International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Conceptualizing the Trajectories and Proselytization of Islam in Africa
Fuabeh Fonge

A major challenge of the twenty-first century is figuring out how to reconcile the world’s major religious cultures of Islam and Christianity and steer them away from persistent patterns of conflict. Although there seem to exist a widening rift between the two in Africa that seem to be irreconcilable, the situation is not bleak. Like Christianity, Islam which arrived in Africa during the earliest days of the faith, has left lasting imprints in the continent and become one of Africa's chief contact with Arabia, India, and the Iberian countries of Europe. The first batch of Muslims migrated to Abyssinia and sought refuge with the Negus, a Christian king of Abyssinia in the year 615 C.E. Although people are tempted to see the spread of Islam solely from the perspective of the current militant jihadists, the fact of the matter is that the expansion of Islam in African was neither simultaneous nor uniform; there were many trajectories of the faith, some of which were peaceful. Beside military conquests, Islam also took a gradual and adaptive path and used various negotiated, practical approaches to different cultural situations. Today, African Muslims, like Muslims in the rest of the world seem to be locked into intense struggle regarding the future direction of their religion. A positive lesson could, however, be learned from the Cameroonian nation whose Islamic and Christian populations have lived in harmony with each other since the European imposition of colonial rule and arbitrary amalgamation of Muslims and non-Muslims in a common Cameroonian polity. The case of the Cameroon Republic, in fact, supports the contention that in Africa, Muslims and Christians can cohabit peacefully with one another, despite disruptive actions of militant groups like the Boko Haram in Nigeria. It was the harmonious coexistence between the Cameroonian Muslims and Christians that influenced Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to choose Cameroon as the first African nation to visit during his seven-day trip to Africa.

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