Journal for Islamic Studies

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Renegotiating Gender: Changing Moral Practice in the Tabl¥gh¥ JamOE>at in The Gambia

M Janson


Over the years, the Tabl¥gh¥ JamOE>at has expanded into what is probably the largest Islamic movement of contemporary times. Despite its enormous influence, scholars have paid almost no attention to the movement in sub-Saharan Africa. This article
focuses on The Gambia, which has grown into a flourishing centre of Tabl¥gh¥ activities in West Africa during the last decade. Whereas Gambian Tabl¥gh¥s understand Tabl¥gh¥ doctrine as a return to the original teachings of Islam, and as such to a traditional
patriarchal gender ideology, the effect of their interventions is that they redefine prevailing divisions between female and male spheres of moral practice. By setting out on missionary tours (khur´j), Tabl¥gh¥ women have gained greater prominence in the public sphere, a sphere generally considered ‘male'. In order to provide them with more time to perform missionary work, male Tabl¥gh¥s have taken over part of their wives' domestic workload. This reconfiguration of gender roles is studied as the outcome of a reorientation to a new form of piety as a means of realising a virtuous life that brings one closer to God.

Journal for Islamic Studies Vol. 28 2008: pp. 9-36
AJOL African Journals Online