New publication by SoSCo member Murtala Ibrahim in Africa
Ibrahim, Murtala. 2022. “The clash of sound, image and light: inter- and intra-religious entanglements and contestations during Mawlūd celebrations in the city of Jos, Nigeria.” Africa 92 (5): 759-779.
This article explores recent inter- and intra-religious entanglements and contestations between Sufi Muslims, members of the Izala and Christianity, which have emerged as a result of a new way of celebrating Mawlūd in the Nigerian city of Jos. Through the adept use of loudspeakers, Izala projects a sense of dominance over the public sphere of the city and uses this as a platform to critique the Sufis. In part as a response, and as a counter-critique of Izala, the Sufis have rejuvenated their Mawlūd celebrations as a mass public spectacle, involving the use of Christmas lights to decorate the city and the construction at the entrance to major streets of temporary wooden arches decorated with flowers, Christmas lights, wreaths and images of Shaykh Ibrahim Nyass. This article argues that the Sufis, who are at a disadvantage in the practice of organized preaching and the use of sound media, have transformed the Mawlūd celebrations into a mechanism to counterbalance Izala’s dominance of the public sphere and to reassert their presence in the city. The Sufis’ incorporation of decorative Christmas objects reveals the fluid boundaries between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, which sometimes generate dynamics of interreligious borrowing and mutual influence. This article attempts to remap and push the boundaries of studying Islam and Christianity in Nigeria, because focusing on one religion in isolation downplays the intertwining and intersection of practices between the two religious groups.