Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky is a Shia cleric and the leader of Shia Muslims in Nigeria, who has been kept in custody in Nigeria since December 2015.
Zakzaky was born in 1953 in northern Nigeria. In addition to his educations, he studied religious disciplines in Kano in northern Nigeria until 1976. In 1979, he earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria. After a while, he undertook the imamate of congregational prayers in the mosque of a religious seminary. He became a member of the Union of Muslim Students and was then selected as its general secretary.
He was inspired by the Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979 and by Imam Khomeini and then converted to Shia Islam.
In a visit to Paris in 1979, Zakzaky met with Imam Khomeini, and after the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, he went to the Islamic Seminary of Qom to study religious disciplines. He has frequently talked about the tremendous impact of Imam Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution of Iran on him. Zakzaky converted to Shia Islam after his meeting with Imam Khomeini.
He founded the Islamic Movement of Nigeria as well as 300 Islamic schools in Nigeria and its neighboring countries. He also founded charities to provide financial, health, and educational services to Shia Muslims.
According to Zakzaky, in late 1970s at the time of the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, he began religious propagations in Nigeria and attracted dozens of people. With his efforts, in 2010s, the number of the followers of the school of Ahl al-Bayt (AS) in Nigeria reached millions.
Zakzaky’s three children were killed in an attack by Nigerian military forces on demonstrations of the al-Quds Day. Zakzaky was arrested and imprisoned after an attack by Nigerian army forces on Husayniyya Baqiyyatullah in Zaria in 2015.