Research for Development and Justice

Ethiopia Islam Salafism Islamism Identity Ethnicity

The Question of Becoming: Islamic Reform-Movements in Contemporary Ethiopia

Terje Østebø (2007)

Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI Working Paper WP 2007: 8) 20 p.

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Ethiopia's new political climate (since 1991) has enhanced the Muslims' opportunities for religious expressions, clearly seen through the surfacing of several Islamic reform movements. These movements; the Salafi movement, the Tabligh movement and an Intellectualist revivalist movement have proven crucial for a certain process of objectification of religious affiliation, and have moreover served as channels for the search for belonging and coherent meaning among the Muslims. Discussing the movements' socio-cultural composition and their ideological content, this paper pays attention to how features of locality interact with trans-local ideological currents, reciprocally affecting each other. Of particular interest in the Ethiopian case is the explicit avoidance of any political agenda, a distinct intermarriage with a discourse on ethnicity, where the latter has contributed to complex processes of constructing and demarcating religious- and ethnic-based boundaries. The paper thus seeks to demonstrate the complex interrelationship between global currents and local factors; all contributing to the heterogenisation of contemporary Islam.

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