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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'We are all the Same, Because we All Worship God': The Controversial Case of a Female Saint in the Gambia
Author:Janson, MarloesISNI
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Gambia
Women's Issues
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External links:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40027296
Abstract:Based on ethnographic field research carried out between November 2003 and April 2004, this article explores religious discourses about proper ritual observance in The Gambia, a country where our understanding of processes of Islamization is largely lacking. These discourses centre on the case of Berekuntu, a shrine guarded by a female saint in the village of Kartong. On the basis of three 'texts', the female saint's biographical narrative, a series of sermons delivered by reformist scholars, and a newspaper article based on an interview with the Supreme Islamic Council, the article shows that shrine and saint veneration are not relics of the past, but are part of a lively contemporary dispute about 'authentic' Islam and who represents it. While reformist Muslims seem to have conquered the public sphere during the last decade under the influence of President Jammeh's rule, the Sufi understanding of Islam, as embodied by the saint, still enjoys great support among the Gambian population. Although 'reformists' and 'Sufis' seem at first sight to be diametrically opposed, they sometimes borrow from each other. An analysis of the (re)negotiation of Muslim identities indicates that Islamization is not a single monolithic movement but, rather, a diffuse process happening at different levels. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]