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Title:Debating Muslims, disputed practices: Struggles for the realization of an alternative moral order in Niger
Author:Masquelier, AdelineISNI
Book title:Civil society and the political imagination in Africa: Critical perspectives
Editors:Comaroff, J.
Comaroff, J.L.
City of publisher:Chicago
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
Geographic term:Niger
Islamic movements
political systems
Abstract:This chapter explores the role of Islam in its mediation and critical understanding of State-society relations through a focus on Izala, an anti-Sufi movement whose recent spread in southern Niger sparked intense struggles over the meaning of Islam and Islamic identity. In 1992, a violent dispute erupted between 'yan (followers, members of) Izala, a group of Muslim anti-Sufi reformists, and 'yan Tijaniyya (members of the Tijaniyya brotherhood) in the main mosque of Dogondoutchi, a bustling Mawri community located in the Hausa-speaking region of Arewa. The incident was followed by other disputes that pitted reformists against traditionalists, contesting the nature of Islamic knowledge and the legitimation of Islamic authority. What is significant about these confrontations is that they would not have occurred had there not been an 'opening up' of Islamic consciousness that allowed for the emergence of multiple perspectives. The conservative 'yan Izala have struggled to articulate their vision of an alternative Islamic civil society that promotes a philosophy of 'each man for himself', stresses education for all, and redefines women's role. It is through its contestation of a previously unquestioned orthodoxy that Izala can be said to contribute to the emergence of a Nigerien civil society. Bibliogr., notes, ref.