As President Obama argued in his recent West Point foreign-policy speech, extremist groups such as Boko Haram and al Shabab constitute a significant threat to both regional and international security. However, while groups like Boko Haram and al Shabab desire to impose brutal, fundamentalist regimes within an Islamic framework, it is necessary to realize that the vast majority of African Muslims do not support these policies.
While many African Muslims profess a desire to see elements of Sharia law enshrined in their countries’ institutions, it most often only applies to the personal lives of Muslims, such as the enforcement and arbitration of dietary restrictions and marriage contracts. In order to understand the true face of African Islam, one must move past a monolithic, orientalist view and see the religion and its adherents as they really exist. Only then can U.S. policymakers and citizens make informed, effective decisions to combat extremism and forge enduring partnerships with the African Muslim community.
These four maps, ‘Percentage of Muslims Per Country,’ ‘Number of Muslims Per Country,’ ‘Presence of Sharia Law,’ and ‘Traditions of Islamic Jurisprudence’ give a compelling account of where African Muslims live and how they understand the world.
On July 16th, the American Security Project (ASP) and Clements Worldwide will discuss the non-monolithic nature of Islam and other aspects of ongoing conflicts in the upcoming event, ‘Iraq in Crisis: Recent Developments and Risk Management Strategy: An expert panel hosted by the American Security Project and Clements Worldwide.’