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Article: Shiʿi Preaching in West Africa

While there has been much emphasis on new types of media for the dissemination of Islamic ideas, this article focuses on the conventional Friday khuṭba.

Lebanese Shaykh Abdul Mo’min al-Zaynwas trained in Najaf, Iraq and was sent by Musa al-Sadr to serve the Lebanese diasporic business community in Senegal. Estranged from the religious politics of the homeland and traditional centres of Shiʿi learning, Lebanese in Senegal depended on Shaykh al-Zayn to teach them about Shiʿi Islam. The Islamic Social Institute he built was the first Shiʿi institution in all of West Africa. Shaykh al-Zayn quickly gained a following of both Sunni and Shiʿi Muslims, Arabs as well as Africans. This article focuses on the shaykh’s discursive strategies for addressing his unique following. At times his Friday sermons stressed the particularities of Shiʿi Islamic practice, but more often he highlighted a universal Islam in an effort to appeal to Senegal’s Sunni Muslim majority. In analysing khutbas given in 2003 during the beginning of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, we pay particular attention to the Lebanese shaykh’s engagement with global politics and how his messages were translated for a community in West Africa detached from the Middle East.

Bibliographic Information

Title: Shiʿi Preaching in West Africa: the Dakar sermons of Lebanese Shaykh al-Zayn

Authors: Mara A. Leichtman and Abdullah Alrebh

Published in: British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, No 21, Oct 24 2017, pp 58-78

 Language: English

Length: 21 pages

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