Accepted Paper:

Children and anthropologists in "Tarbiya": spiritual training in Muslim brotherhoods and its social interpretation (Senegal)  


Kae Amo (EHESS)

Paper short abstract:

Learning the way of living in a society is the goal of anthropology and that requires integration into the field of study. Based on collaborative works with students and educators in Quranic schools, this paper investigates the roles of Tarbiya (spiritual training) in children’s socialization.

Paper long abstract:

"Tarbiya" is a process in which the student or "taalibe" in Quranic schools (Daara) learns to be a devoted Muslim and scholar of the Holy Quran and the mystical knowledge of Islam. In many Daaras in West Africa promoted by Sufi brotherhoods, the "Tarbiya", is based on memorization of Quran, begging or "Yarwan" and spiritual training. It is an important phase of the child's education. Often interpreted as child abuse by Western educators and humanitarian workers, this severe education contains very interesting aspects that most scholars have been missing. In fact the process of Quranic learning and the living conditions in the Daaras forge children as convinced taalibes and develop specific characters and personalities admired and respected by the population. Based on case studies and participant observations in Senegal, this paper investigates the role and impact of Tarbiya in children's education. Participating in the educational process in Daaras permits anthropologists to integrate certain religious and cultural values and to understand the tensions between the French education and religious or traditional education today in light of the demand of rapid modernization.

Panel P100
Learning of/with children: anthropologist at "school" (CLOSED) (Commission on Children, Youth and Childhood)