The history and influence of Islam in Chipata District Of Eastern Province of Zambia, 1899 -1991

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Phiri, Margaret
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University of Zambia
The study was set to explore the establishment of Islam in Chipata district. Chipata in particular, being the provincial headquarters attracted more Indian families than any other town in the region and played a key role in founding and shaping various Muslim communities. It is noted in the study that Islam was introduced to Chipata by Muslim traders from India and by Yao Muslims from Malawi. The study also showed that Muslims found in Chipata are Sunnis. The study argues that Islam failed to spread during the colonial period because of the failure of the Indian Muslim traders to propagate their faith. It is also noted that during this period Islam had no missionaries and no itinerant preachers. In addition the hostile policies of the colonial government which restricted the activities of the Indian Muslim traders also contributed to the slow process of Islamization in Chipata district. The study highlighted the categories of people converting to Islam in Chipata. These include the orphans the poor, the widows and widowers, the youth and subsistence farmers. The study also examined reasons that led the people of Chipata to embrace Islam. These include employment the Islamic practice of alms giving (Zakat), Islamic tolerance of polygamy, extended family system, Islamic festivals such as breaking the fast and promotion of good health, as well as personal conviction. The study further established the extent of Islam in Chipata. Islam in Chipata has reached Chief Chanje, Misholo, Kapatamoyo, Chinunda, Mafuta, Mkanda, Mwanya and Chief Mshawa. Finally, the study assessed the influence of Islam on the indigenous people of Chipata. The manifestation of Islamic activity in Chipata is the building of Mosques in various Chiefdoms and ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������-Rashid and giving Islamic names to converted Muslims such as Abdullah, Fatima, Ali, Aisha and Daud. In Chipata, it is common to see indigenous Zambians wearing the Jarabiya (cassock) and the Fez (head cap) women veiled in Islamic dresses (hijab) to cover their head. On Fridays, local Muslim men go for prayers at Jami mosque and the poor walk back home with parcels containing food and clothing. Key words: Influence, Conversion, Manifestation, Islamisation and Propagate.
Islam--Chpata, Zambia , Muslim traders--Chipata, Zambia