Arabic Literature of Africa Online

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This chapter is written by Michele Petrone

Islam1 was brought to the East African coast by merchants who arrived in several successive waves and eventually both settled in pre-existing cities (Zaylaʿ, Berbera) and founded new ones (Merca and Kismayo).2 Muslims coming from Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula were not only merchants but also preachers and Sufis, who spread Islam using written and oral texts.

Sufism played a central role in reviving Islam in 18th- and 19th-century Somalia, mainly through local branches of the Qādiriyya (with the outstanding person…

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“Introduction”, in: Arabic Literature of Africa Online, General Editor John O. Hunwick, R.S. O’Fahey. Consulted online on 08 December 2023 <>
First published online: 2016

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