Who is Sheikh Zakzaky?
Sheikh Zakzaky was born on 5th of May 1953 (15th Sha’ban 1372 AH).
His early education was at the traditional Quranic and Islamic Schools from tender age to the age of sixteen in the historic city and traditional center of learning. He did not attend formal primary school. His first contact with formal education was in 1969 at the Provincial Arabic School, Zaria-a school where the then Zaria NA was locallu training Arabic teachers for its primary schools.
From 1971 – 1975 he attended the famous School for Arabic Studies (SAS), Kano.
Founded in 1934 as Northern Nigeria Law School it has been described as “the mother of Bayero University”. Almost one hundred per cent of Northern Grand Khadis are products of the school.
Being interested in some subjects not taught at the school, El Zakzaky combined his Grade II Teachers Certificate course with private GCE studies in subjects like Government and Economics.
In 1975 after finishing school exams he sat for Advanced Level GCE in Government, Economics, Hausa and Islamic Studies. Successful results in these exams qualified him for a direct entry into the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria for a B. Sc. (Economics) degree course from 1976 to 1979.
He was active member of the Muslim Student Society (MSS) at both campus and national levels. In 1978, then Secretary – General of the MSS (ABU), was believed to be the main brain behind the nation-wide demonstrations in support of the inclusion of Shari’ah in the Nigerian constitution.
He was elected Vice-President (International Affairs) of the MSS (National Body) in 1979.
Interestingly, he continued to learn from deferent ulama in the traditional system of learning in both Kano and Zaria. His teachers include Malam Sani Abdulkadir, Malam Isa of Madaka, Malam Sani Na’ibi and Malam Ibrahim of Kakaki all in Zaria. In Kano he learnt from Shawish Abdallah of Sagagi and Malam Nuhu the Imam of Yola.
His main occupation from student days to date is an Islamic scholar and activist – engaged mainly in learning, research and teaching Islamic studies. His speeches have been written into many booklets mainly in Hausa Language.
In the words of Dr Iqbal Siddiqui he is “the de facto leader of the Islamic movement in Nigeria”.
He traveled widely across the world. Countries visited include UK, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lebanon, Sudan, South Africa, US and Russia. All the travels have been for Islamic reasons – mostly attending conferences and seminars. He is married to one wife with nine children.
What Is Islamic Movement of Nigeria?
The Islamic Movement, headed by Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, was founded in the late 1970s as a student movement.
Since its establishment, it has grown into a social and religious movement with supporters and members of all ages and from all walks of life. Today estimates of its popularity vary, but most estimates say the Islamic Movement enjoys the support of between 10-15 million people across Nigeria.
The Islamic Movement has been organising the al-Quds Day procession for the last 33 years. This is a peaceful procession whose aim is to show solidarity with the people of Palestine. Al-Quds Day processions are held in towns and cities across the world by different organisations.
What is the goal of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria?
The goal of the Islamic movement is to enlighten the Muslims as to their duties as individuals and as a community. The movement owns more than three hundred primary/secondary schools located in different places mainly in the northern part of the country.
They are known by the name of Fudiyyah Schools. This is in addition to many Islamic centers and other institutions. The movement also owns the Nigeria’s most widely circulated newspaper, Al Mizan, in the Hausa language.
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Why is Sheikh Zakzaky detained?
The Nigerian government has said time and again that the reason it has continued to keep Sheikh El-Zakzaky behind bars for over three years now is only as a matter of public safety and in the best interest of the nation.
The Sheikh has been jailed several times for his ideas by all the successive Nigerian regimes from Obasanjo in khaki to the last Abacha/Abubakar regime, and now again during the Muhammadu Buhari regime.
Charges against him were always sedition or inciting disaffection to Government.
In Abacha time it was for declaring, “there is no government except that of Islam”. His total prison experience is nine years in nine different prisons across the country – the most famous being Enugu (1981-1984), the notorious Interrogation Center of NSO, Lagos (1984-1985), Kiri-Kiri Maximum Security (1985), Port Harcout (1987-1989 and 1996-1997) and Kaduna (1987 and 1997-1998).
Again, during the Buhari regime, alongside his wife Zeenah, Sheikh Zakzaky has been detained since the Zaria Massacre of 2015 when government forces killed hundreds of IMN members and severely wounded Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife.
In 2016, Nigerian authorities refused to comply with the court order of the High Court in Nigeria which demanded that Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife be released immediately.
Zakzaky and his wife has also been repeatedly denied medical attention.
The Zaria Massacre of 2014
On 25 July 2014 Nigerian soldiers attacked the annual al-Quds Day procession in support of Palestine in Zaria, a city in Kaduna State in northern Nigeria. The following day, soldiers drove to the Husainiyyah Baqiyyatullah and opened fire on supporters of the Islamic Movement within the precinct of the main building.
The two attacks killed 341 people including three children of the prominent scholar Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, head of the Islamic Movement. This is not the first time that the al-Quds Day procession in Zaria has been attacked. In 2009 four people were killed and several injured when police opened fire on civilians.
Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) sent a fact-finding mission to Zaria on 30 July 2014. The mission was led by IHRC Chair, Massoud Shadjareh. This report is based on its interviews with victims, their families and also eye-witnesses. The findings include video footage of Nigerian soldiers firing on unarmed civilians located at the tail end of the procession in Zaria on 25 July. Thirty-two people died. Bystanders were among those killed in the violence. Over 100 people were injured.
There is evidence that many of those arrested died in military custody. Reports indicate that some were taken into detention alive and well and later emerged dead with their bodies bearing signs of being beaten. Others who were injured were detained for hours and brutalised before being allowed to seek medical treatment.
According to eye-witnesses, three truckloads of soldiers opened fire at the procession without warning. The following day three truckloads ofsoldiers approached the Husainiyyah Baqiyyatullah, the headquarters of the Islamic Movement in Zaria, and opened fire on people standing outside. Two people died and seven were injured.
The Zaria Massacre of 2015
The Zaria massacre of 2015 (also known as Buhari Massacre) was a massacre carried out by the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria, on Saturday, 12 December 2015, against Shia Muslims, mostly members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria. At least 1000 civilians were killed, with 347 bodies secretly buried by the army in a masse grave.
The Army claimed that it had responded to an attempt to assassinate Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria. This claim has been strongly rejected by the Islamic Movement and several human rights organizations who argue that the massacre occurred without any provocation and that all the protestors were unarmed. The incident is considered among the “notable human rights violation since the return to democracy” in Nigeria.
Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria carried out an assault against Shia Muslims, mostly members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, on 12 December 2015. The attack left at least 348 civilian killed and some others injured. Ibrahim Zakzaky was injured in the incident and was captured along with his wife and hundreds of other members.
Some of the injured bodies were burned alive, according to the Amnesty International report.
According to the HRW report, Nigeria’s government buried the bodies without family members’ permission.[
References : Official Website of Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Wikipedia.