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Framing Islam, Democracy, and Law in Northern Nigeria
Author: Brandon Kendhammer
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Category: Political Science
For generations Islamic and Western intellectuals and policymakers have debated Islam’s compatibility with democratic government, usually with few solid conclusions. But where—Brandon Kendhammer asks in this book—have the voices of ordinary, working-class Muslims been in this conversation? Doesn’t the fate of democracy rest in their hands? Visiting with community members in northern Nigeria, he tells the complex story of the stunning return of democracy to a country that has also embraced Shariah law and endured the radical religious terrorism of Boko Haram. Kendhammer argues that despite Nigeria’s struggles with jihadist insurgency, its recent history is really one of tenuous and fragile reconciliation between mass democratic aspirations and concerted popular efforts to preserve Islamic values in government and law. Combining an innovative analysis of Nigeria’s Islamic and political history with visits to the living rooms of working families, he sketches how this reconciliation has been constructed in the conversations, debates, and everyday experiences of Nigerian Muslims. In doing so, he uncovers valuable new lessons—ones rooted in the real politics of ordinary life—for how democracy might work alongside the legal recognition of Islamic values, a question that extends far beyond Nigeria and into the Muslim world at large.
‘Ideologies need enemies to thrive, religion does not’. Using the Sahel as a source of five comparative case studies, this volume aims to engage in the painstaking task of disentangling Islam from the political ideologies that have issued from its theologies to fight for governmental power and the transformation of society. While these ideologies tap into sources of religious legitimacy, the author shows that they are fundamentally secular or temporal enterprises, defined by confrontation with other political ideologies–both progressive and liberal–within the arena of nation states. Their objectives are the same as these other ideologies, i.e., to harness political power for changing national societies, and they resort to various methods of persuasion, until they break down into violence. The two driving questions of the book are, whence come these ideologies, and why do they–sometimes–result in violence? Ideologies of Salafi radicalism are at work in the five countries of the Sahel region, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, (Northern) Nigeria and Senegal, but violence has broken out only in Mali and Northern Nigeria. Using a theoretical framework of ideological development and methods of historical analysis, Idrissa traces the emergence of Salafi radicalism in each of these countries as a spark ignited by the shock between concurrent processes of Islamization and colonization in the 1940s. However, while the spark eventually ignited a blaze in Mali and Nigeria, it has only led to milder political heat in Niger and Senegal and has had no burning effect at all in Burkina Faso. By meticulously examining the development of Salafi radicalism ideologies over time in connection with developments in national politics in each of the countries, Idrissa arrives at compelling conclusions about these divergent outcomes. Given the many similarities between the countries studied, these divergences show, in particular, that history, the behaviour of state leaders and national sociologies matter–against assumptions of ‘natural’ contradictions between religion (Islam) and secularism or democracy. This volume offers a new perspective in discussions on ideology, which remains–as is shown here–the independent variable of many key contemporary political processes, either hidden in plain sight or disguised in a religious garb.
As the "Giant of Africa" Nigeria is home to about twenty percent of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa, serves as Africa's largest producer of oil and natural gas, comprises Africa's largest economy, and represents the cultural center of African literature, film, and music. Yet the country is plagued by problems that keep it from realizing its potential as a world power. Boko Haram, a radical Islamist insurrection centered in the northeast of the country, is an ongoing security challenge, as is the continuous unrest in the Niger Delta, the heartland of Nigeria's petroleum wealth. There is also persistent violence associated with land and water use, ethnicity, and religion. In Nigeria: What Everyone Needs to Know®, John Campbell and Matthew Page provide a rich contemporary overview of this crucial African country. Delving into Nigeria's recent history, politics, and culture, this volume tackles essential questions related to widening inequality, the historic 2015 presidential election, the persistent security threat of Boko Haram, rampant government corruption, human rights concerns, and the continual conflicts that arise in a country that is roughly half Christian and half Muslim. With its continent-wide influence in a host of areas, Nigeria's success as a democracy is in the fundamental interest of its African neighbors, the United States, and the international community. This book will provide interested readers with an accessible, one-of-a-kind overview of the country.
From its small-time origins in the early 2000s to its transformation into one of the world’s most-recognized terrorist groups, this remarkable short book tells the story of Boko Haram’s bloody, decade-long war in northeastern Nigeria. Going beyond the headlines, including the group’s 2014 abduction of 276 girls in Chibok and the international outrage it inspired, Boko Haram provides readers new to the conflict with a clearly written and comprehensive history of how the group came to be, the Nigerian government’s failed efforts to end it, and its enormous impact on ordinary citizens. Drawing on years of research, Boko Haram is a timely addition to the acclaimed Ohio Short Histories of Africa. Brandon Kendhammer and Carmen McCain—two leading specialists on northern Nigeria—separate fact from fiction within one of the world’s least-understood conflicts. Most distinctively, it is a social history, one that tells the story of Boko Haram’s violence through the journalism, literature, film, and music made by people close to it.