Sunni literary responses to the spread of Shia ideology in Northern Nigeria

Kabiru Haruna Isa


The infiltration of Shiism and subsequent increasing growth of the Shia community in Sunni dominated northern Nigeria, especially from the 1980s to date (2015), have generated ideological tension and anxiety. The introduction of the Shia into northern Nigeria has challenged Sunni ideological dominance and ascendancy. The Shia ulama (scholars) clandestinely converted thousands of Sunnis into the new religious group. The Sunni ulama responded to the penetration and emerging Shia community through a myriad of ways in order to arrest what they perceive as a diffusion of antithetical ideology. The responses came in the form of public condemnation, invective songs, theological debates, and literary antiphon. The main thrust of all of these responses is the condemnation of Shia ideology, rituals and practices, especially the ones that oppose Sunni ideological beliefs. One of the major consequences of these responses is the emergence of literature in different languages, namely: Arabic, English and Hausa. However, there is an apparent lack of academic attention to this body of literature in spite of its relevance to understanding Sunni-Shia relations and theological contestations in northern Nigeria. This paper analyses some selected Hausa and English Sunni-reactive literature and assesses its attempt to challenge the spread of Shia ideology in northern Nigeria.

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