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Periodical article Periodical article
Title:Islamic Proselytising between Lamu and Mozambique: The case of Kizingitini village
Author:Swaleh, K.
Periodical:Social Dynamics
Geographic term:Kenya
Abstract:Islam was first introduced along Kenya's coast during the twelfth century AD, mainly through trade. Merchants from Persia and the Arabian Peninsula frequented the East African coast, opening up religious networks that facilitated the spread of Islam in the region. Yemeni cities such as Hadramawt exchanged religio-cultural values with the East African coast for many generations. Dissemination of religious knowledge was one of the characteristic features of these networks. However, the transfer of religious knowledge on Kenya's coast was marred with bias: nobility and class position were determinant factors in knowledge acquisition. This led to the emergence of alternative networks that disseminated religious knowledge. Some of the new players included individual mujadid (reformers) who competed for religious influence through the dissemination of religious teaching. One such reformer is Sheikh Harith Swaleh (b. 1937), who imparted religious knowledge to the people of Kizingitini, when they had been marginalised for a long period. Thereafter, the influence of Kizingitini reverberated along the East African coast and reached as far south as Mozambique. This article examines the struggle of a community in acquiring Islamic knowledge against many odds. It focuses on pedagogic methods employed in the village, competing teaching traditions of Islamic learning, and the creation of a new religious network in the region. Furthermore, the study explores the impact of conflict and class division in Islamic proselytising in a village context. (Journal Abstract).