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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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Teachers, elders and shehe: how Islam came to the villages

Teachers, elders and shehe: how Islam came to the villages

(p.83) 3 Teachers, elders and shehe: how Islam came to the villages
Becoming Muslim in Mainland Tanzania, 1890-2000

Felicitas Becker

British Academy

The contrast between the deep involvement of urban Muslims' exclusionary attitudes in the social struggles of the late pre-colonial period and the absence of references to such struggles in oral accounts of early rural Muslims could give the impression that conversion constituted a slightly anachronistic pursuit of coastal allegiance. Oral sources suggest that conversion occurred as part of an active search for new ritual and social options, and that villagers interpreted their Muslim allegiance to suit the pursuit of divergent aspirations. The ways of conversion among villagers are first described. The chapter also traces how rural Muslims in the inter-war period managed to depart from and reinterpret the problematic associations of Muslim allegiance. It explores the early history of rural mosques, focusing on a group of four mosques founded between c.1925 and 1947. The republicanism of rural Muslims is discussed. Islam had become a fundamental, albeit low-profile, element of social life.

Keywords:   Islam, teachers, elders, shehe, villages, mosques

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