Islam and democracy

Authored by: Brandon Kendhammer

Routledge Handbook of Democratization in Africa

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138081246
eBook ISBN: 9781315112978
Adobe ISBN:


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For most of the postcolonial era, Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa have been treated as peripheral players in broader scholarly and policy debates about Islam and democracy. Yet from Senegal to Nigeria to Sudan (and dozens of points in between), Muslim politicians, activists, and voters have long legacies of engaging with democratic institutions in furtherance of both their religious and political goals. The path to democracy in African countries with substantial Muslim populations remains bumpy and uncertain, littered with historical legacies of state cooptation of religious authorities, bans on religious political organizations, and the rising specter of violent religious extremism. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that despite the challenges, Muslims across the region are broadly supportive of democracy, especially when democratic institutions do not exclude explicitly religious voices and messages from the political sphere.

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