Boko Haram violence is described as beginning by being directed at fellow Muslims who did not share their narrow views on Islam.
Boko Haram came to the attention of the government on account of such intra-Muslim violence, not because Boko Haram began by attacking govt agents.
Boko Haram is openly associated with a drive to create a society modeled on strict Sharia and has not denied that association.
Boko Haram describes its goal as that of supplanting the current Nigerian government particularly in Northern Nigeria, and to a lesser extent, in Nigeria as a whole, with an Islamic government.
Boko Haram has pursued these goals by trying to create a unified Northern identity by demanding that all Christians and non-Northerners should leave the North, and Muslims and Northerners migrate from the South to the North. They set a deadline, after which they began killing Christians and Southerners in pursuit of their goal.
Boko Haram did state that their goal was to avenge the killing of their leader but they have gone far beyond that initial mandate by waging an all out war within Northern Nigeria, killing large numbers of people.
What are their clearly stated objectives?
To use violence and terror in
1. Enforcing strict Sharia in Northern Nigeria
2. To create a homogenous Islamic identity in Northern Nigeria, eliminating Southerners and non-Muslims
3. To create an educational system that is totally Islamic. Islamic civilization may have given the world central components of Western education, but that does not make Islamic civilization and Islamic education identical with Western civilization and Western education.
This culture of groundbreaking scholarship has declined in Islamic civilizations, a situation described by some scholars as due to the resurgence and eventual dominance of dogmatic Islam. Meanwhile, the West has integrated its Islamic, Arab and Persian heritage into a secular framework that eliminates religious dogma. Anybody who wants to catch up in the world of knowledge has to eliminate religious dogma. Muslim societies have not been able to do that and are still overly influenced and in some cases, dominated by an uncritical relationship with Islamic icons such as the Koran and the Prophet Muhammed. These icons are often contradictory to critical knowledge and need to be put in their place if knowledge is to truly grow.
True, Muhammad is reputed as declaring ' Seek knowledge, even as far as China'. But to do that truly will imply seeking knowledge even in challenging the Koran and Muhammad. It will involve questions like challenging the validity of claims about the existence of Allah and the authority of Muhammad. Modern Western education is directly based on the overturning of Christian authority in the world of knowledge. Islamic societies have not reached that point.
So, Western education is a totally different ball game from Islamic education. The West has traveled much farther in pursuit of the foundations of knowledge and Islamic fundamentalists and extremists of various shades, such as Islamic terrorists like Boko Haram or the feudal, Islamic fundamentalist govt of Saudi Arabia know that the essence of Western education is destructive to religious dogma, which is the essence of their power, and will do everything to fight it, like Saudi Arabia banning books and other acts of legitimized incarceration of its entire populace to open terrorists like Boko Haram burning schools.
Boko Haram is described as beginning in an Islamic educational system set up by their leader, which expanded to become a radical and violent group.
Part of the Sword of Damocles, the delayed reckoning, represented by Boko Haram is that prominent Northern figures, including online activists like Aliyu Tilde and Abba are refusing to address the core of Boko Haram terrorism in Islamic fundamentalism and instead focu on the after effects of the crises, such as the inadequacies of the Nigerian government in dealing with Boko Haram.
The inadequacy of this approach is demonstrated y the fact that Northern Nigeria has been prone for decades to waves of religious and ethnic centred violence. Islamic terrorist groups like Maitasine and Boko Haram sprout there from time to time by beginning with terrorizing other Muslims before the govt engages with them as was done more successfully with Maitasine.
The central problem, therefore, is Islamic fundamentalism.
Added to this is a political dimension I am yet to read Northern critics respond to.
Are we to dismiss the threats of Atiku and other Northern politicians threatening violence beceause a Northerner was not made President and after which BH violence escalated and outright politicization of its activities became more stark?
Can we honestly avoid reading in the increased politicisation of Boko Haram a maneuver directed at 2015 and the implied threat that failing to accede to the demands of Northern politicians is equivalent to courting violence in Nigeria?
These issues of
political implications of Boko Haram in relation to the stated ambitions of some Northern politicians
and the role of these two in the relationship between Northern and Southern Nigeria are at the heart of the BH challenge.
Yes. Boko Haram is condemned by many in Northern Nigeria.
But prominent Northern figures insist that they have legitimate grievances and try to equate them with MEND. . Sanusi insists that they are the result of poverty emerging from skewed resource allocation. Northern govs and other Northern figures reinforced that view by shortly after that Sanusi declaration fighting for more money for the North.
Boko Haram thus becomes a crusader for Northern interests.
I would like to see a figure from the North examining the relationship of these crises of terrorist Islam to the nature of Islam and ways of interpreting Islam as well as the tendency for religions like Islam and Christianity to breed fanatics and fundamentalists, at times murderous fanatics. The Christian fundamentalists are more tame now but the Islamic extremists are still going strong.
This culture of violent Islamic extremism is represented in contemporary times by
Maitasine once in Nigeria
Boko Haram now in Nigeria
All Shabbab in Somalia
Al Qaeda globally
The Taliban in Afghanistan waging war against everything that did not fit their narrow view of Islam
Muslims killing people who they think have insulted Islam
The man who killed Van Gogh in the Netherlands for his film on Islam
Murderous Muslim riots in Northern Nigeria because of the Danish anti-Muhammad cartoons, murderous Muslim riots in Northern Nigeria because of a beauty pageant, among other examples of the culture of anti-Southern and anti-Muslim pogrom culture of Northern Nigeria
The death sentence of the Iranian Ayatollah against Salaman Rushdie for his book The Satanic Verses based on a true story in which Muhammed discredited some Koranic verses beceause he later believed they came from the Devil (See 'Satanic Verses' in Muhammed at Medina by Montgomery Watt and Google). Rushdie's book plays with the idea-who knows the source of the other verses, are they any more credible than the 'Satanic ones'? in the context of an imaginative exploration of Muhammed's alleged prophetic inspiration.
The most prominent face of global Islam is irrational violence.
From the Nigerian pants bomber Mutallab to the 9/11 terrorists.
They all rationalize their resort to violence.
Boko Haram speaks of avenging their leader and other Muslims, thereby justifying massive massacres in a campaign of terror that avenges their leader many times over while working towards inane social goals, like their brand of Sharia and threatening to destroy the Nigerian state and remake it in their own image
Al Qaeda will mention fighting against Western imperialism and thereby massacring large numbers of innocent people.
Individuals who kill in the name of Islam will focus on avenging the honour of their religion.
The bottom line is
while others try to address their differences through various means, the most prominent face of Islam is the resort to murderous violence.
Meanwhile some like Abba are focusing on inadequacies of Nigerian govt in relation to BH.
That has some significance but to exaggerate it, as Abba and other covert BH Haram apologists like Aliyu Tilde do is like pursuing a rat while the house is burning
specifically Northern Nigeria and the corporate integrity of Islam.