Sudan is the largest country in Africa, highly dif­ ferentiated internally both geographically and ecologically. It possesses a considerable diversity of ethnic and cultural expression. The country is known historically as Nubia, which may be identified as stretching from Aswan in the north to Sennar in the south, the latter being considered as the frontier of the 'Alwa Kingdom. It had a high degree of civilization prior to the advent of Christianity and had a quite individual expression of religious beliefs. By the time the process of Islamization was in full sway a regional resistance involving popular beliefs had to be overcome. The country as we know it was never part of an Islamic empire,, !twas not ruled by an islamic Caliphate. So we do not expect its cultural manifestations to be modelled after Egypt, Iraq or Iran. The process of Islamization in the Sudan was carried out to some extent by a number of Muslims who emigrated to the Sudan from the earliest Islamic period. But the major role was carried out by indigenous individuals and/or groups previously converted to Islam ,through the mediation, probably of the afore-mentioned emigrants.

Relative to the last point, Islam spread in the Sudan as both an ideology and an effective socio-economic system of life. The agents .. of the transmutation of the society are easily adduced historically, viz., individual preachers, the first Sudanese Muslims acting through trade and travel, and the Sufi orders. What emerged from this confluence of energies is the unique character of Sudanese Islam, which never seems to have

lost the sense of its pre-Christian and pre-Islamic roots. This, in turn, will be of interest as we study the architectural manifestations of the new dispension, most particularly the funerary bu ildings of the earliest religious leaders. All of the selected fifteen tomb structures are unpublished and beyond the present scope of governmental supervision. The historical and epigraphical sources are meagre, but with this study, if successful, the local authorities might be prompted to restore and maintain these vital expressions of Islam in the Sudan and the Sudanese element in Islam, as precious a domain as any shored up from the flux of pre-Islamic history in the area between Aswan and Sennar.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

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1 v. :

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1


Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Islamic architecture


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Call Number

Thesis 1986/682