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By Robert Launay

Robert Launay has been staring at the altering non secular practices of the Dyula, a Muslim neighborhood in West Africa, for greater than a decade. In Beyond the Stream, he examines the ways that this non secular and ethnic minority workforce dwelling at the fringes of the Muslim global keeps its ties to the common Islamic culture whereas adapting daily spiritual practices to the neighborhood context. in the course of the lens of this particular neighborhood, Launay elucidates the interplay among basic Islamic ideals, anchored traditionally within the Arab center East, and the always altering ways in which Islam is lived, anyplace it's professed.

By targeting the stress among "particular" and "universal"—on how a given spiritual morality needs to functionality concurrently inside of a tightly knit group and a bigger international arena—Beyond the Stream addresses problems with huge problem to the anthropology of Islam and to international religions generally.

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Additional info for Beyond the Stream: Islam and Society in a West African Town

Sample text

However, language itself was not the determining criterion for religious identity; the Milaga blacksmiths, who spoke Manding, were classed as "unbelievers" rather than as Muslims, as were the Dieli leatherworkers. These distinctions were reflected in marriage patterns. Tun tigi and mory groups could give and receive wives to and from one another; they could also receive wives from "unbelievers," but not bestow their own women in marriage to them, since Muslim women ought only be given in marriage to Muslim men.

10] However, to demonstrate one's identity as a Muslim outside the region, one had to be reasonably familiar with the basics of Islamic ritual: at the very least, one had to know how and when to pray. Precisely because both the prayers and the instructions for their proper use were transmitted in Arabic written documents, the preservation of such knowledge implied the existence of a body of persons literate in Arabic. The maintenance of this tradition was the responsibility of the mory , although by no means all mory individuals had to be literate in Arabic.

The author of this missive was in fact acting precisely in the way Muslim clerics were (and are still) expected to act. The letter stresses the loyalty of Korhogo's Muslim community to the regime in place, and goes so far as to imply that this loyalty is a religious obligation. view=print (38 of 175)9/11/2005 11:42:59 AM Beyond the Stream ― 61 ― cepted such declarations at face value—an implicit, if unintentional, testimony to the efficacy of the policy. But the letter is hypocritical only if its rhetorical excesses are accepted too literally, although of course such a literal interpretation served Muslim interests all the better.

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