Pride, Faith, and Fear: Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa

Article excerpt

Pride, Faith, and Fear: Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa. By Charlotte A. Quinn and Frederick Quinn. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2003. Pp. vii, 175. $27.50.

This book is based on extensive tours of various parts of Africa by Charlotte (who died in 2000) and Frederick Quinn. It combines keen observations and the use of case studies to interpret Islam to Western decision makers. From West Africa, where the Muslim population is estimated at eighty million, the Quinns consider Nigeria, which has a strong Muslim presence locked in fierce competition with non-Muslims, and Senegal, where the urban elite face acute economic collapse and rebellious youths. From the Horn of Africa they profile the Sudanese military rulers, who are embroiled in a costly war against the Christian south, where the country's minerals are located. In eastern Africa, where 40 percent of the population is Muslim, mostly Shi'ites, the authors focus on Kenya, where a resentful minority in the coastal towns chafes under political domination by Christians. Finally, they look at South Africa, where a Muslim minority, numbering about 4 million, is sandwiched between Afrikaners and the indigenous people. The heterogeneous identity of Islam is refracted through contrasting terrains, ethnicity, class, language, and relation to Sufism as it faces the problem of adjusting to modernity. Overall, it fragments into four ideological camps: secularists, progressives, traditionalists, and fundamentalists.

The Quinns describe the rapid growth of Islam throughout Africa, with the attendant dysfunctional political consequences. …