The Radio Kaduna 'tafsir' (1978-1992)

The Radio Kaduna 'tafsir' (1978-1992) and the construction of public images of Muslim scholars in the Nigerian media / Andrea Brigaglia

Journal for Islamic Studies, 2007, vol. 27, p. 173-210

The introduction of radio around the globe has, like other vehicles of mass mediated communications, affected the dynamics of the public sphere. This paper looks at a public contest over Koranic interpretation ('tafsir') that accompanied the emergence of Islamic reformist activism in Nigeria in the late 1970s. This contest was staged on national radio at regular intervals during the months of Ramadan over several years. The events allowed a public negotiation of the issues involved by the then polarizing fracture between 'Sufi' and 'anti-Sufi' Nigerian Muslims. In addition to the demands of the familiar doctrinal polemic register, the religious scholars who participated in these programmes were thrown into a new, challenging arena.The paper focuses separately on the three major protagonists involved at different stages as 'Radio Kaduna exegetes' (Shaykh Abu Bakr Gumi, Shaykh 'Umar Sanda, Shaykh Tahir Bauchi), outlines their scholarly careers, their doctrinal inclination and their favoured themes. It concludes by highlighting how the success of the Radio Kaduna 'tafsir' contest rested on the degree to which it staged critical cultural negotiations that engaged the society in a variety of ways.

The qualitative changes that have accompanied the introduction of mass-mediation are intimately - and intricately - linked to the qualitative changes that we associate with globalization.