The penetration of Islam among the Babukusu:1904 - 1998
Kassilly, Janet Nasambu
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This study examines the penetration of Islam among the Babukusu from 1904-1998. The persistence of Islam among a predominantly rural people coupled with stiff competition from Christianity and resistance by the indigenous religion provoked this research. The study aimed at investigating the agents and factors that facilitated and those that hindered the penetration of Islam among the Babukusu; the socio-cultural impact of Islam on the Babukusu; and the factors behind the persistence of Islam among the Babukusu. The study is based on the premises that: First, Muslim traders and Babukusu concept of Supreme Being (Wele) influenced the penetration of Islam among the Babukusu; second, Christianity and Westernization are some of the factors that hindered the penetration of Islam among the Babukusu; third, Islamic manner of dressing, greetings and language are some of the socio-cultural impact of Islam on the Babukusu; and finally, the interrelationship between faith and practice, and Da'wah are the main factors behind the persistence of Islam among the Babukusu. These four premises have been positively confirmed from our research findings. The enquiry is guided by the theoretical framework of Islamization which has incorporated aspects of "Change and Continuity" concept. The theory states that Islamization depends entirely on the contact-situation between the Muslim and the non-Muslim. Similarly whenever new influences impinge on any society, some of the pre-existing body of customs and beliefs are discardedr modified or retained. Since our study deals with the interaction of two cultures, this theory provided a model of thought to address the objectives of the study. Basically I the central contention of this thesis is that Islam has persisted among the Babukusu up-to-date despite competition from Christianity and resistance by the Babukusu indigenous religion. It is observed in this thesis that when Islam reached Babukusuland around 1904, its adoption depended on the similarity between some of its beliefs and practices and those of the indigenous religion. However, certain aspects of Islam were resisted by the people. Inheritance rules are an immediate example. After Islamr Christianity coupled with Western education was introduced by missionaries and later by British colonial administrators. Western education as a means of economic prosperity attracted many Babukusu to Christianity than Islam. Consequently, only few people adopted Islam. Despite the interplay of the above factors in the arear Islam has persisted among Babukusu up-to-date. This therefore reveals that the contact - situation between Islam and Babukusu indigenous religion was one of penetration and not conquest.