This essay discusses some of the recent trends in the scholarship on Islam and Africa that contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the historical relationship between African Muslims and the global ecumene of believers. Rather than looking at the faith as an insular African phenomenon, this piece examines the links between Africans and the wider community of believers across space and time. Such an approach has important ramifications for our understanding of the dynamics of Islam. However, it also challenges many of the assumptions underpinning the geographic area studies paradigm that has dominated the academy since the Second World War. This essay suggests the adoption of a more fluid approach to scholarly inquiry that reimagines our largely continental attachment to regions in favor of a more intellectually agile methodology where the scope of inquiry is determined less by geographic boundaries and more by the questions we seek to answer.
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