Boko Haram: The Other Islamic State (RELS 348)

A response to “Boko Haram: The Other Islamic State” by Jeremy Ashkenas, Derek Watkins, and Archie Tse The New York Times, January15, 2015

Over the past five years, the activities of the insurgent Islamic sect (known as Boko Haram) have been very brutal on the lives and properties of people living in the northeast side of Nigeria. A lot of people have lost their lives, churches has been bombed, there has been a lot of kidnapping (E.g., The chibok girls) and several police stations has been attacked countless number of times. People in that area now live for the fear of their lives because they do not know what will happen next. This blog is addressing the impact of Boko Haram activities in the northern part of Nigeria and how they have been waging a campaign of terror while dreaming of a caliphate in Nigeria.

The word “Boko Haram” in Hausa language literally means that Western education is forbidden.  Available information indicates that the group emanated from an orthodox teaching slightly resembling that of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their school of thought considers anything western as an aberration or completely unislamic. The group viewed the western influence on Islamic society as the basis of the religion’s weakness. Hence Muslims must avoid their declaration that western education and indeed all-western institutions are heretical and as such, they believe that their religion and belief system is opposed to Western ideologies and worldview.

Seeing at what is happening in Nigeria today; one can argue that impact of colonialism is still the major problem Nigeria is facing as a nation in this present time. Before the advent of the British empire into the West African territories, the place now known as Nigeria was occupied by three major ethnic the Ibo’s, the Hausa’s and the Yoruba’s. These groups are three different people with different cultural background and ancestry and they never coexisted together. But because of colonialism, they were joined together to form the country known as Nigeria today. The   amalgamation brought so many problems for Nigerians especially during election where people vote for their tribes and not the best candidate that can move the country forward. The impact of colonialism also led to a civil war in the late1960’s between (North and South) that led 3 million people loose their lives.

Traditionally, the southern parts of Nigeria are predominately Christians while the northern parts is Muslims. Considering the countless number of attacks on the churches and the recent bombings of innocent citizens in the country, a lot of people not just in Nigeria but also in other parts of the world have written so many things about Islam. So many scholars have written that Islam is a religion that uses cohesive means to persuade to join them. Personally, I totally disagree with such views because; you cannot judge every Muslims because of the activities of Boko Haram.

In all fairness, believe that the activities of the (Group) fighting for their own interest should not be used to generalize the whole religion. I see Boko Haram as a tool used by few privilege and influential people in the North to fight political war in Nigerian politics. The quest for power between the three major ethnic groups has been the main problem and Boko haram is been used as a tool to create tensions and unrest to the incumbent government, which is currently dominated by the southerners. The war is political but has religious undertone.

Kk1 (identifier)


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