Shia Islam in Sierra Leone

Shi'a Islam in Sierra Leone represents a small portion of the country's Islamic population: more than 70% of Sierra Leone is Muslim, while only 5% or so of that number is Shia Muslim, influenced by the arrival of Shia Lebanese traders that arrived at the start of the 20th century.


Islam is the most widely practiced religion in Sierra Leone — 71.3[1] to 77 percent[2] of the country's population identify as Muslim. The faith was introduced to the country during the 18th century by small trading groups: Fulani and Mande-speaking tribesmen from the Fouta Djallon region of present-day Guinea converted many Temne of northern Sierra Leone to Islam, and grew in popularity over the next two centuries. Muslims predominate in all of the country's three provinces and the Western Area, though formerly they were concentrated in the north with the south being mainly Christian. Although most Muslims in Sierra Leone adherent to the Malikite school of Sunni Islam ; Shia is a large minority group in this country and it seems that in 1903, for the first time, Shia Muslim Lebanese (because of agricultural crunch in their own country) began to arrive from South Lebanon to Sierra Leone.[3] For several years this group's activities were limited to economic field, but by the foundation and establishment of first school of Lebanese in Freetown in 1956, they started their activities in the cultural field too.[4] Other Islamic customs were blended with local traditions to form new practices.[5]


Because of some limitations in Sierra Leone, population of Shia is not clearly known, but some international organizations like Pew Research Center have searched and reported some statistics but with great differences in their findings:

Also "Sheikh Harun Bari," one of the local Shia clerics have claimed that many indigenous peoples after their familiarity and intimacy, gradually have converted to Shia Islam and have embraced it as their religion.[9]

See also


  1. "Mapping The Global Muslim Population; A report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population" (PDF). Pew Research Center. 2009. p. 34. Retrieved 2015-10-09.
  2. "Sierra Leone 2013 International Religious Freedom Report" (PDF). United States Department of State. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. 2013. p. 1. Retrieved 2015-10-09.
  3. Gberie, Lansana (November 2002). "War and Peace in Sierra Leone: Diamonds, Corruption and the Lebanese Connection" (PDF). A new Internet Archive. Partnership Africa Canada Occasional Papers 6. ISBN 1-894888-16-2. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 2, 2007. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  4. "LIS Alumni". Lebanese International School. 2014-06-01. Retrieved 2015-10-05.
  5. "Culture of Sierra Leone". World Culture Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2015-10-05.
  6. "Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life" (PDF). Pew. 2009. Retrieved 2015-10-01.
  7. "Shia Population in: Sierra Leone". ahl-ul-bayt. 2010-01-13. Retrieved 2015-09-28.
  8. Gow, James; et al. (2013). Militancy and Violence in West Africa: Religion, Politics and Radicalisation. New York: Routledge. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-415-82137-7.
  9. "Sheikh Harun Bari: Over 1 Million Shias Live in Sierra Leone". 2011-09-13. Retrieved 2015-10-04.
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