The Kanuri have been Muslims since the eleventh century. Law, education, and social organization are the parts of their culture that have been most affected by Islam. The Malakite version of Islamic law is administered by an alkali (judge) who has been trained at the Kano Law School. Traditional education is in the Quran. Social organization emphasizes the importance of the nuclear family and the supreme authority of the father.
Today Islam is the central ideological force in the daily lives of the Kanuri, affecting the thinking and behavior of the people in every way. The full ritual calendar of the Muslim year is followed, the fast is faithfully kept by all who are required to do so by traditional laws, and the other pillars of Islam are religiously followed by the great majority. Despite the strength of this orthodoxy, a few superimposed superstitious practices, such as the wearing of charms and amulets, are considered by most of the populace as acceptably Islamic. Of the various Sufi brotherhoods in Nigeria, the dominant one in Borno appears to be that of the Tijaniya.