Shari'a Debates and their Perception by Christians and Muslims in selected African Countries




Dr. Franz Kogelmann


Religionswissenschaft mit Schwerpunkt Afrika



Berner, Prof. Dr. Ulrich
Beck, Prof. Dr. Kurt
Oßwald, Prof. Dr. Rainer


2006 - 2009


All over the world, in recent years, there has been a resurgence of religion in the public sphere. In many sub-Saharan African countries this has manifested itself most noticeably in claims by Muslims for increased recognition of Islamic religious symbols within political and civil spaces hitherto dominated by "Western" systems, and especially for the implementation, in some form or other, of the sacred law of Islam, the shari'a. These Muslim claims - different in their character and scope from country to country - have sparked off intense debates in all the countries where they have been made.

Unfortunately, the quality of our understanding of these important developments, and of where they are leading, is highly unsatisfactory. Although there is some scholarly literature on each of the various shari'a debates in sub-Saharan Africa, its coverage is patchy, it tends to be mono-disciplinary, it is often uninformed by history, it is rarely comparative as between countries, and - a serious problem from African points of view - it is mostly done by foreigners whose approach and perspective is different from African Muslims, and also from African Christians.


Most of the research and writing the project sponsors will be done by African Junior Scholars, including both Muslims and Christians, who are closely supervised and assisted by a group of Senior Scholars with a view to their proper training, their exposure to current ideas, methodologies, and milieux, and the enhancement of their formal academic qualifications. The ultimate aims of the project will be the building of networks among these young African scholars as the academic leadership of the future in their respective countries and the improvement of African-European academic networks.