Izala Movement: Origins of Boko Haram

Izala Movement: Origins of Boko Haram

The teachings of Abubakar Gumi, a prominent Northern Nigerian Islamic scholar, and the emergence of the group Boko Haram are interconnected in the context of Nigeria’s complex sociopolitical landscape. We examine Gumi’s teachings, the origins of Boko Haram, and the group’s pursuit of an Islamic theocracy influenced by the conservative Izala Movement and the Wahhabi ideology prevalent in Saudi Arabia.

Abubakar Gumi: A Leading Northern Nigerian Islamic Scholar

Born in 1922, Abubakar Gumi became a respected Islamic scholar known for his sermons and teachings. His religious interpretations and perspectives have attracted a significant following in Northern Nigeria.

Gumi emphasized the importance of Islamic education, the implementation of Shariah law, and the need for moral and social reforms within the Nigerian Muslim community. In addition, Gumi advocated for addressing poverty, corruption, and social injustices, promoting a more equitable society based on Islamic principles.

Boko Haram emerged against a backdrop of socioeconomic disparities, corruption, and political marginalization in Nigeria’s Northern regions. These grievances provided fertile ground for radical ideologies to take hold.

The ideology of Boko Haram is influenced by the Izala Movement, a conservative Islamic group known for its opposition to Western education and non-Islamic practices. Boko Haram also draws inspiration from the Wahhabi movement, an ultra-conservative branch of Islam prominent in Saudi Arabia. The group adopts a strict interpretation of Islamic law and calls for the establishment of an Islamic state.

In short, Boko Haram’s Objectives and Ideology can be summed up as:

  1. Rejecting Western Education: Boko Haram opposes Western education, considering it to be incompatible with their interpretation of Islam.
  2. Boko Haram seeks to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, governed by strict Shariah law. They view Nigeria’s secular government as illegitimate and aim to replace it with an Islamic theocracy.

The Impact and Challenges Of Boko Haram’s Activities

Boko Haram’s activities have caused widespread displacement and a severe humanitarian crisis, particularly in Northeastern Nigeria, with millions affected by the violence. Furthermore, Boko Haram has raised Regional Security Concerns as Boko Haram’s actions have spilled across Nigeria’s borders, destabilizing neighbouring countries such as Cameroon, Niger, and Chad. It poses a significant security threat to the region.

In response, the Nigerian government has launched military operations against Boko Haram, collaborating with regional and international partners to combat the group’s insurgency. Efforts to address the root causes of extremism, including socioeconomic development and countering radical ideologies, are ongoing.

Abubakar Gumi has been involved in efforts to negotiate with Boko Haram, advocating for dialogue and reconciliation as a means to address grievances and resolve the conflict.


The teachings of Abubakar Gumi, the origins of Boko Haram, and the group’s pursuit of an Islamic theocracy under Shariah law are interlinked within the complex sociopolitical context of Northern Nigeria. Gumi’s teachings have influenced the conservative Islamic landscape as a form of African Political Islam which has seen Boko Haram emerge with its own vision for Nigeria based on the Islamic ideology of the Izala Movement.