A Nigerian Shariah court has sentenced a prominent Sufi Muslim cleric to death for blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad in a rare capital punishment ruling against an Imam.
Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasiru Kabara was sentenced by the Upper Shariah court for his revisionist preaching.
Blasphemy is a sensitive issue that can result in the death penalty in a dozen predominantly Muslim northern Nigerian states where Islamic law coexists with common law.
Judge Abdullahi Sarki Yola found Kabara guilty of blasphemy. He’d been detained since his arrest in July 2021.
“This court has established all of the charges brought against you and hereby sentences you to death in accordance with the Shariah provision on blasphemy,” Yola said during the hour-long hearing.
Kabara’s two mosques and personal library were confiscated by the judge.
Kabara sat quietly throughout the judgment in a courtroom packed with lawyers and journalists, with armed police and other paramilitary personnel stationed outside.
Kabara objected to his counsel’s leniency request and maintained his innocence, urging his supporters to remain calm.
Kabara, a member of the Qadiriyya Sufi order, has clashed with other Sunni Muslim clerics in northern Nigeria, particularly the ultraconservative Salafi.
Their disagreement arose from his perspective on Islamic history and theology, which he claims is riddled with myths, lies, distortions, and concoctions.
Kabara’s opposers accused him of insulting the prophet’s companions, some of whom Kabara accused of lying about the prophet and maliciously portraying him in a negative light.
Kabara’s conviction for blasphemy is the third in recent years in Kano.
A Shariah court in the city sentenced singer Yahaya Aminu Sharif of the Tijjaniyya Sufi order to death in August 2020 for a song he shared online that was found to have blasphemed the prophet. His case is being retried.
Abdul Nyass, a Tijjaniyya Sufi Muslim cleric, was sentenced to death in 2015 for preaching blasphemy against the prophet. The sentence has not been executed.
Mubarak Bala, an atheist, was sentenced to 24 years in prison in April by a Kano high court for blasphemous online posts against the prophet.