Whether devout or not, the rulers benefited from the opportunities associated with Islam: the wealth of the transSaharan trade, the spread of ideas from North Africa, and the ability to forge diplomatic relations with Muslim rulers elsewhere.
Islam an established system of public revenue based on tax and a judiciary based on the Sharia law and the alkali courts, started presided over by learned Islamic jurists. The Islamic jurispudence or Sharia law was allowed to be followed, but people started to practice it by combining the sharia laws with their new existing beliefs and this was obviously in their own interest as they were used to mould their religion accordingly.
No doubt Sharia has always been a notion of conflict among Muslims and Christians in Nigeria. As Islam was being introduced into northern Nigeria in the 14th century, Muslims applied the Islamic law Sharia to their everyday lifestyle as they were bound to do so being Muslims and even those Muslims who were in favor of religious freedom, they also felt it hard to cope up with the 'Sharia' law.
The conflict started with the advent of British rule, when the Muslims started feeling unsecured with a disrupted legal system because Nigerian Muslims particularly those of North were not in a position to tolerate any obstruction in between them and the 'Sharia' but at the same time they were bound to follow the legal system according to which the Sharia courts came under the supervision of Europeans probably the Christians. While recognizing Sharia law and courts, the British also restricted them in several respects. The 1906 Proclamation limited the application of Sharia to Muslims and provided that these courts could not give certain punishments, such as mutilation, torture, or others which were repugnant to "natural justice and humanity." (Bello, 2000) These changes reflected at least two principles. One was a belief that certain previously existing Sharia criminal penalties were inhumane. The other was that criminal law is a public matter to be implemented by the state rather than by private or social action.
Some further changes in the implementation of Sharia occurred in the Native Ordinance of 1956, officially known as the "Native Courts Law of Northern Nigeria, No. 6 of 1956." (Bello, 2000) This provided for appeals from the Sharia courts to courts of appeal that reflected a more British understanding of justice, and the Ordinance provoked disagreement with the traditional emirs, who objected to this limit on Sharia law. In an attempt to pacify the emirs, the British then established Sharia Courts of Appeal, which were meant to protect Islamic law from excessive encroachhment through appeal to English courts. (Bello, 2000)
Though well maintained, these courts were looked after by Europeans and in line with colonial policy, the British established a Muslim court of appeal in 1956, which was empowered to deal with matters of Muslim personal law only. This court was renamed the Sharia court of appeal just before independence in 1960. (Adamu, 2004)
On one hand the Sharia courts were running under British authority while