Religious Conflicts in Nigeria: Implications on Socio-Economic and Psychological Perceptions of Muslims in Igbo Land
Islam was founded by Prophet Mohammed (SAW). He received his call to Prophet-hood in the course of his frequent withdrawals to pray in Mount Hirah. Consequently, he began to teach his followers the tenets of the religion and the faith began to grow across the globe. It entered Kanem Borno Empire through the activities of the Arab merchants and by the time the nineteenth century jihad took place, the religion speedily spread to many parts of the Northern Nigeria and gradually it penetrated into the Southern part of the country especially the Eastern region of the country.
However, it is worthy to note that ?Islam is literary a whole way of life encompassing virtually everything and cannot be separated into spiritual and mundane?1. It is ?a culture that transcends geo-political boundaries?2. Ismail R. al-Faruqi has noted that tawhid is the ?essence and core of Islam and the first determining principle of Islam, its culture and civilization?. He went on to state that it is so because ?tawhid is that which gives Islamic civilization it?s identify, which binds all its constituents together and makes of them an integral, organic body.?3 Hence, notwithstanding the location of the Igbo Muslims, they are still part of the Islamic Ummah.
While majority of the Muslim Ummah practice sound religious ideologies, the few extremists amongst them have often ignited the flame of religious conflicts across the country. For the Muslim fanatics, the whole system of nation-states and their administration are simply un-Islamic and should be pulled-down and replaced with what they would call an ?Islamic State?4. The activities of this small percentage of Islamic fundamentalists in Nigeria always stepped-into any little potential conflict situation to unleash religious mayhem on Nigerians and the country at large. The wind of religious conflicts in Nigeria has been more recurrent in the North which is mainly dominated by the Hausa Muslims but its influence is felt in the Eastern region of the country in form of misperceptions.
This work shows that the post independence colonial conflicts in Nigeria has its root on the activities of the colonial masters which sowed the seed of discord amongst the different ethnic and religious groups that make up what we know today as Nigeria. Again, it outlined the examples of some years when religious conflict took place in the country starting from the 1980s. Consequently the work went on to show that constant religious violence in Nigeria which is often triggered by the extremist position of few Muslims has affected the socio-cultural, economic and psychological perception of Moslems in Igbo land.