Islam in Mozambique

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Islam in Mozambique is the religion of approximately 17% of the total population.[1] The vast majority of Mozambican Muslims are Sunni, although some Ismaili Shiite Muslims are also registered. The Muslims consists primarily of indigenous Mozambicans, citizens of South Asian (Indian and Pakistani) descent,and a very small number of North African and Middle Eastern immigrants.

Pre-colonial history[edit]

Mozambique has long historic ties with the Muslim world. Initially by way of sufi merchants, mostly from Yemen, and centuries after through a more organized system of coastal trading cities, more heavily influenced by the Ibadi Muslims from Oman along the shores of Eastern Africa.

The arrival of the Arab trade in Mozambique dates to the fourth Hijri century when Muslims established small emirates on the coast of East Africa. Since the founding of the Kilwa Sultanate in the 10th CE century by Ali ibn al-Hassan Shirazi, Islam had become a major religion in the region. The former port city of Sofala, which became famous for its trade in ivory, timber, slaves, gold (by way of Great Zimbabwe) and Iron with the Islamic Middle East and India, was one of the most important trading centers on the Mozambique coast.[1] Sofala [2] and much of the rest of coastal Mozambique was part of the Kilwa Sultanate from Arab arrival (believed to be the 12th century) until the Portuguese conquest, by 1505.

During the subsequent period of the Omani Al Bu Said dynasty, Muslim merchants expanded their trading zones south along the coast. It is believed that nearly all of the cities' inhabitants were Muslim before the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century.

Colonial history[edit]

Islam faced serious challenges in Mozambique during the colonial era. During the Estado Novo period (1926–1974), Roman Catholicism became the dominant religion following a formal alliance (Concordat) between the Church and the government. Only with the start of the War of Liberation did the state lower its opposition to Islam and try to coopt the religion, in order to avoid an alliance between Muslims and the dissident liberation movement.

Modern Mozambique[edit]

A mosque in Mozambique

Since the end of the socialist period (1989 onwards), Muslims have been able to proselytise freely and build new mosques. Muslims have also made their way into parliament. Several South African, Kuwaiti and other Muslim agencies are active in Mozambique, with one important one being the African Muslim Agency. An Islamic University has been set up in Nampula, with a branch in Inhambane. Mozambique is also an active member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Prominent Mozambican Muslims[edit]

  • Amade Camal, MP from Nampula Province
  • Shaykh Aminuddin Mohamad, head of the Islamic Council

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sofala - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. 


  • Liazzat Bonate, « Dispute over Islamic funeral rites in Mozambique. A Demolidora dos Prazeres by Shaykh Aminuddin Mohamad », LFM. Social sciences & missions, no.17, Dec.2005, pp. 41–59
  • Liazzat Bonate, « Matriliny, Islam and Gender in Northern Mozambique », Journal of Religion in Africa, vol.36, no.2, pp. 2006, pp. 139–166
  • Lorenzo, Macagno, Outros muçulmanos : Islão e narrativas coloniais, Lisbon (Portugal) : Imprensa de Ciências Sociais, 2006
  • Eric Morier-Genoud, « L’islam au Mozambique après l’indépendance. Histoire d’une montée en puissance », L’Afrique Politique 2002, Paris: Karthala, 2002, pp. 123–146
  • Eric Morier-Genoud, « The 1996 ‘Muslim holiday’ affair. Religious competition and state mediation in contemporary Mozambique », Journal of Southern African Studies, Oxford, vol.26, n°3, Sept. 2000, pp.409–427.
  • Eric Morier-Genoud, “A Prospect of Secularization? Muslims and Political Power in Mozambique Today”, Journal for Islamic Studies (Cape Town), no. 27, 2007, pp.233–266
  • Eric Morier-Genoud, “Demain la sécularisation? Les musulmans et le pouvoir au Mozambique aujourd’hui”, in R. Otayek & B. Soares (ed.), Etat et société en Afrique. De l'islamisme à l'islam mondain? (Paris: Karthala, 2009), pp.353-383

External links[edit]