Workshop: Muslim scholars in Africa, past and present (LUCIS/ASC)

African Muslim intellectuals

In recent years there has been considerable concern, among scholars, policy makers and the general public, about the social and political aspects of Islam in Africa. Much less attention has been given to the rich intellectual production among African Muslims. However, the social and political aspects can not be fully understood without an understanding of the role of these intellectuals, who both reflect and influence the social dynamics of their time. Their books, sermons, performances and poems are of enormous importance to African Muslims in the ways they understand and practice Islam, how they organize their lives and their relations with others, and how they engage in political and social action.


This workshop will bring together a small number of scholars working on questions of Muslim intellectual production in Arabic in the past and the present in various places in Africa. The focus will be on African Muslim literary production, including legal texts, poetry, forms of preaching, and so forth. The workshop will help us to understand how scholars and preachers situate their work simultaneously locally, as well as in relation to the broader Islamic traditions and centers of intellectual production. It will also attempt to understand the social and political implications of such intellectual production in Africa. The workshop is organised by Leiden University Centre for Islamic Studies (LUCIS) and the African Studies Centre (ASC).

Web dossier

The ASC Library has compiled a web dossier on Muslim Scholarship in Africa to coincide with the workshop. It provides titles on Muslim intellectuals and religious experts that are available in the ASC Library.


The workshop is open for anyone interested in the exchange between text and practice in religion, in Islam in particular, and between religion and society in Africa. Therefore the workshop is open for students of history, of Islam and Arabic, of religious studies and of anthropology.

Participation is free. Please register by sending an e-mail to or


Date, time and location

23 April 2015
08.45 - 17.00
Academy Building, Rapenburg 73, Leiden
Room 01