THE IMPACT OF GLOBAL ISLAM ON LOCAL ISLAM IN ZAMBIA

by: Fr Felix PHIRI  M.Afr.

 

 

1. The Evolution of Settler-Communities in Relationship to Global Islam.

 

Much of what constitutes the contemporary image of Islam in Zambia clearly indicates the convergence of what is principally attributable to both local initiatives and to the external influence exerted by Muslims outside the country. Right from the beginning, settler Muslim communities brought along with them specific characteristics of the kind of Islam practised in their various places of origin. In the day-to-day practice of Islam, the major influence came chiefly from Malawi, Somalia and Asia (particularly India and Pakistan) through the permanent settlement of the Yao, Somalis and the Asians in the country. Each group practised and transmitted the kind of Islam it had been exposed to in its place of origin and sustained it over the years, through regular contacts with other Muslims outside the country. The crossing of ethnic boundaries, even in terms of places of worship, is a recent phenomenon.

 

1.1  Accordingly, Islam as practised by the Yao was mainly an outcome of their early contact with the coastal traders, coloured with indigenous practices related to rites- of -passage such as initiation ceremonies (jando) (Alpers, 1972:180) and burial rituals highlighted by sadaqa (among followers of the Qadiriyya) (ibid:177) (1). Noble families used to send their children to Kilwa or Zanzibar to acquire Islamic knowledge. For some natives, like Isa seized in a raid in 1887, being enslaved and deported to the coast turned out to be the chance of his lifetime. His Arab master sent him to a Qur’anic school in Zanzibar. When he later found his way back home he became a leading figure in the revival of Islam among his native people (ibid.: 188). Upon completion of their initiation to Islam, the young scholars assumed leading religious roles in their communities as teachers of religion (mu’allim) or as prayer leaders (imăm). Some were employed at the royal court both as consultants and as officials of religious ceremonies. Following this contact with the Arab traders, Malawian Muslims-got exposed to the Shafi’i School of jurisprudence and practiced Islam in the way they had learnt it from the coastal traders. As Alpers put it: “Swahili society and its religion, Islam, provided an external standard to which people like the Yao ... could compare and contrast their own values” (1972:194). Similarly, Sufi trends of Qadiriyya and Shădhiliyya had a popular following among Yao converts, due to the resonance of their traditional practices with Sufism.

The Yao factor has been a significant constituent of Islam in Zambia not only because of the numerical importance of Malawian immigrants but also because of the manner in which the Islamic identity has been so remarkably preserved among its settler communities. All along, Yao Muslims have sought to remain faithful to their traditional practice of Islam. The interaction between the Islam commonly practiced by the Yao and the external Islamic factors is noticeable in the rising tension between older and younger generations within the community. With the advent of more elaborate Asian inspired Islamic institutions, most of the Yao children receive a kind of formal religious education, locally and abroad, highly influenced by Arab and Asian Islam. Whenever the teachings of the young Yao imăms and mu’allims do not coincide with traditionally held Islamic beliefs of older Yao Muslims, they are often dismissed by - the latter as Asian innovations (vacimwenye) (2)

Furthermore, exposure of young Muslims to Arab or Asian Islam through scholarships obtained for studies in Islamic institutions of these countries has given them a broader perspective of Islam.(3) Exposed to Măliki Islamic jurisprudence within their family context, they are sent to Hanafi or Shafi’i institutions for their further religious formation.

 

1.2  Similarly, Indians and Pakistanis who were adherents of the Hanafi School of jurisprudence and whose popular practice of Islam has been equally influenced by the local history of Islam in

the subcontinent of India and in Pakistan continue to display traits of their homeland Islam. Initially, Asians migrating into Zambia tended to leave religious practice to private initiative. Before the coming of the Tablighi Jama’at in the 1960s, communal practice of Islam was relegated to a secondary role to such an extent that many young adult Asian Muslims of today acknowledge having missed out on Islamic education during their childhood. To remedy to this situation, a handful of Islamic teachers from Asia were regularly invited each year to offer religious instructions to Asian children and to serve as imăm in Asian mosques. Although Arabic is assumed to be the principle language of Islam, Urdu, the national language of Pakistan, has gained prominent usage in some Asian dominated mosques (4).

 

1.3  Although not much of it survived the test of time, the initial Arab influence brought about by coastal traders has been replaced within the last thirty years by the modern role of Arab countries in African affairs. The Arab Muslim community is numerically insignificant in Zambia. Apart from a handful of individuals working in various diplomatic services of embassies of Arab countries and a few expatriates like Egyptians, Sudanese and Kuwaitis involved with government projects, Arabs have a very limited presence in Zambia. Their numbers barely go beyond a hundred(5). Through the provision of Islamic literature and the sponsoring of potential indigenous scholars, Arab nations have introduced their brand of Islam into the nascent local Muslim identity. The funding of local projects through organizations such as AMA and the contribution of embassies of Arab countries to the needs of the local Muslim community has provided yet another link between local Islam and the international Muslim community.

 

 

 

2. Islamic Institutions Abroad.

 

Within the past forty years a number of international Muslim organisations such as TJ, AMA, overseas Islamic higher institutions of learning, some branches of Islam such as Ahamadiyya Muslim Mission (AMM) and the Shi’a and some Arab and Asian Muslim states, have been in contact with the local Muslim communities in Zambia and have influenced their development in various ways. Most of these organizations are overtly in support of Islamic propagation and have in different ways contributed to the revival of Islam and added particular traits to the local Islam. As external factors to local initiatives, they resemble the initial gateways of Islam into Zambia, with the only difference that they are more of institutionalized modes of Islamization than mere migrant communities known to have incidentally contributed to religious change in favour of Islam.

 

The subsequent paragraphs discuss organizations and institutions that have specifically contributed to the international character of Islam in Zambia. TJ has been discussed more at length because of the extraordinary impact it has had on Islam, not only in Zambia but also in other countries, by providing a salient spiritual content to common Islamic religious practice through its worldwide constituted network (6) The other organizations are discussed from the point of view of how they have helped Islam in Zambia to be a reflection of trends of Islam experienced elsewhere in the Muslim world. The role of politics and its impact on the relationship between Muslim countries and the development of Islam in Zambia has also been given ample treatment as part of the local-global Islam paradigm.

 

2.1 Tablighi Jamä’at

2.1.1Tablighi Jama’at (TJ) was founded by a Deobandi scholar known as Mawlana Muhammad Ilyas, popularly known as Hazrat jee (d.1944), in India. A practice within Sunni Islam inspired by the Deobandi school of thought that invites Muslims into active Islamic propagation through a Sufi inspired method, TJ has played an important role in the reawakening of a particular form of

religious piety (7). “The immediate concern of the [TJ] (as it has come to be today) is the moral reform of individuals, often described as making Muslims true Muslims” (Sikand, 2002:2). Simons underlines: “[TJ is] a missionary organization that focuses (almost) entirely on reshaping of individual lives, on cultivating personal piety and right conduct” (20O3:57) (8). Its transnational missionary outreach has brought its members into contact with the most remote corners of the world where they have left remarkable influence on the local practice of Islam, in the manner studied below (9)

 

2.1.2  Missionary Vision of Tablighi Jama’at

Although founded in a context of declining Muslim influence and growing Hindu proselytism, the teachings of TJ are focused not so much on the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam as on making followers of Islam “true,” self-conscious Muslims, strictly abiding by the dictates of their faith (Sikand, 2002:66). Qur’ănic verses such as 3:104 (... a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong ...) and 2:256 (Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks....), underline TJ understanding of da’wa. God calls upon His believers to be his helpers(61:14). In a Prophetic Tradition attributed to Bukhari, the necessity of conveying, tabligh, the message is underlined as having been prescribed by the Prophet himself: “Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr: The Prophet said, “Convey (my teachings) to the people even if it were a single sentence, ...(10)

In order to accomplish the task of helping Muslims to be good Muslims, members of TJ travel the world over, visiting their fellow Muslims, country after country, town after town and mosque after mosque, for a pre-determined number of days, months or years, following a dearly defined methodology. As noted by Masud, “travel appears to have become a characteristic feature of the movement” (2000:xvi). Small groups (jama’at) of Muslims, headed by a group leader (amir) appointed for the occasion choose their itinerary and determine the number of days over which to accomplish their gasht (making rounds).” (11)

Wherever they go, members of TJ have a fourfold objective: “(1) universal participation of all classes of Muslims; (2) focus on action and physical movement; (3) adoption of learning, teaching, serving and promoting religion as a way of life; and (4) temporary migration from one’s native place as a religious obligation” (Masud, 2000:11). The simplicity not only of the participants but also of the methods used remarkably appeal to communities and individuals thirsty for a more spiritually nourishing religious practice or those disillusioned by traditional da’wa methods.

 

2.1.3  The Contribution of Tablighi Jama’at to the Local Islam in Zambia.

The da’wa enterprise of TJ has seen the feet of hundreds of its members literally tread the soils of different parts of Zambia. The benefit of their contact with the local communities has been both spiritual and material. Undoubtedly, religious practices such as ziyăra (Muslims visiting Muslims), ta’lim (teaching one another matters of religion at the mosque and in homes) and gasht (also locally called jama’at; going away from home for a given number of days in a group, practicing and propagating Islam) have given a solid content to the day-to-day religious practice of the local Muslim communities, in additional to the other ordinary Islamic practices.’(12)

 

The role played by the Asians, particularly Indians, in the formal organization and material support of the emerging Muslim community in Zambia has highly favoured the welcome reserved to the practice of Islam promulgated by TJ. As noted by Moosa concerning the influence of TJ in South Africa: “The common group identity and ethnicity which a section of the coverts to Tabligh share with the geographical roots of the movement, namely India, provide a natural religious ‘home’ in a ‘symbolic’ diaspora” (2000:210). No wonder that the Asian dominated Burma Mosque in Lusaka has become the self-appointed headquarters of TJ related activities in Zambia. Vigil is held at the Mosque on Thursdays and it is from here that groups are dispatched for gasht gasht.’(13)

 

From the material point of view, TJ also constitutes an informal sponsor of some local Muslim projects. The three existing Mosques between Chongwe and Chinyunyu Bridge along the Great East Road were built following a visit of a group of TJ from Pakistan. People participating in TJ, while visiting their fellow Muslims in places like Zambia, get exposed to local needs and in the name of Muslim solidarity they may organize the necessary material aid for needs identified during their peregrination once they have returned to their home country, unwittingly portraying themselves as potential donors.

 

TJ’s influence on the local Muslims does not limit itself to the changes it has helped to bring about within the local Muslim community; it has also rendered it possible for indigenous Muslims to identify with Muslims beyond national borders and to have a sense of belonging to a larger Muslim community. Unfortunately, due to lack of material means, the desire to travel far and wide for the sake of religion - like the need to go on pilgrimage to Mecca - remains a dream for the majority of the poor Muslims. Nonetheless, the visiting coreligionists bring with them enticing stories of how Islam is practiced in other parts of the world.

 

 

2.2. The Africa Muslim Agency

2.2.1 Africa Muslim Agency (AMA) is a Kuwait-based non-governmental organization that has been operational in forty African countries since its foundation in 1981. The main objective underlying its foundation was the strengthening of cultural and human relationships between African countries and Arab states, mainly in the domain of social and economic development. Its major area of operation is the building and running of schools and health centres, especially in rural areas. It has also been involved with providing potable water through the digging of wells and the sinking of boreholes. AMA has also consecrated a lot of its resources to the building and running of orphanages, professional and vocational training centres and food relief projects in times of famine in different parts of Africa.’(14)

 

2.2.2 AMA was established in Lusaka and duly registered with the Registrar of Societies in 1990 and since then it has been striving to realize the objectives set by the Kuwait Headquarters. The national Head Office, located on a farmhouse in Makeni (west of Lusaka), has branch offices in Chipata Compound (a township north of Lusaka) and in Chipata (Eastern Province). Volunteers from Arab nations hold the majority of the posts within these offices. The general official scope of AMA Zambia office is inscribed in the following statement it made about its future projects: “AMA has plans to expand the area of its projects and programs to cover all the regions of the country. It also looks forward to increase its cooperation with government agencies and NGOs in Zambia for better performance and fair distribution.”(15)  In line with its acknowledged objectives, the Agency consecrates a major part of its funds to the supply of potable water. Within fourteen years of its existence in the country, up to 150 wells had been dug both in towns and in the rural areas to alleviate the problem of supply of clean water. In times of food crisis, like was the case in 2002 when many parts of the country were stricken by drought, the following year AMA distributed rice, to the benefit of 10,850 individuals in the Eastern Province. Thus far, the major realization of AMA in Zambia has been the orphanage in Chipata Compound, sheltering around 50 orphans and a hundred others being sponsored whilst living with relatives or adopted families. The orphanage, situated within the same compound as the Tawba Masjid (the Mosque for the Muslim community of Chipata Compound) provide children with both domestic needs as well educational facilities.

 

2.2.3 .Although AMA portrays itself as not being directly involved with da’wa activities, it built more mosques throughout the country than any other single local Muslim association. In Chipata District alone, AMA built about a third of the mosques although this remarkable realization was not officially acknowledged, neither in the general outline of its objectives nor in the latest report of 2004. This makes it difficult to gauge AMA’s deliberate religious influence, as far as the propagation of Islam in Zambia is concerned, especially that the Kuwaitis limit themselves to supplying the funds without directly getting involved in fieldwork. Nonetheless, in the minds of indigenous people these realizations are not attributed to the NGO aspect of the AMA, they are hailed as Arab Muslim projects and have therefore played an important role not only in building places of worship but also as a concrete demonstration of an Islamic social engagement. Some of the Islamic literature in circulation originates from Kuwait or is published by AMA national offices in neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and Malawi.

AMA’s direct support of the needs of the local Muslim community, in terms of construction of mosques and propagation of Islamic literature, has created an international link between Zambian Muslims and the Arab world. The young Zambians who benefit from the scholarships offered by the AMA to study in Kuwait are exposed to an Arab type of Islam, an Islam that is different from the Asian and the Yao dominated one. The late Chief Mshawa who had played a key role in allowing AMA to construct mosques in Nkhande, Nthera, Mgombe and Chinunda, north of Chipata, in Eastern Province, was rewarded with a visit to Kuwait in 2002. As AMA realizes its religious projects by proxy, it has not been able to do more than give material assistance to the communities that asked for it. Hence, if not taken over by other associations, most of the mosques it builds gradually fall into disuse. AMA authorities are aware of the problem and plans are underway to remedy the situation by building a local religious institute in Chipata which will eventually supply the mosque-based-communities with the necessary personnel.’(6)

 

 

2.3  Islamic Institutions of Higher Education Abroad.

2.3.1 Literacy occupies an important place in the transmission of Islamic knowledge and in the formation of the Muslim community. The main objective of the Islamic system of education is not so much the acquisition of intellectual or technical knowledge as the continual religious formation of its adherents. Knowledge in Islam is above all religious, in other words, familiarity with the message of the Qur’an and its derivative sciences. Within the first few centuries of their history, Muslims founded renowned centres of Islamic education, in places like Cairo in Egypt and Basra and Kufa in Iraq, which have since attracted innumerable students from distant lands over the centuries.

 

2.3.2 Islamic institutions abroad play a twofold role in the relationship between local and global Islam. On the one hand, as converging points for international Muslim students, they are a significant representation of an aspect of global Islam, an international outlet for sub-Saharan scholars. Although the form of their curriculum does not at times meet the general consensus of the other Muslim institutions, at least their substance is expected to conform to generally accepted Islamic standards. On the other hand, through international students returning to their homelands after their graduation and through the sponsorship of other Islamic institutions abroad, these institutions have spread their influence far and wide.

 

2.3.3 Well before the nineties scores of young Zambians benefited from scholarships, mainly for religious studies, offered through such local Muslim associations as the Islamic Welfare Centre of Zambia Trust (1WCZT) in Lundazi and the Makeni Islamic Society Trust (MIST) in Makeni. Some embassies of Arab countries have also contributed to the securing of such bursaries. The Shi’a community, through its Islamic Centre of Zambia (ICZ), has granted similar opportunities for young converts to do studies in institutions of higher learning in Iran probably with the support of the Iranian Ministry of Education and the munazzama al’ilm al-islămi, known for its attribution of bursaries or financial aid to secondary school establishments in Africa (Mattes, 1993: 37).

The major destinations for such students are Islamic universities in Pakistan, the Al-Azhar University in Egypt, Medina Islamic University in Saudi Arabia, the African Islamic University in Sudan and Ahmed Deedat University in South Africa. The diversity of the universities attended by Zambian young scholars has reproduced a plural academic formation whose full impact on the future of Islam in Zambia is still to be appreciated.

Most of the graduates of these universities came back to the country and, in spite of limited outlets for their religious careers, and they have started contributing substantially to the development of Islam in Zambia. The majority of them have been absorbed as members of staff at MIST or the JIT (Jămi’a Islămiyya Trust) in Thorn Park, in Lusaka. Khaled Mainga, a graduate of a Pakistani university is responsible for communication and, in collaboration with other Muslims organizes a program entitled Focus on Islam on Zambia National Broadcasting Cooperation (ZNBC). Harun Zulu, a beneficiary of the sponsorship of Lundazi IWCZ, is on the teaching staff at JIT.

 

 

2.4  Muslim States and the development of local Islam in Zambia.

2.4.1 Muslim states have been instrumental in the propagation of Islam in Africa by directly or indirectly supporting da’wa work undertaken by their citizens or their national religious institutions. Such initiatives have found a corresponding interest among sub-Saharan states that are keen on promoting local Islam or simply interested in sustaining politically and economically advantageous ties with oil-rich Muslim countries. Zambia being a predominantly Christian nation, the presence of Islam in the country is eyed with extreme suspicion. Given this situation, the impact of Muslim states on Islam in Zambia is indirectly exerted through African oriented da’wa activities which do not figure among the terms and conditions of the diplomatic accords between Zambia and such countries.

Nonetheless, Zambia has sustained the kind of diplomatic relationships with a number of Muslim countries that have allowed for direct or indirect Islamic influence on the local Muslim community. The following paragraphs start by discussing concrete instances of Zambia’s relationships with specific Muslim countries before analysing how these relationships have allowed such countries to exert their Islamic influence on the local Muslim community.

 

2.4.2 Muslim countries have contributed to the development of Islam in Zambia in two major ways. On the one hand, by being referential countries for the Zambian Muslims (especially Muslim students and traders) and by responding to the various needs addressed to them by the local community, such as material support for local Muslim projects (construction of mosques, madrasas and religious personnel), they have given a global outlook to Islam in Zambia. Some of the Muslim countries exerting Islamic influence on Islam in Zambia do not have any direct diplomatic representation in Zambia. They have, nonetheless, been significant in sustaining da’wa activities that have benefited the local Muslim community.

On the other hand, countries with diplomatic representation in the country offer immediate moral, besides material support, to the local Muslim community through their cultural activities and their intermediary role between the local community and the Muslim community abroad.

 

2.4.3  Corresponding to the first category of Muslim countries without diplomatic representation in the country which nonetheless exert remarkable influence on Islam in Zambia, are Pakistan and Kuwait. The influence of each of these two countries is only indirectly related to their respective governments’ foreign policy. For instance, in spite of not having a diplomatic representation in the country, Kuwait distinguishes itself in giving support to social and economic development projects through AMA, a Kuwaiti non-governmental organization, already mentioned above. Similarly, Pakistan has made its contribution to Islam in Zambia through the students who had received bursaries from other Muslim organizations and countries to study in its Islamic institutions. Pakistan has had even more influence through its nationals’ active and wider participating in the Tablighi Jama’at and the support groups established through such activities.

 

2.4.4 Embassies of such countries as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan and Libya are not outposts of programs of Islamization for their respective countries. However, given the preponderance of Islam in their respective countries, their presence in Zambia contributes, albeit in an indirect manner, both to the local and global outlook of Islam. Over the years, scores of Egyptian mu’allims have had their entry into the country facilitated by the embassy. Mr. Maher, ambassador of Egypt to Zambia between 1997 and 1999, helped source funds for the reconstruction of the current Old Kanyama mosque from a Saudi family. In the 1990s scores of young Zambians received bursaries to study at al-Azhar University in Cairo. Others, like Saidi Saudi, an eminent Yao Muslim who later founded the Mahdu Haramayn association, were offered similar scholarly opportunities decades earlier.

Similarly, the presence of the Saudi embassy, in Zambia has helped to facilitate sporadic material aid to local Muslim projects. Funds for the current MIST scholarship scheme, aimed at sponsoring Zambian Muslim students into higher secular institutions of learning within the country, are largely sourced from Saudi Arabia. Saudi families and organisations have equally offered scholarships to young Zambians Muslims for studying either in Saudi Islamic Universities like Medina Islamic University, or in other countries like Egypt or Sudan. In 2004, a Zambian Muslim employee at the Saudi embassy, coordinated most of the activities related to the embassies of Muslim countries’ participation in the life of the local Muslim community. This included overseeing the distribution of the material contribution of the embassies to the organization of Muslim religious feasts.

 

2.4.5 The development of Islam in South Africa has become in various ways a model for Muslims in Zambia. The elaboration of Halăl authority in Zambia has been greatly influenced by South African National Halăl Association (See Vahed, 2000:12). The comparative da’wa approach, locally championed by South African trained individuals like Daudi Mbewa, owes its origin to Ahmed Deedat (d. 2005), a scholar of Comparative Religion based in South Africa. Its religious centres have become an attractive alternative to young Zambian Muslims who have not been able to be absorbed by local demands in Zambia after having completed their training in Muslim countries.

 

 

Conclusion

 

The research on the relation between local and global Islam helps to determine sources of major influence on the shaping of Muslim identity in Zambia. In line with the article of the last issue of Encounter, it shows that the coming of Islam into the country and its later development have been enhanced both by indigenized factors of the settler communities and the constant influx of external influence epitomised by particular Islamic movements in certain Muslim countries.

 

Diversity within the Zambian Muslim communities makes it difficult to characterize what may be referred to as local Islam. Even Zambian-born Asians still maintain strong cultural ties with their countries of origin. In spite of having been in the country for so long and having married local women, the Yao still identify with Malawi and Mozambique and claim to practice a kind of Islam that distinguishes itself, albeit secondarily, from that practised by their Asian and Somali counterparts. Whilst bringing with them certain traits of their Christian or traditional religious background, indigenous converts add another element of diversity to the already existing Muslim communities.

In a similar manner, the provenance of external Islamic influence cannot be restricted to one particular Muslim country or Islamic organization. In this age of globalization, territorialized forms of religious expressions are inescapably hurled into the global arena where they influence and they are influenced by other trends. The current predominance of the Pakistani-propelled TJ does not embrace the totality of the general manner in which Islam in Zambia is externally influenced. Trends of Islam in other parts of the Muslim world interact with one another and offer diverse inclusive models to the already diversified “Zambian Islam”.

 

 

Bibliography

 

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Mitchell, J. Clyde. 1966. The Yao Village, A study in the social structure of a Nyasaland Tribe. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

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Sikand, Yoginder. 2002. The origins and development of the Tablighi Jama’at (1920—2000): a cross-country comparative study. Hyderabad, India: Orient Longman.

Simons, Thomas, W. Jr. 2003. Islam in a globalizing world. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Law and Politics, 2003.

Tayob, Abdukader. 1999. “Southern Africa.” In Islam outside the Arab world, David Westerlund & Ingvar Svanberg, eds., pp.111-124. Richmond, Surrey: Courzon Press.

Thorold, Alan. 1993. “Metamorphoses of the Yao Muslims.” In Muslim Identity and social change in Sub—S aharan Africa, Louis Brenner, ed., pp.79-90. London: Hurts & Company.

 

 

NOTES

1. Like many other traditional practices in Zambia, jando became less and less practiced as a collective ritual among Yao migrant communities, especially in urban areas. In its traditional context it was an important vehicle of Islamization.

2. The theme that Otayek mentioned more or less in passing, that is the tension between the ‘traditional’ beholders of Islamic knowledge and the new Muslim intellectuals, has been object of growing interest not only in Africa but also in South-East Asia. Arabization and identification with Islamic centres of learning has produced a new generation of scholars (Otayek, 1993:8).

3. Thorold’s study of the Yao of Malawi depicts the new generation of Muslims, whom he calls ref ormists, as operating a break with some practices of their forefathers through the adoption of a more global Islamic discourse, the upholding of the ‘book’ and the use of Arabic (1993:89).

4. Tayob observed a similar occurrence among Indians of Gauteng region of Johannesburg in South Africa where noted that: “In the name of the Sunna ... of the Prophet, the dominance of Indian culture, from the Urdu language, and to a certain extent Gujarati, to clothing and cuisine, dominated the mosque ethos. The overt message was a universal Islam, but the ethos was unmistakably Indian” (1999:116).

5. Remarkably, the Arab factor is relatively significant in the Congo, in Rwanda and in some West African countries such as Nigeria.

6. TJ is one of the most dted contemporary examples of trans-national networks in Islam. See, for example, Sikand (2002:lf.); Simons (2003:57); and the complete works on the movement by Masud (2000); Kayum (2001).

7. See the book compiled by Sajid Abdql Kayum, The Tablighi Jama’at and the Deobandis, A critical analysis of their belliefs, books and da’wah, Ahya Multi-Media, 2001. http:/www.ahya.org.

8. See also Electronic Journal, http/ /www.meforum.org/artide/686, on this particular characteristic of the Tablighi Jama‘at, accessed 08-10-05,

9. For more information on the impact of TJ in different parts of the world, especially the west, see the book edited by Masud (2000).

10. Bukhari, Book 56, ladith 667.

11. For the origin of gasht, see Masud (2003:8).

12. Moosa is right in pointing out that followers of ‘13 “experience a new kind of religiosity in Tablighi work (2000:212).

13. Ishmail Nadat, to author (12-04-05). Ismail was once chairman of LMS and was personally an adept of TJ.

14. Links to Charities and NGO’s helping Gambia, AMA:

 http: / / www.friendsofgovi.org.uk/links.html, accessed the 08-02-05.

15. Report of AMA programs in Zambia, 2003, p.2.

16. Interview with Mutalika Banda, mu’allim of Ndembela mosque, off Musolo Road, in Chipata. He was one of the three AMA sponsored mu’allims in the district. In a meeting held in September 2004 with the visiting AMA Kuwaiti officials, the need for such an institution was felt and promises were made for the realization of the project in the near future. Interviewed 20-09-04

 

 

Fr Felix Phiri’s article was published in Encounter, Document for Muslim-Christian Understanding  n° 333, March 2008, edited by the Pontificio Istituto du Studi Arabi e d’Islamistica. (PISAI)  cf www.pisai.it

He is presently preparing the publication of a book on Islam in Zambia. It is the fruit of the research he has conducted in view of a Ph D. Thesis defended at School of Oriental and African Studies of London University in April 2005.