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Islam--Nigeria; Nigeria, Northern--Religion; Nigeria--Colonization; Nigeria--Colonial influence; Great Britain--Colonies--Africa--Administration


This paper offers a case study in acculturation, the process by which one culture adopts traits of another after prolonged contact. This study seeks to show how the British administration in Northern Nigeria inadvertently hastened the process of conversion of the pagans to Islam. Much of the area was already nominally Muslim when conquered by the Muslim Fulani early in the 19th century. The suzerainty of Islamic rulers encouraged further conversion. By strengthening these rulers and their Islamic courts, the British system of indirect rule established in 1900 gave the pagans positive incentives to convert. Many of the pre-Fulani Muslims had only a superficial knowledge of the religion gained from traders and many who converted to align themselves with the Fulani had no religious instruction. Such converts passed their unorthodox and diluted form of Islam on to the outlying areas. By bolstering the position of educated Muslim administrators and judges, the British encouraged the spread of more orthodox interpretations.

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