Secrets on the Muhammadan Way: Transmission of the Esoteric Sciences in 18th Century Scholarly Networks

Zachary Wright*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


The eighteenth century witnessed a flurry of Islamic scholarly exchange, connecting North and West Africa to the Middle East and even India.The Islamic sciences transmitted through these networks have had lasting resonance in Africa, particularly in chains transmitting ?adith and Sufi affiliations. Academics have been justly skeptical as to the actual content of these often short meetings between scholars, suggesting such meetings tell us little about shared scholarly understandings. Study of unpublished manuscripts detailing the acquisition of "secrets" (asrar), apparently widespread in these eighteenth-century networks, can add new understanding to the affinities between scholarly legacies emerging in the period. This paper considers such questions in relationship to A?mad al-Tijani (d. 1815, Fez), the founder of the Tijaniyya Sufi order prominent in West Africa today.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-105
Number of pages29
JournalIslamic Africa
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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