Brandon KendhammerApr 4, 2017
Muslims Talking Politics
Framing Islam, Democracy, and Law in Northern Nigeria
University of Chicago Press 2016
Brandon Kendhammer takes a fresh approach to the juxtaposition of Islam and democracy in his latest book, Muslims Talking Politics: Framing Islam, Democracy and Law in Northern Nigeria (University of Chicago Press, 2016). Rather than employing a top-down approach to understanding Islam's compatibility with democracy, Kendhammer chose to speak with blue-collar, working-class Muslims in cities across Northern Nigeria. Through this approach, Kendhammer exposes the pragmatic views of ordinary citizens more concerned with economic stability than jihadist rhetoric. As the political situation gets more violent and the idea of democracy more remote in Nigeria, Kenhammer offers a viewpoint of deep understanding for the complex situation. Based upon hundreds of conversations with ordinary citizens, he sketches a picture of how Islam and democracy can, and often is, reconciled in the neighborhoods and marketplaces of urban Nigeria's centers, where Christians and Muslims live side-by-side. It is in the daily political and social negotiations that the way forward can be seen. However, with the increasingly violent acts of Boko Haram, it seems that the ordinary voices are being lost to unwavering religious rhetoric. While this books only tackles Northern Nigeria, the themes and lessons can be extended into the larger Muslim world grappling with the possibility of fitting Islamic values into a democratic state.