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|Title: ||Islam, traditional beliefs and ritual practices among the Zaghawa of Sudan|
|Authors: ||Mohamed-Salih, El Tigani Mustafa|
|Supervisors: ||Holy, Ladislav|
|Issue Date: ||1991|
|Abstract: ||This thesis is about the traditional beliefs and the process of Islamization among
the Zaghawa. It examines Islam as understood and practised by the Zaghawa
society rather than the "universal model" of Islam or Islam as it is supposed to be.
Chapter one is concerned with the 'basic' cosmology, system of belief and objects of
sanctity among the Zaghawa. The Zaghawa gave the names of their ha mandas (sacred
mountains) to their territorial divisions and their newly appointed chiefs in the past
slaughtered a pregnant camel on top of their clans' ha mandas in order to legitimise their
leadership and power.
Chapter two explains how the harsh environmental conditions of Dar Zaghawa
and the lack of security in the past caused many uncertainties and led the Zaghawa to
consult various divinatory techniques to arrive at the hidden knowledge and the hazards
that might lie ahead. The various divinatory techniques practised by the Zaghawa are
also examined in detail in this chapter in addition to various forms of afflictions caused
by supernatural powers and their traditional healing devices.
Chapter three is devoted-to the introduction of Islam into the Zaghawa society.
It shows how the point at which Islam met the Zaghawa at first was such that it
appeared less alien to them, a fact which made it easy for them to accept the new
religion. This chapter furthermore examines the impact of Islam upon cosmology,
system of belief, objects of sanctity, divination, affliction and healing. It also explains
why Islamization brought about the sex division of religion and how the concept of
religious purity and pollution introduced by Islam has been interpreted by the fakis to
justify the discrimination against the mai .
Chapter four describes the Islamic ritual practices, notably the five pillars of
Islam and the ritual practices related to the life cycle, agricultural activities, purification
and reconciliation on the occasion of adultery and manslaughter. The main purpose of
this chapter is to discern how these general Islamic rituals have been influenced by the
particular setting of the Zaghawa environment.
Chapter five discusses and evaluates the effect of formal education, the
establishment of the new Sudanese state and formal peace keeping institutions, the
improvement of communications and medical services and the deterioration of
environmental conditions in Dar Zaghawa in facilitating religious change. The chapter
goes on to explain how the socioeconomic crises and political upheavals in Dar
Zaghawa in the sixties on the one hand and the complicity of the national political
parties with the Zaghawa chiefs on the other anguished the commoners and led many of
them to join the Muslim Brotherhood and the Jamaa Ansar al--Sunna al--Mohamediva
and demand the return to the pristine Islam and the application of the Islamic shari'a
law. It furthermore explains why the religious reformers, though they succeeded in
persuading the Zaghawa to accept the religious changes in some aspects of their lives,
failed to do so in many other aspects, notably the gender relations and the
discrimination against the mai.
The concluding chapter critically assesss and evaluates the existing literature on
conversion to Islam in Africa. The syncretism and the marginalization models, though
important, do not go far enough to explain why the Zaghawa continued to perform
their pre--Islamic rituals even when their belief changed. It suggests Fernandez's
model, which differentiates between the social consensus and cultural consensus, as
particularly useful for deeper analyses of the impact of Islam upon the Zaghawa
|Publisher: ||University of St Andrews|
|Appears in Collections:||Social Anthropology Theses|
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