Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa

The Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA) sponsors and facilitates collaborative, interdisciplinary scholarship on the Islamic tradition of learning in Africa and promotes a broader awareness of the role of Islam in African societies, past and present. ISITA sponsors field research, conferences, visiting scholars, and publications.  

Institute scholarship and programming


ISITA's research includes:

  • “Constituting Bodies of Islamic Knowledge,” an ongoing inquiry into how African Muslims of all social strata actively shape religious life through their engagement with texts and bodies of religious knowledge. In the current phase of the project, ISITA is focusing on completing publications and disseminating research results.

  • Arabic Manuscripts from West Africa, a collaboration with Northwestern's Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies to make available an online catalog of an important collection of Arabic-script materials from West Africa housed at Northwestern. 


Islamic Africa is a new peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary journal published online by Northwestern University Press in collaboration with ISITA.  Incorporating the journal Sudanic Africa and its focus on historical sources, bibliographies, and methodology, Islamic Africa covers the field of Islam in Africa broadly understood to include the social sciences and humanities.

Visiting scholars and fellows

Since 2001, ISITA has hosted more than 40 visiting scholars and fellows from 19 countries.