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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:This filthy plant: the inspiration of a central Sudanic scholar in the debate on tobacco
Author:Dalen, Dorrit vanISNI
Periodical:Islamic Africa (ISSN 2154-0993)
Geographic terms:Nigeria
Northern Nigeria
historical sources
External link:http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.5192/215409930302227
Abstract:In the seventeenth century, tobacco was fiercely debated from England to Istanbul. Muslim scholars from Bornu and Baghirmi (in present-day Nigeria and Chad) participated in this debate and maintained that smoking was forbidden by divine law, long after their counterparts in the heartlands of Islam allowed it. The question addressed here is why and how the adamant rejection of tobacco in central Sudanic Africa was formulated. The study is based on a number of Arabic manuscripts from the region and focuses on a treatise, written around 1700, by Muhammad al-Wali b. Sulayman. It is argued that he was as much inspired by the popular opinion about tobacco in his home-environment as by the writings of scholars from the Middle East. In folktales, tobacco was literally demonized, and the rejection of 'pagan' smokers helped to mark new social boundaries. The dominant position regarding smoking was the result of an exchange between Islamic learning and popular culture in the region. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]