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Islamic Reform in Twentieth-Century Africa$
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Roman Loimeier

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780748695430

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748695430.001.0001

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Reform in Context V: Zanzibar (and the Comoros)

Reform in Context V: Zanzibar (and the Comoros)

(p.380) 7 Reform in Context V: Zanzibar (and the Comoros)
Islamic Reform in Twentieth-Century Africa

Roman Loimeier

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter introduces Zanzibar as the regional context for the emergence of both Sufi- and Salafi-oriented movements of reform. Zanzibar’s history since the late 19th century was informed by the emergence of an Omani political aristocracy and the development of a reform movement led by religious scholars of the Alawiyya Sufi order as well as reform-minded scholars such as Abdallah Salih al-Farsy. The revolution in Zanzibar in January 1964 not only put an end to Omani rule, it also ended the hegemony of the Alawi religious establishment. In the aftermath of the revolution, Zanzibar’s socialist regime war opposed by Saudi trained Salafi-minded groups, known as “ansar al-sunna”. Until today, Salafi-oriented groups have not managed to become a popular mass movement, yet, have become a voice of opposition. The chapter finally compares the development of Salafi-oriented reform in Zanzibar with the development of Islamic reform in the Comoros. Despite some striking similarities, such as a revolution in 1975, the development of the Comoros was marked by a turn towards “Islam” after a coup d’Etat in 1978. The emergence of a Salafi-oriented movement of reform was linked with its protest against the increasingly corrupt political system of the Comoros in the 1980s and 1990s.

Keywords:   Zanzibar, Comoros, 1964 revolution in Zanzibar, 1975 revolution in the Comoros, ansar al-sunna, Abdallah Salih al-Farsy

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