This article uses Rudolph T. Ware III's original and compelling book, The Walking Qur'an: Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge, and History in West Africa, as a window through which to reflect on the contribution of West African clerisy of the classical Quran tradition to Islamic thought and the social transformative aims of their teachings and epistemologies. It focuses on the ways in which the West African clerisy of the historical period covered by Ware framed philosophical resistance strategies, based on their embodied knowledge of the Quran, to combat hegemonic forces of enslavement. In this way, they were able to reconstitute a sense of emancipatory noble citizenship. In the process, the essay shows how Ware's study challenges both the perceived notion, reiterated in many studies of the classical Quran school, that this classic institution, once catering equally to both men and women, is a purveyor of a passive, Thomistic education, and the Hegelian dismissal of Africa South of the Sahara as a place of no philosophy and, according to Hugh Trevor-Roper, of no history. The discussion also draws attention to the philosophical distinctiveness of the classical Quran school tradition and modernist puritanical Wahhabi Salafism sweeping through West Muslim African societies.
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Research Article| December 01 2015
Ousseina Dioula Alidou; Rereading the Past, Reshaping the Present. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 December 2015; 35 (3): 671–678. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-3426529
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