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The Walking Qur'anIslamic Education, Embodied Knowledge, and History in West Africa$
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Rudolph T. Ware

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781469614311

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469614311.001.0001

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The Ink of Scholars

The Ink of Scholars

The Making of a Clerisy, Ca. 1000–1770

(p.77) 2 The Ink of Scholars
The Walking Qur'an

Rudolph T. Ware III

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines the constitution and transformation of an indigenous West African clerisy over the longue durée. These African teachers and scholars of Islam were the main vectors of Islamization in a subcontinent that was untouched by the conquests of the early centuries of Islam. They developed a distinct model for relations between temporal and religious authorities that allowed them to keep their distance (and preserve their autonomy) from kings. The examination of the moral and political economies of learning and teaching the Qurʾan is carried down through the eighteenth century, paying particular attention to how the rise of the Atlantic slave trade caused this model of pious distance from power to break down, as some clerics became increasingly radical militants. By the seventeenth century, previously quietist men of letters were willing to take up arms against worldly kings who had the temerity to enslave free Muslims and sell them to Christians.

Keywords:   West African clerics, Islam, Islamization, slavery, slave trade

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