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Muslims in the West African state of Mali use the concept of baraji--which translates from the vernacular as "divine reward" or "recompense"--as a framework for understanding proper religious practice and the role of Islam in daily matters. In order to understand the various ways through which Muslims in West Africa seek measurable units of baraji, this work presents the life history of Amadou Diallo, an elderly Fula man and former cattle herder living in the town of Ouélessébougou in southwestern Mali. Drawing from ethnographic research, I show how Muslims in West Africa use baraji to find religious relevance in everyday and ritual life by exploring the practices, experiences, and feelings that have driven Amadou's lifelong aim to acquire the unspecified amount of baraji that God requires for a person to gain salvation and admission into paradise. Amadou's personal narrative unfolds the lived experience of Islam in everyday life in West Africa by revealing the intricate ways that Muslims search out baraji. I explore baraji as a form of value through which West African Muslims discern the different religious practices and daily choices that they employ during their lifetime while highlighting how the acquisition of baraji changes with age and circumstance, revealing Islam as dynamically embedded in the life cycle.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Religion in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Joseph Hellweg, Professor Directing Dissertation; Michael Uzendoski, University Representative; Adam Gaiser, Committee Member; Peter Garretson, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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