Women and Islamic Revival in a West African Town

Women and Islamic Revival in a West African Town

Adeline Masquelier
Distribution: World
Publication date: 10/02/2009
Format: Paperback 20 b&w illus., 2 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-21513-0
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Winner, 2010 Herskovits AwardWinner, 2012 Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize

In the small town of Dogondoutchi, Niger, Malam Awal, a charismatic Sufi preacher, was recruited by local Muslim leaders to denounce the practices of reformist Muslims. Malam Awal’s message has been viewed as a mixed blessing by Muslim women who have seen new definitions of Islam and Muslim practice impact their place and role in society. This study follows the career of Malam Awal and documents the engagement of women in the religious debates that are refashioning their everyday lives. Adeline Masquelier reveals how these women have had to define Islam on their own terms, especially as a practice that governs education, participation in prayer, domestic activities, wedding customs, and who wears the veil and how. Masquelier’s richly detailed narrative presents new understandings of what it means to be a Muslim woman in Africa today.

Author Bio

Adeline Masquelier is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Religious Studies Program at Tulane University. She is author of Prayer Has Spoiled Everything: Possession, Power, and Identity in an Islamic Town of Niger and editor of Dirt, Undress, and Difference: Critical Perspectives on the Body's Surface (IUP, 2005).


“Brings vividly to life the contested landscape of religion and gender in Dogondoutchi.”
 — Barbara Cooper, Rutgers University

“A substantial contribution to the small but rapidly growing anthropological literature on Islam in Africa.”
 — Robert Launay, Northwestern University

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Table of Contents


1. Gender and Islam in Dogondoutchi
2. "Those Who Pray": Religious Transformations in the Colonial and Early Postcolonial Period
3. Debating Muslims, Disputed Practices: The New Public Face of Islam
4. When Charisma Comes to Town: Malam Awal or the Making of a Modern Saint
5. Building a Mosque in the Home of a Spirit: Changing Topographies of Power and Piety
6. How Is a Girl to Marry without a Bed? Weddings, Wealth, and Women's Value
7. Fashioning Muslimhood: Dress, Modesty, and the Construction of the Virtuous Woman
8. "The Fart Does Not Light the Fire": "Bad" Women, "True" Believers, and the Reconfiguration of Moral Domesticity
Closing Remarks