Challenging conventional wisdom about Islam and Muslim societies in West African history, Rudolph “Butch” Ware's The Walking Qur'an: Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge and History in West Africa is not a conventional study of Islam, nor is it a study of a particular region or time period in African history. Rather, I would call it an intellectual history of selected Muslim leaders and societies in West Africa, but with substantial reference to the foundations of Islam and figures such as Bilal. The focus of the book is Qur'anic education across the centuries, from Mecca to West Africa, although education beyond the Qur'an is often subsumed in that. My fundamental question about the text has to do with the relationship of the “Islamic state,” symbolized especially by Futa Toro, to antislavery.

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