‘El-Zakzaky Is Not Shiite, He’s Confused,’ Claims Faction As IMN Goes To Court

Following the ban on the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, by the Nigerian Government, a group by the name ‘Al-Thaqalayn Cultural Foundation’ has described the Ibrahim El-Zakzaky-led Shiite movement in the country as fake even as the former has gone to court.


Spokesman of the IMN, Ibrahim Musa in a statement had said that “we will be in court challenging the proscription”.

Meanwhile, Secretary General of the factional Shi’ite’s group, Sheikh Hamza Muhammad Lawal, in a press conference said the IMN is not another name for Shi’ism, adding that the two are not synonymous nor interchangeable.

He explained that he was once a member of IMN between 1981 and 2000, after he returned from Qum, Islamic Republic of Iran, where he studied Theology.

According to him, “IMN started in the late 1970s as a socio-cultural and politico-religious revivalist movement, drawing its inspiration and taking its cue from essentially Sunni activists from countries like Egypt and Pakistan.

“It was an offshoot of the Muslim Students Society (MSS), and its birth coincided with the inception of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, which gave it a living and contemporary example of what it was yearning for, and therefore it got attracted and gravitated to its political message.


“When the leader of IMN, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, became a Shiite afterwards, he fell into the dilemma of either abandoning his Sunni revivalist movement or risking the possibility of losing his followers, or continuing with the movement with all its Sunni content but a Shi’ite face. He chose the latter, and that has been his undoing.

“Sheikh El-Zakzaky has not been able to complete his process of migration from Sunni activism to Shiite evangelism. His movement is a curious hybrid and a concoction, a dangerously unstable cocktail of incoherent and disorganised hallucinations and fantasies that only exist in their wildest dreams. In fact, when push comes to shove and a critical study of IMN is done, it may turn out that it is much, much closer to Sunni Islam.

“The press should, therefore, seriously note this and start calling IMN by the name it has given itself, IMN. The press is thus hereby called upon to appreciate the difference between IMN and Shi’ism. IMN is not another name for Shi’ism. The two are neither synonymous nor interchangeable.”

Islam, one of the major religions in Nigeria has two major school of thought, Sunni of the Maliki and Shia. The majority of the Nigerian Muslim population is Sunni, while the Shia group is on the minority.  

According to Wikipedia, there are no actual statistics that reflect a Shia population in Nigeria, and a figure of even 5% of the total Nigerian Muslim population is thought to be too high because of the routine conflation of Shi’a with Sunnis who express solidarity with the Iranian revolutionary program, such as those of Zakzaki’s Ikhwani.”


Shia Islam was “almost unknown” in Nigeria until the 1980s, when Zakzaky introduced Shia Islam.

Zakzaky founded the organization in the late 1970s. The group’s first reported march in 1980 was in support of Iran after a joint US-Canadian operation to save US diplomats trapped in Tehran in 1979.

In recent years, the country has seen frequent clashes between security forces and IMN followers during protests and religious processions.

The most recent clash occurred two weeks ago when the Shiite group protested the continued detention of their leader in Abuja, a protest that turned violent leading to the death of several persons.

Recall that Zakzaky was detained by the federal government after scores were killed during a clash between Shiites and Army in Zaria, Kaduna state.


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