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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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From Muslim big men to rural waalimu, 1905–1927

From Muslim big men to rural waalimu, 1905–1927

(p.53) 2 From Muslim big men to rural waalimu, 1905–1927
Becoming Muslim in Mainland Tanzania, 1890-2000

Felicitas Becker

British Academy

It is clearly stated that religious elements were significant both in starting the war and in living through it, but the origins, content, and reach of these notions are controversial. The changes following Maji Maji, and arguably in some regards the war itself, give a particularly graphic illustration of the transitions that were occurring up and down the Swahili coast. The role of religious figures and ideas in Maji Maji is controversial in several respects. This war was the moment when the claim to be of the coast became part of a popular movement, rather than of the identity of limited groups of traders and big men. The context of the beginnings of rural Islam during 1907–27 is reported. The chapter also addresses the local variations and common themes in the beginnings of rural Islam. The prominence of the Maji Maji War in the history of the region invites the association of the acceptance of Islam with an anti-colonial stance. The new rural Muslims effectively negated the adversarial character of relations between coast and interior in the nineteenth century and reinterpreted the Islamic allegiance of the coast as a connecting rather than a divisive element.

Keywords:   Muslim, waalimu, Maji Maji War, big men, rural Islam

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