The Struggle of Traditional Religious Education in West Africa: The Case of Mahdara in Mauritania

Benaouda Bensaid, Tarek Ladjal


Mahdara educational institution continues to play significant role in the shaping of Mauritania’s religious and cultural identity. As nomadic entity, it could maintain key position over the course of hundreds of time, and develop a unique African Muslim model of education, culture and mass religious thinking. However, following independence from the French colonial, the rise of Mauritania as nation state, alongside other serious problems associated with climate, modernity, and globalization, the fate of deterioration was inevitable. Today, the intense debate of Mahdara reform continues to sharpen between those proponents of the traditional religious education, modernists, and seekers of middle ground. This paper explores the struggle of Mahdara with those problems to better understand the factors causing its slow decline. This study concludes that Mahdara may even be vulnerable to extinction in the near future should there not be rescuing approach of reform which would blend modernity with tradition system.  


Mahdara. Mauritania education. Islamic education. Religious reform.

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