The Izala-movement in Nigeria: Its Split, Relationship to Sufis and Perception of Sharia Re-Implementation


Dr. Ramzi Ben Amara

Research Area:


Jama’t Izalat al Bid’a Wa Iqamat as Sunna (Society of Removal of Innovation and Reestablishment of the Sunna), known as Izala or Yan Izala, was founded in 1978 by Sheikh Ismaila Idris in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. The Izala movement is an anti-Sufi-movement established to fight what is conceived of as bid’a, innovation, practiced by the Sufi Brotherhoods (esp. Qadiriyya and Tijaniyya). Today the Izala is one of the largest Islamic movements not only in Northern Nigeria, but also in the whole country and even in neighbouring countries (Niger, Tchad, etc). Izala is active in da’wa (propagation of Islam) and particularly in education.


The research investigates the Izala since its establishment. The aim of the research is to identify the main figures and institutions, to understand the division of the movement, and to analyse its relationship vis-à-vis Sufis. A main focus is to explore the perception of the re-implementation of certain aspects of Islamic law in Northern Nigeria since 1999 by the Izala movement.


The most important questions are:

-   Why did a division of the Izala happen in the mid 1980s?

-   How does the Izala perceive the implementation of Sharia?

-   Does the conflict with the Sufis influence their standpoint towards Sharia?

-   Is the Sharia-debate a means of ending the conflict with the Sufis?