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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Arabic and Islamic Literacy in the Twentieth Century Liberia
Author:Konneh, Augustine
Periodical:Liberian Studies Journal
Geographic term:Liberia
Subjects:Islamic education
Education and Oral Traditions
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
Abstract:This paper, which is based on research carried out among Liberian refugees in Sierra Leone from June 1990 to June 1991, examines the role of Koranic education in Liberia. Islamic learning in Liberia was for centuries concentrated in the hinterland, along the trade routes followed by Manding merchants and missionaries, who were the main agents of Islamization. Manding traders were also teachers of Islam. During the day they performed their trade functions, and in the evening they assembled children to spread Islamic knowledge. As Manding traders settled among the local people of the interior, they integrated religious instruction into village life. Although obtaining a Western education is difficult today because of the financial expense involved, many Liberians think the benefits are enormous and practical for daily life. However, many of the author's informants claimed that there are benefits to Islamic education as well. One of the most important is the utilitarian value of Islam for business, because of its connection to trade networks. Presently, the strategy of Koranic education is changing, probably in response to the challenge of Western school education. The new Koranic schools possess buildings, classrooms, and textbooks. Arabic is taught as a foreign language and some of the schools devote half of their schedule to American-English subjects. Bibliogr.