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Dr. Chembea Suleiman Athuman


Mediatised Spirituality: Qaṣīdah and Nashīd for Alternative Narratives and Religious Economy in the East African Coast

Dr. Chembea Suleiman Athuman


The presentation examines the dynamics in the production, mediatisation, commodification and dissemination of Islamic knowledge along the East African coast within the microcosm of Kenya. Traditional norms confined the production of religious knowledge to strict spiritual spaces like mosques, madrassas (formal Qur’an schools), duksi (informal Qur’an schools) and darsas (sw. yyuo, study circles) often by maleulama (clerics). The place of media and artistic cultural performances like qaṣīdah (sw. kasida, poems) and nashīd (pl. anāshīd, hymns) in the religious knowledge processes have received little attention. Whereas qaṣīdah were produced and used for meditation and worship in Sufi rituals and mawlid (sw. maulidi, commemoration for the birth of Prophet Muhammad), the advancement of media technology in the 21stcentury enabled mediatisation of qaṣīdah and anāshīd in ways hitherto known to be possible. I explore (a) how mediatisation of qaṣīdah and anāshīd departs from traditional norms in the production and dissemination of Islamic knowledge on the coast of Kenya, (b) how mediatisedqaṣīdah and anāshīd themes contribute to the production and dissemination of religious knowledge, and (c) the extent at which mediatisation of qaṣīdah and anāshīd facilitated alternative narratives to counter extremist ideologies as well as generate income in the post 9/11 Muslim community in Kenya. My objective is to enhance our understanding of the role of artistic performances for religious knowledge production and dissemination and religious economic processes, but also countering extremist ideologies in the Muslim world and the coast of Kenya in particular.

Date: 11th of January 2024, 12:00-14:00

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