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Sunni and Shia Muslim and Christian Encounters in Northern Nigeria

This article analyses how the circulation of ideas and hybrid rituals between Shia Muslims and Christians reveals a much more intentional political process whereby minority religious groups consciously create shared experiences and a sense of commonality in the face of political marginalization in northern Nigeria.

One example is the Shia invention of Jesus’s Mawlid (Jesus’s birthday), which they perform in a different way from the conventional Christmas but that is attended by some Christians. Also, some Christians participate in the annual celebration of Mawlid al-Nabiy (the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday), organized by Shias. Despite the adherents of the two religions participating in mixed religious practices, they continue to see themselves separately as Muslims and Christians. Reactions to these hybrid rituals impact relationships among the mainline Sunni groups. Sufis (Tijanis and Qadiris), who were previously united in the face of the anti-Sufi reform movement (Izala), now diverge over how to respond to Shia Islam. While they disagree with Shias intellectually, not everyone supports the attacks against Shias by Salafi activists. These dynamics add to the understanding that the concept of ‘tolerance’ is not sophisticated enough to capture all forms of religious coexistence in Nigeria.

Bibliographic Information

Title: Sunni and Shia Muslim and Christian Encounters in Northern Nigeria

Author(s): Musa Ibrahim

Published in: Africa , Volume 92 , Issue 5 , November 2022

 Language: English

Length: 20 Pages

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About Ali Teymoori

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