New PDF release: Beyond the Stream: Islam and Society in a West African Town

By Robert Launay

Robert Launay has been looking at the altering spiritual practices of the Dyula, a Muslim group in West Africa, for greater than a decade. In Beyond the Stream, he examines the ways that this non secular and ethnic minority staff dwelling at the fringes of the Muslim global continues its ties to the common Islamic culture whereas adapting daily spiritual practices to the neighborhood context. during the lens of this particular group, Launay elucidates the interplay among basic Islamic ideals, anchored traditionally within the Arab heart East, and the always altering ways in which Islam is lived, anyplace it's professed.

By concentrating on the strain among "particular" and "universal"—on how a given non secular morality needs to functionality concurrently inside of a tightly knit neighborhood and a bigger international arena—Beyond the Stream addresses problems with extensive crisis to the anthropology of Islam and to international religions generally.

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In short, by distinguishing the Dyula from their immediate neighbors and linking them with Muslims outside the region, Islam was crucial to their maintenance of a monopoly over long-distance trade. Since trade and weaving were locally associated, it served equally to preserve the even more ― 57 ― crucial monopoly over the production of cloth. It follows that the Dyula had no particular interest in converting their neighbors to Islam; on the contrary, in order to protect their monopoly, they had, if anything, an interest in discouraging such conversions.

Each society initiated its own members separately. Each had its own distinct set of masks and ritual paraphernalia (though a certain amount of borrowing could and did occur) associated with both funeral and initiation ceremonies. In other words, the religious practices of a significant proportion of the Dyula population—the tun tigi or "warriors"—did not differ significantly in many respects from those of their senambele or fijembele neighbors. One might be tempted to conclude that precolonial Korhogo was characterized by the coexistence of two clearly distinct ― 55 ― religious systems: an initiation-society complex on one hand and Islam on the other.

53 ― spoke their own distinct language. " Whatever the case, these craft groups now speak as a native language one dialect or another of Sienar, depending on where they are settled. In Korhogo, they all speak Tiembara. [6] Finally, the Milaga "blacksmiths" were native Manding speakers like the Dyula. " In principle, these hereditary categories were occupationally and linguistically defined. Reality, of course, was less static and more complex than such a neat system of divisions might suggest.

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