Tijani Literature Project

Professors Ruediger Seesemann and Zachary Wright in Bayreuth, Germany in 2016

The Tijani Literature Project

The aim of the Tijani Literature Project is to create a published reference work of the scholars and textual production associated with the Tijaniyya Sufi order. The spread of the Tijaniyya, especially in West Africa, has occasioned a veritable explosion in writing, mostly in Arabic but also in French and Arabicized local languages (Ajami). While the lens of one specific Sufi order is perhaps an artificial delimitation that does not comprehend the hybrid identities of various scholars, it is also a useful window into Islamic scholarly production, particularly in Africa where the Tijaniyya is most certainly one of the most popular Sufi affiliations. Following the lead of other seminal reference works in the field, such as those associated with Brill’s Arabic Literature of Africa series, this publication would include short biographies of scholars, together with lists of writings and their associated publication or manuscript location details. Pending funding, we would also consider an online open-access venue for the publication.

Prior work on this project was led by Ruediger Seesemann (University of Bayreuth, Germany) with a grant from the Ford Foundation for “Constituting Bodies of Islamic Knowledge” and coordinated through Northwestern University’s Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa. This earlier work relied on a team of research scholars tasked with substantive field research in various locations throughout North and West Africa. Research associates included Ousmane Kane, Said Bousbina, Andrea Brigaglia, and Zachary Wright, among others. Professor Seesemann convened a conference in Fez, Morocco, in 2009 to share research materials.

The research team recognizes that increased digitization and social media have created new opportunities for the sharing and reception of textual resources and scholarly backgrounds. We hope that this website, along with other online platforms, can facilitate a more collaborative and comprehensive literature project than earlier conceived.