Steve Howard departed for the Sudan in the early 1980s as an American graduate student beginning a three-year journey in which he would join and live with the Republican Brotherhood, the Sufi Muslim group led by the visionary Mahmoud Mohamed Taha. Taha was a religious intellectual who participated in the early days of Sudan’s anticolonial struggle, but quickly turned his movement into a religious reform effort based on his radical reading of the Qur’an. He was executed in 1985 for apostasy.
In Senegal, the Muridiyya, a large Islamic Sufi order, is the single most influential religious organization, including among its numbers the nation’s president. Yet little is known of this sect in the West. Drawn from a wide variety of archival, oral, and iconographic sources in Arabic, French, and Wolof, Fighting the Greater Jihad offers an astute analysis of the founding and development of the order and a biographical study of its founder, Cheikh Amadu Bamba Mbacke.
Between 1880 and 1920, Muslim Sufi orders became pillars of the colonial regimes and economies of Senegal and Mauritania. In Paths of Accommodation, David Robinson examines the ways in which the leaders of the orders negotiated relations with the Federation of French West Africa in order to preserve autonomy within the religious, social, and economic realms while abandoning the political sphere to their non-Muslim rulers.