Shia Islam in Nigeria

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Although the majority of the Nigerian Muslim population is Sunni, there is a small Shia minority, particularly in the northern states of Kano and Sokoto.[1][2][3] However, there are no actual statistics that reflect a Shia population in Nigeria,[4] and a figure of even 5% of the total Nigerian Muslim population is thought to be too high “because of the routine conflation of Shi’a with Sunnis who express solidarity with the Iranian revolutionary program, such as those of Zakzaky’s Ikhwani.”[5]

Introduction of Shia in Nigeria[edit]

Shia faith was "almost unknown" in Nigeria until the 1980s, when Ibraheem Zakzaky introduced Shia Islam. Zakzaky's gained a following among those disenchanted with the political and religious establishment.[6]


Members of the Nigerian Shia community have been persecuted in some cases, but in other cases have united with Nigerian Sunni in the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.[7] Cleric Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky is a primary figure in the movement.[8]

Saudi Arabia’s linked Sunni politicians, organizations and Nigerian security apparatus are behind the persecution of Shia Muslims in Nigeria.[9] The Salafist movement Izala Society, is close to both Riyadh and Abuja and its satellite television channel Manara often broadcasts anti-Shiite sectarian propaganda.[10]

The state government of Sokoto has reacted to the rise of Shia Islam in the state by taking such measures as demolishing the Islamic Center in 2007.[11][12] Furthermore, clashes between Sunni and Shia residents followed the assassination of Salafi Imam Umaru Danmaishiyya, who was known for his fiery anti-Shia preaching.[13][14]

In 2014, the Zaria Quds Day massacres took place, leaving 35 dead. In 2015, the Zaria massacre during which 348 Shia Muslims were killed by the Nigerian Army.[15]

In April 2018, clashes broke out as Nigerian police fired teargas Shia protesters who were demanding the release of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, who had been detained for two years with no trial. The clashes left at least one protester dead and several others injured. Further, Nigerian police detained at least 115 protesters.[16]

In October 2018, Nigerian military killed at least 45 peaceful Shia protesters.[17][18] After soldiers began to fire, they targeted protesters fleeing the chaos. Many of the injured were shot in the back or legs.[19] In July 2021, Shaikh Zakzaky has been acquitted of all charges and has been freed. [20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population". Pew Research Center. October 7, 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
  2. ^ Miller, Tracy, ed. (October 2009). Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population (PDF). Pew Research Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-01-13. Retrieved 2009-10-08.
  3. ^ Nigeria: 'No Settlement With Iran Yet', Paul Ohia, allAfrica - This Day, 16 November 2010
  4. ^ Kathryn M. Coughlin (1 Jan 2006). Muslim Cultures Today: A Reference Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 119. ISBN 9780313323867.
  5. ^ Barry M. Rubin (2010). Guide to Islamist Movements, Volume 2. M.E. Sharpe. p. 10. ISBN 9780765641380.
  6. ^ "Nigeria's government killed "hundreds" of Shia Muslims in 3 days: what we know". Vox. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
  7. ^ Alert: Nigerian security forces crackdown on Islamic Movement in Sokoto Archived 2010-08-10 at the Wayback Machine Islamic Human Rights Commission, 20 August 2007.
  8. ^ Nigeria's firebrand Muslim leaders BBC News, 1 October 2001.
  9. ^ "In Nigeria 'being Shiite is being persecuted'".
  10. ^ Ibid.
  11. ^ Nigerian Shia base knocked down BBC News, 1 August 2007
  12. ^ Shia Centre demolished in Nigeria Archived 2008-08-07 at AhlulBayt Islamic Mission, 02 August 2007
  13. ^ Statement: Nigerian Shia Muslims under Attack
  14. ^ "Nigeria: Sunni-Shia clashes" WorldWide Religious News
  15. ^ "Army kills senior Shia cleric in northwestern Nigeria " Archived 2015-12-22 at the Wayback Machine,Turkish Weekly,14 December 2015
  16. ^ "Nigerian police in Abuja attack Shia protesters for 2nd day". Shiite News. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Nigeria: Security forces must be held accountable for killing of at least 45 peaceful Shi'a protesters | Amnesty International". 31 October 2018.
  18. ^ "Nigerian soldiers shoot dozens of peaceful Shia protesters | World news | The Guardian". November 2018.
  19. ^ "New York Times obtains video showing Nigerian soldiers killing Shiites". 19 December 2018.
  20. ^ "Nigerian court acquits Shia leader el-Zakzaky of all charges".

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]