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Dynamics of Islam in Nigeria in a transnational perspective

Main Research Directions

As part of the implementation of its research program Dynamics of Islam in Nigeria, IFRA-Nigeria organized two brainstorming sessions, the first at University of Ibadan and the second at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. The aim of these workshops was to stimulate collective reflection and to define common research perspectives. We wish to thank all the scholars who joined us in this preliminary stage of the project.

Several research directions were defined and sub-divided into different topical issues to be investigated. The research directions were defined under three main perspectives:

1. Historical
2. Sociological/socio-economic
3. Political

1. Historical perspectives

Islamic landscape in Nigeria
- Emergence, evolution, and coexistence of Islamic movements in Nigeria: identify the different actors and tools of diffusion of Islamic knowledge; reconstruct the way the contemporary Islamic landscape was formed; identify the main fault lines and explain the tensions between different movements.

- Rivalry between new Islamic movements and traditional brotherhoods.
- The notion of radical Islam in Nigeria: historical analysis of discourses.
- The notion of Jihad in Nigeria in historical perspective; radicalisation of Islamic movements: sectarianism, catalysts, processes, and repression.
- History of Sharia in Nigeria.

Influence issues
- Comparison with Christian movements (especially religious practices/messages and conversion/communication strategies deve

loped by Pentecostal churches).
- Islamic Internationalism: influences from international radical and non-radical Islamic movements / Islamic states (Iranian Revolution, Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian Hamas, Taliban in Afghanistan, Arabian peninsula, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia).

2. Sociological/socio-economic perspectives

Interactions between Islam & modernity
- Connexion between globalisation and religion (the role of classical and new media).
- The influence of global social dynamics on interpretation and practice of Islam (liberalism, conservatism, fundamentalism, censorship).
- New ‘modern’ Islamic movements / practice; example of NASFAT.

Education issues
- The question of Islamic education; description of the Islamic educational landscape in Nigeria; the interaction between Islamic actors and the State in education; Islamic schools, public schools, private schools.
- Education, social integration, and nation-building: Islamic education and the question of nationhood, secularity, unity, democracy.
- Islamic attitude towards knowledge and learning in Nigerian universities and other third-level institutions.
- Education of the Muslim elite in Nigeria.

Socio-economic dimensions
- Islamic radicalisation and crisis of the industrial sector in Northern Nigeria: how are these factors related? Youth, unemployment, and expansion of radical Islam in Northern Nigeria.
- Connection between religious transformations and socio-political mutations: process of ‘re-Islamisation’, change of social practices (university campus life, clothing, food, education, social mix).
- Influence of Islamic movements on rules and practices of marriage.
- Islamic banking (debates, functioning, and socio-political impact).
- Islamic relief agencies in Nigeria; Islamic civil society organizations vs Nigerian State in the provision of infrastructure and welfare in Northern Nigeria (funding, actions, networks, and support).
- Funding of radical Islam in Nigeria (sources, actors, strategies).

Religious interactions
- Cross-religious knowledge in Nigeria: factors of ignorance and misconception of the religion of the other.
- Religious boundaries: perceptions and realities.
- Inter-faith dialogue in Nigeria; dealing with inter-religious violence in Nigeria: security agencies, justice, and commissions.
- Rising inter-religious tension: how is violence generated?
- Links between inter-religious and politically-motivated violence in Nigeria.

3. Political perspectives

Politics & Islam: participation, anti-participation, in-between and switching postures
- Democratization and politicization of religion.
- Relationship between Islamic movements and political power (official and unofficial relations).
- Islam as a political tool in Nigerian national politics; Islam and security politics in Nigeria.
- Conspiracy theories

Regional/International issues
- Islamic radicalism and regional politics.
- Islam, identities, and immigrations policies.
- Circulation of Islamic scholars, materials, ideas, and organization between Nigeria and its neighbours.
- ‘Re-branding’ Nigeria?: religion, violence, and subjectivity in the perception of Nigeria by international media.


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