UNIVERSITY OF PORT HARCOURT
DEPARTMENT OF RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL STUDIES (GRADUATE STUDIES) EXAMINE THE BOKO HARAM SAGA IN NIGERIA AND PROVIDE A SOLUTION TO POLICY MAKERS. BY
NAME: BABALOLA OLUBUKOLA
COURSE TITLE: RELIGION AND MODERN CHANGE IN AFRICA
COURSE CODE: RCS 502.2
According to the Wikipedia Boko Haram refers to People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad. Better known by its Hausa name Boko Haram, it is a Salafist jihadist terrorist organization based in the northeast of Nigeria. It is an Islamist movement which strongly opposes man-made laws. Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2001 or 2002, the organisation is a Muslim sect that seeks to abolish the secular system of government and establish a Sharia system in the country. The movement, whose name in the Hausa language Boko Haram translates as "Western education is sacrilege” or a “sin” is divided into three factions, and in 2011, was responsible for more than 450 killings in Nigeria. According to the BBC African service, Nigeria's militant Islamist group Boko Haram - which has caused havoc in Africa's most populous country through a wave of bombings - is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state. Its followers are said to be influenced by the Koranic phrase which says: "Anyone who is not governed by what Allah has revealed is among the transgressors". Boko Haram promotes a version of Islam which makes it "haram", or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society. This includes voting in elections, wearing shirts and trousers or receiving a secular education. Boko Haram regards the Nigerian state as being run by non-believers, even when the country had a Muslim president. The group's official name is Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad". But residents in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, where the group had its headquarters, dubbed it Boko Haram. Loosely translated from the local Hausa language, this means "Western education is forbidden". Boko originally means fake but came to signify Western education, while haram means forbidden. Since the Sokoto caliphate, which ruled parts of what is now northern Nigeria, Niger and southern Cameroon, fell under British control in 1903, there has been resistance among the area's Muslims to Western education. Many Muslim families still refuse to send their children to government-run "Western schools", a problem compounded by the ruling elite which does not see education as a priority. Before colonisation and subsequent annexation into the British Empire, the Bornu Empire ruled the territory where Boko Haram is currently active. It was a sovereign sultanate run according to the principles of the Constitution of Medina, with a majority Kanuri Muslim population. The Bornu Sultanate emerged after the overthrow of the Kanem-Bornu Empire ruled by the Saifawa dynasty for over 2000 years. The Bornu Sultanate of the Kanuri is distinct from the Sokoto Caliphate of the Hausa/Fulani established in 1802 by the military conquest of Usman dan Fodio. Both the Bornu Sultanate and Sokoto Caliphate came under control of the British in 1903. However, due to activities of early Christian missionaries who used Western education as a tool for evangelism, it is viewed with suspicion by the local population. Increased dissatisfaction gave rise to many fundamentalists among the Kanuri and other peoples of northeast Nigeria. One of the most famous such fundamentalists was Mohammed Marwa, also known as Maitatsine, who was at the height of his notoriety during the 1970s and 1980s. He was sent into exile by the British authorities, he refused to believe Mohammed was the Prophet and instigated riots in the country which resulted in the deaths of thousands of people. Some analysts view Boko Haram as an extension of the Maitatsine riots. The...
The News magazine, vol37, 17 October 2011.
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