Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA)

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Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa
Northwestern University
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Islamic Africa now a Brill publication

Brill, the international academic publishing house, is now publishing the journal Islamic Africa. Launched at Northwestern in 2009, Islamic Africa was one of several collaborative publishing projects between PAS and Northwestern University Press seeded by a Global Encounters grant from the Mellon Foundation (2008-14).  NUP published five volumes (ten issues) of the journal in conjunction with ISITA under the leadership of Muhammad Sani Umar, who served as editor in chief until 2012 followed by Scott Reese, who continues as co-editor along with Anne Bang following the journal’s transfer to Brill.

Islamic Africa is a peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary, academic journal published online and in print. Incorporating the journal Sudanic Africa, Islamic Africa publishes original research concerning Islam in Africa from the social sciences and the humanities, as well as primary source material and commentary essays related to Islamic Studies in Africa. The journal’s geographic scope includes the entire African continent and adjacent islands. Islamic Africa encourages intellectual excellence and seeks to promote scholarly interaction between Africa-based scholars and those located institutionally outside the continent. Submissions can be made through the online portal on the Brill website at 

Volume 6, the first published with Brill, is a special double-issue on African Salafism, guest edited by Terje Ostebo, with articles by Ostebo, Sorn Gilsaa, Ousman Murzik Kobo, Abdoulaye Sounaye, Alex Thurston, Roland Marchal, Zakaria M. Sheikh, and Einas Ahmed.  An accompanying author interview with Ostebo can be viewed at [insert link when ready]. The Sources and Commentary section contains four articles originally presented at an ISITA-sponsored roundtable at the 2013 African Studies Association Annual Meeting on “The Islamic Archive of Africa.”   

Arabic Literature of Africa Series:

The Arabic Literature of Africa (ALA) series is central to ISITA’s mission of making the Islamic literary tradition in Africa more accessible to scholars and the general public.  This series began as a joint effort by John O. Hunwick (Northwestern University) and R. Sean O’Fahey (University of Bergen) to produce a series of regional overviews of the major authors writing in Arabic in sub-Saharan Africa and their writings.  To date, four volumes comprising just over 2,000 pages have been published by Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden.

  •   Arabic Literature of Africa cover
    Vol. I: The Writings of Eastern Sudanic Africa to c. 1900, compiled by R.S. O'Fahey et alli (1994). Click here to download an overview. 
  • Vol. II: The Writings of Central Sudanic Africa, compiled by J.O. Hunwick et alli (1995). Click here to download an overview.
  • Vol. III. Fascicle A: The Writings of the Muslim Peoples of Northeastern Africacompiled by R.S. O’Fahey et alli (2003). Click here to download an overview.
  • Vol. IV: The Writings of Western Sudanic Africa, compiled by J.O. Hunwick et alli (2003). Click here to download an overview. Portions of this book
    may be viewed at Google Books.

Two additional volumes are planned for publication in 2014 and 2015:

  • Vol. VI: The Writings of Mauritania and the Western Sahara, compiled by Charles Stewart et alli.
  • Vol. VII: The Tijani Corpus and its Authors, compiled by Ruediger Seesemann et alli.

Publications resulting from ISITA conferences and fellowships:

Forthcoming anthologies of translated texts:

As part of its current research project, “Constituting Bodies of Islamic Knowledge,” ISITA-affiliated researchers are preparing two anthologies of translated and annotated texts from West Africa, with the goal of making the contents of Arabic manuscripts from Africa more accessible to specialists, students, and the general public.  Publication of both anthologies is anticipated by 2015.

  • An Anthology of Sufi Literature from Senegambia, edited by Rudolph Ware (University of Michigan) and Zachary Wright (Northwestern University).  This volume will contain translations into English of key texts by Sufi authors from the Senegambia region, which has one of the oldest and most productive traditions of Sufi scholarship in Africa and the world.  The volume will include an introductory essay situating the authors in space, time, and socio-historical context, as well as short introductions to each text.
  • An Anthology of Fatwas and Other Muslim Writings on European Colonial Rule in West Africa, edited by Muhammad Sani Umar (Northwestern University).   This volume will contain translations into English of the rich materials documenting African Muslims’ intellectual responses to European colonial rule that can be found in collections and libraries throughout West Africa.  Items such as fatwas, legal judgments, correspondence, local chronicles, and poetry yield valuable insights into how African Muslims perceived and responded to the reality of rule by non-Muslims. The volume will include an introductory essay situating the texts and their authors in space, time, and socio-historical context.