Pedigrees and Paradigms
The Hijaz in particular and the Arabic-speaking Middle East in general have always constituted points of reference for Dyula Muslims. At the most basic level, Arabic is the obligatory language of prayer and the hajj an obligation for those who have the means to perform it. Not only the Qur'an but the vast majority of commentaries, legal texts of reference, and personal prayers are written in classical Arabic, an entirely foreign, quintessentially written language, totally unrelated to the Manding language spoken by the Dyula. The ability to read and to write Arabic was a necessary condition for accession to the status of karamogo , or "scholar." Travel for the purpose of study was a common means of acquiring knowledge of Arabic as a language, and of written texts.
Indeed, the Dyula have always valued travel positively. For individuals involved in commerce, travel was obviously an integral part of the process of making a living. As for religious learning, it was by no means remarkable for younger scholars to travel outside their home communities to pursue their education with more knowledgeable or prestigious teachers. Likewise, scholars from established centers of learning traveled to smaller or more distant communities where they might outshine potential rivals and establish a firm and profitable local reputation.
It is hazardous, however, to make an a priori assumption that travel and study in the Arabic-speaking Middle East was the most prestigious form of travel for study or for the dissemination of ideas. Just as Dyula traders were anxious to maintain controls, if not a monopoly, over access to trade goods, so Dyula scholars were concerned to maintain controls over access to knowledge, the equivalent of goods in the
spiritual and intellectual realms. Knowledge, in this sense, is not simply that which one knows. More crucially, it is the authority with which one speaks or writes. Such authority depends in part on what one has studied and with whom. Claims to superior knowledge, on the grounds that one has studied directly in the Middle East, may constitute a challenge to the authority of local traditions of scholarship. In the last resort, the exercise of intellectual authority is just as much a question of legitimacy as the exercise of political authority. Like political authority, one can attempt to monopolize it, but the success of such attempts depends—even more than in politics—on the attitudes of one's constituency.
The authority of scholars ultimately derives from their expertise in religious matters. The scholar's role in Dyula communities thus hinges first of all on notions of what Islam is and what it means to call oneself a Muslim. Since the nineteenth century, these notions have changed in important ways, and even in the nineteenth century they were subject to debate. Controversies about the legitimacy of locally trained as opposed to foreign-trained scholars, both nowadays and in the past, are also controversies about different conceptions of Islam and of "being Muslim."
The Suwarian Tradition Among the Dyula
Until the mid twentieth century, the extent of a person's religious learning and the degree to which he was expected to demonstrate this learning in his own pious behavior corresponded ideally to the circumstances of his birth—as a mory or tun tigi , a member of a scholarly lineage or not. It was admittedly meritorious, though hardly obligatory, for individual tun tigi , particularly old men, to emulate mory standards of piety. Scholars were responsible for establishing these standards of piety, both because their command of Arabic gave them access to the written texts that furnished the necessary guidelines of behavior and because they were expected to set personal examples of piety for others to follow. There was a
tendency for scholarship to be a hereditary occupation. Whole clan wards, or a section of a large clan ward, might specialize in scholarship in any given community. In this way, each village tended to have a few, usually quite small, specialized scholarly families. Nonetheless, any Muslim man might choose at any time to pursue his studies at an advanced level and accede eventually to the status of karamogo.
In any case, accession to the status of scholar involved the conferring of a second pedigree, intellectual rather than hereditary. This isnad was very much like a genealogy. The Dyula words for teacher and pupil are karamogo fa and karamogo den , literally "scholar father" and "scholar child." The authority of a scholar ultimately derives from his possession of such a pedigree, which places him in a line of teachers and pupils. If one examines any such isnad , one notices that the line of teachers extends literally all the way to God, the ultimate source of knowledge and moral authority. Beneath God, a number of angels are also listed as teachers and pupils, after which this knowledge is transmitted to humankind in the person of the Prophet. The name of Malik ibn Anas (A.D. 715–95) is also on every such list among the Dyula, as they all belong to the Maliki school of jurisprudence. More important, the Dyula isnads all converge on the name of al-Hajj Salim Suware in the fifteenth century. The line of transmission from Malik to al-Hajj Salim—a bridge of six to eight centuries—is clearly abbreviated, as it contains only six names, including two identifiable ninth century scholars: 'Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Qasim of Cairo and 'Abd al-Salam Sahnun of Qayrawan (Wilks 1968). The convergence of isnads on the person of al-Hajj Salim is by no means a peculiarity of the Dyula of northern Côte d'Ivoire; his influence was so decisive in a belt that runs from Guinea (Hunter 1977, Sanneh 1979) to northern Ghana (Wilks 1968) that it is perfectly reasonable to identify a "Suwarian tradition" in West African Islamic scholarship.
This widespread convergence of isnads conveys a symbolic message about the nature of knowledge and the authority derived from its possession. God and the angels are the
ultimate source of knowledge and moral authority. However, in terms of this-worldly geography, knowledge stems first and foremost from the Hijaz (from the Prophet to Imam Malik), then derivatively from Arabic-speaking northern Africa (Cairo, Qayrawan), and finally from the person of al-Hajj Salim, before diverging into various lines. In short, if the Arabic-speaking world is the ultimate earthly source of knowledge, access to this knowledge is mediated by a regional tradition of scholarship; it is not acquired directly at, or closer to, its source.
The Haidara scholars of Kadioha and Boron are a case in point. The Haidara are universally acknowledged in the region as sharifs, direct descendants of the Prophet. A putative Middle Eastern origin is not at all unusual among the Dyula. Various clans privately claim descent from one companion or another of the Prophet, admittedly without providing any genealogical evidence, or have oral traditions about the dealings of their "ancestor" with the Prophet, and how in one way or another they were loyal Muslims from the very beginning. Such claims symbolically anchor the clans in space (the Hijaz) and time (the Prophet's lifetime), but they are not socially relevant for regulating interclan relationships. Unlike such stories, the Haidara claim falls into the domain of common knowledge. Even so, the Haidara isnads also converge on al-Hajj Salim: although they can effectively claim a direct hereditary link to the Prophet, their intellectual pedigree, like that of everyone else, hails from West Africa and from al-Hajj Salim.
Al-Hajj Salim's scholarly activity was centered on the town of Jagha in the Western Sudan, but his influence was greatest along the southern fringes of the Manding trade network, and corresponds to the period of the disintegration of the old Malian empire. This was a region in which such Manding-speaking Muslims as the Dyula lived as a minority among various groups of "unbelievers." The tradition of scholarship founded by al-Hajj Salim stressed the religious coexistence of these two categories, Muslims and unbelievers, with, as we
have seen, the attendant separation of religion and politics. It would be a serious misconception to label this tradition as "pacifist," however. Warfare, whether with Muslims or unbelievers, remained a distinct possibility. Rather, the Suwarian approach was neatly mirrored in the Dyula distinction between the hereditary categories of tun tigi and mory , those whose business was ideally warfare and politics and those whose business was ideally religious scholarship. Relations between the Dyula and their "pagan" neighbors might range from open hostility to active alliance, but in no case was religion a deciding issue. The Suwarian tradition not only fostered the development of relatively peaceful coexistence between Muslim minorities and their neighbors, but also sanctioned the existence of different hereditary categories within the Muslim community itself, making outward piety an obligation for some Muslims, especially scholars themselves, but only an ideal for others.
The First Challenge: Militant Jihad
In short, the Suwarian tradition incorporated a number of basic distinctions between politics and religion, hereditary and intellectual pedigrees, the Hijaz as the ultimate source of knowledge and moral authority and a local tradition of scholarship. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, comparable traditions of Islam and Islamic scholarship were subjected to challenges in much of West Africa in the form of militant jihad movements. Several of these movements attempted to draw their legitimacy from direct study in the Hijaz as opposed to local scholarly traditions. Usuman dan Fodio's teacher, Jibril ibn Umar, studied in the Hijaz (Hiskett 1973), as did al-Hajj Umar Tall (Robinson 1985). It would be far too simplistic to explain the jihad movements exclusively in terms of the diffusion of ideas from the Middle East to West Africa. The hajj itself, especially combined with study in the Hijaz or elsewhere in the Middle East, constituted a different principle of legitimacy, an alternative source of
intellectual and moral authority. Under certain circumstances it could be explicitly opposed to the authority of local scholarly traditions.
The hajj has always been a powerful Islamic symbol among the Dyula. Until recently, the journey itself was exceedingly long, hazardous, and difficult. Indeed, I know of no individual at all from the Korhogo region who successfully completed the journey before the twentieth century. On the other hand, I was shown a manuscript list of various illustrious Manding scholars who had accomplished the hajj. Twelve scholars are cited in all, hailing from various communities in Mali and particularly in Guinea and western Côte d'Ivoire. Not surprisingly, al-Hajj Salim Suware headed the list. This list hearkens back to a sort of "golden age" of Islamic scholarship in the region, when scholars were in direct contact with the Hijaz and when the Suwarian tradition itself came into being. After this era, the hajj became an ideal rather than a reality. For example, the Cisse of Kadioha relate that their ancestor, Mammadu, left his native town of Bakongo in Guinea to undertake the hajj. Along the way, he stopped in the village of Kadioha, where he was finally persuaded to abandon his pilgrimage and to settle instead. Whether or not the story is true, the ancestor is remembered for his piety, not because he accomplished the hajj , but rather because of his intention to perform the journey. The hajj , situated in the distant past or in terms of intentions rather than accomplishment, constituted a symbolic link between the Dyula and the ultimate source of their faith, much as did the claims of various clans to descent from companions of the Prophet. But it did not necessarily represent an alternative source of moral authority.
This is not to say that the hajj was never used as a challenge to the authority of the Suwarian tradition. The career of al-Hajj Mahmud Karantaw among the Kantossi of the Volta Basin, to the east of Korhogo, provides a critical example. The Kantossi, like the Dyula, were a Muslim minority of Mande origin living in the midst of "unbelievers." Mahmud studied with local teachers and was trained in the Su-
warian tradition before undertaking the pilgrimage. During his journey, he stopped to study in Syria with a Qadiri teacher, Shaykh 'Abd al-Rahim, who apparently persuaded him to undertake a jihad on his return. This jihad against neighboring "pagans" was launched in the mid nineteenth century. Al-Hajj Mahmud attracted some support, both among his fellow Kantossi and in the nearby town of Wa, a major center of Muslim learning in the region (Wilks 1988). With this army, he was able to conquer some of the surrounding area and to found the polity of Wahabu. However, Muslims in the area were strongly divided over support for the jihad, with the majority opposing Islamic militancy and favoring the maintenance of friendly relations with neighboring "pagans," whether on moral, political, or commercial grounds. Ultimately, the movement was a very limited success, and Wahabu was limited to a small cluster of villages.
Al-Hajj Mahmud's movement demonstrates, first of all, that peoples like the Dyula belonging to the Suwarian tradition were aware of and not always impervious to the jihad movements that swept through much of West Africa. Second, like a number of other jihad leaders, al-Hajj Mahmud sought legitimacy through a direct appeal to study in the Arabic-speaking world, effectively attempting to supersede the mediating role of local scholarly traditions. Finally, this attempt, though not entirely a failure, did not win the support of the vast majority of local Muslims, both scholars and ordinary believers, who continued to affirm their loyalty to the Suwarian tradition. In Korhogo, such loyalty was hardly surprising. Not only were Muslims outnumbered ten to one by their "pagan" neighbors, but they were also more heavily involved in local as opposed to long-distance trade, and they relied on their Senufo neighbors both as customers for their wares and as suppliers of food for purchase in the market-place. A jihad would have been a dangerous gamble, calling into question their relations of cooperation with their neighbors, which the Suwarian tradition legitimated. However, the Dyula were well aware, not only of jihads, but also of the religious issues involved in either supporting or opposing
them. The absence of such movements in the Korhogo region must be taken, not as a sign of inertia, of an unquestioning respect for the force of religious tradition, but rather as a deliberate confirmation of the principle that religious authority, though it might stem ultimately from the Hijaz, was to be mediated by established local lines of scholarship rather than by a direct appeal to contemporary teachings in the Arabic-speaking world.
The Second Challenge: The "Wahhabi" Movement
As we saw in chapter 3, the imposition of French colonial rule was to lay the groundwork for the redefinition of what it meant to be Muslim among the Dyula, and consequently new grounds for calling the Suwarian tradition into question. Formerly, trade, Muslim identity, and membership in the Koko Dyula community all coincided in Korhogo. Now, these three features became dissociated. A Muslim identity remained a precondition for entering the sector of local trade. However, the relationship between trade and Islam changed in a crucial, if not immediately obvious, manner. In the past, Muslims, defined in terms of their Dyula ethnic identity, had monopolized trade. Now, non-Muslims could enter the trade sector by converting to Islam. Indeed, new converts might adopt Islam individually without renouncing their membership in communities that also included unbelievers. Their newfound Muslim identity was most conveniently expressed through the adoption of outward forms of piety—praying, fasting, and so on—once typical of Dyula mory but not of tun tigi. Such forms of piety were recognizable signs of an Islamic identity anywhere, outside as well as within the region. In any case, with the abandonment of the lo societies, the tun tigi/mory distinction ceased to be socially salient.
The immediate consequence of this shift was to reinforce the leadership role of scholars in the Dyula community. Their personal behavior was expected to set a standard, not only for the mory , but for the entire community. They were re-
sponsible for explaining to the entire community the kinds of behavior that were proper or improper, forbidden or enjoined. The guidelines they set had to be acceptable, not only to Dyula Muslims, but to Muslims from other communities as well. In the short run, this newfound "shari ca -mindedness," to use Marshall Hodgson's (1974) term, provided Dyula scholars with more moral authority in the community than ever before. In the longer run, however, it provided a basis for challenging, rather than reinforcing, the legitimacy of scholars trained in the Suwarian tradition. Islam among the Dyula had formerly been predicated on the notion that different kinds of religious behavior were appropriate for different categories of persons: tun tigi, mory , and karamogos. By the 1950s, a single standard of piety was held to apply, not only to all Dyula, but effectively to all Muslims. Once the principle is established that all Muslims throughout the world ought to conform to the same norms of piety, perceived discrepancies appear as problematic. Indeed, if there is a universal standard of piety, the status of a local tradition of scholarship is effectively altered. Islamic knowledge has universal applications, and there ceases to be any a priori reason why a local pedigree, anchored in the Suwarian tradition, is necessarily preferable to any other.
Discrepancies are only a problem if they are perceived as such. However, the pax colonia , by favoring the freer movement of individuals from place to place, broadened the contact of Dyula with other Muslims (though the Dyula, as traders, were never isolated from such contacts) and increased the likelihood that individuals might perceive discrepancies of various kinds. In particular, it became easier to accomplish the hajj , though as long as the pilgrimage remained an overland journey, it was still both long and hazardous. Few individuals from Korhogo actually undertook such a journey. It involved leaving one's family for years on end and finding odd jobs from place to place along the way to pay for each leg of the trip. Those who made the trip are remembered as having accomplished something remarkable, but not for returning with new ideas, new conceptions of Islam, and being
Muslim. Still, the very fact that such journeys were actually made was itself significant. "Al-Hajj" ceased to be a title applied only to names on a list hearkening back to the remote past, but became a contemporary reality. The journey to the Middle East and to the Hijaz, to the ultimate source of religious knowledge and authority, was no longer an ideal, which for all intents and purposes was almost unrealizable, but a real possibility, even if beyond the means of most.
Although the overland hajj did not have a direct intellectual impact on Islam among the Dyula of Korhogo in the first half of the twentieth century, it did for other West African Muslim communities with whom they were in touch. Toward the end of World War II, when the Dyula of Korhogo were in the process of abandoning the lo societies, a number of Manding-speaking pilgrims returned from the hajj with a different set of ideas. Al-Hajj Tiekoro Kamagate returned to Bouake, the second largest town of Côte d'Ivoire, after a prolonged sojourn in the Hijaz and the Arabic-speaking world, and began to preach against various practices associated with the Suwarian tradition. Roughly at the same time, a small cadre of young hajjis from Guinea and the Gambia, notably al-Hajj Kabine Kaba and al-Hajj Muhammad Fode, returned from several years of study at al-Azhar in Cairo, where they had chosen to remain as students on their return from the Hijaz. During their stay, they were exposed to the reformist ideas of Muhammad c Abduh and his disciples. On their return, most members of this group ultimately chose to settle in Bamako, a more central and cosmopolitan location than their home communities. These individuals in Bouake and Bamako were disparagingly labeled "Wahhabis" by the French colonial authorities, who took a dim view of their activities.
In both towns, they directly challenged the authority of established scholars. First of all, they criticized the formalism of the Sunni legal schools and attacked the Sufi orders. Although Sufism is a relatively peripheral feature of Islam among the Dyula, most karamogos belong to the Qadiriyya or the Tijaniyya. The hajjis denounced all forms of saint worship as illegitimately positing the existence of intermediaries be-
tween God and the ordinary believer. Like Sufism, saint worship is not a central feature of the Suwarian tradition, but the tombs of certain founders of scholarly lines are considered legitimate objects of veneration. Challenging this notion called into question the legitimacy of such lines of scholarly authority, and by implication the intellectual pedigrees of Dyula scholars. They attacked all forms of magic as illegitimate—for example, the manufacture of written amulets, which constituted a part of the earnings of scholars. Last but not least, they denounced aspects of life-crisis and calendrical rituals, particularly the distribution of prestations, labeled saraka , "charitable donations," by Suwarian scholars and their followers. These, the Wahhabis argued, did not constitute charity at all and so conferred no religious merit.
The Wahhabi critique went considerably further than the challenge of nineteenth-century jihads. Adherents of jihads had appealed directly to the sources of knowledge in the Hijaz and the Middle East, without necessary recourse to the scholarly tradition of al-Hajj Salim Suware. The Wahhabis argued that such a direct appeal was not only possible but necessary, that the Suwarian tradition as a whole was corrupted and characterized by bidca , "innovation." It is not hard to understand why the French colonial authorities were openly hostile to the movement. They had, after long years of suspicion (Triaud 1974, Harrison 1988), come to terms with and accepted the Suwarian tradition. The Suwarian distinction between "religion" and "politics" encouraged Muslim scholars to come to a modus vivendi with the French, and even, as we have seen, to proffer active support. Having reached the conclusion that established Muslim scholars were their allies, the French were alarmed about direct attacks on their legitimacy. Worst of all, the direct appeal to the Middle East as a source of knowledge and authority laid open the gates for the spread of pan-Islamic (and anti-French) nationalism, which, given the climate of emerging African nationalism at the time, was the last thing the French wanted to see. Indeed, some scholars have stressed the link between the Wahhabis and the Rassemblement démocratique africain (RDA), the major
nationalist party in West Africa. However, although most Wahhabis were sympathizers, if not militants, of the RDA, the two movements chose to distance themselves from each other. In Bamako, some of the wealthiest and most prominent Wahhabis chose to support the French (Amselle 1977); on the other hand, RDA support for the Wahhabis would have alienated Muslims loyal to the Suwarian tradition, many of whom also militated for the RDA. Despite French fears, the Wahhabiyya in West Africa was never a proto- or even a pronationalist movement in religious garb. The Wahhabi leadership, taking no official stance against the French, concentrated their attacks on local scholarly traditions.
This Wahhabi attack split Muslim communities throughout Côte d'Ivoire and Mali. There were anti-Wahhabi riots in Bamako in 1957, and scuffles in Sikasso, just across the border from Korhogo. In communities with a large Wahhabi presence, including Bouake in Côte d'Ivoire, control over the main mosque was a major issue, and the secession of the Wahhabis a frequent outcome. In general, the Wahhabis symbolically expressed their separation from the masses, who continued to follow the lead of Suwarian scholars. The Wahhabis made a point of praying with their arms crossed instead of outstretched in the Maliki fashion. They also embarked on a program of educational reform, establishing religious schools of their own. Such schools were partly modeled on Western forms of secular education, with separate classrooms and an emphasis on language instruction as opposed to rote memorization. These schools were intended as an alternative not only to traditional Qur'anic instruction but also to the rapidly expanding state-run secular school system, which Wahhabis—and also many anti-Wahhabi Muslims—accused of undermining Islamic values.
Korhogo avoided the violent clashes between Wahhabis and their opponents that plagued other West African communities. Nonetheless, the town was by no means isolated from the split between Wahhabis and Suwarian loyalists. The Wahhabis succeeded in making a few converts among the Dyula of Koko, notably among those living in Bouake, but also several who remained in Korhogo. In 1972–73, I repeat-
edly heard impassioned anti-Wahhabi arguments. Supporters of the Suwarian tradition of scholarship were on the defensive, eager to castigate their opponents as dangerous and ignorant innovators. Naturally, local scholars were all militantly anti-Wahhabi, as their own credentials were at stake. However, anti-Wahhabi sentiments were by no means limited to scholars; in this matter, they had the firm backing of the vast majority of Koko's Dyula community.
At stake was the relationship of Islam—of being Muslim—to community identity. The Suwarian tradition had not only tolerated but legitimated distinctions of status within the Dyula Muslim community. In the past, tun tigi and mory had been allowed two different standards of religious behavior. Although this was no longer true, communal "Muslim" rituals gave expression, not only to ethnicity, to membership in neighborhood or village communities, but also to clan ward membership, elder or junior status, and even to slave or free origins. The Wahhabis, on the other hand, denied the religious salience of such distinctions. For them, there were only "pure" Muslims—themselves—and ignorant Muslims. For this very reason, others perceived their behavior as a form of exclusiveness. Implicitly or explicitly, the Wahhabis constituted a new kind of community, distinct from traditional bases. The Dyula stereotype of typical Wahhabis was of wealthy merchants, often relatively recent converts to Islam: Senufo for example, but also groups of traditional "caste" status like the Kooroko (Amselle 1977) or even slaves. It seems that the Wahhabis were particularly successful in recruiting converts from among those groups and individuals who during the initial years of the pax colonia had moved into such new towns as Bouake or Bamako, converted to Islam, and wrested trade monopolies from groups such as the Dyula. They represented, in effect, the nouveaux riches among Manding-speaking Muslim traders, but the danger remained that they might also woo away the loyalties of successful merchants from communities such as Koko, who might be tempted to throw in their lot with wealthy colleagues of heterogeneous origins rather than to acknowledge their obligations to less prosperous kin and neighbors.
Within the Suwarian tradition, intellectual pedigrees and hereditary statuses, while they were kept distinct, were closely related nonetheless. Access to knowledge was mediated by one's place in a locally anchored line of scholarly transmission; one's identity as a Muslim was mediated by one's hereditary membership of a local Muslim community. The Wahhabis denied the legitimacy of both of these criteria. Knowledge and moral authority came directly from al-Azhar and the Hijaz; indeed, some Wahhabis have recently begun veiling their women, a practice unknown until now in the Korhogo region. True Muslims are to be known, not from their birth, but rather from their behavior, which sets them apart from the mass of ignorant believers.
In 1972–73, although the Wahhabis made few converts in Koko, they attracted a number of sympathizers and seemed to be gaining ground in the community. When I returned some twelve years later, I found to my surprise that the issue had ceased to become controversial. To be sure, individuals were willing, in response to my questions, to list the multifarious errors into which the Wahhabis had fallen, but no one bothered to raise the subject on his own. The Wahhabi presence in the town as a whole was actually more conspicuous than before, if only because one could not help noticing the presence of women (even in small numbers) wearing the veil. However, among the Dyula of Koko, Wahhabi influence was on the decline. The example of one prominent Wahhabi, a prosperous trader living in Bouake, may demonstrate why. By 1984, he had acceded to the headship of a section of a large clan ward, and was now a prominent elder. As such, he was responsible for organizing life-crisis rituals such as weddings and funerals, involving himself in the distribution of saraka prestations and inviting scholars to preach sermons—the very kinds of activities the Wahhabis vocally condemned. Though a Wahhabi, he was respected and well liked in Koko; the price he had to pay was public behavior that flagrantly contradicted his Wahhabi ideas. Ultimately, the exclusiveness and dogmatic rigidity of the Wahhabis precluded their winning many converts in Koko. One could not simultaneously
behave like a Wahhabi and like a prominent elder. One could privately hold Wahhabi beliefs and publicly behave like everyone else, exposing oneself to mild ridicule. Hard-line Wahhabis, uncompromising in their behavior, were not tolerated in Koko. Such a stance would cut one off from one's kin, and no one I knew from Koko was prepared to go to such lengths. On the other hand, the kind of compromises necessary to remain simultaneously a Wahhabi and an active member of the Koko Dyula community tended in the long run to discourage further conversions.
The Third Challenge: The New Literacy
Paradoxically, whereas the Wahhabis themselves continued to be rejected by the Koko Dyula community, many of the ideas central to their conception of Islamic reform have become increasingly attractive. More than anything else, the spread of Western-style secular education has been indirectly responsible. Western education came very late to Koko. Northern Côte d'Ivoire, far removed from the capital and particularly impervious to missionary influence, had always lagged considerably behind the rest of the country. Only after World War II did any children from Koko attend Western-style schools, and only because they were recruited by force. Such force quickly ceased to be necessary, as it became clear that Western-educated youths had access to relatively lucrative salaried employment, but the north continued for a long time to lag far behind Côte d'Ivoire as a whole. As late as 1963, a survey of the Korhogo region indicated that only 17 percent of school-age children were enrolled in primary school (SEDES 1965, 1: 60). As a result, the first generation of educated males in Koko are only now in their fifties. They are old enough to be considered elders, though not senior elders, but a few are quite wealthy, and others relatively well-to-do, giving them a far greater influence than their age would normally merit. Partly as a result of their example and their influence, the number of educated, among women as well as
men, has increased steadily, though the employment prospects for the educated have proportionally diminished at an even faster rate.
The spread of Western education has altered Dyula perceptions of Arabic literacy. The Suwarian tradition of scholarship stressed rote learning. Texts, beginning with suras from the Qur'an, were memorized. The written word functioned partly as an aid to memory, as a means of assuring that texts were properly learned and as a corrective to faulty recall. Even among karamogos , knowing a text meant in the first place knowing it by heart, as well as understanding the meaning of particular words and passages. I was constantly impressed by the facility with which scholars could reproduce Arabic texts from memory, rather than relying on the books in their libraries. It must not be forgotten that the Suwarian tradition developed at a time when copying was the only means of procuring a text, when paper was a scarce and valuable commodity, and when libraries were highly perishable. Nowadays, when printed books in Arabic are readily available in the marketplace, human memory is not the only means of storing knowledge. Western education furnished another model for acquiring literacy. Of course, Western education also involved considerable amounts of rote learning, but children were from the very beginning introduced to the alphabet, to the meanings of specific words, and to basic principles of grammar. French, moreover, was also a spoken language in Korhogo, and could be used to communicate, not only with French administrators, but with Africans from other parts of Côte d'Ivoire. In the Suwarian tradition, the first use to which reading was put was the recitation of texts; in secular education, reading allowed the literate both to speak French and to understand various kinds of written texts at their disposal.
One of the first actions of the Wahhabis in Bamako had been to establish Arabic schools modeled to some extent on the Western secular school system—not a surprising idea from individuals trained at al-Azhar and fluently literate in Arabic. The idea of a madrasa , a school that taught Arabic literacy like French, did not remain a Wahhabi monopoly. Such
schools constituted an alternative to a purely secular education. The idea spread late to Korhogo, precisely because of Korhogo's lag in the field of Western education, but in 1971 the first such school, the Ecole Franco-Arabe, was founded in town. The purpose of the school was to educate children, both in the standard primary school curriculum—French, mathematics, history, and so on—and in the Arabic language and Islam. Pupils were prepared for the primary school certificate as a means of entry to modern employment, but in a way that would reinforce religious values rather than conflict with them. However, such schools were not officially recognized by the government, and thus could not furnish an official transcript, required for admission to secondary school. Initially, this discouraged most parents from enrolling their children, but as employment prospects for secondary school leavers became more bleak, the benefits of such a combined system of education seemed more attractive. The Ecole Franco-Arabe has not only survived, but has spawned a host of imitators in Korhogo. In 1973, it was common to pass groups of boys sitting outside, reciting texts from writing boards under the watchful eye of an adolescent with a rod ever ready, poised over their heads, to strike pupils whose memories faltered. By 1984, two scholars from Koko had opened their own madrasas , complete with schoolrooms, blackboards, and French- as well as Arabic-language instructors, and the old system of Qur'anic education was virtually defunct in town.
The hope of such students and their parents is that they may pursue their education in the Arabic-speaking world. Various Arab countries offer scholarships to such students from time to time. The head of the Ecole Franco-Arabe keeps in constant touch with various embassies in the capital, hoping each year to extract promises for a few reserved slots. In 1985, for instance, he was offered three scholarships from Egypt, and graduates from that year's class were urged to travel to the capital in order to take a competitive examination to determine who would go. In past years, I was told, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, various Gulf emirates, and even Syria offered scholarships. (Admittedly, the Syrian case was a fiasco; almost no parents were willing to send their children. This
reluctance may have stemmed from the fact that Lebanese traders, who are either Christians or Shic i Muslims, used to be known as "Syrians." As a result, African parents may have felt that "Syria" was hardly the place to procure a worthy Sunni Muslim education.) The winners of such scholarships might even obtain a university education in the Arab world, either in religion or in some secular subject. One could never be sure in any particular year which countries, if any, might offer scholarships, but as long as some pupils were chosen from time to time, the hope remained.
I do not know what has happened to individuals from Korhogo who left for study in the Middle East, as this is such a recent development. However, other communities in Côte d'Ivoire, most notably Abidjan and Bouake, as well as in other African countries, began sending students rather earlier. Such students, if they do not return with marketable technical skills, are prime candidates to teach in the new madrasas. They have firsthand experience of classroom teaching in Arabic, and they have achieved a considerable degree of fluency in spoken as well as written Arabic. Those who study in Saudi Arabia have a particular advantage, as the Saudi government has apparently been interested in underwriting some of the costs of such madrasas. According to the director of the Ecole Franco-Arabe, two Saudi teachers were originally sent to a school in Bouake, but they suffered from severe culture shock and had to be recalled. Since then, the Saudi government has preferred to pay the salaries of African-born teachers, trained in Saudi Arabia, as a form of assistance. One such teacher, a young man from Sierra Leone, was on the staff of the Ecole Franco-Arabe in 1985.
Aside from classroom teaching, individuals trained in the Arab world may choose to become full-fledged Islamic scholars. One such young man passed through Koko in 1985 and delivered a sermon. Local Dyula, particularly those educated in French, were impressed. It was pointed out to me that he could pronounce Arabic in the way that Arabs do (the mass media have familiarized Dyula with "Arab" Arabic pronunciation), and not with the heavy accent of locally trained
scholars. He read texts fluently out loud (rather than reciting them from memory) and could comment readily on the meaning of different words, glossing them in Dyula with greater ease, in the opinion of his audience, than local scholars could.
Locally trained and foreign-trained scholars thus possess two distinct styles of Arabic literacy. For Suwarian scholars, knowledge is first and foremost memorized knowledge of a relatively standardized corpus of texts; as one of them commented to me quite explicitly, "It's what's in my head, not in my library, that counts." Foreign-trained scholars have a conception of knowledge that more closely resembles Western notions. Knowledge consists in large measure of the ease with which information can be retrieved from written texts, as well as the fluency with which individuals can write and speak, as well as read and understand, Arabic. Literacy, in short, is a skill rather than mastery of a relatively fixed body of texts. For Western-educated Muslims, study in the Middle East is valued for the new style of Arabic literacy to which it gives direct access.
Fluency in Arabic, however, is not the only quality that attracts the Western-educated to this new generation of Arab-trained scholars. Among students in the secular school system, there is a revival of interest in Islam, associated with the emergence of the Muslim students' association of Côte d'Ivoire, (AEEMCI), which is officially recognized, and indeed partly funded, by the national government. The AEEMCI broadcasts a popular weekly program on state-run television, and organizes study sessions for students, as well as an annual national conference. Indeed, the conference was held in Korhogo in 1985, and was heavily attended by local residents, as well as by delegates from around the country. Significantly, the association has links with the Arabic-speaking world and with Africans trained there. For example, the director of the Ecole Franco-Arabe in Korhogo is active in the local chapter, and the guest speakers chosen for its television show are frequently young scholars trained in the Middle East. Like the Wahhabiyya, the association and its
Arab-trained scholars represent a "reformist" style of Islam. It preaches above all an Islamic morality—against drugs, alcohol, delinquency, prostitution, and premarital sex, stressing the importance of prayer, fasting, and the hajj. In itself, such moralizing does not conflict with the Suwarian tradition of scholarship; local scholars preach on much the same issues. The difference lies in what the AEEMCI and the Arab-trained scholars choose to ignore and in subtle ways to devalorize—those rituals, typical of local Islamic traditions, associated with life crises and Muslim calendar holidays.
This devalorization—one television show, for example, warned against overly ostentatious funerals—is consistent with the attitudes of a younger generation of Western-educated Dyula Muslims. Unlike the first generation of school graduates, they are not assured of lucrative employment. Many of them can hope for a reasonably cozy living, but hardly for senior appointments in the foreseeable future. They are neither old enough nor wealthy enough to have much voice in local community affairs, but many of them are (or can aspire to be) prosperous enough to attract demands from their kin, particularly on such occasions as funerals and weddings. Their attitude to such rituals can be summed up by a comment made privately to me by a young military technician during his grandmother's funeral: "Ça pue le fric" ("It stinks of cash"). These young educated Muslims feel attached in important ways to their home communities, but in other respects wish to distance themselves, and feel unconcerned by many local goings-on. The Suwarian tradition, stressing so heavily the importance and obligations (monetary and otherwise) of community membership, is associated in their minds with the heavy demands that the home community makes on them. The kind of Muslim identity advocated by the AEEMCI still permits them to express their solidarity with their home communities—Islam is, after all, a minority religion in Côte d'Ivoire—without making the same kind of demands on their resources.
Like the Wahhabiyya, the AEEMCI and the younger Arab-trained scholars thus constitute an ideological alternative to
the local scholarly tradition. However, unlike the Wahhabis, the AEEMCI rigorously avoids confrontation. On the contrary, individuals active in the AEEMCI make every attempt to maintain cordial relations with locally trained scholars, inviting them, for example, to the graduation ceremonies at the Ecole Franco-Arabe. This policy is dictated in the first instance by the national government, which underwrites some of the association's expenses, and without whose cooperation a weekly television show would be unthinkable. Indeed, the government is quite willing to foster the association's co-operation with conservative Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and in this way counteract the possible appeal of the "radical" ideology of states such as Libya or Iran. However, the association's conciliatory stance toward local scholars is not simply dictated by the state. Unlike the Wahhabiyya, the association neither rejects Maliki "formalism" nor seeks to distinguish itself doctrinally from the Suwarian scholars. The differences are primarily those of style and emphasis. This allows the association to seek the support of local scholars for some of its goals, and gives scholars no legitimate grounds for denouncing its activities. Ordinary Muslims are thus not faced with choosing definitively between local scholars trained in the Suwarian tradition and Arab-trained scholars associated with the AEEMCI.
Individual preferences for one or the other group are not the subject of controversy and consequently do not split the Muslim community. Paradoxically, this peaceful coexistence of two scholarly styles is the greatest threat yet to the survival of the Suwarian tradition. More and more Muslims now own television sets; a novelty in Koko in 1973, they are now a common sight, even in relatively poor households, and villages in the north are beginning to receive electricity, which will permit villagers to own their own sets. The younger Arab-trained scholars' access to television is a considerable boost to their prestige. Their new style of literacy in Arabic is intuitively perceived as superior, not only by Muslims with Western secular education, but also by those educated in the madrasas. The fact that the Arab-trained scholars distance
themselves morally from the practice of ostentatious prestations during life-crisis rituals without denouncing such practices vocally attracts younger Muslims, particularly educated Muslims living away from their home communities, who privately resent the demands on their resources that such practices entail but do not wish to make a public stand against them that might alienate their older kinsmen.
In short, the spread of new forms of education, both in French and in Arabic, have led to a certain disenchantment with the Suwarian tradition and its scholars. An isnad tracing one's intellectual pedigree directly back to al-Hajj Salim Suware is no longer a sine qua non for being acknowledged a Muslim scholar; training in the Middle East now constitutes a universally accepted alternative. This is not to say that the Suwarian tradition is defunct. Karamogos are still being trained in the Suwarian tradition, though these are usually older men, villagers, or scions of locally established scholarly families. However, as more and more generations of educated Dyula Muslims accede to edlerhood, it seems likely that the Suwarian tradition, once the only legitimate scholarly tradition in the region, will become more marginal.
The Hijaz, and, more generally, the Arabic-speaking world have always constituted a source of origins for the Dyula, origins conceived both in terms of heredity (when different clans trace their origins to the Hijaz during the Prophet's life-time) and in terms of the transmission of knowledge and moral authority (as expressed in isnads ). Until the twentieth century, these origins were largely situated far away in space and time. Appeal to these origins was mediated by the presence of local scholarly lines of transmission of knowledge. This principle of mediation, and the legitimacy it conferred on local scholars, was always subject to possible challenge, to the notion that it was possible to acquire knowledge directly from its geographical source and thus to short-circuit the Suwarian pedigrees. Such challenges have occurred in three
sets of circumstances: in the mid nineteenth century, with the rise of militant jihad movements; after World War II, with the emergence of the Wahhabi movement; and in the past decade, in the form of an Islamic revival among educated Muslim youth. These instances were not accidental. Individuals did not simply happen to study in the Middle East and then attempt to bring back new ideas to their home communities. The trip itself was until relatively recently a formidable one, and even now is by no means easy. Study in the Middle East represented a quest for an alternative and superior source of knowledge, and consequently an implicit, if not explicit, calling into question of the local scholarly tradition.
These challenges all revolve around the issue of legitimacy, of the respective moral authority of a direct as opposed to a mediated appeal to the original sources of knowledge. The question of whether direct study in the Middle East does or does not supersede the authority of local lines of transmission is ultimately decided in the home community, by individuals who for the most part are not themselves scholars. The fact that such issues have repeatedly split local communities, often violently, suggests that a great deal more is at stake than the reputations of individual scholars trained in one tradition or another. For this very reason, such challenges are not made lightly, and the circumstances in which they occur are highly significant. In each case, the underlying issue was the nature of the Muslim community itself. The jihads called into question the status of Muslim communities as minorities living in the midst of unbelievers. The Suwarian tradition held that different hereditary categories of persons might legitimately observe different religious practices. While it might be meritorious for anyone to emulate "sharica -minded" standards of behavior, only certain hereditary categories of individuals were under an obligation to do so. Unbelievers, provided they were not apostates and did not interfere with the religious practices of Muslims, were not necessarily to be fought, much less converted. In this way, Suwarian scholars legitimated patterns of relations between Muslim minorities and their "pagan" neighbors; proponents
of jihad, on the other hand, dictated that such relationships be jeopardized. Such movements advocated the creation of a new political and economic as well as religious order. In communities such as Koko, where most individuals stood to benefit from the status quo, such ideas were not received with a great deal of enthusiasm.
By the end of World War II, the nature of the Muslim community in Korhogo had changed substantially. For reasons largely outside the control of the Koko Dyula community, "Muslims" had ceased to be a hereditary category. Korhogo was full of new converts, both from within and outside the region. However, the Koko Dyula community continued to exist as such, and membership in it or in its constituent parts was continually expressed through rituals presided over by local scholars, who thereby implicitly asserted its legitimate existence in Muslim terms. Wahhabi leaders, invoking both their experience of the hajj and their training at al-Azhar, denied the legitimacy, not only of the Suwarian tradition, but more crucially of traditionally constituted communities within the larger community of Islam. They denied the salience of ethnic, local, slave, or caste origins in favor of the distinction between a truly Islamic community and the mass of believers who remained in ignorance and mingled, in their eyes, Islamic and extra-Islamic practices. Dyula were effectively asked to choose between loyalty to their home community or to the new community of Wahhabi believers. Confronted with such a radical choice, the vast majority were unwilling to renounce their membership in their local communities, and Wahhabi influence was limited.
The growth of Western secular education was again to alter the nature of the community and to provide the basis for yet another challenge to the authority of traditional religious leadership. A new social category is in the process of emerging, consisting of young educated men (and increasingly women), often living outside their home communities, who are relatively well-to-do but hardly wealthy. These individuals are subjected to demands from their kin, often in the
context of life-crisis rituals that express both community membership and the status of individuals within it. These demands are often resented, but such persons are not financially or socially well enough off to wish to sever themselves from their relations. Their situation differs from that of the Wahhabis in one crucial respect. Wahhabis are mainly merchants, involved in a sector largely dominated by Muslims, and so they can reasonably aspire to the constitution of a new, largely mercantile, Muslim community. The Western-educated, on the other hand, find themselves in a category dominated by non-Muslims from other parts of Côte d'Ivoire, and so cannot express their social identity, their class position if one prefers, in religious terms. They can, however, look to younger Arab-trained scholars, individuals of their own age-category, for religious leadership.
These scholars and their followers are careful not to contest the authority of older local scholars or of the community rituals over which they preside, but they emphasize those aspects of Islam that stress the universal nature of the community of believers as opposed to those that implicitly validate traditional social categories. In this way, recourse to the Middle East as a direct source of knowledge and moral authority does not constitute a radical challenge to the Suwarian tradition of mediated knowledge, but rather poses itself as an alternative. However, for these very reasons, Suwarian scholars are left with no grounds for objection; nor can members of their home communities accuse their younger educated kinsmen of wishing unequivocally to renege on their obligations.
Underlying these three sets of challenges to the Suwarian tradition of scholarship is a single issue: does Islam recognize, and by implication legitimate, hereditary social distinctions of any kind? The Suwarian tradition has always acknowledged the salience of hereditary categories, initially in the form of differences in religious practice, more recently in the modified recognition that it accords to community rituals. Within this tradition, isnads , while they are never assimilated
to genealogies, perform an analogous function: scholars are attached to a local line of transmission of knowledge in the same way that ordinary believers are attached to local ethnic, political, and kin units. The appeal to direct, unmediated contact with the Hijaz or, more generally, with the Arabic-speaking world provides a model for a different kind of Muslim community that in principle ignores all hereditary distinctions and focuses exclusively on religious practice as the criterion for inclusion in the Muslim community. Study in the Middle East frees the aspirant scholar from dependence on the local religious elite in the same way that newly constituted Muslim communities liberate their adherents from dependence on hereditary chiefs and clan elders. As long as the Dyula in the Korhogo region constituted the sole Muslim community, enjoying various economic, political, and social monopolies, the Suwarian stress on the principle of heredity was attractive to the vast majority. With the erosion of these monopolies, as avenues to social, economic, and political success lay increasingly outside the community's control, this stress on hereditary principles appealed less and less to those individuals who were relatively successful, but whose age or social origins relegated them to a subordinate position in traditional terms. Those who found new sources of wealth, power, or prestige were also attracted to sources of knowledge and moral authority that, in a sense, were also new (in that they lay outside the local community). Yet, as they were geographically located at the wellsprings of religious knowledge, these new sources of authority simultaneously enjoyed the aura of venerability, of a return to tradition rather than a departure from it.
In short, the spread of influence from the Middle East to West African Muslims like the Dyula has not simply been a question of diffusion, of a radiating outward from a "center," but rather has been part of a quest by groups and individuals for a set of religious principles that might call into question the salience of locally anchored hereditary social distinctions and ultimately reevaluate the relationship between the local Muslim community and the global community of Muslims.
Such quests have led individuals to seek knowledge outside their home communities, specifically in the Arabic-speaking world; equally important, others in their communities have, for the same reasons, looked to these foreign-trained scholars for leadership.