Omani Religious Networks in Contemporary Tanzania and Beyond
Wortmann, Kimberly T.
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CitationWortmann, Kimberly T. 2018. Omani Religious Networks in Contemporary Tanzania and Beyond. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation is an ethnographic and historical study of the ethnically Omani Ibadi Muslim minority community in contemporary Tanzania and Zanzibar. The focus of the dissertation is on an Ibadi Muslim charitable society called Istiqaama and its role in the spread of Islamic education and social welfare in eastern Africa beginning in the era of economic liberalization and democratization in the 1980s. The case of Istiqaama differs from other Muslim minority associations in Tanzania in that the Ibadi community once enjoyed a privileged social and political status when Zanzibar and the mainland coast fell under the rule of ethnically Omani sultans (1830s-1964). In 1964, however, a political revolution overthrew the Omani ruling elite and large numbers of Zanzibar’s Arab population suffered persecution in the violence that ensued. The period of Omani rule and the brutal enslavement and trade of African peoples that the sultanate supported in the nineteenth century has led to a conflation of Ibadi identity with Omani imperialism. The survival and evolution of Zanzibar’s Ibadi community into the contemporary period thus presents an intriguing example of how religious minorities come to reestablish social and religious influence after losing their ties to political power. I argue that the Ibadis affiliated with Istiqaama in Tanzania have come to occupy new spheres of influence following their patrons’ fall from grace. This influence appears in the form of intra-Muslim cooperation, the provision of social services, and the conservation of historical institutions of the Omani diaspora in cities, towns, and villages across Tanzania and Zanzibar.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41121245
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