As we all know we are in the holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the month in which the Quran was revealed. Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
In the spirit of Islam, it is only the right thing to talk about and seek knowledge of, i.e. the knowledge of how Islam came into Nigeria in the 9th century, the same time Islamic education began in the country, knowing that we cannot but talk about the history of Islamic education in Nigeria without first knowing when and how Islam came into Nigeria.
According to record, Islam as a religion became prevalent in Nigeria in the 9th century during the reign of Mai Idris Alooma, who ruled the Borno empire till 1603. This also coincided with the time Islamic education began in the country especially in the northern part of Nigeria and apart from establishing these Islamic schools, there were also Islamic pilgrimage, mosques, Islamic courts and so on. As years passed by, the Islamic education system had further spread from the Borno Empire to other major northern cities of Nigeria. From those northern cities, the Islamic system of education then moved to the middle Belt.
The first set of Islamic schools in the region was also created by these Malians between the 14th and 15th century and by the 19th century, the education system had become part of the people. This shows that long before the missionaries from Portugal brought Christian education, the Islamic education had already existed first in Nigeria. Another interesting point to note is that the first mosque to be built in Yoruba land was built in 1550 AD in Oyo-Ile which served as a center for Islamic educational learning.
As for southeastern Nigeria, Islamic education didn’t strive as Christianity did in that area. It was until recent times that some Hausas, Fulani’s and Yoruba’s relocated to the east and set up mini mosques were Islamic studies are taught. Although, the percentage of Muslims in the southeast is very low, because it is hardly accepted in that region. Officially, Koranic centers which were the first form of Islamic school was established to teach people about the Koran. They also served as centers of Islamic studies in Nigeria.