Mosque, Landmark, Document

Reimagining Islam in Ghana through the Accra Furqan

Michelle Apotsos


The history of Islam in Ghana has long been framed as a story rooted in the Sahel, whose iconic earth and timber mosques have been positioned as platforms from which Ghana’s own earth and timber mosques would spring. Such histories have merit; yet they, nonetheless, potentially circumvent the unique social contexts that shaped Ghana’s own local mosque forms, dismissing the relevance of other mosque spaces that rebuff the primacy of these original Sahelian architectural templates in favor of alternate design sources. Such narratives have continued even into the contemporary period. Thus, this essay takes the newly constructed Accra Furqan congregational mosque, located in the capital city of Accra, as a case study towards parsing out the complex, unique, and fundamentally intersectional reality of Ghanaian Islam as it has existed over time and space. The Accra Furqan is able to keep a finger on the pulse of Muslim realities within the context of the Ghanaian Islamicate by accommodating a spectrum of functions beyond just the spiritual. Further, built as it is in a style that derives symbolic capital from Ottoman origins, the mosque affirms Ghana’s participation within larger contemporary conversations not only through an engagement with global architectural legacies, but also Islamic practice and ideology throughout the global ummah. In doing so, the structure has enabled Ghanaian Muslims to further navigate the murky waters of their current socio-spiritual condition while also reaffirming their past and present agency as authors of their own social, cultural, and spiritual reality.

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