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The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) since 1954: education, Muslim–Christian encounters and regional variation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 December 2022

Adeyemi Balogun*
Osun State University, Osogbo, Nigeria


The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) is a movement that promotes the Islamic identity of Muslims in Nigeria’s educational institutions. Despite promoting the same objectives around the country, a comparison of the MSSN’s activities between the northern and southern regions of Nigeria suggests that the success of the movement varies in many aspects. This is because there are two main types of regional variation relating to the MSSN: the success of Christian opposition to the MSSN’s objectives; and the attitude of many Muslims and the government to those objectives. For example, in the Muslim-dominated northern states, the call by the MSSN to let Muslim girls wear the hijab in schools and the MSSN’s support for the reintroduction of sharia were welcomed by the state governors. However, in the south-west region, where the populations of Muslims and Christians are roughly equal, the MSSN struggled to get the state governors to accept the hijab and the call for sharia was rejected. This article thus argues that, despite envisioning the same notion of Islam for all Muslim students in Nigeria, the MSSN’s activities do not produce a monolithic Islam, and that this reflects differences in the practice of the religion across the country.



La MSSN (Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria) est un mouvement qui promeut l’identité islamique des musulmans dans les établissements d’enseignement au Nigeria. Bien que la MSSN soutienne les mêmes objectifs à travers le pays, une comparaison de ses activités entre les régions du nord et du sud du Nigeria suggère que le mouvement rencontre un succès nuancé à de nombreux égards. Ceci tient au fait qu’il y ait deux grands types de variation régionale concernant la MSSN : le succès de l’opposition chrétienne aux objectifs de la MSSN et l’attitude de nombreux musulmans et du gouvernement à l’égard de ces objectifs. Par exemple, dans les États du nord à majorité musulmane, les gouverneurs de ces États ont accueilli favorablement l’appel lancé par la MSSN pour permettre aux jeunes musulmanes de porter le hijab à l’école et le soutien de la MSSN au rétablissement de la charia. En revanche, dans la région du sud-ouest, où les populations musulmanes et chrétiennes sont à peu près égales, la MSSN a eu du mal à faire accepter le hijab par les gouverneurs, qui ont rejeté l’appel à rétablir la charia. Cet article soutient donc que, bien que la MSSN envisage la même notion de l’islam pour tous les étudiants musulmans au Nigeria, ses activités ne produisent pas un islam monolithique, et que ceci reflète des différences de pratique de la religion à travers le pays.

Islam and Muslim cultures in Nigeria
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the International African Institute

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