Religious Unrest in Nigeria

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The belief system of the people influences the way they think, feel and see things in relations to people of other religions. Unfortunately, Nigeria is a country that is continuously weighed-down by religious burdens. Sustainable religious-peace across Nigeria have been aborted times without number due to the recurrent cases of religious conflicts. As this religious conflict lingers and rears its ugly head in different parts of the country, it continues to direct and influence the perception of the worldview of Nigerians. The paper showed that the imperial hands of the colonialists could be found in the foundation of religious conflict in Nigeria. It went on to reveal that many Igbo people believe that wherever there is religious conflict in Nigeria, the business of the Igbo men suffers greatly. The work again showed how religious conflicts in Nigeria have affected the perception of the Muslims in Igbo land. It concluded by recommending peace building through inter-religious socialization and reshaping of the people’s perception by the nation’s peace guarantors.


*Ani Kelechi J. is an unemployed Masters Degree Student in the Department of History, University of Maiduguri, Borno State. He has a P.G.D. in Education and a Second Class Upper Degree in History and International Relations.


Islam was founded by Prophet Mohammed (SAW). He received his call to Prophet-hood in the course of his frequent withdrawals to pray in Mount Hirah. Consequently, he began to teach his followers the tenets of the religion and the faith began to grow across the globe. It entered Kanem Borno Empire through the activities of the Arab merchants and by the time the nineteenth century jihad took place, the religion speedily spread to many parts of the Northern Nigeria and gradually it penetrated into the Southern part of the country especially the Eastern region of the country.

However, it is worthy to note that “Islam is literary a whole way of life encompassing virtually everything and cannot be separated into spiritual and mundane”1. It is “a culture that transcends geo-political boundaries”2. Ismail R. al-Faruqi has noted that tawhid is the “essence and core of Islam and the first determining principle of Islam, its culture and civilization”. He went on to state that it is so because “tawhid is that which gives Islamic civilization it’s identify, which binds all its constituents together and makes of them an integral, organic body.”3 Hence, notwithstanding the location of the Igbo Muslims, they are still part of the Islamic Ummah.

While majority of the Muslim Ummah practice sound religious ideologies, the few extremists amongst them have often ignited the flame of religious conflicts across the country. For the Muslim fanatics, the whole system of nation-states and their administration are simply un-Islamic and should be pulled-down and replaced with what they would call an ‘Islamic State’4. The activities of this small percentage of Islamic fundamentalists in Nigeria always stepped-into any little potential conflict situation to unleash religious mayhem on Nigerians and the country at large. The wind of religious conflicts in Nigeria has been more recurrent in the North which is mainly dominated by the Hausa Muslims but its influence is felt in the Eastern region of the country in form of misperceptions.

This work shows that the post independence colonial conflicts in Nigeria has its root on the activities of the colonial masters which sowed the seed of discord amongst the different ethnic and religious groups that make up what we know today as Nigeria. Again, it outlined the examples of some years when religious conflict took place in the country starting from the 1980s. Consequently the work went on to show that constant religious violence in Nigeria which is often triggered by the extremist position of few Muslims has affected the socio-cultural, economic and psychological perception of...
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