Identity conflicts among Yoruba Muslim groups in selected states of Nigeria

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation 2017 206 Pages

Sociology - Religion


Table of Contents





1.1. Background to the Study
1.2. Statement of the Problem
1.3. Objectives of the Study
1.4. Scope of the Study
1.5. Significance of the Study
1.6. Research Methodology

2.1. Introduction
2.2. Inter-religious Conflicts, Society and Politics
2.3. Conflict, Social Institutions and Societal Values
2.4. Yorubaland and Affairs of Islam

3.1. Introduction
3.2. Definitions and Meanings of Identity
3.3. Types of Identity
3.4. Meanings of Conflict
3.5. Types of Identity Conflicts
3.6. Causes of Identity Conflicts
3.7. Identity Conflict in the Islamic Periphery
3.8. The Reactionaries/ Traditionalists and Identity Conflicts
3.9. The Non-conformists and Identity Conflicts
3.10. The Modernists/ Progressives and Identity Conflicts
3.11. The Secularists and Identity Conflicts
3.12. Summary

4.1. Introduction
4.2. Yoruba Muslim Groups
4.2.1. The Tijāniyyah Sufi Group
4.2.2. The Qādiriyyah Sufi Group
4.2.3. The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria
4.2.4. The Muslim Congress
4.2.5. Zumuratul Mu’minīn
4.2.6. Jamā‘atut –Tablīgh
4.2.7. Jamā‘ah ’Izālati Bid‘ah Wa ’Iqāmatis-Sunnah
4.2.8. Jamā‘ah Ta‘āwunul Muslimīn
4.3. Religious Identifiers
4.3.1. The Cap
4.3.2. The Hijāb
4.3.3. The Subhah (Rosary)
4.3.4. The Turban
4.3.5. The Beard
4.3.6. The Trousers
4.4. Subject Matters of the Conflicts
4.4.1. The Cap and Salāt
4.4.2. The Hij ᾱb as a Dress Code for Women
4.4.3. The Symbolism of Turban and Its Relevance during Salāt
4.4.5. Keeping of Beards
4.4.6. Wearing of Jumping Trousers
4.5. Causes of Conflicts over Religious Identifiers
4.6. Effects of the Conflicts

5.1. Introduction
5.2. The Needs to follow Divine Directives
5.3. The Need for Flexibility on Matters of Religion
5.4. Verification of Sources of Information for Proper and Correct Interpretations
5.5. Adherence to Sunnah (Practice) of the Prophet
5.6. Cross Examination of Analogical Deductions of Scholars
5.7. Review of Da‘wah Mechnasims and Methodologies
5.8. Summary

6.1. Summary
6.2. Research Findings
6.3. Recommendations
6.4. Conclusion



The Yoruba Muslims’ notion of the self and the other had, since 1960s, had profound impacts on their socio-religious lives and engendered intra-faith conflicts and controversies. Existing studies on identity and conflict have concentrated on inter-religious conflicts (Ṣirā‘āt) in the northern Nigeria while intra-faith conflicts and disagreements (Ikhtilāfāt) among Muslims in the Southwestern Nigeria have been neglected. This study, therefore, examined conflicts which centred on religious identifiers such as cap, hijāb, turban, rosary, beard and short trousers among Yoruba Muslims in Nigeria, with a view to authenticating their position in Islam.

The study employed al-Alw ā ni’s construct of conflict which allows expression of divergent opinions to ensure dynamism in al-Furū ‘(branches of Islam), without resulting to crisis. Two thousand four hundred and seventy questionnaires were administered. Respondents (aged 20-60) from Oyo (410), Osun (400), Lagos (350), Ogun (300), Ondo (320), Ekiti (310) and Kwara (380) were randomly sampled. Purposive sampling technique was also adopted in selecting fifty-six Islamic preachers comprising seven from each of Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Tablīgh, Ta‘āwun, Izālah, Tijāniyyah, Qādiriyyah, The Muslim Congress (TMC) and Zumrah, across the seven states, for interviews on religious identifiers. The Qur’ān and the Sunnah were consulted and data were subjected to both qualitative and quantitative analyses.

Identity conflicts among Nigerian Muslims largely focused on al-Furūʽ not al-Uūl (fundamentals). The Zumrah, Tablīgh, TMC and Qādiriyyah considered wearing caps as compulsory for the Imām and the congregation (31.2% i.e. χ2=66.81) while the Tijāniyyah, MSSN, Izālah and Ta‘āwun considered it obligatory only for the Imām (48.7% i.e. χ2=22.61). TMC, MSSN, Tablīgh, Ta‘āwun, Izālah, Tijāniyyah, Qādiriyyah and Zumrah held the view that the turban promotes moral values (32.7% i.e. χ2=25.64) while the Tablīgh and Ta‘āwun believed that its size determines the level of Muslims’ piety (32.4% i.e. χ2=12.29), contrary to the Islamic Law (Bukhari: 367&370). The Tablīgh, MSSN, Izālah, Zumrah, Ta‘āwun and TMC believed that the hijāb, in line with Sharī‘ah (Q.33:59), is compulsory for all women (81.4% i.e.χ2=18.84) while the Tijāniyyah and Qādiriyyah restricted its use to only mature and married women (19.6% i.e. χ2=18.84). The Qādiriyyah, TMC and MSSN considered rosary a symbol of Muslims’ unity (38.2% i.e. χ2=31.55) as the Izālah, Tabl ī gh, Ta‘āwun and Tijāniyyah expressed concern over its abuse as a carrier of amulets and for being publicly used as a necklace (43.8% i.e. χ2=26.26). Keeping beards by men was considered obligatory by the Tablīgh, Izālah, MSSN, Zumrah, Ta‘āwun and TMC (78.1% i.e. χ2= 12.75) while the Qādiriyyah and Tijāniyyah believed that it only promotes moral values (29.4% i.e.χ2=24.44). Wearing short trousers was considered optional and to be promoting moral values by the MSSN, Tablīgh, Ta‘āwun, Qādiriyyah, Izālah, Zumrah and TMC (87.5% i.e. χ2=54.38).

Identity conflicts among the Yoruba Muslims manifest in the use of religious identifiers as reflected in their divergent juristic arguments. Therefore, the eclecticism in the Yoruba Muslims’ socio- religious practices point to the dynamic features of Islamic culture and jurisprudence.

Key Words: Identity conflicts, Juristic arguments, Religious identifiers, Islamic preachers, Yoruba .


I am especially indebted to Almighty Allah-the Supreme Being-for making this research work see the light of the day. He, in His infinite mercies saw me through my educational career from the primary school to this level. Not only that, He also protected and saved me from every obstacle and impediment that came my way in my life endeavours. As I pray for His continuous and ceaseless guidance and protection over me and my family, I also say ALHAMDULILLAHI. ‘‘ And He gives you of all you ask of Him, and if you would count the bounty of Allah (upon you), you cannot reckon it….’’ (Q.14 verse 34)

My special appreciation goes to my supervisor, Dr L.O. Abbas for his thorough supervision of this thesis from the beginning to the end. His fatherly and didactic style of mentorship and supervision is unique and highly commendable. I pray to God Almighty to reward you in thousand folds. To you and your entire household I say JA-ZKMULLAHU KHAYRAN. ‘‘ Lo! those who believe and do good works, theirs will be Gardens underneath which rivers flow and that is the Great Success.’’ (Q. 85 verse 11)

My gratitude will never be completed if mention is not made of the moral support of Professor Abdur-Rahman M.O., the current Imam of the University of Ibadan. He stood by me and secretly strove to ensure the successful completion of this work. So also is my teacher and mentor – Professor Abdul Hafeez Oladosu. You are indeed a brother in need. To the two erudite professors I say ILAL AMAM IN SHA ALLAH. ‘ And for those who believe and do good works, We shall remit from them their evil deeds and shall repay them the best for that they did.’’ (Q.29 verse 7)

Let me also put on record, my gratitude to Ag. HOD of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Dr K.K.Oloso, Professsor S.H. A. Malik, Dr. S.A. Shittu, Dr Uthman, Dr Noibi Mubarak, Dr Kareem, Dr Omofoyewa, Dr Adams Akeula , Dr Lere and the non-teaching staff of the Department for their moral supports and contributions at various stages of this thesis. You all deserve my special appreciation. To this effect and from the bottom of my heart, I pray that your morrow will always be better than today.‘That is the bounty of Allah which He gives unto whom He wishes and Allah is of infinite bounty.’’ (Q.62 verse 4)

I must also appreciate my employer, The West African Examinations Council and the Management of the Test Development Division of the Council for the approval given and the enabling working environment created to pursue this post-graduate programme to a reasonable conclusion. May the Organization continue to wax stronger and stronger and grow from strength to strength. ‘‘Falsehood cannot come at it from before it or behind… .’(Q.41 verse 42)

Considering my tight job schedules, the completion of this research work would have been a mirage if not for the research assistance rendered by Alhaji Abdur Razzaq, Abdul Kabir Ganiyu, Alhaji Abdul Ghaniy Bello and Brother Abdul Ghaniy Saka among others. I wish you all a huge success in your respective careers. ‘ ‘Verily your Lord will give unto you so that you will be pleased.’’ (Q.93 verse 5)

My friends, relatives and well-wishers who are too numerous to mention here for special appreciation include: Alhaji Isa Olasunkanmi, Alhaji Abdul Waheed Omkunle,Alhaji Sanni Majeed, Alfa Wale Rabiu, Alfa Salman Balogun, Alfa Kameel Abdul Ghaniy, Brother Ismaheel, Alhaji Fakile Saka and Abu Sururah, all of ‘‘ Khayru ’Ummah Prayer Group’’. Joined with them is Adebisi A.A., Stella Ohia-chima, Bello Kabiru, Akinbode A.A., Alfa Nurayn Akande , Adeyemi Jonathan and Adelakun A.A. of blessed memory. You have all contributed positively towards my commitment to pursuing this programme. May Almighty Allah continue to remember you for good. ‘‘ Requital from your Lord-a gift in payment.’’ (Q.78 verse 36)

My dear wife-Shakirat Abidemi Busari, darling sister- Ghaniyyah Bolanle Busari and my lovely children-Haneefah, Najeeb, Mu’minah, Mubᾱrakah and Muhsinah deserve nothing less than my heartfelt gratitude for their patience and understanding throughout the period of this programme. The little time I had to spend with you on weekends were devoted to this programme at the expense of my availability at home. The credit of this success is all yours. ‘‘ Peace be unto you because you persevered. Ah, passing sweet will be the sequel of the (heavenly) Home.’’ (Q. 13 verse 24)

Finally, to my living parents, Alhaji and Alhaja Busari , I say a big thank you. You have been so wonderful, loving and caring. May your days be prolonged on the surface of the earth with sound health and prosperity. ‘ ‘Those who believe and do right: Joy is for them, and bliss (their) journey’s end. (Q. 13 verse 29)

‘‘….. My Lord, arouse me to be thankful for Your favour on me and on my parents, and to do good that shall be pleasing unto You, and include me (in the number of) your righteous slaves.’’

(Q.27 verse19)



This work is dedicated to Allah, the Brain behind all possibilities,

His Prophet (S.A.W.),

My beloved parents,

My wife, children and

The generality of Muslims


1.1. Background to the Study

An endless and continuous human search for identity makes an encounter with conflict inevitable for man. This partly explains the reason for continuous research into the duo concepts of identity and conflict. In this chapter, it is our attempt to briefly introduce our research work on conflicts that ensue in the form of arguments, differences, polemics and arguments over some identities among Yoruba Muslims in Nigeria. This introductory effort aims at presenting the statement of the problem, objectives, scope and significance of the study, with research methodology.

This research work is on conflicts that ensue in the form of arguments, polemics and differences in the opinion expressed over some identities by Yoruba Muslims in Nigeria. The contexts in which the major terms (i.e. conflict and identity) are used in this study must be operationally defined. First of all, it must be pointed out here that the term identity is used in this study in reference to Islamic emblems and Muslim identifiers such as the cap, the Hijāb, the turban, the rosary, the beard and the ankle-reached or jumping trousers. Similarly, the term conflict has also been used in the study to imply arguments, polemics and expression of different views and opinions on fiqh related issues raised by Muslims on the chosen identifiers.

Post modernist theory of religion is a relevant theory which points to inevitability of such differences in a complex society as the Yorubaland and a multi-group religion as Islam in Nigeria. This theory argues that an old sociological search for the grand explanation of social behaviour is pointless. It holds the belief that such explanations and arguments are no truths as societal values are only relative and dependent on different variables. The theory further states that since society is more fragmented as a result of modernism, there are also more ideologies from which people are free to choose. In addition to this, non-traditional beliefs and bahaviours are being adopted. For example, people are now becoming more aware and open to new ideas. This development could explain the growth in new religious movements or a ceds of people in different social contexts. 1

As the above theory partly explains the main reason for the formation of religious movements and groups, it also justifies, in part, the liberty to express independent divergent opinions on religious matters. This, of course, is a function of religion in a group of individuals, going by reductionist theory of religion. This theory tends to focus on the subconscious motives why people have some beliefs which are irrational. This theory, as proposed by scholars like Karl Max, Sigmud Freud and Emile Durkheim focuses on the economic background, psychological origin of religious beliefs and the social function of religions respectively. 2

1.2. Statement of the Problem

Identity and conflict are two interrelated concepts which are inevitable in the existence of man. The search for identity by man in human society often brings about conflict and thus the interrelatedness of the two concepts. Existing studies on identity and conflict have concentrated on inter-religious conflicts (ṣirā‘āt) in Northern Nigeria. Most of these studies addressed issues of national identity, introduction of Islamic Law, Poltics of survival, personal economic interest, poor governance, nationalism, ideological creeds, security and eroded societal norms and values as factors responsible for the various inter-religious conflicts recorded in the North. The accounts given of these previous studies did not accomadate intra-religious conflicts and disagreements (Ikhtilāfāt) over religious identifiers and the Yoruba Muslim groups in Nigeria.

1.3. Objectives of the Study

The study examined conflicts which center on religious identifiers among Yoruba Muslims in seven selected states of Nigeria with concentration on only six out of numerous identifiers in Islam. These identifiers of focus are the cap, the head-tie (hijāb), the turban, the rosary, the beard and jumping trousers (sirwāl ‘alā nif sāq). This study specifically defined the idenfiers, examined the nature of conflicts over them, discussed the factors responsible for the conflicts, reconciled the conflicts and authenticated the positions of Islam on the selected identifiers from the context of Islamic beliefs and practices .

1.4. Scope of the Study

The study investigated six identifiers among Yoruba Muslims in seven states of Nigeria. These states are Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti and Kwara, which to some degrees could sufficiently capture what obtains in other Yoruba cities in Nigeria. More so, eight religious groups were purposively selected from over a hundred of them, for the investigation of these identifiers. These groups, where the identifiers of study are more prominent are the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), The Muslim Congress (TMC), the Tijāniyyah Sufi Group, the Qādiriyyah Sufi Group, Zumratul Mu’minīn, Ta‘āwunul Muslimīn, Izālatul Bid‘ah Wa-’Iqāmatul Bid‘ah Group and the Tabligh Brotherhood.

1.5. Significance of the Study

The study set out to reconcile various differences and divergent opinions which result in proliferation of religious groups and sects over matters that form the branches of Islam (al- Furū‘) as against the fundamentals of Islam (al-’Uṣūl) over which there are no controversies. This is an attempt to device a mechanism for resolving such issues which are likely to lead to disunity and crisis if not checked on time. It would also evolve an instrument for promoting peaceful co-existence among people of different religions or varying groups within the same faith.

1.6. Research Methodology

The study employed al-Alw ā ni’s construct of conflict which allows expression of divergent opinions to ensure dynamism in al-Furū ‘(branches of Islam), without resulting to crisis. Two thousand four hundred and seventy copies of questionnaire were administered. Which spread across (aged 20-60) from seven states; Oyo (410), Osun (400), Lagos (350), Ogun (300), Ondo (320), Ekiti (310) and Kwara (380) were randomly sampled. Purposive sampling technique was also adopted in selecting 56 Islamic preachers comprising seven from each of Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Tablīgh, Ta‘āwun, Izālah, Tijāniyyah, Qādiriyyah, The Muslim Congress (TMC) and Zumrah, across the states, for interviews on religious identifiers. The Qur’ān and the Sunnah were consulted and data were subjected to both qualitative and quantitative analyses.


1. Pritchard, E.E. 1965. Theories of primitive religion. Oxford University Press. p.47.
2. Kunin Seth, D. 2003. Religion: the modern theories. University of Edinburgh. P.40


2.1. Introduction

This segment is dedicated to the review of relevant research works carried out on identity and interreligious conflicts in Nigeria with a special emphasis on the Northern part of thr Country. It must be pointed out here that various research studies on identity and interreligious conflict have been carried out from virtually all fields of study and on various geographical locations including some parts of Yorubaland. In addition to this, other works which are not on conflict but with relevance to Islam in the Yorubaland of Nigeria will also be considered in this review. By and large, the review will be done under three major areas which are inter-religious conflicts, society and Politics; conflict, social institutions and societal values; and the Yorubaland and activities of Islam.

2.2. Inter-religious Conflicts, Society and Politics

To start with, Agbiboa critically examines the elusive search for a true national identity in Nigeria amidst perisistent ethno-religious conflicts and series of violent attacks. He argues that political mobilization drawn along politicized ethno-religious lines precludes the emergence of a true national identity in Nigeria. He further stresses that colonial policies had formed a major factor militating against nation building in post independence Nigeria. In his conclusion, he recommends creative and refreshing ways through which the rising tide of ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria can be stemmed so as to allow for the emergence of a true national identity. It is obvious that this study is on both identity and ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria, the fact that justifies its relevance with our research work except for the identifiers of focus, the scope of the study and the argument perspective of conflict which constitute a difference between them.1

Johannes in his contribution looks at inter-religious conflicts in Nigeria as a problem which stems out of the introduction of Islamic Law (sharī‘ah). He observes that the introduction of Islamic Law is a means of setting up claims over territory in which the will of Muslims reigns supreme against their Christian counterparts especially in parts of the Middle Belt of Nigeria where Muslim settlers from the North who are mostly Hausas and Fulanis have clashed with indigenous ethnic groups who are mainly Christians and traditionalists. The conflicts, according to him, ensue from the call for sharī‘ah by the Northern migrants who see the Law as providing them with a divine mission. These occur as they have to assume supremacy over the local non-Muslim population in order to shape public institutions, going by what they see as the will of God. The indigenes, as he argues, have little interest in a religious confrontation and as the ‘sons of the soil’ want to defend their ancestral land against foreign tribes. As such, they emphasize ethnic but not religious antagonism.2 This study which is adjudged to be on inter-religious conflicts in Nigeria does not overlap with our investigation of religious identifiers, the different views on which our research focuses.

Similarly, Idahosa writes on the religious conflicts in Jos, Plateau State from the perspective of peace building in Nigeria. He maintains that ethnic and religious identities in themselves do not forment conflicts. Rather, beneath conflicts that are often regarded as ethno-religious are questions of disproportionate access to power, scarce resources and opportunities. He adds that issues that generate the fiercest contestations are those that are considered fundamental to the survival and reproduction of the state, over which competing groups tend to display do-or-die approaches. He goes further to attribute the causes in Jos conflicts to factors such as poverty, socio-economic marginalization, weak state capability and lack of good governance. He alludes to the role of identity construction and their fundamentalization in accentuating ethno-religious political conflicts.

There is, in the write up, a focus on the development, diversity, density and trajectories of identities and identity conflicts in Nigeria with analytical praxis on the recurring Jos conflicts. He examines as plausibility that the goals and the interest that all groups in Jos pursue are rooted in the quest for access to power and opportunity via patronage and clientelism which can only be gotten through the use of state machinery. In the process, according to him, the privatization of violence and the manipulation of mobilization of ethnic religious and citizenship sentiments are often freely employed by the competing groups.3 This study on conflict is relevant to this research as it is inter-religious in nature but different from our research work on the crisis-argument basis.

More so, Kassam writes on inter-religious conflict in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. He sees the conflicts in this region which has experienced spates of sporadic violent since 1994 as basically struggles over economic and political control of Jos between the Hausa-Fulani settlers who are predominantly Muslims and the indigenous Afizere, Anaguta and Berom who are predominantly Christians. He argues that religious and ethnic labels are used to manipulate the conflicting parties. Apart from loss of lives, he recounts as parts of the effects of the conflicts, poor residential relationships leading to new trends in the polarization of communities. This, as he posits, is evident in a physical manifestation of mono religious areas in Jos City with Christians and Muslims living in dominant religious clusters. He concludes with recommendations towards addressing the underlying issues to the conflicts. 4 This study also portrays conflict as an instrument of destruction as against the perspective of arguments, polemics and disagreements which ours stands for.

Ezeibe is another scholar who writes on inter-religious conflicts and crisis of development in Nigeria. He perceives conflict as an inevitable part of human existence. He adopts and blends theories of intractable and political economy in his analysis. He therefore argues that inter-religious conflicts in Nigeria defy resolutions and as a result become unending. This, according to him, is because they serve the economic interest of certain religious leaders who conceal the economic matrix behind their support for religious fanatism. He therefore recommends that the Fedral Government should strive to provide the foundation upon which a sovereign National Religious Conference will be organized with emphasis on nationality, purity, morality, love and honesty. This, he maintains, will enable conflicting religious groups to reunite through dialogue for national development.5

The above study is purely on inter-religious conflicts in the North from the pre-independence era till date. Thus, it is completely different from ordinary arguments and expression of different views and opinions on selected identifiers which our work sets out to interrogate. More so, the geographical coverage of our study is another area of disparity.

Also, Nwankwo writes on inter-religious conflicts in Nigeria looking at the rethorics and realities of such conflicts to argue that ethno-religious conflicts have created an atmosphere of negative peace in Nigeria. He states that the major cause of religious crises is intolerance. This, according to him, is because religious identity is not evil in itself but the way people use it to relate with others can be used to serve evil means and breed deadly violence. He also explores the nature and key causes of the conflicts between different religions and ethnic groups in Nigerian society. These causes, as he points out, include corruption, domination and marginalization, the breakdown of traditional institutions, victimization and the use of military troops by the Nigerian government in managing the conflict. He further argues that unending ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria can be addressed through good governance. He gives the figure of unemployed youths who are easily attracted to the extremist groups such as Boko Haram in the Northern part of Nigeria as over 50 percent. He therefore concludes by suggesting the provision of job-skill training and employment to the teeming poorly educated and unskilled youths. This, as he argues, would go along way to reduce the level of poverty underlying inter-religious conflicts in the Nigerian society.6 This study is also on inter-religious conflicts involving Muslims and Christians especially in Northern Nigeria. As relevant as this is for a review, it does not share the same thing in common with our investigation of religious identifiers in the form of conflicting views expressed by Muslims of selected states in Nigeria, on the use identifiers.

Furthermore, Fawole and Bello examine different religious conflicts and crises that have characterized Nigeria as a nation since independence in 1960. Such religious conflicts pointed out include the Maitasine religious disturbances in parts of Kano and Maiduguri in the early 1980s, Jimeta Yola crisis religious disturbance (1984), 2 ango Katof crisis in Kaduna State (1992) and Bulumkutu Christian Muslim riots (1981-1982). It is also argued that the spate of ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria has increased with the birth of the fourth republic as a result of the freedom provided by democratic rule. Besides, they also point out that these conflicts have impacted negatively on our Federation. Such negative impacts include the retardation that greets the practice of federalism itself, contamination of social relations and instability of the economy of the State. The conflicts, according to these two scholars, were fuelled by various forms of Nationalism ranging from assertion language, cultural autonomy and superiority to demands for local political autonomy and self determination. They give the estimated loss of over 3 million lives and unquantifiable psychological and maternal damages as the outcome of ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria since independence. They then come to the conclusion that ethnicity, religion and politics should rather be used as instruments of unity and peace instead of being instrumental to chaos and disintegration.7

The above study is purely on inter-religious conflicts which apparently result in loss of lives and property in the North. Although this is relevant to our work, it does not form any overlap with the geographical coverage of our research and identifiers of focus.

Awoniyi also writes on religious conflict and tolerance in multi-faith Nigeria. In the write up, he examines religious fundamentalism as an associate of conflict and violence from time immemorial. This, he maintains, is borne out of ideological creeds such as parochial emotional socializers, excitement and extraction of possible emotional and physical loyalties as well as longstanding rival ideologies. He also establishes that the causal connection between socio-economic hardship and religio-ethnic conflicts are as a result of the neglect of government’s responsibilities. This neglect, according to him, compels people to take solace in religio-ethnic manipulations as basis for coping measures and gap-filling strategies. To this effect, he recommends that government at all levels should rise up to their responsibilities to address the ailing socio-economic problem and high level of corruption. He points to employment, poverty alleviation and security as major issues to be addressed by the government to ensure sustainable mutual confidence in a religiously plural society and abolish the anti-human consequences of religious violence and conflict.8 It must also be noted at this juncture that the study differs from ours in terms of focus and scope. However, it references some ideological creeds as being responsible for most religious conflicts and the differences in these creeds also form the basis of divergent opinions which our study investigate among Yoruba Muslim groups of selected states in Nigeria.

Adebayo in his contribution to greligious conflicts examines the magnitude of ethno-religious crises in Nigeria and the factors responsible for the crises. He notes that the issue of security as being a key to development of any nation as no serious development can take place in an atmosphere where there is crisis. He therefore suggests diversification of the Country’s economy to address the problems of poverty and unemployment which are strong backbones for ethno-religious crises. He is of the view that sustainable development can only take place if the perpetators of religious conflicts are brought to book. Not only that, justice and other moral values should also be allowed to reign, particularly in Northern Nigeria. He also recommends the entrenchment of the products of al-Majiri system in the mainstream of the nation’s employment scheme. The analogy he gives of this strategy is that of a father who trains some of his children and leaves the rest untrained. Definitely, the untrained will not allow the trained to enjoy the fruit of his training.9 Apart from geographical focus which differentiates this study and ours, the disparity of crisis-argument is still there.

In the same vain, Abdulrasheed writes on religious conflicts in Nigeria in which he points out the interaction between religion and the society within which it functions. He argues that the interaction occurs first at the state/social institutions and second at the level of individual relations. He further stresses that religion has a major influence in politics as it plays significant roles in the entire societal process, especially in multi-religious societies such as Nigeria. He therefore interrogates this interaction beteween religion and society in Nigeria. In the process, he finds out that the high sentimental attachment to religion by people of different culture and background makes it a politically active instrument in both national politics and the Country’s external relations which at times assume a destructive dimension. As a matter of implication, he maintains that this situation of religious conflicts poses some threat to social, political and economic stability of the Country. He then probes into a futuristic possibility of full-blown religious war if the trend and character of religious conflicts in the Country is allowed to continue. Above all, he recommends that the issue of religious and harmonious interfaith relation be given more than a passive attention by both the government and the citizens at large. 10 This study also centres on the negative implications of conflict in application to Nigeria and thus reinforces the vacuum of intra-religious conflicts on religious identifiers which our study aims to fill.

2.3. Conflict, Social Institutions and Societal Values

Alade writes on “Conflict Management Within the Nigerian Baptist Convention 1984-1994”. In his work, he examines the trend in the conflict management within the Nigerian Baptist Convention with focus on three major conferences of the convention, namely Oyo West, Osun and Kwara conferences, selecting 340 subjects out of a total population of 1067 that made up the three conferences. The major causes of the conflict as revealed by the thesis were emergence of new doctrine from the youth and Pentecostal practices which led to division between pastors and the congregation. At the failure of confrontational approach to resolve the conflict, the thesis concludes that with interventions from other conferences, participatory management involving all the parties within the convention was employed to resolve the conflict.11

At this juncture, we must point out that the conflict examined here within the Baptist Church portrays conflict as being destructive and violent unlike ours which intends to look at conflict from the perspective of arguments and discourse. The only similarity this shares with our research is the fact that the conflict stemmed from doctrinal differences and disparities but from Christian perspective.

Also, Pitan writes on “Communication Skills Training and Contingency Management Technique in the Prevention of Parent-Child Conflict among some Families in Lagos.” This study focuses on the conflict which arises between parents and their adolescent children right from that transitional age of youthful exuberance. The study adopts Communication Skills Training and Contingency Management Technique as the most effective in fostering good communication skills between and their adolescent children. It also helps in changing the negative notion already conceived by parents about their adolescent children. The thesis argues that Contingency Management Technique (CMT) is specifically found useful to address the problem of adolescent. 12 This study is on social conflict and it bothers on the family in a parent-child relationship. It therefore does not overlap with religious identity which ours stands for. The argument-crisis parameter in the examination of conflict also differentiates them.

Similarly, Alo comes up with another contribution which he tittles “Peace and Conflict in Ilesa, Osun State, Nigeria 1893-1955”. This study is basically on socio-political conflict in Ilesa, a part of South-western Nigeria in Osun State. The conflict investigated here is historical in the sense that it was between 1893 which is seen as a turning point in the history of Yorubaland and 1995. It also marked the end of an era and the beginning of another. In this study, there is historical revelation of conflictual relations between Ilesa Town and its district communities. This was hinged upon the disintegration which happened in the 19th Century, leading to the collapse of Old Oyo Empire when faced with a Muslim- Fulani’s invasion from the North. In an apt language, the cessation of power vested in Omodeewa and the Elegbeji of the pre-colonial Ilesa, upon the establishment of the British Colony in Ilesa led to the socio-political conflict.13 The study therefore suggests Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a way of addressing the conflict and its likes.

Ebijuwa goes a step further to examine “Ethical Relativism and the Conflict of Moral Values Towards a Theory of Universal Morality.” He examines one of the problems that have remained central in moral philosophy from Plato to date. This problem concerns with how to arrive at a non- arbitrary theory of Universal Morality in evaluation of conflicting moral values across societies. The problem of discourse in this thesis is woven around resolution of conflict which is bound to occur among conflicting interests of people living in the same environment, to guarantee a peaceful co-existence. To successfully do this without imposing one’s interest on the other’s, the thesis argues that the existing theories of Universal Morality are inefficient because they do not stand to satisfy all interest groups. Instead, those whose opinions or interests are not taken care of in the scheme of things, accept the decision reached, out of compulsion. It therefore proposes the theory of Rational Consensus as the most viable alternative theory of Universal Morality. 14

It must be noted at this point that the conflict examined here arises in search of personal identity in society. This therefore adjudges it as a research on conflict and social identity. As relevant as it is to our study, the crisis- argument dichotomy on the perception of conflict and the intrafaith characteristic are still obvious.

Oyeshile adds another plus to conflict study by writing on “Conflict of Values Between the Community and the Individual in Traditional Yoruba Belief System.” He admits that there is conflict of values between the community and the individual, considering the fact that the Yoruba society with its communal outlook places the interest of the community over and above that of any of its members. The writer then argues that the conflict of values between the community and the individual can be resolved with the freedom of the individual sustained, especially in traditional Yoruba system. In the work, he further argues that the conflict to have begun at metaphysical level with the belief that individuals through their Ori (inner head, destiny and non physical head) must live through the world by confronting unfriendly forces such as Omo Araye (children of the world) and Ajogun (evil forces) which can be tackled with the use of Ebo (religious sacrifice), a means of symbolic and ritual communication between all the forces of the universe. In resolving the conflict, he therefore uses relative notion of freedom, emphasis on Iw a (character), communal nature of man based on individual consent and the regulatory role of the supernatural forces on man and the community, as criteria.15 This study could be adjudged as a contribution in the area of spiritual identity from the Yoruba traditional culture. This is of course different from the intra-religious conflicts and diasgreements which our study centers on.

Ariyo, in another dimension into the study of conflict, looks at “Enhancing Marital Competence of Selected Professional Women Bankers through Reflective Skills and the Taoist Conflict Resolution Techniques.” He discusses the inter role conflict which characterizes the performance of some selected women bankers as professionals and wives or mothers. The conflict ensues when the compliance with one role is incompatible with full compliance with another. Conflict therefore becomes inevitable because the accompanying forces in performing two incompatible roles produce strain. He argues that most corporate women are corporate casualties because job transfers impact on them negatively and this usually takes the form of chronic depression, lack of hope and marital disharmony. Applying the two conflict resolution theories mentioned above, he proves that any or both theories is/are efficient to enhance the marital competence of professional married women. Preferentially, the thesis concludes that Taoist Conflict Resolution Theory works better than the Reflective Skills Technique. 16 It is of course obvious that the study is on marital or social conflict which often characterizes the lives of married professionals. As it were, it does not have any feature of intra-religious conflict and disagreement.

Afolayan equally writes on “Social Identity, Democracy and the Idea of the Nation”. A mere look at the topic depicts it as a research effort on identity. However, an in-depth study of the thesis reveals that it goes beyond identity to conflict. The work, to buttress our assertion, studies the conflict which comes between social identities as the minority and the search for or enthronement of national identity in the name of democracy. The implication of this, according to him, is that most states in the contemporary world are culturally plural, accounting for the series of very significant, potentially and actually divisive issues and questions. These questions, he argues, mostly surround the problems of political accommodation and integration, political representation, the issue of citizenship and cultural autonomy. It is the argument of the thesis that all these questions fuel ethno-cultural conflicts.17

He finally suggests that the political conflict between the citizenry and the nation state can be resolved only if the state facilitates the revolution of what is called “the political enpeoplement of the people”. This means giving the people in their various ethnic arrangements, a voice in the affairs of the state. This strategy is to enable the state find an answer to the social question that will positively impact on the lives of the people so as for them to willingly pursue the goal of achieving national identity. As much as the work remains a contribution on identity conflict, it deviates from the the motive of our work which is to interrogate religious identifiers as objects of arguments and diagreements among Yoruba Muslim groups in selected state of Nigeria.

Akorede also writes on“Women and Intra-gender Conflicts in African Narratives”. His contribution is first of all a literary contribution to the study of conflict. Secondly, it focuses on various conflicts which spring up between and among women, using some selected African narratives as objects of analysis. The work uses five works of female and male African writers each to portray women-women relationship in the indigenous and contemporary African society. The areas she explores from the selected narratives range from polygamous homes where rivalry between or among wives is unavoidable to monogamous homes where relationship between mothers-in-law and wives result in intra-gender or women- women conflict. Some of the causes of this conflict as pointed out by the work include wicked and oppressive attitudes of especially the first wife under a polygamous setting; husband’s undue favour for one of the wives, particularly the youngest; aggressiveness of the mother- in-law or her violent outburst. Also, conflicts which erupt between wives and sisters-in- law and their brothers are examined to mirror the contemporary African society in need of lasting solution for similar conflicts.18

Finally on conflict study, and identity by extension, it is necessary to extend our review to the sciences by looking at what Olajide writes on “Management of Conflict in the Doctor, Nurse Interaction in Ekiti State”. He, as a whole, examines causes of the conflict between doctors and nurses in Ekiti State and the method employed to resolve the conflict with recommendations for the hospital management to be able to handle subsequent conflicts in a better way. Desire for power, communication difficulties, interdependence of work activities, and disparity in economic compensation and differences in social status are some of the causes of the conflict investigated by the study. The conflict was expressed, according to the study, in various ways such as strikes, assault, resignation, and absenteeism. In resolving the conflict, the study reveals the strategies used by the hospital management as conflict resolution approaches like dominance and suppression, compromise, integrated problem solving; and conflict stimulation approach. 19

2.4. Yorubaland and Affairs of Islam

To benefit from research works carried out on Yorubaland of Nigeria, especially in connection with Islam, our review will look at Lateju’s “Mosque Structures in Yoruba land: their Evolution, Styles and Functions”. This study employs an historical approach to look at evolution of mosques, their structural styles and functions in Yorubaland. In this effort, an attempt is made to look at the historical origin of the Mosque in Yorubaland, history of different mosques of different ages, external and internal structural features of those mosques and of course various functions of the Mosque from spiritual to political. 20 This study dwells on the mosque as a sacred confine of Islam where most of the idenfiers selected for our study feature.

Jamiu also comes up with “A Study of the Contents and Structural Pattern in the Didactic Arabic Poetry of Yoruba Ulamᾱ’ 1885-1995”. In the work, he looks at didacticism in the poetry of some Yoruba scholars between 1885 and 1995. The study brings to lime light the scholarship and penmanship of great scholars of Yorubaland such as Muhammad Takunti al-Nafawi (d.1900), Ahmad Muhammad b. Belgore (d.1910), Shaykh Bidmos Musa (d.1890) and many more. The relevance of this work lies in its evaluation of Islamic scholarship and Arabic penmanship as a means of propagating Islam in Yorubaland, the geographical focus in our examination of conflict and religious identities among Yoruba Muslims.21 Yet, it differs from our study as it is both literary and historical in nature.

The contribution of Abbas is on “Imamship in Islam: Its Concept and Practice Among the Yoruba of Oyo and Osun States”. In the area of study, he makes an enquiry into various characteristic requirements for appointing an Imam, qualities, functions and responsibilities of an Imam. As an introduction to the study, the work examines the origin and types of Mosque in Islam, functions of the orthodox Mosque, jurisprudential discourse on Imamate and the duties of the Imam as a religious and political leader from the life time of the Prophet (S.A.W.). All these are in addition to a brief examination of introduction of Islam into some Yoruba towns such as Saki, Iseyin, Ogbomoso, Ibadan, Igangan, Oyo, Osogbo, Iwo and Ede.22 Specifically speaking, the scope of the work covers two out of the seven states selected for our investigation of identity conflicts among the Yoruba Muslims.

In the account of Julius on “The Role of Music in Promoting Islam in Yorubaland”, he states the position of music as an important instrument to the development of Islam in Yorubaland. He also argues that music as an integral part of Yoruba culture is employed by the Yorubas inadvertently to promote tenets and principles of their new beliefs vis-a-vis Christianity and Islam. He further probes into various Islamic legislations against music with submission that great scholars of Islam in Yorubaland should rather regulate series of Islamic music coming to the Muslim Community instead of its outright prohibition. Doctrines and practices of Islam such as the Unity of Allah, Belief in the Angels, the Prophets and the Holy Books, institution of Zakᾱt, Fasting, Pilgrimage, Morals and peaceful co-existence are pointed out to have been promoted by Yoruba music genres such as Waka, Seli, Were, Apala, Sakara, Fuj i, Sũfi Music and Islamic Gospel Music.23 there is no doubt that the study identifies with entertainment in its defence for music against religious attack which could be seen as a potential conflict.

Jimoh who writes on “Arguments and Counter-Arguments in Selected works in Arabic by Nigerian Authors”,seems to have examined conflicts in the Arabic literary works of some Nigerian authors. Unlike Akorede, he probes into religious issues over which some Nigerian authors exchange ideas. Such issues, as examined by him include the concept of Bid‘ah and at-Taqlīd, tobacco smoking, limit of Zakᾱt and the minimum bridal gift, Muslim women participation in mosque congregational prayers, the shape of a Muslim’s grave, and the use of Purder. He also, from argumentative writings of Nigerian authors on Sufism, Jurisprudence, Prosody and politics, explores other issues like Salᾱt al-Fᾱtih, Jawharatul Kamᾱl, Wilᾱyah, Tarbiyah, Sadl and Qabd (stretching and folding of hands in Salᾱt). 24

It becomes evident that Jimoh paves a way for further extensive research studies on the contemporary creedal and jurisprudential religious matters and identities such as Purder which he examines on a generalized surface level. Not only that, he also serves as a motivating factor to critically investigate such issues which the pen of Nigerian authors writes on, this time around as a field work.


3.1. Introduction

In the term Identity Conflict(s), two major concepts which are interrelated are involved. These are identity and conflict. This interrelatedness makes it a bit cumbersome to consider them as independent concepts. However, the meanings of identity and conflict will still be separately examined so as to be able to dwell more on identity conflict as a compound inseparable concept.

3.2. Definitions and Meanings of Identity

Going through various fields of research that have to do with identity in one way or the other, it becomes evident that it may be difficult to give a comprehensive meaning of the word identity as used in everyday and social science contexts. Even the lexical meaning given of the word may not suffice for a better comprehension of the word. One of such definitions as given by various sources is that of the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary which views identity as who or what somebody or something is; the characteristics, feelings or beliefs that distinguish people from others or the state or feeling of being very similar to and able to understand somebody or something. 1 As the dictionary definition has been said to be insufficient to fully grasp the import of the concept of identity, other definitions are still necessary for the sake of clarity and exposition.

James perceives identity as either a social category, defined by membership rules and (alleged) characteristic attributes or expected behaviours. In addition, he defines it as socially distinguishing features that a person takes a special pride in or views as unchangeable but socially consequential.2 Going by James, the second definition presents identity as modern formulation of dignity, pride or honour that implicitly links these to social categories.3 By implication, identity is presently used in two related senses which are, in James language, “social” and “personal”. By this, it means that identity makes reference to both social categories and to the sources of individual’s self-respect and dignity.4

To explore other probable definitions of identity in order to justify its relevance and usage in many fields of studies and the reason for being a concept without a definite or restricted scope of meaning, the perspectives of other scholars will also be quoted. To start with, Hogg and Dominic define identity as people’s concepts of who they are, of what sort of people they are and how they relate to others. 5 According to Deng, it is used to describe the way individuals and groups define themselves and are defined by others on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, language and culture. 6 Wendt opines that identities are relatively stable, role specific understandings and expectations about self.7

In White’s language, identity is any source of action not explicable from biophysical regularities, and to which observers can attribute meaning. 8 In another dimension, Kowert and Jeffrey view identities as prescriptive representations of political actors themselves and of their relationships to each other.9

We can observe from different definitions of identity highlighted above that the concept is not restricted to a particular discipline as it has been defined from such fields of study as the Social Science, the Political Science and the Humanities. Other series of angles from which identity could be perceived and which are too numerous to be listed in this work depend on the type of identity being defined. Therefore, such definitions could be imagined from the types of identity to be examined in the following segment.

3.3. Types of Identity

Types of identity will be examined here in a broad disciplinary term that will allow us to have a look at different types of identities such as personal, social, gender, political, religious, moral, class and sexual identity among others.

To start from Psychology and Sociology, Identity is a term used by psychologists to refer to Personal Identity. This is basically the description of a person’s idiosyncrasies that distinguish him or her from others. 10 Sociologists also use the term Identity to describe social identity/ cultural identity which is a reference to the collection of social roles that a person might play. Both Psychology and Sociology may use either concept or combine both when considering a person’s identity. 11

Erik Erikson was one of the earlier psychologists to be explicitly interested in the issue of identity. The Eriksonian framework therefore rests upon a distinction among the psychological sense of continuity known as the ego identity (sometimes identified as “the self”); the personal idiosyncrasies that separate one person from the other, known as the personal identity; and the collection of social roles that a person might play, known as either social identity or cultural identity. 12

In Social Anthropology, anthropologists have most frequently used the term identity when they are referring to the idea of selfhood in a loosely Eriksonian way, based on the uniqueness and individuality which makes a person distinct from others. This idea of selfhood as pointed out here is not in any way different from personal identity, social identity or cultural identity earlier discussed under Psychology and sociology above. Thus, identity became an issue of more interest to anthropologists with the emergence of modern concerns with ethnicity and social movements in the 1970s. 13

In Philosophy, identity is also a concept for philosophical reflections in many ways and it predated Psychology in its discourse. To be precise, philosophical discourse on identity began with Descartes in his famous mantra: “I doubt, therefore I think, and therefore I am.” This has left many people to inquire what exactly “I” is, and if indeed we can derive an “I-ness” from doubt. 14 By and large, the type of identity which formed the basis of philosophical interest in this concept still remains selfhood, personal identity, social identity or cultural identity. At this juncture, other types of identity apart from those examined here on a disciplinary basis will now be discussed, irrespective of disciplines.

Gender Identity: This involves an individual’s relationship to gender as a social category. According to Fagot and Leinbach, gender identity traditionally falls into the domain of Medicine and it refers to the individual’s psychological sense of being male or female. 15 Another definition of gender identity as evolved by Sheriff, suggests that the self–system is an essential construct of studying individual gender psychology. This is corroborated by Ashmore who views gender identity as the structured set of gendered personal identities that results when the individual takes the social construction of gender and the biological facts of sex and incorporates them into an overall self-concept. Thus, it is argued that gender identity includes personal and social attributes, social relationships, interests and abilities, symbolic and stylistic behaviours and biological/physical/material attributes. Therefore, an individual’s gender identity is separate from his or her sex stereotypes and gender attitudes. 16

Three other notions of gender identity exist in Social Psychology. First, social identity theorists such as Tajfel and Turner and Turner et al argue that gender identity is men’s and women’s awareness of and feelings for their gender category. Second, symbolic integrationists like McCall and Simmons and Stryker describe gender identity as people’s self- conceptions that are based on the particular gender roles they play. Finally, social constructionists like Robin Leidner states that gender identities are created from structured social constraints and he showed how distinct gender identities are created in two interactive service jobs that require the exact same skills but have different training emphases. 17

Racial/ Ethnic Identity: The word race is used by social scientists to refer to distinctions from physical appearance (skin colour, eye shape and physiognomy), while ethnicity is used to portray the distinctions based on national origin, language, religion, food and other cultural markers.18 Helms observes that race is a socially defined and politically oppressive categorization scheme that individuals must negotiate while creating their identities in the United States. As such, identification or labelling of individuals based on these two parameters is an expression of racial or ethnic identity. Helms also, in his analysis, points out the national perception of only four existing distinguishable racial groups vis Asian, Black, White and Native American with Latino as often treated as a fifth racial group, despite its racial characteristics of the other four. 19

Sexual Identity: The emergence and historical origin of sexual identity is traceable to the 19th Century when the idea appeared that homosexual behaviour formed a particular kind of person, making homosexuality to be defined as an individual’s identity. This identity was labelled sickness by D’Emilio and Freedman, Faderman and Foucault. As a result of this construct which was considered as rigid and negative, supposed euphemistic names such as the oppressed minority member, woman-identified –woman, gay community member and bisexual feminist evolved with the full support of political movements like the Gay Movement, the Feminist Movement and the Bisexual Movement. 20

The above painted historical picture is suggestive of the fact that sexual identity is fluid, according to Garnets and Kimmel (1993); created by individuals, in the language of Brown (1989); created by communities, in the view of Bayer (1987); and it is a socio-historical event, going by D’ Emilion (1983) and Golden (1994).21

From available sexual identities literature, Phelan (1993) asserts that sexual identity is a political statement and not just information about self-perception. His argument is premised on the example of homosexual identity which metamorphosed into gay and lesbian identity, thereby creating group cohesion and identity politics. 22

Class Identity: The word “class” is used by psychologists in two different ways. One is using it to describe the research participants and as independent variable to control uninteresting variation or to show that class does not interact with “more important” constructs. With this thesis of Deborrah, it is evident that class as a meaningful type of identity is simply absent from the psychological literature, with view exceptions. 23

From these few exceptions, Stewart and Ostrove give an instance of students from the working-class backgrounds that must negotiate their marginal status at elite academic institutions. 24 Grella cites another instance of downwardly mobile divorced women who must reconcile a lower- class economic reality with their past middle-class lives.25 Hurtado et al also explain class identity using the second- and third- generation immigrants who are more likely than their first-generation peers, to have class identities reflecting US cultural conceptions. 26

Moral Identity: People, according to Hardy, base their identities on various things such as values, goals, actions and roles which might be thought of as identity contents. He argues that a person is said to have a moral identity if the moral values and norms like fairness, honesty and kindness in him or her are more central to his or her identity when compared to other values. Thus, moral identity is deduced to connote identification or labelling of an individual when he or she has more moral values and contents when compared with other idiosyncratic characteristics. 27

Gender Identity: From an on-line Wikipedia, is described as the way an individual self identifies with a gender category, for example, as being either a man or a woman, or in some cases being neither, which can be distinct from biological sex. According to this source, basic gender identity is usually formed at age three and it is extremely difficult to change after that. 28

Religious Identity: This can be defined as a representation of one’s unique religious (or creedal) orientation. This simple definition is adapted from Erikson (1970) whose general definition of identity accommodates one’s unique personal experience, memory, ethnicity, culture, religious orientation, gender and occupational role. 29 In addition, from the dictionary general definition of identity on www.dictionary .com, religious identity is seen as the set of behavioural or personality characteristics by which an individual is recognizable as a member of a (religious) group. 30 In this definition, only the adjective “religious” in the bracket was added to the adapted definition of religious identity, from the definition of identity given by the dictionary. However, the correctness of this adapted meaning of religious identity is corroborated by Vamik Volka, who, from a psychological view point, defines identity as a “subjective and persistent sense of sameness”, referring essentially to group identity where the element of “groupness” is inherent in some elements such as nationality, ethnicity, peer grouping, social ranking, family, culture and even religion. 31

It is against this backdrop that the formation of religion which is compared with the process of “pseudospeciation” by Erikson’s theory will be used to further elaborate our perception of religious identity. Volkan explains this process as follows:

… at the outset of human history, each human group developed a distinct sense of identity, wearing skins and feathers like armor to protect it from other groups who wore different kinds of skins and feathers. Erikson hypothesized that each group became convinced that it was the sole possessor of the true human identity. Thus, each group became a pseudospecies, adopting an attitude of superiority over other groups. 32

This hypothesis by Erikson as presented by Volkan enjoys the support of the Qur’ān which acknowledges a display of superiority by every religious group, either intra or interdenominational, over the other, in terms of doctrines, belief systems and every aspect of worship. The Qur’ān in Sūrah ar- Rūm reads: “Of those who split up their religion and became schismatics, each set exulting in its tenets.” 33

There is the same evidence of creedal superiority complex expression, in more explicit terms in Sūrah al- Mu’minūn as follows:

And lo! Your Religion (Islam) is one religion and I am your Lord, so keep your duty to Me. But they (humankind) have broken their religion among them into sects, each sect rejoicing in its tenets. 34

3.4. Meanings of Conflict

Many scholars have defined conflict differently to illustrate different things. First and foremost, the word conflict is derived from the Latin word Confligere, which means to strike together according to Albert.35 In the expression of Koontz, conflict is perceived as divergence of interests between groups or individuals. Going by the same source, it could be lack of adjustment between groups or individuals to the requirement of the job or the circumstances in which the job is performed. 36

According to Gray and Starke, conflict is defined as behaviour by a person or a group of persons that is purposely designed to inhibit the attainment of goals of another person or group. This inhibition, according to the same source, may be active or passive. 37 From the Energy point of view, conflict is a struggle or a fight over an issue.38 As further expatiated by Energy, conflict could also mean a social condition of opposition or disagreement and necessarily a negative thing.39 In the opinion of Alo, conflict is a necessary element in all human contact and it could be a factor for creative process as well as a cause of destructive disruption.40

It will be observed from the various definitions given above that conflict as a concept does not connote crisis or destructiveness all the time. Going by the definition of Albert, conflict may be conceived to mean or connote argument, polemic, disagreement, dispute, controversy, and of course antagonistic discourse.41

Considering the above connotation of conflict, it becomes necessary to re-establish the fact that conflict in the context of this research assumes the position of and represents the English rendering of Arabic words such as al- Jadal, al-Munᾱzarah, al-Nizᾱ‘ and al-Ikhtilᾱf. Basically speaking, all these are terms which gave birth to the discipline, which in al-Alwani’s language, is known as ‘Ilmul-Jadal (The Science of Dialectics), based on advancing evidence, proof or support. As regards causes and types, this science does not exist in vacuum but compares favourably with any conflict one can think of.

3.5. Types of Identity Conflicts

There are various classifications of conflict evolved by different scholars. This by our own understanding underlies the universality of conflict or identity conflict as a concept. According to Young, identity conflict can be classified into industrial, racial, religious, political, inter and intra-sex, inter and intra-community, sex and age conflict and conflict of intellectual and moral principles.42

Leas and Kitthus as quoted by Alade have similar types of identity conflict which are intra- personal, inter-personal and impersonal or substantive conflicts.43 According to the perception of Mack and Synder, identirty conflict can be classified into realistic and non- realistic; and institutional and non-institutional.44 From the perspective of Boulding who seems to have been more concise and summarilistic, identity conflict is classified into economic, interactional and internal.45

3.6. Causes of Identity Conflicts

Conflict which arises in search of identity is a global phenomenon which has varying causes, depending on the type and the causative elements inherent in it. Of different causes which identity conflict springs up from, we consider the causes identified by Dorothy and Curtis as being closely related to our study. These causes are as follows:

illustration not visible in this excerpt 46

The above differences culminate in some attitudes which are capable of generating confusion, arguments and polemics, even on religious issues including issues affecting the use of identifiers which this thesis aims to examine. The predominant among such possible attitudes according to al-Alwāni, are mental condition of ignorance, distortion and mood. According to this source, mental condition of ignorance is explained with someone’s ignorance which is always behind every argument, distortion with the fact that everybody views fact through his own personal filter, and mood is linked with the two with its propensity to intensify the confusion caused by ignorance and distortion. 47

3.7. Identity Conflict in the Islamic Periphery

Under this segment, identity conflicts will be examined in the Islamic periphery such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore, specifically in search and quest for Islamic Identity.

In search of spices which were motivated by trade, Federico reports that Spain came to colonize the Philippines in 1565 and 1578, the first attempt to stamp out Islam in Mindanao was launched by an attack in Sulu and the north Borneo. In the course, Mindanao has continued to be treated as a colonized frontier where Islam is relegated to the backseat and the Muslims became the “other”. This therefore led to an ethnic strife which is associated with nation building and nationalism. As a result, many Moros today could not identify with the Filipino with the impression that they do not belong to the nation. This is expressed in their slogan of Islamic Liberation Front (ILF)- “We are Moros, not Filipinos.” According to this source, they ( the Moros) claim they had been a sovereign people before the colonial powers came, that they were unnecessarily integrated to a state about which they did not have any part in making. Stirrings to reclaim a lost identity began in 1968 with the formation of a Mindanao Independence Movement (MIM) in the Cotabato region and a few years later by a group of young professionals who bannered their cause under the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).48

Similarly, ethno-religious identity struggles are also staged in neighbouring countries, particularly Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. In these countries, Muslim populations assert their native rights and claim to their lands. In the case of Malaysia, the colonial government respected cultural differences as it installed the concept of civil society without eradicating native institutions like the sultanate which represents their religion (Islam).49 The Malaysian State thus remains a class in itself. It is said to be secular but proclaims Islam as a state religion. This means that Malaysia, according to its former Prime Minister, Muhammad Muhathir, is an Islamic state. By implication, this has constitutionalized or racialized the Malay as a Muslim more than anything else. The policy of this system in the beginning was 100% Malay, which meant that other groups fall outside the graces of government unless they assimilate by becoming Malays.50

At a later time in Eastern Malaysia (Sarawak), bitter rivalry divides not only christianized Malays and their Muslim counterparts but also between the Malays and the Chinese, all in what we describe as identity rivalry. Recently also, the Dayaks (Christianised Malays) were reported to have attacked “outsiders” including other Malay settlers, Chinese and to some extent Indians and Bangladeshis.51 Conversely, the Kaduzum Christians in Sabah are apprehensive over the Malay identity, feeling that they also belong but are excluded by its apparently legalized Islamic ascription.52

The neighbouring Indonesia is also a secular state with more than 300 ethnic groups and four major religions vis Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. This country is the world’s fourth biggest nation with the largest concentration of Muslims found in a single country53. Its motto of “Unity in Diversity” and the policy of Pancasila gives the basis for secularization which does not favour any religious group. The implication of this is that the Muslim majority in a part of Indonesia have absolute autonomy over a religious identity of their own. Therefore, the situation therein remains a play of politics between the nation state and Islam.54 In the course of this politics of identity, crisis arises due to resolution of any conflict between Islam and the nation state in favour of the latter.55

The identity clash between Islam and the nation state in the Islamic periphery such as the countries mentioned above also has a reflection in their education system. For example, the curriculum requires Filipino Language at all levels in the Philippines with English being taught in the higher levels of education. This system of education edges out the Muslim educational mode or Madrasah which only operates outside the framework of the national curriculum.56 This scenario remains the same in Singapore where the national language is Malay and English is the favourite medium of instruction and communication.57

Politically also, the Islamic mode of governance in Philippines has been superseded by the modern state system patterned after those of the colonizers’. Thus, the Republican system became their basis of governance and this brought the sultanate to cessation and ordinary animation during social functions. At these occasions, it serves as a source of prestige among those who inherit traditional titles such as Sultan, datu, hadji and others. After a long agitation for identity recognition in Philippines, the government recently formally approved the existence of an autonomous region in “Muslim Mindanao” based on culture, tradition and identity. 58

Summarily, the conflict of identity between Islam and the West in the Islamic periphery is, to use Bauzon’s language, louder than the sounds of bullets and cannons. This conflict, basically and fundamentally lies between the belief of Islam in Unity (Tawhīd) in which religion and the state are not distinguished from each other and the modern concept of governance which insists on separation and specialization of powers. This also describes the conflict or crisis as a battle between the secular and the sacred; the good and the evil.

3.8. The Reactionaries/ Traditionalists and Identity Conflicts

The reactionaries/ Traditionalists are scholars of religion, especially Islam who are said to be the moral voice of society. By their disposition, they reject any separation between the state and religion.59 As it were, these are Ulamā’ who are conservative and whose conservatism is with a view to preserving the legacies of Islam. We could also point out here that their reactions are against the West that has devised all means of stripping Islam of all its orthodox legacies as examined under state, nation and Islam in search of identity above. These scholars are described with no concern for human problems, suppression of creativity and preaching of virtues of patience and fatalism even in the face of injustice and tyranny.60 The reactionaries jealously guard the supposed sanctity of the Islamic Law by holding firmly to the closure of the gate of Ijtihād which is knowledge based on reasoning and declared closed in the 10th Century under the Abbasid.61 The consensus of these Ulamā’ on this is that the Islamic way of life had been adequately delineated by previous scholarship and therefore poses no justification for independent judgement or rational inquiry. This therefore bounds future generations to blind imitation and unquestioned acceptance and memorization of precedents and interpretations of the past authorities otherwise known as Taqlῑd. 62

One of these scholars was Hamid al-Ghazali (1059-1111). His book, Tahᾱfutul Falᾱsifah ( The Incoherence of the Philosophers) had a tremendous influence on the popularity of this school of thought. Al-Ghazali began by placing great virtue on self-doubt as a precondition for man’s yearning for knowledge and concluded by sacrificing original thinking to theological dogma. 63 In his argument, the reason for the decline in the Islamic faith was due to the respect people showed for pre-Islamic philosophers such as Socrates, Hippocrates, Plato and Aristotle, hence, he attempted to discredit their secularism by demonstrating the incoherence of their arguments through his book.64 In the contrary, Ibn Rushd who is known as Averroes criticized and rejected Al-Ghazali’s argument but it was belated because Islamic Theology and the reactionary Ulamā’ had already won secular knowledge easily. Thus, Taqlῑd, blind imitation became the leading Islamic paradigm of learning. 65

The situation described above paints a good picture of the reactionaries’ disposition to religious identity which has no mercy for any form of separation between the state and religion. This position, as it were, portrays Islam as both religion and politics through which the state should be successfully ruled without any prejudice to the Supreme Rule of Law known as Sharῑ‘ah. This, of course, is a replica of what applies to all other forms of identity apart from religious/political identity which was emphatically specified here. The reactionaries were /are conservative in their thought and preservative of the orthodox legacies of Islam. It must be pointed out here that identities of all forms will assume the same position of conservatism without making any difference, either as result of modification or repackaging occasioned by civilization, modernity or westernization. Therefore, the changing and dynamic nature of existence which requires consistent interpretation, we argue, of the content of the Qur’ᾱn, which by revelation is a universal constitution in its historicity and applicability that transcend all times and clans, enjoys no consideration before the reactionaries. The effect of this hyper conservatism as pointed out by Ozay is the disaster it inflicted on Islamic Science and education. He points out that it replaced secular science with theology and dogma, and public education which had flourished in the first two centuries of the Abbasid Dynasty lost its dynamism and creativity. It became institutionalized around dysfunctional Taqlῑd system of learning by memorizing and blind imitation of interpretations of the past authorities. 66

For example, the views of the reactionaries and traditionalists in the Malay and Turkish contexts reflect a yearning for the restoration of some past ideals of state, not according to man-made legislation, but strictly in conformity with the Sharῑ‘ah.67 To further buttress this, the Shaykh of Al-Azhar, one of the major voices of Islamic orthodoxy once warned the Egyptian Prime Minister and the Speaker of the People’s Assembly that no Ijtihᾱd is allowed to any human if a Sharῑ‘ah text exists. 68

3.9. The Non-conformists and Identity Conflicts

The nonconformist Ulamᾱ’ as the name suggests form an opposition to the stance of the reactionary scholars who declared the gate of Ijtihād and rational inquiry closed. They are totally opposed to the implication of the closure of the gate of Ijtihᾱd. That is, no scholar in future could ever qualify as a mujtahid who is entitled to his or her original thinking.69 A good example of non-conforming scholarly effort was the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun which was written in 1377. This work of Ibn Khaldun can be compared with Adams Smith’s Wealth of Nations which was written four centuries later and represented the start of modern economies. Unfortunately, the influence of Ibn Khaldun’s scholarship was not felt until recently after its widespread recognition and admiration in the West.70

From this argument, “non-conformism” as a school of Islamic thought is capable of producing different contradictory views and opinions on both fundamental and non-fundamental issues that affect the well-being of Muslims. This explains the rationale behind the emergence of different sects and even Islamic organizations that form special views and opinions peculiar to their respective groups and even support such with relevant references from the Qur’ᾱn and Hadith. As the time changes, such views are also subjected to a re-thought so as to meet with the demands of the time. This is in the belief that every generation comes with its peculiar challenges, spiritual, social, political and economic, which are not directly addressed by the Qur’ān and the Sunnah. This is what is referred to as Ijtihād and rational inquiry, the gate of what is argued by non-conformist scholars as being open, as opposed to the reactionary Ulamᾱ ’ who argue (d) for its closure.

In Muslim states like modern Nigeria, the position of Islam needs to be rationalized on contemporary issues such as the use of contraceptives, family planning, Muslims’ involvement in contemporary politics, democracy as a system of government, loyalty to corrupt leaders and administrators of justice, and women emancipation and empowerment among others. Ijtihᾱd of this nature, as upheld by non-conformist scholars will definitely breed differences and discrepancies in views and opinions as this thesis is trying to investigate from social and jurisprudential perspective, using some selected emblems of Islam referred to as identities, among Yoruba Muslim groups in Nigeria.

As will be seen under the modernists and identity, it appears that the effort of these scholars towards the re-opening of the gate of Ijtihᾱd was passive and inconclusive.

3.10. The Modernists/ Progressives and Identity Conflicts

The Modernists and progressives, in the Mid-Nineteenth Century71, further struggled for the re-opening of the gate of Ijtihᾱd, employing modern devices and strategies. This new technique partly explains why they are described as modernists and progressives. This new school of Islamic thought was pioneered by the Islamic reformer and pan- Islamist activist, Jamᾱl al-Dῑn al-Afghᾱnῑ (1838-99). 72 Afghᾱnῑ viewed religion in instrumentalist terms and was critical of Islamic scholars who wished to divide scientific knowledge on religious lines as ‘Muslim Science’ and ‘European Science. In the argument of Afghᾱnῑ, there is no incompatibility between science and knowledge and Islamic faith. According to him, the only contradiction lies between dogma and free human inquiry based on reason. Thus, he put reason on equal footing with divine inspiration. 73

Muhammad Iqb l (1875-1938) was another Islamic reformer and a progressive whose romanticism was diluted with realism. This blend of romanticism and realism spurred him into abandoning the idea of a united India in favour of Muslim nationalism. As a result, he joined forces with Jinnah, the secularist leader of the movement, to create Pakistan 74 As a modernist, Iqb l believed that the Muslims must once again reassert their right to Ijtihᾱd, and he argued that this right should be transferred from conservative Ulamᾱ’ to a national assembly or legislature acting for the community. 75 This, of course, is a modernist approach or view towards achieving an Islamic political identity which blends with the westernized modern politics without a compromise of the Islamic Political System entrenched in the Constitution of Islam (Sharῑ‘ah). Using the expression of Ozay (1990), a major theme with the progressives and modernists was the view that a synthesis of Islamic and western law is warranted as a necessity for adapting to change.76

Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905) was an Egyptian philosopher who was greatly influenced by Afghanī along ‘modernism’ and ‘progressiveness’ lines. In his ideals, compatibility between Islam and rationalism was central. He drew a clear distinction between duties to God (‘ Ibᾱdah) and social duties arising from interpersonal relations (Mu‘ᾱmalah).77 As a social reformer, his particular concern was for the latter sphere (Mu ‘ᾱmalah). So, he criticized the practice of polygamy among Muslims and the low status of women as follows:

To be sure, the Muslims have been at fault in the education and training of women and of acquainting them with their rights; and we acknowledge that we have failed to follow the guidance of our religion, so that we have become an argument against it. 78

In more general terms, Abduh as a social relativist also shared the belief that every generation should be able, as a moral duty, to interpret scripture for itself. He argues that the

Qur’ n and Hadith laid down specific rules about worship; about relationships with other man, they laid down for the most part, general principles for man to apply to all the circumstances of life. This was the legitimate sphere of Ijtihād. 79

Following this, there is no doubt that Abduh has represented the modernists’ view on series of identity such as social, status, sex, personal and mostly religious identity. This trend shows a complete movement of the modernist from the rigidity and stagnancy stage of the reactionaries to a stage of flexibility and generational creativity which could result in the formation of new identities, the search for past / lost identities or the rebranding of existing identities. This is in line with the perception of the modernists that Islam is not absolute and constant system but a dynamic and creative force which is quite compatible with modernization. 80 The modernists saw Islam’s encouragement of individual reasoning, Ijtihād and rational investigation as being necessary for contemporary reform, all in an effort to re-open the ‘Gate of Ijtihᾱd. 81

Islamic progressives were regarded as essentially ad hoc reformers and political activists, rather than thinkers proposing coherent social and political theories.82 Although, they are anti-western, they nevertheless admired western civilization and saw Islamic reform in largely western terms. While critical of Taqlῑd, they idealized the West and sought to imitate European ideas of liberty and freedom. Also, they correctly drew a causal link between reformation and rational knowledge but they ignored the historic shift of economic centre of gravity from the Middle East to the West as a result of the discovery of the New World and alternative trade routes to the old Silk Road. In short, they missed the simple, but crucial link between civilization and economic prosperity.83 As a result, their reforms related to political and social, but regrettably not to economic aspects of public policy.84

3.11. The Secularists and Identity Conflicts

The secularists as scholars of Islam make clear distinction between faith and politics. Their disposition is that in this world, the human condition must be improved by legislation and man’s deliberate action. 85 A great thinker of this school of thought was Ziya Gokalp, the intellectual father of Turkish nationalist identity who endorsed Ataturk’s move to abolish the caliphate in 1924.86

For secularists like Gokalp, ‘I bādah (prayer) is a personal duty of man to God and social relations (mu‘āmalah) need to be updated and modernized by man and legislation to fit changing social conditions. As for legislation, it is said to be necessary to regulate civil, commercial and criminal cases. Thus, the secularists perceived the state as the instrument of such legislation and they saw nothing wrong in patterning legislation or the state on the western constitutional model to provide responsible government responding to human needs and problems.87

Yusuf Akura was another popular and influential rationalist of the Young Turk era. He was more emphatic than Gokalp about the need to adopt western civilization in its entirety. Unlike Islamic reformers who were advocates of only western technology but not European ways of thought, Akura declared that it would be absurd to try and separate thought from material aspects of civilization.88

In our own view, the secularists are more westernized than any other school of thought and it is our inference that such a view which could be considered as completely pro –West was a probable factor for the formation of the reactionary school of Islamic thought, and the quest of its scholars to go back to the period of Islamic orthodoxy as a complete way of life which remains unchangeable and without a substitute. It therefore becomes evident that the secularist school of thought and the reactionary school of thought form the basis for the emergence of the non-conformist and the modernist schools of thought. As the formation of the reactionary school was a response to the ‘extreme’ view of the secularists, the non-conformist and the modernist schools came on board to strike a balance but using different devices and strategies. Thus, our supposition is that the modernist started the struggle of that reformation from where the non-conformist stopped.

At this juncture, it must be pointed out that the examined four schools of Islamic thought in respect of identity will be adopted in our categorization of views of various Islamic groups and individuals which will be studied in the subsequent chapters, in relation to the six identities (emblems) selected for investigation among Yoruba Muslim groups in Nigeria. By implication, all viewpoints will be classified as reactionary’s, non-conformist’s, modernist’s or secularist’s, after thorough scrutiny in line with the major sources of Islamic theology and jurisprudence.

3.12. Summary

In this chapter, attempt has been made to examine the concept of identity conflict. In the process, identity and conflict were defined from a multi-disciplinary perspective which suggests that they are concepts which are relevant to and employed in almost all fields of study. Effort was equally made to examine different types of identity such as social, personal, class, gender, sexual, ethnic/racial and moral identity.

Also in the Chapter, the fate of Islam in the modern nation state was discussed from the struggle and identity conflict between Islam and the West. The metamorphosis process of the Islamic state which gave absolute recognition to the Sultan and the caliph in the judicial and the executive administration of the ’ Ummah in accordance with Sharī‘ah, to a modern state which domiciles its legislative, executive and judicial powers in the hands of the fallible man, was also unveiled. This development which better explains identity crisis, as discussed in the chapter, was briefly investigated from the Islamic periphery such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines. In these countries, the frictions between the West and Islam in the religious and political arenas were discussed. All these were discovered to be as a result of the imposition of a new identity on the Muslims by the West, and which the Muslims decided to resist by a way of asserting their identity as defined by the Qur’ n.

Lastly, the chapter discussed four different Islamic schools of thought in an attempt to examine their views in respect to identity conflicts. These schools as discussed are the reactionaries, the non-conformists, the modernists/ progressives and the secularists. While the reactionaries were seen as being conservative and preservative of the orthodox Islam, the non-conformists formed an opposition to the closure of the gate of the Ijtihᾱd upheld by the reactionaries, who aimed at protecting the orthodox legacies and norms of Islam from western pollution and the corruption of modernity. Thus, the non-conformists worked towards a re-opening of the gate of Ijtihād and rational knowledge as opposed to the reduction of Islam to a religion of blind followership and imitation (Taqlῑd) pioneered by the traditionalists/reactionaries.

The modernists/ progressives, as discussed in this chapter, employed modern strategies to struggle for the re-opening of the gate of Ijtihᾱd which the non-conformists started, but could not accomplish, as argued by this thesis. This school argued in instrumentalist terms that scientific knowledge should not be divided on religious lines. Rather than showing false incompatibility between science, and knowledge and the Islamic faith, the contradiction between dogma and free human inquiry based on reasoning should be emphasized. With this, they put human inquiry based on reasoning (Ijtihᾱd) on the same scale as divine inspiration.


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Identity conflicts Juristic arguments Religious identifiers yoruba muslim religious conflict




Title: Identity conflicts among Yoruba Muslim groups in selected states of Nigeria