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7 Major Religions in Africa

Africa is a continent which is soaked in spirituality; this ought to come as not a surprise considering that it is considered as the cradle of humankind. This might lead you to wonder what the most popular religious beliefs in Africa are.

7. Other

Okay, so it is a little odd starting out a list with “Other,” however bear with me– I am beginning with the less popular religions and working up toward the most widespread faiths.

There are numerous various religious beliefs practiced in Africa which do not get a great deal of attention– just as there are everywhere. A number of examples include Zoroastrianism and Rastafarianism. There are also many irreligious individuals– agnostics and atheists.

It is likewise worth discussing syncretism here. Syncretism is where beliefs and practices from different religious beliefs are combined together. An example would be an individual who determines as Christian, however includes elements of African traditional religious beliefs– or who recognizes as some mix of the 2.

6. Buddhism

Buddhism is not a really common faith in Africa either– there are only a couple of hundred thousand specialists, mainly immigrants from China. Roughly half of all Buddhists in the continent reside in South Africa.

Nan Hua Temple, Bronkhorstspruit, South Africa– Image credit to Ivan Fourie– CC BY 2.0

5. Hinduism

Hinduism made its way to Africa in the late 19th century, brought over from British Imperial colonists– more particularly, by their indentured Indian servants. Surprisingly enough, there is really a country where it is the most popular religious beliefs. In the Republic of Mauritius, an African island country in the Indian Ocean, 54.4% of the population are Hindu.

Why hasn’t Hinduism spread out more throughout the continent? The primary reason is essentially that Hinduism– a minimum of in its main form– is a non-proselytizing religious beliefs. Islam and Christianity on the other hand put a huge emphasis on conversion, and waged a reliable project throughout Africa. This is why both are even more popular than Hinduism. Those who practice Hinduism in Africa are mainly (however certainly not solely) restricted to the Indo-African neighborhoods where it has actually been passed down given that the times of the British Empire.

4. African Traditional Faith

There are numerous native faiths still found throughout Africa. These faiths are normally confined to cities and people, and are given from one generation to the next, primarily through oral custom.

Some examples of African traditional faiths include the Yoruba and Igbo of Nigeria, the Serer of Senegal, the Akan of Ghana and the Ivory Coast, and Vodun, a religion practiced by the Gbe peoples. Vodun gave increase to a number of various diaspora faiths, throughout the world collectively referred to as “Voodoo” or “Vudú.”

3. Bahá’í Faith

Bahá’í is the third most popular Abrahamic faith in Africa, following Christianity and Islam. The religious beliefs experienced quick expansion throughout the mid-20th century, and Africa is now among the continents where Bahá’í is most commonly practiced. In truth, Kenya, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zambia are some of the leading countries on the world for Bahá’í.

Baha’i Home of Worship, Kampala, Uganda– Image credit to Bxtst– CC BY-SA 3.0

2. Christianity

Christianity is the most popular faith in Africa alongside Islam. In fact, the faith got its start on the continent all the way back in the 1 st century AD. Along with Armenia, it is thought that Ethiopia might have been the first nation on the planet to accept the faith.

There are rather a couple of famous churches and abbeys situated throughout the continent. A couple examples consist of the Abbey of Saint Anthony, established in 356 in Egypt, and the Church of Our Woman Marion of Zion in Ethiopia, founded in the 4th century. The most popular by far however is the Lalibela church complex, likewise in Ethiopia. The churches in this amazing UNESCO World Heritage site were constructed through a process of excavation, and are among the most special structures on the planet.

1. Islam

Alongside Christianity, Islam is the most significant religion on the continent. Nearly half (47%) of Africans are Muslims, comprising a quarter (potentially as high as a third, according to some estimates) of the entire global Muslim population. Islam got its start in Africa during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad. Fearing persecution amongst the Arabs, his disciples fled to Africa where they might practice their faith in security.

Islam then spread out further as Caliph Umar expanded the Arab empire through the Sinai Peninsula. Sailors and merchants making port in West Africa continued to preach the faith. Today, the largest concentration of Islam is in North Africa, West Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Swahili Coast.

A Lot Of African Muslims are Sunni, however some are likewise Sufis, Ibadi, Shias, or Ahmadis. As you might think, just as there are numerous lovely churches throughout Africa, there are likewise lots of stunning mosques.

Conclusion: Africa is a Continent of Spiritual Richness and Diversity

Because Africa has such a long and storied past, numerous religious threads have been woven into its spiritual tapestry. Today, Christianity, Islam and Bahá’í are the significant religious beliefs, however if you go to the continent, you might likewise experience specialists of indigenous faiths, along with Buddhists, Hindus, and fans of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Rastafarianism.

While less in numbers, there are also agnostics, atheists, and professionals of other faiths not listed here. Be sure to inspect the articles ranking Africa’s many stunning churches and mosques prior to you plan a tour of Africa’s religious locations!

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