Guest / Limited Access /

Until last year, Kabiru Lawal, 29, was a committed Muslim. He embraced the revivalist Islamic spirit that had engulfed northern Nigeria and had resulted in 12 states implementing Islamic law in 2000, including his home state of Zamfara.

Then Lawal read about Jesus Christ in Islam's holy book. "I read in the Qur'an that Jesus Christ was coming back into the world and that all Muslims must believe in him," Lawal said. He gave his life to Christ, and soon the religious police came gunning for him—literally. Three times they tried to kill him, in keeping with a strict interpretation of Islamic law's proscription against apostates. But each time he escaped.

Lawal now lives in hiding, afraid to walk the streets of Gusau. He fears that if spotted, he may be murdered by just about anyone, as many Muslims believe it is the duty of any follower of Islam to kill the backslidden.

According to some media reports, enforcement of Shari'ah law in northern Nigeria has eased. In December, The New York Times reported that "these days, the fearsome [religious] police officers, known as the Hisbah, are little more than glorified crossing guards. They have largely been confined to their barracks and assigned anodyne tasks like directing traffic and helping fans to their seats at soccer games."

While punishments for immorality, like amputation for theft or stoning for adultery, are increasingly rare, local leaders say attacks against Christians and their places of worship have not lessened.

"Churches are being demolished and Christians persecuted," said the Rev. Murtala Marti Dangora, secretary of the Kano State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). "The Shari'ah has aggravated the persecution of Christians here."

During the last ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Recommended'Not Forgotten': The Top 50 Countries Where It's Most Difficult To Be A Christian
'Not Forgotten': The Top 50 Countries Where It's Most Difficult To Be A Christian
Open Doors says 2014 saw the worst persecution of Christians in the 'modern era'—but not because of violence.
TrendingThe 10 Most Influential Churches of the Last Century
The 10 Most Influential Churches of the Last Century
There is much to learn from some key trends in the last 100 years of church history.
Editor's PickShould Pastors Stop Signing Civil Marriage Certificates?
Should Pastors Stop Signing Civil Marriage Certificates?
First Things says yes. Survey finds 1 in 4 pastors agree.
Comments
Christianity Today
A Kinder, Gentler Shari'ah?
hide thisMarch March

In the Magazine

March 2008

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.