Nigeria: Another Look at Boko Haram Philosophy

By IndepthAfrica
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Nov 28th, 2012
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Boko Haram

by Ahmad Salkida
Terror initiated bomb blasts from the Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad sect in Nigeria otherwise known as the Boko Haram, may decline or escalate for any period of time but the indicators for overall peace may truly be far -fetched. The sense of government engagement beyond unleashing military combatants in the

hugely affected and now paralyzed North Eastern parts of the country is utterly undefined. Indications in military circles and indeed conventional military wisdom do not suggest that the Nigeria Military

has the capacity to utterly and decisively defeat the terror band.

 

The brand of terror introduced into Nigeria by the insurgents is not

an affliction that is proverbially skin deep. It is deeper beyond the

skin and requires even much deeper strategic and sophisticated

engagement. Sadly, all that has been seen from players at the policy

level has been anything but reckless . There’s been so

much opportunism; so much of personal profiteering and so much shadow

boxing . The superficial is at the driving seat where professionalism

is in dire need.

 

Nigerians both at public and private career engagements who classify the

Boko Haram “a meddlesome violent band based in parts of the North’ do so at

their own utter peril. Wiser assessment of the sect suggests several

scores of thousands with hugely expanding cells across most parts of

Nigeria and in significant parts of West Africa. Every assessment of

the sect even at its embryo stage by Islamic scholars, government

officials and security intelligence has repeatedly missed the live

wire. Yes, there have been violence and

bloodletting served from the sect’s terror machinery but the real fuse

feeding the violence has been missed till date.

 

Many commentators have suggested that the insurgency was the offshoot of growing

unemployment. Clearly, there’s huge and frightening degree of

unemployment in Northern Nigeria. But the real fuse that drives this

level of terror is with the sect’s doctrinaire and ideologue. What we

are dealing with is a growing Muslim ideologue that greatly appeals

to young people.

 

The root cause of the conflict is ideological in nature. However The doctrines

that the leaders of the Boko Haram founded their sect cannot be

separated from the global Jihad movement that exploits the widespread

suffering, resentment, and anger in the Muslim world. In late 2002

when late Muhammad Yusuf and late Muhammad Alli began to take an

interest in the global Jihadi movement, they were not driven by issues

in their surrounding instead, they were inspired by a 13th

century scholar, Ibn Taymiyya who was a staunch defender of Sunni

Islam based on strict adherence to the Qur’an and authentic

Sunna (practices) of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Ibn Taymiyya believed that

these two sources contain all the religious and spiritual guidance

necessary for salvation in the hereafter. Thus he rejected the

arguments and ideas of philosophers and Sufis regarding religious

knowledge, spiritual experiences and ritual practices, said many

accounts. Ibn Taymiyya was said to have disagreed with many of his

fellow Sunni scholars because of his rejection of the flexibility of the

other schools of jurisprudence in Islam. He believed that the four accepted

schools of jurisprudence had become stagnant and sectarian, and also

that they were being improperly influenced by aspects of Greek logic

and thought as well as Sufi mysticism. His challenge to the leading

scholars of the day was to return to an understanding of Islam in

practice and in faith, based solely on the Qur’an and Sunna, said one

account.

 

Late Yusuf carried most of Ibn Taymiyya philosophies during his life

time crusade and named the headquarters’ of the sect that was later

bombed by security agents in Maiduguri ‘Ibn Taymiyya Masjid.’ Though a

few moderate clerics challenged the doctrinal veracity of what late

Yusuf preached to his followers with vigour and charisma but it did not go deep enough

nor was it far reaching. These clerics included Sheikh Isa Aliyu

Pantami who is now abroad and Sheikh Jafar Mahmud Adam of blessed

memory, who was assassinated in his Mosque in 2007 in Kano.

 

Late Yusuf was prevented from preaching in several mosques all over

northern Nigeria and was denied TV/Radio appearances in Borno state. But this

alienation worked to his advantage as he became the superior voice

among an army of unwitting youths unable to defy him. The religious

and traditional monarchies across West Africa and in many parts of the

Muslim world for over a 100 years now only narrowed on the subject of Jihad

of the sword to consolidate their rule. However the rise of Sunni based Jihadi

movements that terrorize the status quo necessitated most monarchies

to encourage and moralize constructive Jihad and the Jihad with

oneself amongst the ordinary people.

 

And when the administration of former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff backed

by late President Yar’adua opted for a military solution to an

ideological problem, a methodical and more vicious transformation of

the sect into an outpost of terrorist affliction began on the Nigerian

state.

 

On the 11th of June 2009, at the Customs roundabout in Maiduguri

nearly 20 unarmed members of the sect during a funeral procession were

shot with live ammunition for refusing to wear safety helmets, by

members of ‘Operation Flush,’ the official platform for Sheriff’s

field confrontation with the sect, since his vicious political thugs,

the ECOMOG, could not march the more organized followers of late Yusuf

at that time.

 

After the unlawful June 11 shootings that triggered the July 26 Boko

Haram uprising in Maiduguri and in many parts of the north, government

did not see the need for reconciliation, sect members were tracked and

summarily executed, properties belonging to sect members were

confiscated, people that are associated with Boko Haram in any way

recoiled in shame and dishonour. Members of the sect then saw the need

to regroup and redeem what their new leader, Imam Abubakar Shekau

called their honour. Life for residents in Borno and Yobe states, in

the language of Hobbes, suddenly became nasty, brutish and short. It

is instructive to note here that in the current situation

investigations by this writer has shown that there is no reason to

believe that this government can get to engage in direct negotiations

with the sect. This is because there is a missing element that will

make it difficult for direct negotiations to occur between the two

antagonistic. This missing element is confidence.

Salkida is an independent journalist. He can be reached salkida@gmail.com and twitter @contactSalkida

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