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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Practice of Islamic Experts in a Village on Mayotte
Author:Lambek, Michael J.ISNI
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa
Geographic term:Comoros
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1581423.pdf
Abstract:The analysis at hand considers the practice of village experts ('fundis') in the discipline of sacred Islamic knowledge, 'hilim fakihy'. 'Hilim fakihy' is concerned with the study, enunciation, transmission, and interpretation of the sacred texts and the commentaries upon them. The more 'fundis' know, the greater their authority. The problem of authority and the diversity of approaches that can be taken to it at the local level are pursued here by examining the contrasting practices and opinions of the two leading Koranic 'fundis', who happen to be brothers, in the village of Lombeni, on Mayotte, the southernmost island in the Comoro Archipelago. The differences between the brothers demonstrate at least two things. One is how different people can situate themselves or come to terms with the same body of knowledge, which each of them accepts as true, in different ways. The other is how the position of the 'fundi' is not one of simple power or final authority, but depends ultimately on his relationships, subtly derived, with both the texts and the public as well as on his own thoughtful, knowledgeable, and flexible agency. In the case of both the expert who seeks compromise and the one who does not, the limitations to their autonomy and authority created by public conceptions of appropriate behaviour are apparent. Bibliogr., notes, ref.