"Igbos Don’t Like Marrying Us": Imo Chief Imam Speaks on Challenges Muslims Face in Southeast

"Igbos Don’t Like Marrying Us": Imo Chief Imam Speaks on Challenges Muslims Face in Southeast

  • Sheikh Suleiman Njoku, the chief imam of Imo state, highlighted challenges faced by Igbo Muslims in the southeast
  • The Islamic scholar noted how terrorism and banditry in the north affect perceptions of Islam among Igbo communities, leading to discrimination and misconceptions
  • Despite challenges, Sheikh Njoku observed the growth of Islam in Imo state and advocated for support for Islamic education and resources while refuting the notion that Igbo Muslims convert for financial gain

Legit.ng journalist Nurudeen Lawal has years of experience covering the intersections of Nigerian politics, government policies and religion

Owerri, Imo state - The chief imam of Imo state, Sheikh Suleiman Njoku, has highlighted the challenges Muslims of Igbo extraction face in the southeast.

The southeast is predominantly dominated by the Igbo tribe who primarily practice Christianity apart from the traditional religion.

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Sheikh Suleiman Njoku/Muslim Igbo/Southeast
The chief imam of Imo state, Sheikh Suleiman Njoku, spoke about the challenges Muslim Igbos face in the southeast. Photo credit: @haruna_braimoh
Source: Twitter

In an interview published by The Punch, Sheikh Njoku said a significant challenge faced as a Muslim in the southeast is the blending of culture with religion, which can lead to deviations from Islamic teachings.

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How terrorism/banditry in north is affecting Igbo Muslims

Sheikh Njoku pointed out that the actions of Boko Haram and bandits in the predominantly Muslim northern region are affecting how Igbos treat their brothers and sisters who embrace Islam.

He explained that due to negative encounters with certain individuals in the north, there's a misconception among Igbo communities that such behaviour aligns with Islamic teachings.

Njoku, who is also the chairman of the League of Imams of Imo state, stated that this misunderstanding is the reason why, when someone embraces Islam, they are often called upon to attend a meeting where they warn them against acts of violence or any attempts to introduce Boko Haram-related activities into the community.

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Igbos don’t like marrying Muslims - Sheikh Njoku

Asked if Muslims in Igboland face discrimination, Sheikh Njo said:

"Yes, you know my people are very funny; even as a Muslim you can’t get any job from the state government, meanwhile, the Igbo go to places where Muslims are living and they get jobs easily without any form of discrimination.
"But in Imo state, once they see you’re bearing a Muslim name, they will remove your name from the list of jobseekers and ask you to go to the North for jobs, but God commanded us to love them and we do.
"Also, our ladies cannot wear hijabs because of the fear of attack. If they wear hijabs they will be called Boko-haram, but I usually tell them to shun any form of distraction and follow the commandment of God to rule their lives.
"The Igbo don’t like marrying Muslims and they to discourage anyone who wants to marry Muslims."

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Nevertheless, Sheikh Njoku stated that Governor Hope Uzodimma has shown exceptional support for Muslims in Imo state.

He stated that in 2023, Governor Uzodimma sponsored 200 Muslims from the state to Mecca for the Hajj, a gesture unmatched by only a few governors in Nigeria. The Islamic leader described the Imo governor as a just leader who does not discriminate.

Islam is growing in Imo state - Sheikh Njoku

Meanwhile, Sheikh Njoku said Islam growing in Imo state, despite being a minority.

He also highlighted other challenges faced due to limited knowledge and resources, such as difficulties in practising daily prayers without access to mosques.

The Islamic scholar and lawyer expressed a need for Arabic education institutions and sought support for Islamic education.

He refuted the misconception that Igbo Muslims convert to Islam for financial gain, emphasising the importance of sincere faith and intention in Islam.

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Southeast Muslims launched Qur’an translated to Igbo language

Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that a group of Muslims from the southeast in 2022 launched the holy Qur’an translated to the Igbo language.

Representatives of the group under the aegis of Igbo Muslims Da’wah Group led by Mallam Muhammed Muritala Chukwuemeka disclosed this.

Chukwuemeka, who is from the Imo state, described Islam as a religion of peace that forbids the killing of fellow human beings.

Source: Legit.ng

Nurudeen Lawal avatar

Nurudeen Lawal (Head of Politics and Current Affairs Desk) Nurudeen Lawal is an AFP-certified journalist with a wealth of experience spanning over 8 years. He received his B/Arts degree in Literature-in-English from OAU. Lawal is the Head of the Politics/CA Desk at Legit.ng, where he applies his expertise to provide incisive coverage of events. He was named the Political Desk Head of the Year (Nigeria Media Nite-Out Award 2023). He is also a certified fact-checker (Dubawa fellowship, 2020). Contact him at lawal.nurudeen@corp.legit.ng or +2347057737768.

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