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Accepted paper:

Women, Education and Mediatized Sermons: The Changing Nature of Religious Authority and Transmission of Islamic Knowledge among Kenyan Muslims


Hassan Ndzovu (Moi University)

Paper long abstract:

This paper seeks to examine the phenomenon of 'women-led' and 'women-only' established educational institutions (chuo or duski and madrassa) and the mediatization of female preachers' sermons as a form of transmission of Islamic knowledge. Specifically, the addresses the following themes; (a) the syllabus (curriculum) and structure of 'women-led' and 'women-only' Islamic educational institution; (b) the content of the female preachers' sermons in the CDs/DVDs; (c) and in the choice of the media tool by the female preachers in recording and conveying their sermons. The majority of Kenyan Muslims' children in Kenya are sent to the basic Qur'anic schools, which pass for different synonyms in the country such as vyuo (sing. chuo, coast region) and duksi (North-eastern region). These are simple shelters or rooms in private houses, where small clusters of children receive religious instruction under the observation of a single teacher, some of whom are women. Others are large institutions--madrassas--attached to mosques with numerous teachers working under an imam/sheikh and following some kind of syllabus. Therefore, this study seeks to examine the structure and the role of 'women-led' and 'women-only' educational institutions in the transmission of Islamic knowledge thereby producing religious authority in the country. More so, Kenya has a vibrant production, distribution and consumption of audio-visual media of religious content thereby presenting an ideal research site to examine investigate the influence of the media tool (CD/DVD) on the religious sermons of the Muslim female preachers in Kenya. In this respect, my paper will explore the emancipatory and/or conformism narratives represented by the female preachers in the selection of a certain media tool in delivering their sermons. Through the media technologies of CDs/DVDs, the paper will analyze the (de)-construction of traditions, concepts and practices resulting from the interaction and communication through the mediatized knowledge. The main objective of the paper is to show how Muslim female-dominated established educational institutions and the Muslim women engagement with the media tools generates creativity and thereby produces order and/or disorder in the Kenyan context. To realize the above objective, the study raises the following important questions: (a) To what extent are 'women-led' and 'women-only' established Islamic institutions geared in producing religious authority in the Kenyan context? (b) How far are the analyzed sermon themes corresponding to the gender of the preacher? (c) Are the female preachers considered authoritative and their mediatized sermons accepted by the general Muslim public?

panel D26
Multiplicity of learning events: the relationality of learning in Africa and beyond