Diversity and Tolerance in the Islam of West Africa

Diversity and Tolerance in the Islam of West Africa

Exploring Islamic practices in the West African countries of Senegal and Ghana

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National Endowment for the Humanities
Diversity and Tolerance in the Islam of West Africa
Two Female students dressed appropriately for school at the Azariyya Islamic Education Unit School in Tafo, Ashanti, Ghana. Image by David Owusu-Ansah

The Diversity and Tolerance project is home to a number of collections that explore the faith of Islamic persons living in the West African countries of Senegal and Ghana. This collection was assembled to address three needs within the scholarly and public communities. First, although half of Africa is Islamic, individuals in the West do not commonly associate Islam with Africa or vice versa. Thus, little is known about the practice and culture of Islamic faith in Africa. Second, the current narratives surrounding Islam often revolve around themes of aggression, conflict, or violence. However, West Africa has been home to thriving communities of Muslims, Christians, and traditional African religions that have co-existed peacefully for centuries. These interviews reflect and explore that nonviolent cohabitation.

Finally, these interviews are recorded in seven African languages including Pulaar, Wolof, Mandinka, Jóola Foñi, Bamanankan, Twi, and Hausa. Currently, very few language acquisition materials exist to help non-native speakers of these languages become proficient in their usage. Thus, the interviews in this collection- along with their translations and transcriptions -are valuable language learning tools and resources.

Although the individual collections that make up the Diversity and Tolerance project are varied in terms of subject matter, they work together to tell the often untold or misrepresented story of Islamic practice in West Africa. Their stories are an important cultural, linguistic, and educational tool- one that is particularly relevant for a post-9/11 Western world. We invite you to browse these resources and use them as tools for educational, scholarly, and personal development.