Islam in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Islam is a major religion within the Democratic Republic of the Congo where it is estimated that around 10 percent of the national population identifies as Muslim.[1][2] In 2012, the Pew Research Center estimated the figure at 12 percent.[3] One 2007 estimate put the figure at just 1.4 percent.[4] Islam is particularly prominent in the east of the country where it has been present since the 18th century. The highest concentration of Muslims is in the Province of Maniema and especially the cities of Kasongo and Kindu where they represent 80–90 percent and 25 percent of the population respectively.[1]

Islam was spread to the Congo by "Arab" traders of Swahili origin, such as Tippo Tip, drawn into the Congo from the east-coast of Africa, often as part of the Arab slave trade.[1] Although the Arabs did not expressly intend to spread religion or culture, many African peoples adopted the ideas they brought.[1] With the expansion of European colonial rule into the eastern Congo under the auspices of the Congo Free State, European colonists came into conflict and defeated the Arab-Swahilis. Under Belgian colonial rule (1908–60), Muslims were distrusted and considered a potential source of sedition.[1] The arrival of Qadiriyya, a branch of Sufism, from Tanganyika in the 1920s was particularly repressed by the colonial government.[1] The independence of the Congo in 1960 brought legal freedom of religion and allowed the Muslim community to publicly organise for the first time.[1] Since the end of the Second Congo War, the Congo's Muslim community has been increasingly united with the emergence of a national leadership.[1]

Violence between Muslims and other religious groups in the Congo, especially Congolese Christians, has been attested in North Kivu since 2014 in connection with the Allied Democratic Forces insurgency begun in neighbouring Uganda.[5]

The vast majority of Muslims in the country identify themselves as Sunni, following the Maliki school of jurisprudence, 10 percent are Shia and six percent are Ahmadi.[6] Congolese Muslims are frequently divided between conservative Sufis and Reformists (Salafists) as well as along local ethnic, geographical, and generational lines.[1]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Leinweber 2012.
  2. "Congo, Democratic Republic of the". CIA World Factbook. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  3. "Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa" (PDF). Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  4. "Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population" (PDF). Pew Research Center. October 2009. p. 30. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  5. "Villages 'obliterated' as Christian persecution grows in eastern Congo". The Catholic Herald. 19 Aug 2016. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  6. "The World's Muslims: Unity and Diversity" (PDF). Pew Research Center. 9 August 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012.


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