period that villagers would react against. The elusiveness of ritual authority that characterized indigenous religious practice helps elaborate the relatively low profile of Islam in relationships of dependency beyond the coast. The chapter first discusses the coast in terms of a reference point in regional politics. The factors mitigating Muslim influence up-country are shown. It is tempting to suggest that big men turned to Islam to overcome the limitations of their role in local religious practice. Muslim practice was diverse on the coast and became discernible up-country in discrete elements, and big men had no reason to assume that they would be able to retain control over it. Additionally, the oral evidence on long-distance trade, viewed from the villages, and the effects of colonization, are presented. The role of coastal Muslims in the interior was nothing if not ambiguous. Inasmuch as Muslim practice was recognized as ritual practice, it faced both towards society and towards spirit forces.

Keywords:   Muslim, migration, trade, colonialism, religious practice, long-distance trade

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