This project is, in a sense, an offshoot and a follow-up to the Engaging Africa report commissioned by JTF and the Issachar Fund, co-convened in 2013 by Lamin Sanneh of Yale University, Michael Murray of JTF, and Joel Carpenter of Calvin College. It builds upon The African Christian and Islam, work initiated by Azumah and co-edited with Sanneh in 2013. It is a feasibility study encompassing the intersections between Islam, Christianity and traditional religions in West Africa.
The study will include literature review, investigation into existing academic programs in Islamic studies, and assessment of curricula in key Christian institutions and Islamic madrassas. Our premise is that theological and intellectual discourses of Christianity, and even more Islam, barely engage the religious experience of adherents. While experientially, religious boundaries tend to be elastic among Muslim and Christian Africans, these are fixed in scholarly discourses which strive to adhere to and enforce historical orthodoxies and orthopraxis. We intend to cultivate intellectual, theological and spiritual curiosity in Christian-Muslim studies for the purpose of discovering new insights, and to enable healthy competition and progress.
Project advisers will be convened, along with multi-faith and multidisciplinary leaders from the region and prospective funding partners, to assess findings and to identify the best set of topical foci for further research, and to design a sustainable plan for an intended Centre to carry on the work.
The main output of this project is then a feasibility report that will include a set of topical foci for potential investment opportunities for JTF and other partners; a plan for the intended Centre and programs; and a list of local, regional, and international partners. The report will also contain a strategy for replicating the feasibility study in selected countries in Central, Eastern and Southern Africa.