Islam in Sierra Leone

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Sierra Leone last conducted a census in 2009 and estimates there are 4,059,000 Muslims in Sierra Leone . This suggests 71.3% of the country's total population is Muslim.[1] There are 18 ethnic groups in the country, the two largest being the Temne and Mende. The Temnes are the main tribe in the north and are predominantly Muslim. At least nine of Sierra Leone's sixteen ethnic groups are predominantly Muslim.

The vast majority of Sierra Leonean Muslims are Malikite Sunni; while small minorities are Shia and Ahmadiyya. Though small in numbers, the Ahmadiyya has one of the largest Islamic institutions across country, including 186 primary and 55 secondary schools.[2]

In the early 18th century Fulani and Mande-speaking tribesmen from the Fouta Djallon region of present-day Guinea converted many Temne of northern Sierra Leone to Islam. During the period of British colonization, attempts to spread Christianity were mostly ineffective.

Islam continued to spread after independence in 1961; in 1960 the Muslim population was 35 percent and grew to 60 percent by 2000, and then to 71% in 2008. It is difficult for people from Sierra Leone to travel to Mecca for the Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, due to the distance between the two places and the cost of travel being beyond the means of most Sierra Leoneans.

The recent civil war in Sierra Leone was secular in nature featuring members of Christian, Muslim, and Tribal faiths fighting on both sides of the conflict.

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