Enforcing the Shari`ah in Nigeria Women, Justice, and the Muslims’ Collective Conscience

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Ogechi Anyanwu

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Abstract

The reemergence of the Shari`ah in northern Nigeria in 2000 is reshaping the Muslims’ criminal justice system in unintended ways. This article accounts for and provides fresh insights on how the fate of Muslim women under the Shari`ah intertwines with the uncertain future of the law in Nigeria. Using Emile Durkheim’s theory of conscience collective as an explanatory framework of analysis, I argue that the well-placed objective of using the Shari` ah to reaffirm or create social solidarity among Muslim Nigerians has been undermined by the unequal, harsher punishments and suppression of human rights perpetrated against Muslim women since 2000. A I show, not only does such discrimination violate the principle of natural justice upheld by Islam, but it also threatens to shrink, if not wipe out, the collective conscience of Nigerian Muslims that the law originally sought to advance.

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