On 1 July 2022, the Ansar-Ud-Deen Mosque in Abuja, Nigeria introduced a fresh rendition of the Quran in Igbo language. Muhammed Muritala Chukwuemeka, the translator, stated that the initiative to create this Nso Koran commenced half a decade ago.
Nigeria now has its third translated version of the Quran for one of its main languages. Yoruba and Hausa, which are widely spoken by Muslims, also have their own versions. Yoruba speakers account for approximately 25% of Nigeria’s population, which is estimated to be over 250 million, with about half of them being Muslim.
The Hausa-Fulani, making up around 35% of the country’s population, are mostly followers of the Islamic faith. It is impressive that Igbo people have become part of this group, considering that the majority of them, about 98%, are Christians. The number of Igbo Muslims is quite small, with only approximately 14,500 individuals.
For the past twenty years, we have conducted extensive research on Islam in southeast Nigeria, specifically in the Igbo homeland. As a result, we have authored a book that chronicles the introduction of Islam in Igboland, the reaction of the predominantly Christian community, and provides insight into the experience of being an Igbo Muslim.
Our work also explores the various factors that influenced Igbo conversions to Islam, the disputes surrounding these conversions, and the subsequent developments that occurred with the arrival of Islam in southeast Nigeria. During our research for the book in 2009, we discovered another Igbo Quran that was not easily obtainable for the average Igbo Muslim.
It is possible that the Igbo Muslims intentionally distanced themselves from this particular version of the Quran due to its association with the Ahmadiyya Movement, which is deemed as heretical by mainstream Islamic denominations.
The introduction of a fresh Igbo translation allows more Igbo Muslims to access their holy texts, enabling them to independently comprehend the teachings of their religion. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for non-Muslims in southeast Nigeria to gain knowledge about Islam.
If the Nso Koran becomes widely accessible, not limited to Muslims alone, it could foster interfaith dialogue. Such communication could further enhance understanding of the major religions in Igboland and encourage peaceful coexistence in a region that feels marginalized by stronger Muslim communities.