Traditional African Religions and Islam Term Paper

Traditional African Religions and Islam
This paper looks at the effect of traditional African religions on Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa.
# 147595 | 1,834 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2010 | US

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The writer notes that the relationship of Africa and Islam is a subject repeatedly examined by the intellectual community as it pertains to the influence of Islam on African societies, however ignored, if not avoided, when it relates to the influence of traditional African religions on Islam. The writer discusses that since its appearance in the territory in the ninth century, Islam was adopted by a large number of the African population. In theory, Islam requires that all believers are in direct contact with God (Allah). However, many Africans appeal to spiritual leaders: the "marabouts" and formed what is known as the brotherhoods. The writer discusses that the marabout confers divine power and serves as an intermediary between the followers and God. This contradiction shows how Islam has been adjusted in some way to conform to the traditional animistic African societies who, in fact, believed in intermediate gods and depended on them for social stability.

From the Paper:

"The animist (the primitive), faced by the experiences of death and disease on the one hand, and visions which appear in his dreams, on the other hand, discovered the existence of the soul, present in his body. It is a spirit, an impalpable and invisible entity that can detach itself from the body, and take possession of another body. Logically, the primitive infers that animals and plants have a soul, since like humans they have life, illness and death. Tylor also notes instances of belief in the existence of a soul in inanimate objects as a generalization of this belief to all animate and inanimate objects. On the other hand, since the primitive dreams of dead people, he concludes that the soul survives physical death of the individual.
"In his evolutionary perspective, Tylor places Animism at the origin of all religions before the fetishism, naturism, polytheism and finally monotheism. "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Edward B. Tylor, Primitive Culture: Vol. 2(1871)
  • Robert R. Marret, The Treshold of Religion (2004), p.6
  • Anne Stamm, Les religions aficaines (1995), p.91
  • Timothy Insoll, The archaeology of Islam in sub-Saharan Africa (2003), p.1-36
  • Christian Coulon, Pouvoir maraboutique et pouvoir politique au Senegal(1976), vol.2 p.432

Cite this Term Paper:

APA Format

Traditional African Religions and Islam (2011, May 16) Retrieved February 28, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Traditional African Religions and Islam" 16 May 2011. Web. 28 February. 2021. <>