viewed the Qadiriyya and Tijaniyya with some suspi- cion,16 they still allowed them to continue pretty much as before. It might be argued in fact, that this mild hos- tility only strengthened the Brotherhoods’ credibility among the local population, while Britain’s preserva- tion of the Caliphate structures ensured that they and the Sultan retained their privileged positions within northern Nigerian society.
Indeed, far from withering on the vine, both Broth- erhoods have prospered. Although there are no accu- rate figures as to how many members they each have, they are today counted in millions and can be found the length and breadth of Islamic West Africa. This places their current leaders—Qaribullahi Sheikh Nasir Kabara (Qadiriyyia) and Sheikh Ismail Ibrahim Khalifa (Tijaniyya)—at the head of two religious communities that are as large as they are important. More precisely, they are important because they are large. For when Sheikhs Kabara and Khalifa speak, they do so, nomi- nally at least, on behalf of a great many people whose actions they can influence through example, proclama- tions, and religious edicts.
Major ingredients of the glue that binds their mem- berships together are the values and histories both Brotherhoods promote and embody. Sufi is an Arabic word that—perhaps unsurprisingly, given its centu- ries of use—has acquired a multitude of meanings. It is also a value laden term that is employed both in praise and condemnation of certain individuals, groups, sets of ideas, and practices. By and large though, Sufis view themselves as “Muslims who take seriously God’s call to perceive his presence both in the world and in the self . . . [and] stress inwardness over outwardness, con- templation over action, spiritual development over le- galism, and cultivation of the soul over social interac-