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Islam in Nigeria. Boko Haram and Shari’a Law. Shari’a law adopted in 12 northern states in Nigeria. History of Shari’a in Nigeria. Comes from Maliki Law – 8 th century Imam Sunni British colonialism – “indirect rule” Zamfara state first to adopt in 2000 Goal – purification.

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Islam in nigeria

Islam in Nigeria

Boko Haram and Shari’a Law

Shari a law adopted in 12 northern states in nigeria
Shari’alaw adopted in 12 northern states in Nigeria

History of shari a in nigeria
History of Shari’a in Nigeria

  • Comes from Maliki Law – 8th century Imam

  • Sunni

  • British colonialism – “indirect rule”

  • Zamfara state first to adopt in 2000

  • Goal – purification

Shari a law v nigerian law
Shari’a Law v. Nigerian Law

  • Coexists uneasily

  • Freedom of religious practice v. no established religion

  • Criminal enforcement by federal police v. hisba

  • Penalties: stoning for adultery, right hand amputated for theft, 80 lashes w/ a whip for drinking alcohol

  • Can’t opt out

  • Conflicts between Sharia and civil law not easy to resolve

  • Conflicts with Nigerian federal legislature

  • Conflicts with human rights/UDHR

Western education if forbidden meet boko haram
“Western Education if Forbidden” - Meet Boko Haram

  • Since 2002

  • Lead by Muhammad Yusuf

  • Patterned after Taliban in Afghanistan

  • Based in northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri

  • Unaffiliated with wider jihadi network

  • Rejects evolution, water cycle and believes earth is flat – no kidding.

Boko Haram leader Muhammad Yusuf

The group's official name is Jama'atuAhlisSunnaLidda'awatiwal-Jihad, which in Arabic means "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad".

Yusuf in 2009 bbc interview
Yusuf in 2009 BBC interview

  • "There are prominent Islamic preachers who have seen and understood that the present Western-style education is mixed with issues that run contrary to our beliefs in Islam," he said.

  • "Like rain. We believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain.

  • "Like saying the world is a sphere. If it runs contrary to the teachings of Allah, we reject it. We also reject the theory of Darwinism." July 31, 2009 – Muhammad Yusuf was killed the day this article was published.

Violence as a political means
Violence as a political means

  • Staged dozens of terror attacks starting in 2003

  • Attacked police installations to steal weapons

  • Yusuf killed in 2009 by Nigerian forces

  • 2010 prison break – 100 members set free

  • Membership between 5,000-8,000?

  • 45 major terror operations between September 2010 and November 2011 mostly in northern Nigeria

  • University of Maiduguri shut down July 2011

Violence spreads
Violence spreads

  • Attacked candidates for office and opposition Islamic clerics

  • Abuja

  • United Nations compound summer 2011

  • “Middle belt” – Plateau state, April 2012

  • Cell service cut in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states May-July 2013

Religious cleansing
Religious Cleansing?

  • Targeting Christians in northern Nigeria

  • Abuja Christmas Day church bombing 2011, 42 killed

  • Many Christians have fled northern states of Borno and Yobe

Bombing in Damaturu,

northern Nigeria, June 2012

How dangerous is boko haram
How dangerous is Boko Haram?

  • Spreading across Nigeria but leadership diffuse

  • Too uncoordinated to negotiate with?

  • Current leader AbubakarShekau not charismatic like Yusuf

  • No current threat outside Nigeria

  • May be linked to Al Qaida in Maghreb, Somalia jihadists or AQAP – suicide bombings?

  • Basically in control of northeastern Nigeria

  • Shari’a in all of Nigeria? Not likely

  • Nigerian government too weak to effectively deal with Boko Haram





  • David Cook, PhD., Baker Institute, Rice University, Boko Haram: A Prognosis, December 2011

  • ‘Is Nigeria the Next Front of the War on Terror?” July 2012


  • Ruud Peters, PhD., University of Amsterdam, Report to European Commission, The Reintroduction of Islamic Criminal Law in Northern Nigeria, September 2001

  • UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs,