Date of Completion

January 1980


Anthropology, Cultural




This dissertation explains the current revival of popular Islamic religious organizations, turuq suffiyyia, in northern Sudan--specifically the Badrab of Um Dubban.^ Starting with a general introduction, the research problem is stated briefly as how we can explain the situation noted. A review of the development of concepts of ideology and consciousness in the historical materialist literature is outlined and the position adopted herein is theorized and elaborated.^ It is suggested that a distinction be made between social consciousness which includes values, beliefs, knowledges and general representations, and ideology. Ideology is defined as a dislocated form of consciousness whereby one class is able to acquire and use for its own benefit the appropriated surplus labour and product. The process of dislocation is only possible with the development of class structure, and its consequence here labelled exploitation.^ The socio-economic class context out of which turuq emerged to represent the oppressed classes is presented. This is followed by a discussion of the conditions under which turuq were introduced into the Sudan during the Funj era (1505-1821) and their development through the Turko-Egyptian regime (1821-1885), to the period of European colonialism and the penetration of monopoly capitalism into Sudan.^ The present socio-economic conditions in Sudan are then analyzed in terms of class relations and it is indicated how the post-independence landowning, merchant, bureaucratic bourgeois classes and other classes were so weak economically and politically that all major economic enterprises had to be undertaken by the state. The political weakness of traditional parties has led to a seizure of state power by the army which, because of its class-base and oppressive methods, lacks popular support. In search for non-conventional sources of political support and establishment of a new constituency, the present military regime has begun to utilize the formerly apolitical turuq in order to mobilize the large numbers of their followers--the Badrab of Um Dubban one of them.^ Appropriation of religiously derived surplus in Um Dubban maseed (religious centre) occurs principally at the level of circulation, since the Badrab do not actually control the means of production or labour processes involved in extraction of that surplus. Through the economic and political support of the state, however, the Badrab are now able to utilize their surplus in commercial and agricultural schemes in which generation of surplus does not depend on religious beliefs so much as on distinct economic processes and appropriation at the point of production.^ Analysis of class relations within Um Dubban indicates that it is also not today mere religion that is involved in the solidification of Badrab domination. The new political channels open to them through the encouragement of the present regime help the Badrab suppress all forms of attempts at autonomy or revolt by other Um Dubban socio-economic groups, viz., Jaaliyyin, Halab (gyptsies) and Abid (ex-slaves).^ Finally, it is argued that with the Badrab embarking on capitalist investment the role of popular sufi version of Islam in this tariqa is no longer appropriate to the consciousness of the oppressed, as it once was, but on the contrary, it is becoming a tool for distinct ideological exploitation. ^