Rudolph Ware's groundbreaking work, The Walking Qur'an, is for the most part devoted to an important episode of the history of Senegambia known as “the Wars of the Marabouts.” Leaning on works by historians of the period, Ware revisits the episode using a powerful conceptual tool: the notion of the human being as a “walking Quran.” As Diagne discusses, many Islamic traditions insist on the fact that the Quran is truly written in the heart of the believer who thus becomes an embodiment of the Word of God. As the being chosen to be the bearer of the Word spoken by God, a human could not be enslaved as the Quran could not be put “in chains.” Ware argues that such a meaning of the nobility of the human and her election to be the lieutenant (khalife) of God is the driving force behind the wars of the Marabouts against the Atlantic slave trade. Diagne also engages with Ware's claim that Muslim reformers who by the end of the nineteenth century advocated “modern” pedagogical approaches to education in centers such as Al Azhar or madrases in Senegambia turned their back to the authentically Islamic epistemology of embodiment.
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Souleymane Bachir Diagne; Of Reciting and Reading. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 December 2015; 35 (3): 666–671. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-3426517
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