"Governance and Islam in East Africa: Muslims and the State"


​Date: January 17-18, 2018​

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

Venue: Aga Khan University, Nairobi

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. Instit​ut​ions:

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?​


"Is Governance a Gender Issue? Perspectives from Muslim Contexts"

February 10-11, 2017​

In the 25 years since the publication of Deniz Kandiyoti’s ground-breaking edited volume ‘Women, Islam and the State’, the universe of action and meaning surrounding the key terms of its title have been radically transformed. The workshop revisited the original debate and explored new terms of reference in light of key global developments, including the effects of neoliberal restructuring, contested and fragmented sovereignties, and the disarticulation of states entangled in a variety of external interventions and internal conflict.  Drawing from case studies from the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Muslim Diasporas, the workshop addressed the questions of how and to what extent gender ideologies are enmeshed with systems of governance and the complex interactions between state, non-state and grassroots actors.

Convenors: Deniz Kandiyoti (SOAS), Nadje Al-Ali (SOAS) and Kathryn Spellman Poots (ISMC)

Venue: ISMC, London

Participants: Islah Jad (Qatar University); Naila Kabeer (LSE); Heba el-Kholy (Former UN Resident Coordinator and former Director of the UNDP Governance Center, Oslo); Shahrzad Mojab (University of Toronto); Corinna Mullin (University of Tunis); Nazanin Shahrokni (Syracuse University); Nadia Taher (UCL); Torunn Wimpelmann (CMI, Bergen)​

Listen to Pod​cast

"The G​overance of Water Resources in Muslim Contexts: Values, Traditions and Contemporary Policies"

March 12-13, 2015​

Water security against the backdrop of global growth and climate change has become an issue of pressing concern. Multiple water challenges threaten global social and political stability. The criticality of these challenges is reflected in the World Economic Forum's 2015 Global Risks Report where water was ranked as the global risk with the greatest potential impact on economics and societies over the next ten years. Given today's accelerated pace of human development and the slow pace of managing issues as complex as water resources tomorrow's challenges are already at our door. If we continue with 'business as usual', then by 2050, half of the world's population, half of the global grain production and 45 per cent of GDP will be in regions at risk due to water stress.

Major shifts in conceptual approaches to water governance are thus needed in order to reach a more desirable future and limit calamities. This is particularly relevant as many societies are currently facing socio-economic transformation processes which need to be reflected in changes to their respective systems of governance. Responding to these challenges, ISMC’s Governance Programme and the Conseil Général du Développement Agricole (CGDA), a high-level policy think tank of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Morocco, jointly organised an international workshop with a follow-up session hosted at the University of Fes the following day. Op-eds based on the workshop theme were published in The National​ and Inspire Jordan.

Conveners: Mohamed Ait Kadi (CGDA) and Abdou Filali-Ansary (ISMC)

Venue: CGDA, Morocco

Participants: Mohammed El Faiz (Université Cadi Ayyad de Marrakech); ​David Groenfeldt (Water-Culture Institute); ​Abdellah Herzenni (Independent Researcher, Morocco); Grigori Lazarev (Independent Researcher, Italy); Klaus Leisinger (Global Values Alliance Foundation); Tariq Madani (University of Oujda); Luis Veiga da Cunha (Portuguese Academy of Sciences); Houria Tazi Sadeq (UNESCO Chair in water management).

Listen to Podcasts​​​​ | Read Op-ed​

Summary Papers:

A New Water Culture towards Increasing Water Security by Mohamed Ait Kadi

Ethics as a Bridge between Traditional and Contemporary Water Governance by David Groenfeldt

Global Values for Global Development by Klaus M. Leisinger

The Right to Water: A Right in the Process of Implementation ​[Le droit à l’eau: un droit en voie de mise en œuvre] by Houria Tazi Sadeq​