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African Traditional Religion and Law-Intersections between the Islamic and non-Islamic Worlds and the Impact on Development in the 2030 Agenda era

Elizabeth Bakibinga-Gaswaga EMAIL logo

Abstract

Religion, law and development intersect in a number of ways. Almost one-third of the world’s Muslim population resides in Africa. With a focus on Africa and taking into account Africa’s triple heritage as envisioned by A. Mazrui, a product resulting from three major influences: an indigenous heritage borne out of time and climate change; the heritage of Eurocentric capitalism forced on Africans by European colonialism; and the spread of Islam by both jihad and evangelism, this paper seeks to review the impact that African Traditional Religion (ATR) as a component of the indigenous heritage, have on the development and enforcement of law in Africa. This paper seeks to address the impact of religion on state formation, examining how colonialism, the Fulani jihads and migration have impacted on the body of law in Africa by introducing Islamic and Judeo-Christian tenets and constructs in the administration of secular states and theocracies. ATR presents itself as a lived reality, regulating the way of life, business transactions, etc. inter alia. There is close proximity between law and religion in Africa and also in the Islamic world. The practice of Islam in Africa is not static and is constantly being reshaped by prevalent social, economic, and political conditions. Generally, Islam in Africa often adapted to African cultural contexts and belief systems forming Africa’s own orthodoxies. The paper also examines how concepts of ATR have found place in the body of law through the inclusion of customary norms and usages in the law applicable, mainly through constitutional endorsement. It addresses the relevance of religion, culture to the development of the law (the intersection between religion and the law) and how the resultant body of law impacts on implementation of the law for development. The paper examines the role of the resultant body of law as a bridge and at times as a distraction to transactions between the Islamic and non-Islamic worlds for development. The paper concludes with recommendations on how the intersection of religion, law and development can better be utilised to foster sustainable development, most especially the Sustainable Development Goals premised in Agenda 2030, among others.

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Published Online: 2020-04-23
Published in Print: 2021-01-27

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