Since it erupted onto the world stage in 2009, people have asked, what is Boko Haram, and what does it stand for? Is there a coherent vision or set of beliefs behind it? Despite the growing literature about the group, few if any attempts have been made to answer these questions, even though Boko Haram is but the latest in a long line of millenarian Muslim reform groups to emerge in Northern Nigeria over the last two centuries. The Boko Haram Reader offers an unprecedented collection of essential texts, documents, videos, audio, and nashids (martial hymns), translated into English from Hausa, Arabic and Kanuri, tracing the group's origins, history, and evolution. Its editors, two Nigerian scholars, reveal how Boko Haram's leaders manipulate Islamic theology for the legitimisation, radicalisation, indoctrination and dissemination of their ideas across West Africa. Mandatory reading for anyone wishing to grasp the underpinnings of Boko Haram's insurgency, particularly how the group strives to delegitimise its rivals and establish its beliefs as a dominant strand of Islamic thought in West Africa's religious marketplace.
Abdulbasit Kassim is a PhD student at Rice University, focusing on African Islamic movements and international relations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Michael Nwankpa has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Roehampton. His main areas of interest are conflict and development, human rights, counterinsurgency and counterterrorism.