Unity Through Diversity: A Case Study of Chrislam in Lagos

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Janson, Marloes (2016)
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Subject: 200 | 8580

This article presents an ethnographic case study of Chrislam, a series of religious movements that fuse Christian and Muslim beliefs and practices, in its socio-cultural and political-economic setting in Nigeria’s former capital Lagos. Against conventional approaches to study religious movements in Africa as syncretic forms of ‘African Christianity’ or ‘African Islam’, I suggest that ‘syncretism’ is a misleading appellation for Chrislam. In fact, Chrislam provides a rationale for scrutinizing the very concept of syncretism and offers an alternative analytical case for understanding its mode of religious pluralism. To account for the religious plurality in Chrislam, I employ assemblage theory as it proposes novel ways for looking at Chrislam’s religious mixing that are in line with how its worshippers perceive their religiosity. The underlying idea in Chrislam’s assemblage of Christianity and Islam is that to be a Christian or Muslim alone is not enough to guarantee success in this world and the hereafter and therefore Chrislam worshippers partake in Christian as well as Muslim practices, appropriating the perceived powers of both.
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