Islam in Djibouti

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Islam in Djibouti has a long history, first appearing in the Horn of Africa during the lifetime of Muhammad. Today, 94% of Djibouti's 490,000 inhabitants are Sunni Muslims, primarily adhering to the Shafi'i legal tradition. After independence, the nascent republic constructed a legal system based in part on Islamic law.


Religion in Djibouti[1]
religion percent

Islam was introduced to the Horn region early on from the Arabian peninsula, shortly after the hijra. Zeila in adjacent Somalia's two-mihrab Masjid al-Qiblatayn dates to the 7th century, and is the oldest mosque in the city.[2] In the late 9th century, Al-Yaqubi wrote that Muslims were living along the northern Somali seaboard.[3] He also mentioned that the Adal kingdom had its capital in the city,[3][4] suggesting that the Adal Sultanate with Zeila as its headquarters dates back to at least the 9th or 10th century. According to I.M. Lewis, the polity was governed by local dynasties who also ruled over the similarly-established Sultanate of Mogadishu in the Benadir region to the south. Adal's history from this founding period forth would be characterized by a succession of battles with neighbouring Abyssinia.[4]

The Al Sada Mosque in Djibouti City (1940s).

Djibouti's population is predominantly Muslim. Islam is observed by 94% of the nation's population (about 740,000 according 2012 estimate), while the remaining 6% of residents follow Christianity.[1]

The Constitution of Djibouti names Islam as the sole state religion, and also provides for the equality of citizens of all faiths (Article 1) and freedom of religious practice (Article 11).[5] Most local Muslims adhere to the Sunni denomination, following the Shafi'i school. The non-denominational Muslims largely belong to Sufi orders of varying schools.[6] According to the International Religious Freedom Report 2008, while Muslim Djiboutians have the legal right to convert to or marry someone from another faith, converts may encounter negative reactions from their family and clan or from society at large, and they often face pressure to revert to Islam.[7]

Islamic poetry is an important part of local literature. Qasidas are traditionally composed, which consist of a single elaborate metre. It typically runs more than fifty lines.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Djibouti". The World Factbook. CIA. February 5, 2013. Retrieved February 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ Briggs, Phillip (2012). Somaliland. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 7. ISBN 1841623717. 
  3. ^ a b Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 25. Americana Corporation. 1965. p. 255. 
  4. ^ a b Lewis, I.M. (1955). Peoples of the Horn of Africa: Somali, Afar and Saho. International African Institute. p. 140. 
  5. ^ "Constitution de la République de Djibouti" (in French). Agence Djiboutienne d'Information. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Chapter 1: Religious Affiliation retrieved 4 September 2013
  7. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "[accessed 13 December 2009 Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, "Djibouti: Situation and treatment of Christians, including instances of discrimination or violence; effectiveness of recourse available in cases of mistreatment; problems that a Muslim can face if he or she converts to Christianity or marries a Christian (2000–2009)", 5 August 2009". Retrieved 2010-06-20.