INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ISLAMIC CIVILISATION IN WEST AFRICA, 1996

International Symposium on Islamic Civilisation in West Africa, under the patronage of H.E. Abdou Diouf, President of the Republic of Senegal, organised by IRCICA and the "Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire" (IFAN, Dakar) with the contribution of the International Islamic Call Society (Tripoli, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), Dakar, 26-30 December 1996


The theme of the seminar was included in IRCICA's work program as early as in the 1980s, as part of the research project on the History of Muslim Nations. The symposium aimed at creating an academic forum where specialists from African and other countries would communicate the results of their research on different aspects of the theme. They would be able to exchange information, their views and experiences, drawing from this debate the indications of the present state and future prospects of research in this field, and producing a reference work on this theme by publishing the proceedings of the symposium.

The International Symposium on Islamic Civilisation in West Africa took place in Dakar, Republic of Senegal, on 27-30 December 1996, under the high patronage of H.E. Abdou Diouf, President of the Republic of Senegal, and under the effective chairmanship of H.E. Mr. Habib Thiam, Prime Minister. The symposium was organised by IRCICA in cooperation with the Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire Cheikh Anta Diop (IFAN/CAD, Dakar); it was supported by an exceptional contribution of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad and of the Ministry of Culture, and also by the precious contributions of the International Islamic Call Society (Tripoli, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya).

The need to organise this symposium was felt especially after the Centre had launched a long-term research project concerning the history of Muslim nations and accomplished a number of progressive stages towards its implementation. Research on the history of Islamic civilisation in West Africa is a major part of this project, and comprises, among other aspects of the subject, the study of the introduction of Islam in this region, its expansion and its influence on local cultures, as well as the contributions peoples of this region have made to the advancement of Islamic civilisation.

The official opening ceremony was held at the Khâly Amar Fall Auditorium of the University of Dakar Sheikh Anta Diop, on 27 December at 3 p.m., under the chairmanship of H.E. Mr. Habib Thiam, Prime Minister of the Republic of Senegal. Were also present in the ceremony H.E. Mr. Abdoulaye Elimane Kan, Minister of Culture; H.E. Mr. Othman Naziru Othman, Assistant Secretary General of the OIC representing H.E. the Secretary General; Mr. Miftah Mohamed Abou Aïcha, representative of H.E. Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Sharif, Secretary General of the International Islamic Call Society (Tripoli); Prof. Dr. Djibril Samb, Director of IFAN, Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Director General of IRCICA; around fifty historians and specialists of the history of Islam in West Africa, from various countries and Senegal itself; high officials of the Government of Senegal; the diplomatic corps accredited in Dakar; presidents and professors of universities, a great number of students, and representatives of the local and international press.

Prof. Dr. Djibril Samb, Director of the Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire Cheikh Anta Diop, gave an address, drawing the framework and guidelines of the understanding and treatment of the general theme. He then gave an overview of the history of Islam in West Africa and pinpointed the major paths of research in this field. The Director of IFAN expressed his honour and satisfaction to see the symposium materialise in IFAN/CAD in Dakar.

Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Director General of IRCICA, in his address, gave an overview of the Centre's activities in the context of which this symposium was organised. He recalled the various steps that were taken and stages of activities that were accomplished by the Centre in order to convene the symposium in Dakar, and gave explanations on the Centre's project on the history of Muslim nations and its contributions to enriching the Islamic civilisation. The Director General also expressed his will and readiness to develop cooperation between the Centre and the cultural and academic institutions of Senegal.

Mr. Miftah M. Abou Aïcha, representative the Secretary General of the International Islamic Call Society (Tripoli) expressed his pleasure that the Society had taken part in this important event, emphasizing that the subject areas of Islamic civilisation are an integral part of the Society's objectives and that this was the reason for its active involvement in the symposium. Mr. Miftah M. Abou Aïcha reaffirmed the Society's commitment to support such activities.

H.E. Mr. Othman Naziru Othman, representative of H.E. the Secretary General of the OIC, conveyed the OIC's encouragement of a reflection on the contributions of Africa and its scholars to the expansion of Islam and the development of Islamic civilisation. The Assistant Secretary General also reaffirmed the OIC's support to such meetings.

Before officially opening the sessions of the symposium, H.E. Mr. Habib Thiam, Prime Minister of Senegal gave an address, recalling the glorious Islamic past of Senegal, the land of illustruous Muslim thinkers. The Prime Minister also evoked the personal commitment of the Head of State, President Abdou Diouf, to protecting and highlighting Islam. He expressed satisfaction that faculty members, teachers and researchers specialised in different aspects of the theme had agreed to take part in exchanging views in this very important field of study.

At the end of the opening ceremony, the Director General of IRCICA presented a plaque of gratitude to Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Habib Thiam.

The following papers were presented during the six working sessions

 

Friday, 27 December 1996

 

1st Session, Theme 1: The History of the introduction of Islam in West Africa
Session Chairman: Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu



1. Djigui Camara (Guinea), Histoire de l'introduction de l'Islam en Afrique de l'Ouest

2. Ahmed Mohamed Kani (Nigeria), L'introduction de l'Islam en Afrique de l'Ouest et sa consolidation faisant référence surtout au Soudan central (Kanem-Bornou et Haussaland) jusqu'au 16ème siècle

3. Babakar Cisse (Senegal), L'introduction de l'Islam en Afrique et le rôle joué par les empires pour son expansion et sa consolidation

4. Youssouf Hassane Diallo (Mali), Histoire de l'introduction de l'Islam en Afrique de l'Ouest

5. Yunus Muhammed Baba (Nigeria), Islam through a centralized Kingdom in Pre-colonial Ghana

6. Daniel Abwa (Cameroon), Le glaive et le Coran: deux modes de pénétration de l'islam au Cameroun (XIXè s.)

7. Zakari Maykorema (Niger), L'histoire de l'introduction de l'Islam en Afrique de l'Ouest; le cas du Niger

Saturday, 28 December l996

 

2nd Session, Theme 2: Interpretations of the Meaning of the Holy Quran in local languages (local translations)
Session Chairman: Prof. Dr. John Hunwick


1. Ahmed Lajimi (IRCICA), Les traductions des significations du Saint Coran: le projet de l'IRCICA concernant les traductions orales en Afrique de l'Ouest

2. Shaaban Yusuf Sengo Tigiti (Uganda), Interpretations of the Holy Quran in Local Languages (oral translations): the case of Kiswahili speaking

3. Inoua Mahamane (Niger), Les interprétations orales du Saint Coran: Le cas de la langue Haoussa

Theme 3: Islamic education in West Africa
Session Chairman: El Hadj Moustapha Cisse, Ambassador


1. John Hunwick (Etats-Unis d'Amérique), Towards a history of the Islamic intellectual West Africa

2. Abdel Jélil Temimi (Tunisia), Les thèses de doctorat préparés en Egypte et en Tunisie

3. Thierno Ka (Senegal), Etude sur les programmes et manuels des écoles arabo-islamiques traditionnelles au Sénégal

4. Omar Bello (Nigeria), Islamic scholars and scholarship in Nigeria

5. Abou el Caba Touré (Senegal), La pénétration de l'Islam au Sénégal et l'enseignement islamique: objectifs et méthodes

6. Al Amin Abu-Manga (Sudan), Contribution of the Sokoto jihad leaders in the dissemination of Arab-Islamic knowledge through local languages

7. Musa Suleiman Etsayi (Nigeria), Preservation of Arabic manuscripts

8. Penda Mbow (Senegal), Quelques aspects de l'Islam médiéval Ouest-africain: les Oulémas

9. Abdoul Malal Diop (Senegal), Cheikh Moussa Kamara et la mystique: apport, critique, analyse

3rd Session, Theme 4: Islam during the colonialisation of West Africa
Session Chairman: Prof. Dr. Abdel Jélil Temimi

1.
EI Moustapha Ould Mohamed Salek (Mauritania), l'Islam pendant la colonisation de l'Afrique de l'Ouest.

2. Ali M. Sendaro (Uganda), Islam in the colonial period: a case study of west East African Regions

3. Ahmet Kavas (Turkey), Les activités des Ottomans au Tchad et au Niger dans la 2ème moitié du XIXe et au début du XXe siècle

4. Elemine Ould Mohamed Baba (Mauritania), Islam et colonisation: l'exemple de de la Mauritanie

Sunday, 29 December 1996

 

4th Session, Theme 5: Interactions between Islamic culture and regional cultures as manifested in arts and other forms of cultural expression
Session Chairman: Prof. Amadou Samb



1. Dahiru Muhammad Argungu (Uganda), Contributions of the Haussa language to the spread of Islamic culture and civilisation in Nigeria

2. Samba Dieng (Senegal), Le “Beytol”: une forme islamique de la littérature pulaar

3. Khassime Diakhate (Senegal), Contribution de l'Islam à l'affirmation de la personnalité négro-africaine

4. Mamadou Aly Dia (Senegal), Aperçu sur la littérature islamique en Afrique de l'Ouest

5. Abdou Sylla (Senegal), La peinture "sous verre" sénégalaise: un art musulman

6. M. A. Sey (Ghana), The development of Muslim settlements in Ghana: the Kamgbunli experience {1901-1942)

7. Assane Sylla (Senegal), La poésie islamique Wolof

5th Session, Theme 6: Contributions of West Africa to Islamic culture and civilisation
Session Chairman: Djigui Camara, Ambassador


1. Sidi Mohamed Mahibou (Niger), L'Influence de Abdullahi Dan Fodio sur la vie religieuse et culturelle en Afrique occidentale

2. Babacar Samb (Senegal), Monde arabo-islamique, Afrique de l'Ouest: coopération religieuse informelle ou coopération culturelle institutionnelle?

3. Martin Zachary Nieuma (Cameroon), Integration of Muslim and Christian cultures in Northern Cameroon since independence

4. Philippe Lébéné Bolouvi (Togo), Les apports linguistiques arabo-islamiques dans les langues du Togo

5. Moustapha Abdourahmane Lô (Senegal), L'oeuvre de Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba: Aspects religieux et culturels, les diverses périodes de son développement

6. Khadim Mbacké (Senegal), La contribution de l'Afrique de l'Ouest à l'enrichissement des sciences et lettres islamiques; le cas du Sénégal

7. Mohamed Adiouane (Morocco), Ahmed Baba de Tombouctou: une figure illustre de l'Islam en Afrique de l'Ouest

8. Yaya Savané (Ivory Coast), Mosquées anciennes de Côte d'Ivoire: un héritage culturel à préserver

At the end of each working session, there was a general debate on the papers presented. The remarks and opinions of the participants helped to shed light on and deal more deeply with the different aspects of the topics at hand. After the presentation and discussion of the papers, it appeared that Africa has a long history as a land of Islam, because the introduction of Islam in this continent took place soon after the advent of this religion. The papers and discussions of the symposium form, altogether, a valuable reference for research on the history of Islamic civilisation in West Africa.

The closing ceremony took place on Monday, 30 December, under the Chairmanship of H.E. Mr. Moustapha Niasse, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad, who gave an important address expressing his great pleasure for chairing the closing ceremony of this major academic event held in Dakar, capital city of Senegal, which has been one of the bastions of Islam and one of the brilliant centres of Islamic culture and civilisaton. The Minister said that the symposium was an opportunity for a great number of historians and specialists to exchange views on the themes at hand. H.E. the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad also expressed the hope that this symposium may open a new page in the cooperation established between IRCICA and the cultural and scholarly institutions of Senegal. Then, Prof. Samba Dieng, rapporteur of the symposium, read the general report, which comprises the following recommendations:

To organise such events more frequently and expand them to other regions of Africa as well

To edit the papers of the symposium

To promote the publication and dissemination of the works of researchers working in the field of Islamic culture

To collect, assess and edit the precious manuscripts such as those of IFAN and CEDRAB (Centre d'Etudes et de Développement Ahmed Baba, Mali)

To exchange visits of researchers between IRCICA and IFAN

To help protect, preserve and publish the translations of the Holy Quran

To establish a museum of Islamic art, and endow it with a collection of calligraphies, among others

To contribute in promoting research on the Islamic history, culture, art and architecture in Africa

To contribute to the rapprochement of Muslim peoples to each other as well as to other peoples

To help the radiance of the message of Islam, a religion of science, tolerance and peace.

At the end of the closing ceremony, Prof.Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu presented plaques of gratitude to H.E. Mr. Moustapha Niasse, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad, to Prof. Djibril Samb, Director of IFAN, to H.E. Dr. Mohamed Ahmed Sharif, Secretary General of the International Islamic Call Society (Tripoli), by presenting it to Mr. Miftah M. Abou Aïcha, his representative, to H.E. Mr. Amb. Hadj Sylla, Director of International Organisations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad, and to other high officials of the Ministry. Then, H.E. the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad distributed the certificates of merit to all participants in the symposium.

Various cultural activities were organised during the period of the symposium, notably the two exhibitions held in IFAN, one on the "eminent figures of Islam in West Africa" and the other on "Islamic arts". On the other hand, H.E. Mr. Abdoulaye Elimane Kan, Minister of Culture, invited the participants to an African Cultural Evening in the Serano Theatre in Dakar, where the national ballet "La Linguère" made many folkloric performances. During this event, the Director General of IRCICA presented H.E. the Minister of Culture with the plaque of gratitude of the Centre in appreciation of the strong support extended to the organisation of the symposium. Furthermore, the participants visited the Traditional Crafts Centre in Dakar, and Goree island with its "House of the Slaves" and its museum.

The Director General of IRCICA and his colleagues (Ahmed Lajimi, Acar Tanlak and Anara Elmoctar) were received by the high officials of Senegal. A most important meeting was with H.E. Mr. Moustapha Niasse, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad, who warmly received the delegation and affirmed his will to strengthen and develop cooperation between the Senegalese institutions and IRCICA. The Minister also affirmed his personal support and the support of the Ministry of Culture to the Centre, so that the latter can continue to efficiently fulfill its tasks. During the visit, IRCICA Director General requested H.E. the Minister to convey his deep gratitude to the President of the Republic of Senegal H.E. Abdou Diouf, for the high patronage given to the symposium and also for the continuous support the President extended to the Centre in his capacity as the Chairman of the OIC's Standing Committee for Information and Cultural Affairs (COMIAC). The Director General also expressed his gratitude to H.E. the Minister for all his assistance and support. The Centre's delegation also had fruitful discussions with the Director of IFAN and his colleagues, on different aspects of the cooperation established between IFAN and IRCICA.

Finally, taking the opportunity of this visit to West Africa, IRCICA Director General Prof.Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu visited Banjul, capital city of the Republic of Gambia on 28 December. The Director General was received by H.E. Mr. Yahya Jammeh, President of the Republic of Gambia, and H.E. Mr. Babuka Belasse Jeng, Minister of Foreign Affairs. The talks centered around the various issues of cooperation between the relevant institutions of Gambia and the Centre.

Papers of the symposium were published by the Centre under the title La Civilisation Islamique de l’Ouest in 1999.