Mosques in Sub-Saharan Africa: Muslim Architectures (Online)

Layal Mohammad's picture
May 21, 2021 to May 28, 2021
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Archaeology, Architecture and Architectural History, Historic Preservation, Islamic History / Studies

This two-day online course introduces participants to Muslim architecture in Sub-Saharan Africa. Following an introduction on Islamic architecture and mosques, the first session will explore mosques in West Africa, from the Sahara to the tropical forests. The second session will look at the mosques in East Africa, from the Nile valleys to the Swahili coast. This day will be based on Professor Stephane Pradines' extensive knowledge and fieldwork in Egypt, Ethiopia and the Swahili coast.

This short course provides the basis for understanding and critically examining the development of Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa. It approaches architecture through building materials and African construction techniques, from earthen monuments to coral stone buildings. Two important themes will be developed: first, the diffusion of ideas, people and material cultures across the Sahara Desert; second, the role of Islam in the building of maritime regional identities, international trading networks and urbanisation of the Swahili coast.

Learning Outcomes

This course presents Muslim architecture in a very specific context: Sub-Saharan Africa during the Medieval and Modern Ages. Following this short course, participants will be able to:

• Differentiate between mosques in Sub-Saharan Africa from their counterparts in North Africa and the Middle East.

• Recognise the different types of African mosques by geographical areas and by chronological phases.

• Learn about the importance of cultural exchanges across the Sahara Desert and the Indian Ocean.

• Receive a methodological background on archaeology, history, and the history of architecture in Sub-Saharan Africa.

• Distinguish between different types of building materials and natural resources in Africa.

• Study the impact of the past to understand the political tensions in West Africa today.

Course Convenor

Stephane Pradines is an archaeologist and Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at the Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) in London. Professor Pradines was the Director of the excavations of the Walls of Cairo (Egypt) and many other excavations in the Indian Ocean and East Africa. Currently, his main excavation project is at Lahore Fort in Pakistan. He is a specialist of Islamic archaeology in Sub-Saharan Africa, Indian Ocean medieval trade and Muslim material culture of war. Professor Pradines is the Founding Editor of the Journal of Material Cultures in the Muslim World (MCMW). He has published many articles and books on Swahili architecture, urbanism, and mosques. Professor Pradines is a mosque expert on the Indian Ocean region for UNESCO and the WMF. He has excavated several mosques in Ethiopia (Nora), Kenya (Gede), Tanzania (Songo Mnara, Sanje ya Kati and Kua) and the Maldives (Fandiyaaru and Bodha Miskiy, Koagannu, Hulhumeedhoo, Addu Atoll and Fenfushi, Ari Atoll). Professor Pralines’ latest book Historic Mosques in Sub-Saharan Africa, from Timbuktu to Zanzibar, by Brill Publishers, is due this summer.

Date and Time

21 and 28 May 2021, 13:30 – 16:30 ( London Time).


Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC), London.

Tickets and Booking

The number of tickets is limited. Book your place soon.

*The course will be delivered via Zoom. Readings and further details will be provided later upon registration.

Contact Info: 


Layal Mohammad

Senior Coordinator, Marketing & Communications

Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations

The Aga Khan University (International)

Aga Khan Centre, 10 Handyside Street, London N1C 4DN

Tel: +44 [0] 20 7380 3839

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