Practiced Islam, like practiced Christianity, became the context for the cultural prevalence of Arab culture: Arab names became Islamic names and those who adopted Islam automatically adopted Arab culture in an attempt to become “Islamic.” Today we see the uniformed African entering into Islam, and as opposed to taking on African Muslim names and wearing African Islamic attire they wear the cultural dress of Saudi Arabian Arabs, they adopt the mannerisms and cultural mind set of an Arabized people, which is not much better than being Europeanized.
But Africans have contributed to the Islamic landscape, as Ethiopian Jews have contributed culturally to Judaism. And in the case of Islam we must discuss and resuscitate an African-Centered Islam as distinct from Arabized Islam, or a monolithic restrictive Wahhabi Islam or the Hindu influenced Indo-Pakistani variant of Islam.
Unfortunately, when people are unclear about their identity, and only know the strain of Islam by their oppressors, they will take on Islam within the cultural context of “The other.” This is especially evident in communities which lack agency. And this is why in West Africa we see such a strong Africanized Islam in place, because Islam in West Africa, as well as Ethiopia and beyond, has in African agency.