June 11, 2012
Schooling Muslims in Northern Nigeria: Politics, Policies and Conclusions

New from Alex Thurston for The Revealer, June 6:

In March, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan launched a policy of opening religious schools for Muslims in Northern Nigeria. The policy came in response to the militant movement Boko Haram, which has been burning government primary schools in Northern Nigeria as part of its campaign of violence against the government, Christians, and other designated adversaries. Government officials suspect Boko Haram, whose name is often literally translated “Western education is Islamically forbidden,” of using some Islamic schools as recruiting centers, and of drawing recruits from Northern Nigeria’s large population of itinerant, and often desperately poor, Qur’anic students (Hausa: almajirai, singular almajiri). Government-run Islamic schools, then, are to be a source of “counter-radicalization” as well as a means of moving almajirai into more “productive” schools. But the policy is unlikely to succeed.

Read the full article here.

May 22, 2012
Perverse Mission? Catholic Approaches to Foreign Policy « The Revealer

This is the fourth post in a series on Islamic education in Northern Nigeria, originally published at The Revealer 21 May 2012.

Frances Kissling reviews “Reverse Mission: Transnational Religious Communities and the Making of US Foreign Policy” by Timothy Byrnes.

Timothy Byrnes is an engaging academic political scientist who has written extensively and wisely on religion and politics, particularly the political role of the institutional Catholic church (see Transnational Catholicism in Postcommunist Europe, Rowman & Littlefield, 2001; Catholic Bishops in American Politics, Princeton, 1991; Abortion Politics in American States, co-editor, M.E. Sharpe, 1995; The Catholic Church and the Politics of Abortion, co-editor, Westview Press, 1992). In a recent lecture at Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, Byrnes discussed his latest book Reverse Mission: Transnational Religious Communities and the Making of US Foreign Policy. It marked, he noted, a shift from his longstanding interest in the politics of religion to a more intense look at how the character of transnational religious groups affects the ways they seek to influence foreign policy. Perhaps he, like many of us, has about had it with the perverse mission of the Vatican and US bishops. The Vatican squanders its moral authority on protecting bishops from criminal charges for covering up clerical sexual abuse while US bishops lobby against marriage equality laws and contraceptive insurance for Catholic hospital and university employees.

Read the full article here….

May 16, 2012
“Traditional” and Reformist Practices: Advanced Islamic Education in Northern Nigeria

This post is the third in a series on Muslim schooling in Northern Nigeria by Alex Thurston for The Revealer. The first post gave an overview of the series, and the second discussed Qur’anic schools.

15 May 2012

Alex Thurston: In Nigeria, advanced Islamic education–the step following one’s basic instruction in the Qur’an–takes various forms. Here, I’ll examine the traditional settings for advanced Islamic education. The term “traditional” is a problematic one, as “traditions” are sometimes much more recent – and more consciously invented – than outsiders might assume. But the term has some use for describing systems that have evolved over time and were not directly created by colonial or postcolonial governments or by postcolonial reformist movements. “Advanced Islamic education,” meanwhile, refers here to training beyond the memorization of the Qur’an and instruction in the basic ritual requirements of Islam.

Continue reading here.

March 6, 2012
Identity, Crisis: Shari’a Law in Nigerian Politics

NOT shari’a law: anything in America.

ACTUALLY shari’a law: stuff in this article at The Revealer by Alex Thurston.

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