Northwestern Events Calendar


MENA Monday. Zachary Wright: Know God in my Presence: Sufism and Islamic Learning in West Africa

When: Monday, April 25, 2016
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM CT

Where: University Hall, Room 201, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Lexy Gore   (847) 467-5314

Group: Middle East and North African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings


The spread of Sufism in West Africa drew on earlier Islamic learning practices surrounding the Qur’an, Islamic law, and other classical knowledge disciplines. The idealized Sufi master-discipline relationship deepened existing teacher-student bonds in the region. In the context of nineteenth and twentieth-century political and social upheaval, teaching relationships worked to inscribe Islamic identities among Africans seeking safety and belonging in Muslim clerical communities. The Sufi teaching of divine gnosis (maʿrifat-Allāh) meant to produce Muslim scholars whose very presence transmitted Islamic knowledge. Such heightened knowledge inscription both perpetuated and challenged earlier conceptions of Islamic learning. This lecture is based on Wright’s recently published, Living Knowledge in West African Islam: the Sufi Community of Ibrāhīm Niasse (Brill, 2015).

Zachary Wright, PhD, is associate professor in residence at Northwestern University in Qatar, with joint appointments in history and religious studies. His book publications include Living Knowledge in West African Islam: the Sufi Community of Ibrahim Niasse (Brill, 2015), and On the Path of the Prophet: Shaykh Ahmad Tijani and the Tariqa Muhammadiyya (AAII & Faydah Books, 2005, 2015).

This lecture is event is co-sponsored with Northwestern University in Qatar.

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