The Role of Beliefs in Divine Destiny and Preordination in Coping with the Impacts of Violence and Displacement

By: Muazu Shehu   Adamu Abba   Bashir Malam  

Social research on mechanisms of coping with physical and emotional stress has shown that religion plays an important role in shaping how people respond to adverse events and situations. However, despite the devastating effects of the ongoing Boko Haram’s war on the society and economy of communities in Northeast Nigeria, the role of religious principles in people’s modes of coping and adjusting to the consequences of the war has not been explored. In this paper, we draw from qualitative analysis of data to investigate the ways in which displaced victims of this brutal war narrate their stories of the war and the strategies they deploy to cope with the losses that result from violence, persecution and displacement. Our analysis has found that religious beliefs in divine preordination and fate provide strong coping mechanisms for dealing with the psychosocial stress that accompanies traumatising experiences and adversities. By deploying these beliefs, we found that participants experience not only a relief from sadness and grief but also develop resilience from shock and some hope for a better future as ways of dealing with the long-term consequences of violence and displacement. Among the self-settled victims of the war, we found that religiously inspired traditions of sharing and support are used to restore severed kinship ties, rebuild social capital and community networks. In conclusion, we make a case for the recognition and possible utilisation of religious values in research and policy interventions on post-conflict reconciliation, rehabilitation and peacebuilding in regions affected by chronic conflicts.

Religion, Destiny, Violence, Displacement
Religious Community and Socialization
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Muazu Shehu

Senior Lecturer, Sociology, Gombe State University

I am a senir lecturer in Sociology at the Gombe State University in North-eastern Nigeria. I gained my PhD in Sociological Studies from the University of Sheffield, United kingdom. Although originally trained in sociology, my research interests are interdisciplinary and broadly include nature and society interactions, science and technology in society and forced migration resulting from violent conflicts and environmental change. My current research adopts a multidisciplinary approach and mixed methods to investigate the wide range of relationships between religion and the environment in Northern Nigeria. I am also doing research in areas such as public attitudes towards electronic wastes, the social consequences of large-scale displacement resulting from violent conflicts and resource depletion in West Africa, and institutional responses to internal displacement in the region.

Adamu Abba

Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Gombe State University, Nigeria

Bashir Malam

Senior Lecturer in Political Science, Gombe State University, Nigeria