Veils, Turbans, and Islamic Reform in Northern Nigeria

Veils, Turbans, and Islamic Reform in Northern Nigeria

Elisha P. Renne
Distribution: World
Publication date: 10/01/2018
Format: Paperback 83 color illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-03655-1
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Veils, Turbans, and Islamic Reform in Northern Nigeria tells the story of Islamic reform from the perspective of dress, textile production and trade, and pilgrimage, over the past 200 years. As Islamic reformers have sought various means to address societal problems such as poverty, inequality, ignorance, unemployment, extravagance, and corruption, they have used textiles as a means to express their religious positions on these concerns. Home first to the early indigo trade and now a thriving textile mill industry, northern Nigeria has been a center for Islamic practice as well as a place where everything from women’s hijabs to turbans, buttons, zippers, short pants, and military uniforms offers a statement on Islam. Elisha P. Renne argues that material distinctions, along with an understanding of the religious ideology and the political economic context from which successive Islamic reform groups emerged, are important components for understanding how people in northern Nigeria have continued to seek a proper Islamic way of being in the world and how they imagine their futures—spiritually, economically, politically, and environmentally.

Author Bio

Elisha P. Renne is Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies and Anthropology at the University of Michigan. She is author of The Politics of Polio in Northern Nigeria and editor of Veiling in Africa.


“The topic of Islamic dress in Nigeria is very rich, complicated by gender, global-local networks, politics, the economy, successive waves of religious reform, and a vibrant, multi-ethnic society with a strong history of using dress to craft and perform identities. I applaud Elisha Renne for her objectivity and nuanced approach to this politically-charged subject.”
 — Heather Akou, author of 'The Politics of Dress in Somali Culture'

“A detailed study of clothing of men and women in northern Nigeria in all its complexity, from underwear on out.”
 — Murray Last, University College, London

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Table of Contents


1. Introduction: Material Religion and Islamic Reform in Northern Nigeria

2. Islamic Dress, Textile Production, and Trade in the Time of the Sokoto Caliphate

3. Muslim Identity, Islamic Scholarship, and Cloth Connections in Ilorin

4. The Sardauna’s Turbans

5. Veiling, Gender, and Fashion

6. Performing Pilgrimage: Worship and Travel, Textiles and Trade

7. Marks of Progress: Islamic Reform and Industrial Textile Production in Kaduna

8. Failures of Modernity and Islamic Reform: Dress and Deception in Northern Nigeria in the 21st Century

9. Epilogue. Moral Imagination, Material Things, and Islamic Reform