Glossary of Terms



The following terms are often used in news articles featured on the INcontext website:



Founded in 2002.  Initially focused on opposing Western education.  Launched military operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state across Nigeria. Official Arabic name, Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, means "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad". Nicknamed Boko Haram, a phrase in the local Hausa language meaning, "Western education is forbidden"

Founding leader Mohammed Yusuf killed in same year in police custody.  Succeeded by Abubakar Shekau, who the military wrongly claimed in 2009 had been killed



A system of Islamic discrimination and oppression whereby non-Muslim minority groups living within Muslim states are forced to make a choice between converting to Islam, paying a ’fine’ or facing varying levels of persecution to the point of death.


SHARIA LAW (also spelled "Shari'a" or "Shariah")

Islamic religious law that governs all aspects of Muslim life, including social morals, interpersonal relations and religious practices. Sharia law is derived from principles laid out in the Quran and from the example set by the Prophet Muhammad.



A major religious grouping within Islam. Muslims of the Shi’ite belief-system hold fast to the conviction that after Muhammad, the rightful and divinely-appointed leader was Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law. To this day, Shias choose to follow those whom they believe to be divinely-appointed Imams, rather than elected leaders. Shias account for between 10 and 20 percent of the overall Muslim population, and are found mostly in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Azerbaijan and Bahrain. Conflict   with Sunni Muslims accounts for much of the violence in the Middle East.



A major religious grouping within Islam, accounting for most of the world’s Muslim population. Sunni Muslims follow the belief that Abu Bakr, father-in-law of Muhammad, was the rightful leader after Muhammad, having served as a companion and advisor to the Prophet. Sunnis believe that leadership is not a divine birthright but is obtained by consensus of the population after having proved capable of the position.