Recent political and social movements in North Africa have raised global awareness of the dynamic potential of Islam, a faith observed by over a billion people around the world. They also demonstrate its historical diversity and the capacity of Muslim communities to effect change from within, denied by those who perceive Islam as an undifferentiated 'civilization' and a conservative force productive of radical extremism. Since 9/11 many Muslims have spoken out against violence in the name of Islam. Scholars have written and lectured about the practice of Islam and the history of Muslim communities to promote greater understanding and dispel fear of Islam.
This project advances an "Abrahamic" perspective which understands Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic) as the common "ancestor" of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and which stresses the shared traditions of the three faiths. We have chosen to focus on sub-Saharan Africa where the practice of Islam has a long history that is still relatively less known by the general public and even in scholarly circles. More specifically, we concentrate on Senegal, a country of some 12 million people who are mostly Muslim, and Ghana, a country of some 20 million people where Muslims constitute a minority, as locations to explore these shared values and showcase the ability of diverse Muslim communities to cooperate with one another and with followers of other "Abrahamic" faiths and indigenous traditions.
Four digital galleries emphasize pluralism - the coexistence and indeed the mutual respect among people of different religious persuasions - and adaptation - situations where Islam takes root in a particular society and culture that changes over time. These Senegalese and Ghanaian cases demonstrate how innovative Africans, have been in the history of Islam and Islamic practice, and how they continue to live and experience Islam.
These galleries in many ways represent a continuation of another project, Diversity and Tolerance in the Islam of West Africa, focused on the same countries.