The Odyssey of Ajami and the Muridiyya


Editorial Reviews

“[T]he book is essential reading for advanced scholars of the Muriýdiyya or Islam in Africa and it will be key to the scholar who constructs the regional odyssey of Ajamiý that is, the sociohistorical emergence of West African vernacular language literacy in Muslim contexts.”–Religious Studies Review

“For those who wish to make sense of recent events in West Africa, Ngom’s book is an excellent place to begin. He corrects many false images of Africa as a continent without writing and demonstrates the dangers of relying exclusively upon oral culture and colonialist-written sources alone. Ngom’s book has set a new standard for African studies.”–Reading Religion

“Fallou Ngom’s Muslims beyond the Arab World is a brilliant demonstration that Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa is not peripheral to a Muslim world centered on Arab societies: it is its own center and has produced throughout the centuries an important literature in Arabic, but also often in ‘Ajami, that is, texts written in the local languages adapting and using the Arabic script. Fallou Ngom’s work is centered on the ‘Ajamization of Islamic sciences and literature by Muslim scholars who authored important texts in Wolof, in poetry and in prose, following the recommendation of Shaykh Ahmadu Bamba, the founder of the Muridiyya Sufi order. Ngom’s book makes manifest that Islam is one and plural, that it speaks Arabic, the language of the Qur’an, but other Islamic languages as well, Wolof being one great example eloquently presented here as a language of written erudition.” -Souleymane Bachir Diagne, author of African Art as Philosophy: Senghor, Bergson and the Idea of Negritude

“This ‘Ajami odyssey makes a signal contribution to the study of Islamic thought in Africa and beyond. Ngom skillfully illustrates how the Muridiyya Sufi order has used African languages materials to make meaning and history, thereby becoming one of the most dynamic Islamic movements in the world today. By focusing on how Murids have articulated and embodied a unique vision of the past deeply rooted in humanistic values of peace, service, and ethics, Ngom also casts precious light on the development of vernacular languages, cultures, and historicities throughout the Muslim world.”-Rudolph T. Ware, Associate Professor of History, University of Michigan

About the Author

Fallou Ngom is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the African Studies Center at Boston University. His research interests include the interactions between African languages and non-African languages, the adaptations of Islam in sub-Saharan Africa, and ‘Ajami literatures-records of African languages written in Arabic script. He has held Fulbright, ACLS/SSRC/NEH, and Guggenheim fellowships.