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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

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islam in nigeria

Islam in Nigeria

Boko Haram and Shari’a Law

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,