by MUHAMMED HARON (UNIVERSITY OF BOTSWANA) for TIRN on FEBRUARY 11, 2014:

Muhammed Haron (left) and Gil Merkx
Muhammed Haron (left) and Gil Merkx

Many Muslim institutions of higher learning have emerged on the African continent over the past few decades. These institutions have in one way or another made their contributions towards the societies and environments where they are situated. Despite the noble objectives of some that were set up, the objectives often have been unrealized as a result of a lack of financial and other resources. There have, however, been other institutions that have flourished and made invaluable inputs to their respective communities.

It is hard to find a text that adequately covers these institutions, even in places where one might expect it, including in Paul Scrijver’s authoritative Bibliography of Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa (Leiden: E.J. Brill 2009),

So when Duke University’s Duke Islamic Studies Center (DISC) announced a workshop to discuss and engage scholars on “Islamic Institutions of Higher Learning in Africa: Their History, Mission and Role in Regional Development,” there were eager responses to participate in what may be regarded as an oft-neglected area of Islamic studies research. The Duke Islamic Studies Center and its Carnegie Corporation of New York-supported Transcultural Islam Project (to be explained in-depth later in this paper) offered an interesting platform for this exploratory workshop.

AfricaIslamGraphicThe workshop organizers, under the co-directorship of Duke professors Mbaye Lo and Bruce Hall, hosted a group of scholars who came from different parts of the continent (and elsewhere from the US and Europe) — scholars who have been evaluating these types of institutions’ status in the transnational Muslim arena.

The organizers were interested to know, inter alia, to what extent these institutions were involved in pursuing research, perpetuating traditional Muslim scholarship, and creatively contributing towards the society’s economic development.

With these noble aims and objectives in mind, let us offer an overview in this report of our two-day workshop at Duke University. (Other sponsors included the International Institute of Islamic Thought  (headquartered in Virginia); The Africa Initiative (Duke); Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (Duke); African & Afro-American Studies (Duke); Duke History Department; Duke Religion Department; Center for Muslim Life (Duke); Franklin Humanities Institute (Duke), Duke Center for International Development; The Kenan Institute for Ethics; Duke Divinity School; and Duke University Center for International Studies.)

Continue reading

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN, on OCTOBER 14, 2013: 

islam_africa2More than a dozen scholars and university administrators from Africa and the U.S. will gather at Duke University this week for a workshop on “Islamic Institutions of Higher Learning in Africa: Their History, Mission and Role in Regional Development.”

The group — which includes scholars and administrators from Islamic institutions in Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Union of the Comoros — will also get a chance to tour campus, give and attend a departmental talks, meet with Duke officials and view the Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape and Islamic Art exhibit at the Nasher Museum of Art.

During a closed workshop (Oct. 18-19), they will explore the development and administration of Islamic institutions of higher learning in sub-Saharan Africa and their intellectual, economic and cultural impact in this region.

Members of the Duke and local community are invited to attend the keynote speech by University of Michigan assistant professor of history Rudolph (Butch) Ware. The speech, “The Walking Qur’an: Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge and History in West Africa,” is open to the public, and will be taped and available later to view on iTunes University. (Ware’s book of the same title will be released in June 2014 by UNC Press) Continue reading

via JAMES TODD, HOST, “OFFICE HOURS” (DUKE UNIVERSITY), on FEBRUARY 6, 2013: 

The fabled city of Timbuktu has recently been a center of conflict between the French military and Islamic militants. Complicating the clash are tensions within Mali among the country’s ethnic groups. In a live Office Hours€ webcast interview at noon Friday, Feb. 8, Duke professor Bruce Hall will explain some of the historical and cultural context of the conflict.

Watch the interview Live HERE (Duke Today website link) or on Duke Today homepage. Post a question for Hall on Twitter using @DukeOfficeHours or the Duke Office Hours Facebook page. Continue reading

via HISTORY DEPARTMENT at DUKE UNIVERSITY on OCTOBER 19, 2012: 

Duke University Assistant Professor of History Bruce Hall‘s book A History of Race in Muslim West Africa, 1600-1960 is the co-winner of this year’s Martin A. Klein Award for the best book in African History by the American Historical Association.

Drawing on a wide variety of sources, the author demonstrates the ways in which arguments about race have structured social and political hierarchies in the Niger Bend since the seventeenth century, well before the French colonized the region in the nineteenth century. Hall’s book is a particularly effective blending of intellectual history and cultural anthropology, and is essential reading for all those who hope to understand the deep historical background to the on-going conflicts and civil wars in present-day Mali.This is the author’s first book.

Bruce Hall is Assistant Professor of History at Duke University. This year he is a visiting scholar at Stanford University where he is researching his current project, “Bonds of Trade: Slavery and Commerce in the 19th-century circum-Saharan World.”