n Journal for Islamic Studies - Islamic reform in colonial space : the jihad of Shaykh Boubacar Sawadogo and French Islamic policies in Burkina Faso, 1920-1946

Volume 32, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0257-7062



This paper examines the spread of Islam in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) during French colonialism. Focusing on the Tijaniyya Shaykh, Boubacar Sawadogo, and the strategies he pursued to avoid confrontations with the French, the paper interrogates the ways French colonialism inadvertently created a new public religious space that facilitated the unprecedented spread of Islam. Pursuing peaceful strategies of conversion and religious reform, Sawadogo converted an unprecedented number of Mossi, the colony's largest ethnic group, to Islam and laid the foundation for the subsequent growth of Islam in that territory. The Mossi had resisted Islam for several centuries prior to French conquests and the French had reinforced this resistance as part of a broader policy of preventing the spread of Islam in the French federation. An examination of the strategies pursued by Sawadogo to implement his religious visions in spite of the restrictions on Islamic proselytism allows us to re-interrogate the nature of colonial hegemony.

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