Directed by Frédérick Madore, the Islam West Africa Collection (IWAC) is a collaborative, open-access digital database that currently contains over 5,000 archival documents, newspaper articles, Islamic publications of various kinds, audio and video recordings, and photographs on Islam and Muslims in Burkina Faso, Benin, Niger, Nigeria, Togo and Côte d'Ivoire. Most of the documents are in French, but some are also available in Hausa, Arabic, Dendi, and English. The site also indexes over 800 references to relevant books, book chapters, book reviews, journal articles, dissertations, theses, reports and blog posts. This project, hosted by the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) and funded by the Berlin Senate Department for Science, Health and Care, is a continuation of the award-winning Islam Burkina Faso Collection created in 2021 in collaboration with LibraryPress@UF.

In addition to assigning detailed metadata, optical character recognition (OCR) has also been applied to each document in order to index the full text. It is therefore possible to carry out a simple search by keyword or an advanced search by combining several criteria on the thousands of documents contained in the database. An index of over 2000 events, languageslocations, organizations, people, and topics is also available.

The online archiving of research data, which can be consulted without financial barriers, is an interesting alternative for both West African and foreign researchers to overcome the difficulties often encountered in libraries and archives in the region. Above all, this project aims to democratise access to documents of all kinds on Islam in West Africa, to pave the way for new research on this topic, and, above all, to serve as a model for other similar initiatives.

La base de données est aussi disponible en français.

News and release notes

The website is constantly evolving, with metadata being edited and new documents being added to the collection on a regular basis.

9 November 2023

The Islam West Africa Collection was officially launched on 9 November in Berlin. Further information.

31 October 2023

To demonstrate the potential of digital humanities to analyse the data in the Islam West Africa Collection, a series of visualisations were created using two corpus of press clippings from Beninese and Burkinabè newspapers. See more here.

9 October 2023

5 issues of the Islamic newspaper Al Maoulid Magazine from Niger, published between 2006 and 2010, have been added to the collection.

See all news and release notes