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IslamisationComparative Perspectives from History$
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A. C. S. Peacock

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474417129

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474417129.001.0001

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Conversion of the Berbers to Islam/Islamisation of the Berbers

Conversion of the Berbers to Islam/Islamisation of the Berbers

(p.189) 10 Conversion of the Berbers to Islam/Islamisation of the Berbers

Michael Brett

Edinburgh University Press

The title of this chapter begs some three or four questions to be addressed before we get down to the details: Who are, and who were, the Berbers for the purpose of this exercise? Why single out the question of their conversion to Islam as distinct from, say, the conversion of all North Africans, Berbers, Latins and Greeks? And, as a corollary to that, what were they converted from? Finally, what in their case was meant by ‘conversion’ – was it an individual or collective decision to enter into the new faith or a more gradual, incremental assimilation into Islam as it evolved over the centuries? The answers are not straightforward, since the questions themselves are ideologically charged. Some seventy years ago, in La Berbérie musulmane et l’Orient au moyen âge, Georges Marçais gave an answer in the tradition of French colonial historiography; in other words, he took the Berbers for granted as the native population of North Africa which had been turned away from a western Latin Christian civilisation towards the oriental Arab civilisation of Islam by the Arab conquest in the seventh and eighth centuries.

Keywords:   Berbers, Islam, Conversion, Arabic, Islamisation

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