Accepted paper:

'No one wants to swear anymore': oath swearing and Islamic authority in northern Mozambique


Christian Laheij (MPI for Social Anthropology)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the demise of practices of oath swearing in northern Mozambique as a window into understanding transformations in contemporary Islam

Paper long abstract:

In recent years, Islamic authority in Nampula City in northern Mozambique has witnessed a rapid reconstitution. Following trends elsewhere in East Africa, a group of young reformist Muslim leaders, educated in Islamic universities in the Middle East, is taking over from an older generation associated with Shadhiliyya and Qadiriyya Sufi Orders. Their popular appeal is often explained in terms of their capacities for rational interpretation, the demand for which would be fostered by the spread of modern mass education. This paper focuses on oath swearing on the Qur'an, an integral part of dispute management in northern Mozambique and one that local Sufi leaders have historically been renowned for. By analyzing the demise of this practice against the backdrop of novel disciplinary regimes introduced by the postcolonial Socialist state and reformist Islam, it will be argued that in order to understand current transformations in Islam in Mozambique it is necessary to look beyond changes in knowledge formation and reasoning, and include conceptions of personhood, truth and the body.

panel P061
Africa in the Indian Ocean