Notable Alumni: Ibrahim Zakzaky
Ibrahim Yaqoub El Zakzaky (alternately Ibraheem Zakzaky; Ibrahim Al-Zakzaky) (born May 5, 1953) is an outspoken and foremost Shi’a Muslim cleric in Nigeria. He is the head of Nigeria’s Islamic Movement, a movement that he founded in the late 1970s, when he was a student at Ahmadu Bello University, and began propagating Shia Islam around 1979, at the time of the Iranian revolution—which saw Iran’s monarchy overthrown and replaced with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Khomeini. Zakzaky believed that the establishment of a republic along similar religious lines in Nigeria would be feasible. He has been detained several times due to accusations of civil disobedience or recalcitrance under military regimes in Nigeria during the 1980s and 1990s, and is still viewed with suspicion or as a threat by Nigerian authorities. In December 2015, the Nigerian Army raided his residence in Zaria, seriously injured him, and killed hundreds of his followers; since then, he has remained under state detention in the nation’s capital pending his release, which was ordered in late 2016.
Early life and education
Ibraheem Zakzaky was born on 5 May 1953 (15 Sha’ban 1372 AH), in Zaria, Kaduna State. He attended the Provincial Arabic School, Zaria (1969-1970), the School for Arabic Studies, Kano from 1971-1976, where he obtained the ‘Grade II’ Certificate, and the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria (1976-1979), where he earned a first-class bachelor’s degree in Economics. The degree was denied to him by the university authorities due to his Islamic activities. During his university days, he was active in student Islamic unionism, where he became the secretary-general of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) at the Main Campus of the university (1977/78), and later became Vice President (International Affairs) of the National Body of the MSSN in 1979.
The same year, he is said to have become so impressed with the 1979 Iranian Revolution that he wanted one at home. Later, Zakzaky went to Iran, ultimately becoming a Shia cleric. At home, he became the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and turned it into a vehicle for proselytizing and gaining followers in the 1990s. As a result of his activities, millions have converted to Shia Islam in a country once with hardly any Shia population.