chapter
Introduction—Learning from Larabanga: Basic Lessons About Islam in West Africa
Pages 7

Attempting to put one’s nger on the denition of Islam as it exists collectively in the contemporary global realm is largely an exercise in futility. Even the process of narrowing one’s area of focus to a smaller and presumably more manageable unit of geography fails to disclose a clear view of this uid entity. This is because close analyses of regional and even communal investigations of Islam invariably reveal a mosaic of personalities, identities, and realities that frustrate attempts to nail down a denition of Islam that is both manageable and broadly comprehensible. As Islam comes into focus, it becomes not only a religion, but a culture, a lifestyle, an identity, and even a political strategy. Thus, new methods of understanding and assessment are required in order to understand the unique space that Islam occupies in contemporary communities all over the world.