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Islam in Southern Nigeria.

The second topic of the Unity week programme on the 24th of January 2013 was a lecture on Islam in the Southern part of Nigeria.

This lecture was supposed to be delivered by  Eze Abdulfatah Chiemedizie and two others from the Southern Nigeria. They missed flight, and therefore the topic  was discussed by Professor Abdufatah of University of Maiduguri and Mallam Mifatah Ibadan. They are however expected to attend the programme before the Unity Week ends.

Professor Abdulfatah started his lecture by giving history of the advent of Islam in Southern Nigeria. He said, contrary to what some historians say that Islam reached South West  Nigeria in 17th century, the professor explained that the advent of Islam in Southern Nigeria particularly the Yoruba land is traced back to 14th century from Mali during the era of Mansa Musa of Mali empire;  at the time the Yoruba called Islam as Isemali ie the religion of Mali.


l-r prof Abdulfatah (middle) coming foward to collect a gift                                    Ustaz Miftahi from Ibadan

On the advent of Islam in South East Nigeria- the Igbo land, the Professor said it was after the Jihad of Sheikh uthman bn Fodio(RA) through  herdsmen and traders.

He further said in Yoruba  land there are towns that are only ruled by  Muslims for centuries.  He added that the main difference between North and South in terms of Islam is that in the North there was Sharia System which ruled while in the south there were only community of Muslims without being rule by Sharia as a system of governance.

He traced history on how Clipperton in his book ‘ The Second Expedition to Interior Africa’  explained his exploration of African kingdoms. He disguised as  Ra’is Muhammad  after he learnt Arabic in Tunisa. He went Borno empire as a spy and even gave five grenade launchers to the kings to defend his kingdom and went to  Yoruba land in the south and gave the king  6 grenade launchers. He went to Sokoto during Sultan Ahmad, though he understood that his aim could be uncovered, so he did not offer anything as gifts. The professor said all this was aim at arming one another and the Islamic state with headquarter  in  Sokoto.

He further said by the coming of the colonialists, they destroyed our Sharia system, thus leaving our Sharia system with no legs and arms.

In his lecture mallam Miftahu Ibadan spoke further on Islam in the southern Nigeria with emphasis to Yoruba land which comparises of 6 states presently. He spoke on origin of Yoruba people and how Islam went to the land.

He said Islam has been in the land before colonialists who came and established schools with Christians as teachers . He further said, the whitemen  then handed over the schools the Christian elites just to make sure Islam did not raise and prevail.

On the issue of unity, Mallam Miftah expressed that the enemies used tribalism or ethnic inclination to divide Muslims of  North and southern Nigeria. He added that some unguided utterances by some Muslims in North aggravate the division further. For example , he said, some non Muslims  from South would say to  a Muslim from the South “ why do you love a Muslim from the North who don’t even see you as Muslim?!”. Similar utterance by some people in the North is like this ‘why do like a person who keeps idol despite being a Muslim?” All these utterances are unguided and untrue, he said. They only serve our enemies. He further called Muslims to engage in intermarriage among different ethnic groups from the south which  will help strengthen unity and understanding.

All Muslims are brother brothers and keeper of each other, he said. We shall not allow a room for enemies. He further said that Mali is now occupied and Muslims are being killed in the name of fighting Islamists, who knows if the next target will be Nigeria!.