Governance and Islam in East Africa: Muslims and the State

January 17-18, 2018

Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations

ISMC's Governance Programme and AKU's East African Institute (EAI) seek to bring together academics, civil society actors and policy-makers to explore the relationship between governance and Muslims in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in contemporary times. While historical perspectives are included, these will be framed in terms of the role of the past in creating critical issues of contemporary concern.

Recent studies of Muslims in East Africa have tended largely to explore two main approaches. The focus has been either to study Muslims in relation to security issues, or to explore the reforms attempted within the communities and their implications for Muslim theology, rituals and general welfare. However, a third approach, which has hitherto received less attention, is the relationship between Muslims and the governance of the countries in which they reside as citizens or residents. Such an approach, inclusive also of the other two dimensions, permits us to view the attitudes and activities of Muslims both in relation to themselves and to the various challenges they face in common with their fellow compatriots and citizens.

This approach will be addressed through the broad themes of Institutions, Law, and Politics and discussed in keynote conversations convened by among others Farouk Topan, Alex Awiti, Erin Stiles, Hassan Mwakimako, and Kai Kresse. Papers will cover a broad range of topics under these themes:
I. Institutions:

Political participation – engagement, disengagement, collaboration and conflict;
Citizenship - how do Muslims articulate this? Funding – how does external, governmental and self-funding affect the articulation of organisations, institutions and non-state actors?
Activating identity – when and how is Muslim identity triggered in East Africa?
Religious authority – how is it constituted, contested and reformulated – in what ways has the state engaged in regulating religion and how have Muslims responded?
II. Law:

Jurisdictional issues – status of Islamic law, role of the Kadhi’s court, legal education and training;
Minority status – state constitutions and Muslims, role of non-state actors in navigating between Muslims and the state;
Gender and law – position of Muslim women vis-à-vis national law, legal consciousness and communication, role of Swahili in legal communication, how do Muslim women acquire knowledge of the law?
III. Politics:

Religio-political issues – what is the interplay and fusion of culture, religion, and politics in addressing these?
Muslim development – what is the state response to this?
Government policies – what is the relationship between policies and Muslim development?
Role of civil society – what is the role of civil society in relation to politics in East Africa?
Militancy, violence and security of and for Muslims;
Islamic political parties – how do they function and how are they funded?

Convenors: Farouk Topan (AKU-ISMC) and Alex Awiti (EAI).


The Aga Khan University, Nairobi.