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Title:Islamic Influence in a Forest Kingdom: The Role of Protective Amulets in Early 19th Century Asante
Author:Owusu-Ansah, David
Periodical:Transafrican Journal of History
Geographic term:Ghana
Ashanti polity
ritual objects
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Abstract:This paper contributes to a neglected aspect of Islamic history in Africa: the role and significance of Islamic amulets and magic in the history of non-Islamic black African communities. Based on 'Arabic manuscripts from Kumasi' (Royal Library, Copenhagen, code: ARAB CCCII), the paper has a twofold aim: 1) to examine the position of Islamic protective amulets in a non-Islamic black African community, and 2) to translate and analyse portions of the Arabic manuscripts which have been described as mystical formulae. There are two sections: 1) analysis of the manuscripts in the context of the Islamic position on the making of amulets, magic and the state of Islamic learning in West Africa; 2) attempt to understand the conditions which contributed to the great demand for Islamic amulets within the socio-political system of nineteenth century Asante. Of the sixty-five pages of Arabic manuscripts examined, over two-thirds were translated. The translated material has been placed in an appendix. App., notes.