When his Lord said to him, “Surrender,” he said, “I have surrendered me to the Lord of all Being.” Koran, II, 125.
Every verse of the Koran has “an outside and an inside” (Lings, 1977: 29).
The full-grown Sufi is thus conscious of being, like other men, a prisoner of a world of forms, but unlike them he is also conscious of being free, with a freedom which immeasurably outweighs his imprisonment. He may therefore be said to have two centres of consciousness, one human and one Divine, and he may speak now from one and now from another, which accounts for certain apparent contradictions (Lings, 1977: 14).
The dominant forms of Islam which have penetrated sub-Saharan Africa in the last few centuries when Islam has taken hold of what are now predominantly Muslim regions (like the Eastern Sudan and West Africa) have been Sufi. Trimingham's (1959: 92) disparaging assessment that “(t)he orders in West Africa became ordinary non-esoteric religious associations… [which] rarely have anything to do with mysticism…,” and that “the ordinary member knows nothing of the mysticism upon which his order is based,” finds its echo in Lewis' (1980: 18) view that “their esoteric content is generally not strongly developed.” Nonetheless, the literary effusions of certain prominent African Muslim authors, like Camara Laye, Cheikh Hamidou Kane, and Tayeb Salih, seem to find inspiration in a well-defined, long-standing mystical tradition—one which has generated literary forms in addition to having supplied the ideological framework utilized by these authors. This framework varies somewhat less than do the forms adopted by the authors: Laye's and Kane's fictionalized autobiographical accounts seem to be worlds apart from the folktale or Romance which share certain qualities with Salih's Wedding of Zein and Laye's Le Regard du roi, although the two models meet, curiously enough, in Lave's Dramouss and in Salih's Season of Migration to the North.