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Chair of Islamic Studies – Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Seesemann

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Research at the Chair of Islamic Studies has a focus on Islam in Africa. Several broader fields have been established at the department since its foundation.

First to mention is the research conducted on the Tijaniyya, a Sufi movement originating in Morocco and Algeria in late 18th century spreading from the early 19th century onwards over the whole African continent and at the end of the 20th century even beyond. The Tijaniyya is one of the most vivid Sufi movements of contemporary Africa that engaged in spreading Arabic Islamic education, had been involved in precolonial militant jihadist movements in West Africa, and had to deal since its beginnings with several scholarly disputes. Scholars of this Sufi movement produced a vast corpus of devotional and scholarly texts in Arabic and African languages.

Second, quite a number of research projects affiliated with the chair of Islamic studies dealt with Islamic education in Africa, its transformation through political transitions and globalization, its encounter with colonial and postcolonial institutions of education, and finally the transregional networks involved in transformative processes of Islamic education. Despite of the institutional dimension, epistemological questions have been followed, analyzing the variety of approaches towards Islamic texts based on empirical research.

The third research tradition concerns Islamic law in Africa, its practice and implementation. In this context, especially legal literature (fatwas) has been analyzed, and contributed to writing social histories of Muslims on the continent. Some of the larger projects dealt with religious foundations (waqf), trade practice, and slavery. Arabic manuscripts have formed an important body of sources for this research field.

Research data that has been collected in the larger collaborative research teams until 2007 is available to the broader research community in the Bayreuth Research Data Collection "Islam in Africa". If you want to know more about the research at the chair of Islamic studies, kindly have a look at

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