Is Boko Haram? Asking the Fodios

Nov 9 2010

By
Ibrahim Haruna Hassan
Department of Religious Studies, University of Jos

Right from its introduction in 1900, Muslims in northern Nigeria have shown great antagonism to Western education (Boko), which to date has only diminished. Nonetheless, it was with great shock that the nation received the thesis of some Muslim youths labelling boko unlawful (haram). Within a short time what seemed like the chattering of exuberance revealed anti-establishment ‘war cry’ and sporadic attacks against security agents. Eventually it turned full scale riots that caused the loss of over 800 human lives. This paper argues that antagonism and debates regarding the harmfulness and benefit of modern (western) education to Muslims are neither peculiar nor new to Nigeria. This paper explores the thoughts and policies of the Fodios regarding concepts and practices regarded as Haram to test the validity of the Boko Haram thesis. The significance of the paper is that Boko Haram insurgence has been defeated by the military might of the Nigeria state but no academic efforts have been made to test the thesis particularly imploring the approach of the paper. Also, the paper employs the exposition of scholars whose legacies ‘still resonate in much of West Africa and beyond while its intellectual presence was felt even further a field’. Without intellectual efforts, such as this, to defeat the Boko Haram thesis it could continue to nurture in traditional grounds and cause harm to the intellectual progress of the society and intermittently cause loss of lives in probably larger scales than witnessed recently.

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