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How many Muslim states are in Nigeria?

by Vicky Oselumese
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How many Muslim states are in Nigeria

When it comes to the religious landscape of Nigeria, Islam holds a significant presence. Out of the country’s thirty-six states, twelve have Islam as the dominant religion.

This article will explore the presence of Muslim states in Nigeria and shed light on the implementation of Sharia law in these regions.

The Dominance of Islam in Twelve Nigerian States

Nigeria, with its diverse population and rich cultural heritage, is home to various religious groups. Islam, one of the major religions in the country, has a strong presence in twelve states.

These states include:

  • Kano
  • Katsina
  • Zamfara
  • Kebbi
  • Jigawa
  • Sokoto
  • Kaduna
  • Bauchi
  • Borno
  • Yobe
  • Gombe
  • Niger

In these states, Islam is not only a religious belief but also plays a significant role in shaping the cultural, social, and political aspects of the communities.

Mosques, Islamic schools, and Islamic traditions are an integral part of the daily lives of the people in these regions.

The Introduction of Sharia Law

In 1999, the twelve states with Islam as the dominant religion made a significant decision to introduce Sharia law alongside the existing Customary courts.

This move aimed to address the needs and aspirations of the Muslim population in these states and provide them with a legal system that aligns with their religious beliefs.

Sharia law is a system of Islamic jurisprudence derived from the teachings of the Quran and the Hadith (the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad). It covers various aspects of life, including family matters, criminal offenses, and economic transactions.

It is important to note that the introduction of Sharia law in these states does not mean the establishment of an Islamic state within Nigeria.

The Nigerian legal system continues to operate under a federal structure, with Sharia law applied alongside the existing legal framework.

Implementation of Sharia Courts

Following the decision to introduce Sharia law, Sharia courts were established in the twelve states.

These courts handle cases that fall under the jurisdiction of Sharia law, such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and other civil matters involving Muslims.

It is worth mentioning that the jurisdiction of the Sharia courts is limited to Muslims.

Non-Muslims in these states continue to have their cases heard in the Customary courts or the regular courts that operate under the Nigerian legal system.

The Controversies and Challenges

The introduction of Sharia law in Nigeria has not been without controversies and challenges. Some critics argue that it infringes upon the rights of non-Muslims and undermines the secular nature of the Nigerian state.

However, proponents of Sharia law argue that it is an essential aspect of religious freedom and provides Muslims with a legal framework that aligns with their beliefs.

Over the years, there have been debates and legal battles surrounding the implementation of Sharia law, particularly in cases where it clashes with the Nigerian constitution or conflicts with the rights of individuals.

These challenges highlight the complexities of balancing religious practices with the principles of a secular state.


The presence of twelve Muslim states in Nigeria reflects the diversity and religious pluralism of the country. The introduction of Sharia law in these states was a significant decision that aimed to address the needs and aspirations of the Muslim population.

While it has sparked debates and controversies, Sharia law continues to coexist with the existing legal framework, allowing Muslims in these states to practice their religion and have their civil matters resolved according to their beliefs.

This article was updated 1 month ago


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