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Are Northerners Trying To Islamise Nigeria?

One quiet midnight, a young boy was fast asleep when his mother barged into his bedroom.
“Tochukwu! Tochukwu get up.” his mother urgently whispered, spanking his legs.
The boy jumped up, quite startled “mom, what’s..”
“Shh,” his mother interrupted, “get up, let’s go. They’re killing everyone.”  She whispered, pulling him.

“Who’s killing who?” he asked, struggling to find his balance as she hastily pulled him out of the room.
They ran out towards the back gate.
“Your father is with the rest of your siblings. We must hurry.” His mother said.
But the gateman intercepted them.
“Where to?” he barked.
“Ahmed,” his mother said to the gateman. Her voice was shaky “let us pass, please.”
“Pass where?” the gateman asked. In his hand gleamed a scary looking machete “do you accept the ways of Allah and renounce your heathen god?”

Tochukwu was shocked. Was Ahmed serious?

That right there is the worst case scenario of Islamization. The fear of Islamzation in Nigeria is a theory many citizens (non-Muslims) are fond of propounding.

It has been a popular theory whose origins date as far back as the country’s independence in 1960. This article hopes to scrutinize this theory, in a bid to find out how true it is.

Firstly, what is Islamization? When we say a country or people have been Islamised, it means the people have been converted to Islam or brought under Islamic law.

Islam is practiced by a good percentage of the world’s populace. So what makes Islamization such a distasteful prospect?

It is considered this way because of the methods involved in achieving it. Methods such as violence or coercion can be employed to achieve this aim when the subject or would be convert is unwilling.

Since every citizen is entitled to practise their own religion, such an act would be tantamount to abusing an individual’s fundamental human right.

jihad executioner


Now, it is a known fact in Nigeria that most southerners and westerners (especially Christians) have harboured doubts about northerners (Hausas), believing them to have grand plans to Islamise Nigeria.

This could be viewed as a strong symptom of Tribalism or ethnocentrism. This strong sense of distrust is probably fuelled by the fact that the northerners are the most religiously homogenous ethnic group in the nation.

Out of every hundred Hausa men, chances are ninety of them practice Islam (Css 132, Ethnography of Nigeria).
There’s also the fact that the Hausas were not always such a homogenous ethnic group until the Jihad of Uthman Dan Fodio in 1803. The Jihad united them under the canopy of Islam.

So if a people became one by reason of a holy war carried out in the name of Islam, and have remained so since then, it stands to reason that they would harbour plans of spreading their boundaries.
Also any resident citizen of Nigeria would have already noted the very evident fact that Hausas or Fulanis are fond of migrating to other states to form small colonies there. As citizens of Nigeria, they have a right to do so.

But the fact that they rarely mix with the members of the new state or absorb the ways of the new state raises eyebrows. Instead they stick together, retain their culture and just virtually create settlements.
This trait gives them the aura of ‘infiltrating outsiders’ as no other ethnic group in Nigeria is known for this. Take the Igbo man for example. The Igbos do not go forming colonies in other regions. When they move, they move for commerce and they easily mix with the indigenes they come across.
Another point to consider is the fact that Islam actually encourages violence. In fact, unlike Christianity that preaches love, Islam fully advocates violence against infidels.

Contemporary or secular Muslims choose to remain ignorant of or blind to the violent traits of their religion.

The goal of every religion is to spread. Christians do this by evangelism; that is the process of going out to preach to unbelievers. Muslims on the other hand, rarely do so.

It is very uncommon to find a Muslim reaching out to unbelievers in a bid to convert them. So this brings to question, what then is their religion’s mode of propagation?

But the real question is, have Muslims ever made any attempt to Islamise Nigeria? An Islamic extremist group otherwise known as Boko Haram, (although most Muslims would swear that Boko Haram is just an extremist group and does not reflect the true values of Islam) has openly launched a campaign to islamise the nation.

This group claims to reject the ways of western education and hopes to eradicate its presence in Nigeria. In a bid to this, they have committed a shuddering number of atrocities, ranging from kidnappings, executions to massive killing sprees.

Of course fingers have not failed to point at Muslims. Afterall, the group’s activities started in the north. But it is difficult to truly blame the northerners when you consider the fact that a lot of Muslim lives have also been lost in the process; the bomb blasts have not avoided mosques.

However, those that support the theory would easily counter this fact by claiming that Boko Haram is funded by high ranking northern politicians who are the purported kingpins behind the Islamisation campaign.

Also the emergence of a Northern President (President Buhari) has further fuelled this theory. After the previous president was greatly criticised for being too ineffective against the Boko Haram threat, President Buhari has not shown any real progress in the war against terrorism.

And it is not forgotten that his rise to power can be greatly attributed to the workings of this group. Afterall, his election campaign mainly focused on shedding light on his opponent’s failings in the fight against this evil group.

Another fact easily called upon, is the problem of Fulani herdsmen (these are the neighbours of the Hausas) who have formed the habit of storming and destroying communities like olden day Visigoths.

These miscreants willingly engage in merciless killing sprees. For some reason, the president has remained silent about these attacks.

There’s also the fact that the president went and formed an alliance with a well-known Islamic nation (Saudi Arabia). But considering the gloomy economic state of the nation, such a coalition could prove useful.

The issue of islamization became a hot topic during the 2015 presidential elections and the then presidential candidate (GMB) had to assure Nigerians that he had no such goals in mind.

“In all my life, I have never supported extremism of any kind, and nowhere in my record of service to this nation can this false toga, political opponents have tried so hard to put on me, be substantiated.”
“Indeed, it is very unfortunate and I feel extremely sad that I have to give this type of assurance,”
Whichever side of the fence you stand, it is important to consider the danger of generalization.

Not all Muslims are extremists, the same way not all Christians believe in love. If perhaps there is a secret plot going on to Islamise the country, then both Muslims and Christians (irrespective of their regions, whether north, south, east or west,) stand at risk of all the unrest and suffering bound to arise from such a move.



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