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Publication of "The Walking Qur’an, Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge, and History in West Africa" by Rudolph T. WARE III (june 2014)

Publication of "The Walking Qur'an, Islamic Education, Embodied (…)

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The book

WARE (Rudolph T. III), The Walking Qur’an, Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge, and History in West Africa, Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, ("Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks"), 2014, 352 p. ISBN 978-1-4696-1431-1

The author

Rudolph T. Ware III is assistant professor of history at the University of Michigan.


Spanning a thousand years of history—and bringing the story to the present through ethnographic fieldwork in Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania—Rudolph Ware documents the profound significance of Qur’an schools for West African Muslim communities. Such schools peacefully brought Islam to much of the region, becoming striking symbols of Muslim identity. Ware shows how in Senegambia the schools became powerful channels for African resistance during the eras of the slave trade and colonization. While illuminating the past, Ware also makes signal contributions to understanding contemporary Islam by demonstrating how the schools’ epistemology of embodiment gives expression to classical Islamic frameworks of learning and knowledge.

Today, many Muslims and non-Muslims find West African methods of Qur’an schooling puzzling and controversial. In fascinating detail, Ware introduces these practices from the viewpoint of the practitioners, explicating their emphasis on educating the whole human being as if to remake it as a living replica of the Qur’an. From this perspective, the transference of knowledge in core texts and rituals is literally embodied in people, helping shape them—like the Prophet of Islam—into vital bearers of the word of God.


Introduction : Islam, the Qur’an School, and the Africans

Chapter 1.
Education, Embodiment, and Epistemology
Chapter 2.
Embodying Islam in West Africa: The Making of a Clerisy, ca. 1000-1770
Chapter 3.
The Book in chains: Slavery and Revolution in Senegambia, 1770-1890
Chapter 4.
Bodies of Knowledge: Schooling, Sufism, and Social Change in Colonial Senegal, 1890-1945
Chapter 5.
Disembodied Knowledge?: "Reform" and Epistemology in Senegal, 1945-Present
Conclusion: The Qur’an School, the Body, and the Health of the Umma

Glossary, Notes, Bibliography, Index.

View online : UNC Press