This article examines how a moderate Sufi Islam in Africa has increasingly become sidelined by more
radical interpretations of the Qur’an. The latter has been termed Islamism and is closely aligned to the
concept of Political Islam. The rise of Islamism is the result of a number of external and internal factors.
External factors include the rise of Arabism and the role of Gulf charities operating in Africa, whilst
internal factors include the illegitimate nature of the African state and the fact that Sufi leaders have
developed too close ties with often corrupt politicians. Arguments put forth in the article include that
the Islamist tide can be turned if pressure is brought to bear on the Gulf states to desist from supporting
radical Islamists on the continent, that more needs to be done to pressurize African governments to be
more responsive to their citizens’ needs and, finally, it argues for a Sufi Islam which is more critical of
Africa’s political leadership.