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Federal Republic of Nigeria
Flag of Nigeria
Official languages English
Religion Islam 97% (60% Shi'a, 37% Sunni), other religions 3%
Government Republic
 -  estimate 185,989,640 (2016)
Map of Nigeria

Federal Republic of Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa. It is located in the west of this continent. More than 50% of its population are Muslims and Shi'a Muslims of Nigeria are regarded the most populated Shi'a group in Africa.

There are no precise information on the number of Shi'a Muslims in Nigeria, however they are approximately 3 to 7 million.

Islamic Movement in Nigeria managed by Shi'a Muslims has been led by Shaykh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky. Shi'a Muslims of Nigeria are settling in Lagos, Zaria, and Kano. Most of Shiite activities are centered in Baqiyat Allah Husayniyya in Zaria. Nigerian army attacked attendants of commemoration of Quds Day in 2014, and they gun down a number of them including three sons of Ibrahim al-Zakzaky.

General Information

Nigeria is situated in the western coast of Africa. It is the most populated country in Africa. Abuja is the capital of this country and Lagos is the biggest city of Nigeria. Nigerian people speak English. Total area of Nigeria is 923.768 km2. Nigeria is bordering Niger from north, Benin from west, and Cameroon from south.

Settling in Nigeria goes back to 9000 years B.C. It became a colony of Great Britain in the 19th century and reached its independence in 1960. After their independence Nigeria faced military juntas. In 1999 a democratic election was held in Nigeria for the first time.


Islam and Christianity are the main religions in Nigeria. Islam appeared in Nigeria through Arab Muslim merchants who traveled there from the North Africa deserts. Hausa was the first Nigerian tribe that accepted Islam in western Africa. They practiced Sufism and they played a crucial role in preaching and establishment of Fulani Empire. In the 18th century an Islamic movement was launched in Nigeria by Muslims which was led by Uthman dan Fodio, they managed to establish an Islamic caliphate that ruled for hundred years; it was finally overthrown by British invaders.

Christianity appeared in Nigeria at the time of the entrance of Portuguese in the country in the 15th century. Also Muslims and Christians had clashes in January 2010 in which several people were killed from both sides.

Nigeria contain the most populated Muslim community in Africa who are mostly settling in northern regions of the country. The majority are followers of Maliki school and different sects of Sufism such as Tijaniyya, Qadiriyya and Ahmadiyya which are active among them. Also, a number of Wahhabis are living there. Boko Haram are currently active in this country.

Over half of the population of Nigeria, 170 million totally, are Muslims. According to PEW population of Nigerian Muslims in 2010 was 75.728.000. While unofficial reports show 75% of Nigeria were Muslims in previous decades. Some experts believe decrease in the number of Muslims and increase of Christian followers, is a result of preaching activities of Christian missionaries. Nigeria was the first destination of Pope's travels through Africa after the Islamic Revolution of Iran.


Arba'in gathering in Zaria, north of Nigeria.

Shi'a Muslims of Nigeria are the most populated Shiite community in Africa. It is said 95% of them believed in other religions and in the last three decades they have converted to Islam and Shi'ism; they are called Mustabsir. Zaria is the capital of Shi'a Muslims in Nigeria which is located in Kaduna state. In addition, a number of Lebanese Shi'a Muslims have immigrated to Nigeria. Nigerian Shi'a Muslims are Twelvers who are living in Kano, Lagos and "Zaria". They regularly hold religious ceremonies in 'Ashura and also produce newspaper, book, websites and multimedia products about Ahl al-Bayt (a) and Shi'a Imams in local Nigerian language.

Population of Shi'a Muslims in Nigeria

There are no precise information on the number of Shi'a Muslims in Nigeria. However, according to Ahl al-Bayt Portal, number of Shi'a Muslims in Nigeria was 7 million in 2008 and PEW reported their number approximately 3.9 million in 2009.

Shi'ite Figures

Ibrahim Ya'qub al-Zakzaky (b. 1953): He is the head of Islamic movement in Nigeria. Al-Zakzaky graduated in economics and was imprisoned in 1980s and 1990s. His three sons were killed in commemoration of al-Quds Day in 2014 in Zaria by Nigerian army. His activities persuaded local Nigerian to convert to Islam and Ahl al-Bayt (a) school of thought.

Hafid Muhammad Sa'id: He is the head of Shi'ite institute Haydar li-nashr al-Islam. Before conversion to Shi'a, he was follower of Maliki school.

Shi'ite Organizations

Islamic Movement of Nigeria

Ibrahim al-Zakzaky attended the first anniversary of the demise of Imam Khomeini in Iran as International minister of Islamic society of Sudan. After his return from Iran he managed to establish Islamic Movement of Nigeria with the support of his friends.

Shi'ite Institute of Haydar li-nashr al-Islam

It was established for the purpose of training local preachers and teachers in Nigeria which is managed by Hafid Muhammad Sa'id. They are trying to found and expand Islamic schools in different states of Nigeria.

Shi'ite Regions

  • Zaria: It is located in Kaduna state of Nigeria in the north and it is regarded as the center of Shi'ite activities in this country. Ahmadu Bello University is the biggest university of Nigeria which is located in Zaria; also al-Zakzaky has studied in this university. Baqiyyat Allah Husayniya is the center of Shi'a Muslims' gatherings in the city. Nigerian army attacked attendants of commemoration of Al-Quds Day in 2014 and murdered 33 Muslims including three sons of al-Zakzaky. This incident drew worldwide attention so that figures and Shi'a Marja's have reacted to it.
  • Kano
  • Lagos: It is the biggest city of Nigeria and it includes a number of Shi'a Muslims.

Anti-Shi'ite Activities

Anti-Shi'ite activities in the north of Nigeria are hugely related to political disputes within the country. After a suspicious slaying of a Sunni clergyman in Sokoto in July 2007 Shi'a Muslims faced several attacks and a number of them were injured and murdered, also their houses and Shi'ite centers were destroyed. Shi'a Muslims are restricted in having mosques and husayniyyas in this country.

Boko Haram (in Hausa language it means: "western education is Haram") is a rebellious group in the north of Nigeria. They demand to close all modern schools and strictly practicing Islamic Shari'a in 36 states of Nigeria.


  • The material for this article is mainly taken from نیجریه in Farsi Wikishia.