|Full Name||Ibrahim Ya'qub Zakzaky|
|Well-Known As||Leader of Shi'as in Nigeria|
|Religious Affiliation||Twelver Shia|
|Place of Birth||Zaria or Zakzo|
|Studied in||Zaria, Kano|
|He founded the Islamic Movement of Nigeria|
Ibrāhīm Zakzāky (Arabic: إبراهيم الزكزكي) (b. 1953) is a Shiite cleric and the leader of Shi'as in Nigeria. Zakzaky was inspired by the Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979 and by Imam Khomeini and then converted to Shiism. He founded the Islamic Movement of Nigeria as well as 300 Islamic schools in Nigeria and its neighboring countries. He also founded charities to provide financial, health, and educational services to Shi'as.
According to Zakzaky, in late 1970s at the time of the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, he began religious propagation in Nigeria and attracted dozens of people. With his efforts, in 2010s, the number of the followers of the school of Ahl al-Bayt (a) in Nigeria reached millions.
Zakzaky's three children were killed in an attack by Nigerian military forces on demonstrations of the al-Quds Day. Zakzaky was arrested and imprisoned after an attack by Nigerian army forces on Husayniyya Baqiyyatullah in Zaria in 2015. The massacres of Shi'as in Nigeria was condemned by Husayn Wahid Khurasani, a Shiite marja', Sayyid Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Shaykh 'Isa Qassim, the leader of Shi'as in Bahrain. Gatherings were held in Iran, USA, Australia, Sweden, and Turkey to object to actions by the Nigerian government.
Biography and Education
Ibrahim Zakzaky was born in 1953 in northern Nigeria. In addition to his educations, he studied religious disciplines in Kano in northern Nigeria until 1976. In 1979, he earned his bachelor's degree in economics from Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria. After a while, he undertook imamate of congregational prayers in the mosque of a religious seminary. He became a member of the Union of Muslim Students and was then selected as its general secretary.
In a visit to Paris in 1979, Ibrahim Zakzaky met with Imam Khomeini, and after the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, he went to the Islamic Seminary of Qom to study religious disciplines. He has frequently talked about the tremendous impact of Imam Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution of Iran on him. Zakzaky used to be a Maliki Sunni, and converted to Shiism after his meeting with Imam Khomeini.
After the victory of Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979, Zakzaky made a visit to Iran, and upon his return, he launched the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. He founded about 300 Islamic schools in Nigeria and its neighboring countries. Zakzaky is also a general member of Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly. He also founded Mu'assisat al-Shuhada' in order to take care of children of martyrs and orphans, the charity institute of al-Zahra' in order to provide social and civil services, and a center to provide health and educational services.
According to Nasiba Zakzaky, one of Ibrahim Zakzaky's children, with his propagation and efforts, 12 million people in Nigeria converted to Shiism. As Zakzaky himself says, his propagation in late 1970s and early 1980s (coincident with the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran) began with the attraction of dozens of people, and after 10 years, the number of followers of the school of Ahl al-Bayt (a) in Nigeria reached hundreds of thousands, and in 2010s, it reached millions.
Arrest and Imprisonment
Children of Shaykh Ibrahim Zakzaky were killed by the Nigerian police in demonstrations on the al-Quds Day in 2014.
In Arba'in ceremonies held by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in 2015, an attack by Nigerian army forces on the Shiite ceremony left dozens of casualties. Zakzaky and his wife were arrested and imprisoned in 2015 after an attack by Nigerian army forces on Husayniyya Baqiyyatullah in Zaria which led to the murder and injury of a number of Shi'as.
Before that in August 2014, the three sons of Ibrahim Zakzaky and 33 Shi'as were killed in an attack by Nigerian military forces on demonstrators of the al-Quds Day.
In September 2016, the Nigerian Supreme Court rejected the release of Shaykh Zakzaky, but in December 2016, it issued a ruling in favor of the release of Zakzaky and his wife. However, he was not released, and in December 2017, after rumors of his death in the prison, he attended a meeting with journalists. In May 2018, in a phone call with his child, he said that the massacre of Shi'as in Zaria was based on a financial support of the Nigerian army by the Saudi Arabian government. Also, from 1981 to 1989, Zakzaky has been arrested three times, and was in the Nigerian government's prison for 7 years on the whole.
The attack on Shi'as, killing them, and the arrest of Zakzaky and his wife in Nigeria led to protests in Nigeria and other areas of the world, including Iran, USA, Australia, Sweden, and Turkey.
In August 2014, in response to the massacre of demonstrators of the al-Quds Day in Nigeria and the murder of Ibrahim Zakzaky's three sons by Nigerian governmental forces, Ayatollah Wahid Khurasani, a Shiite marja', made a phone call to Zakzaky and expressed his condolences for the martyrdom of the Shi'as as well as his three sons. Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, referred to Ibrahim Zakzaky as an oppressed figure in the world. And in his speech for Iranian official and guests at the Islamic Unity Government, he referred to Zakzaky as a "faithful reformer and [Islamic] proximity activist" whose six children were martyred within two years. Ayatollah Khamenei referred to the attack on the Shi'as in Nigeria as a catastrophe. Shaykh 'Isa Qassim, the leader of Shi'as in Bahrain, referred to the attack on Shi'as in Nigeria as a crime, and blamed the Nigerian government for it.
According to a statement by the Nigerian government, Hassan Rouhani, the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, made a phone call to Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian president, after the attack by Nigerian government forces on the Shiite Husayniyya in Zaria, and asked him to form a fact finding committee to investigate violence against Shi'as. In response to attacks on Shi'as, the Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran summoned the Nigerian ambassador in Tehran and asked for protection of Shi'as in Nigeria.
The refusal of the Nigerian government to enforce the ruling in favor of Zakzaky's release was followed by reactions in Nigeria. In Arba'in ceremonies in 2018, a number of Shi'as held demonstrations in Abuja in response to Zakzaky's imprisonment and the failure of the government to enforce the order of his release, asking for his release from the prison. The Nigerian army attacked the demonstrators, and according to news sources, over 40 Shi'as were killed in these attacks.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from ابراهیم زکزاکی in Farsi WikiShia.