Essay: ISLAM IN AFRICA

Islam is a distinct religion which has set various rules about making life here after peaceful, prosperous and beautiful. It is generally called as Religion of Peace. The actual spreading of Islam, after Arabia, started in 6th and 7th century. Islam, as a religion has major power and influence over its followers which was the main cause of its rapid spreading historically. It spread through its teachings, holy books, and influential religious scholars and by influential spreading itself in highlighted and important parts of the world.  Islam comprises of many groups which includes Sunnis, Shias, Sufism, Ibadi, Quranism and Ahmadiyya. One of the most important sub groups includes Shias which is a minority based yet important population of Muslims around the globe (Bugnacki, 2010).

It contrasts in many aspects. This minority differs from other Muslim groups in such a way that importance is given to rule of Muhammad’s descendants rather than his companions and Islamic caliphs. Spreading of Shia Muslims started after the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE. They are the followers of Ali, son in law of Prophet Muhammad.  Some of them believe in only five descendants who are known as Zaidis. While others believe in 12 descendants on Muhammad who are known as Twelvers . Majority of Shitte population of the world are Twelvers. Their common belief lies in mourning of Muharram, Succession to Muhammad, Monotheism and Arabian Pilgrimage. The main motive of this paper is to explain the origins, beliefs and diversity of Shia Muslims as a minor group of Islam in Africa and African communities in the west.

Shia community holds 15 percent of their population around the globe and approximately 40 percent of Muslim population in Africa comprises of Shia Muslims (Ashram, 2011). This population of Shia Muslims has increased till 25 percent in last 30 years.  In specially North Africa, major countries including Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, complete populations of towns and tribes are converting into Shia communities.  In first decade of 21st century, this change was greatly highlighted in many parts of[1] Africa as well as Europe. The first Shia population in Africa came in 1500. The number of Shia immigrants from central Europe is more in Canada, United States of America and Asia as compared to Africa. As per report presented by Immigration Studies of Africa, Muslim Shias occupy more than one third of Muslim populations of Africa. It’s due to the diverge group of Muslim population and set its distinct benchmarks all around the globe.

The largest groups of Shia Muslim population in terms of immigrants and former settlements are largest in South Africa.  Many Shia communities are establishing successful organizations in Nigeria through their quick influence. In Morocco, Shia settlement is rapidly increasing like fire but they are told to keep their religious identities a secret due to overly growing anti-Shia movements (Sakhthivel, 2014). This minor group of Islamic settlements is increasing by moving so much. Their influence is increasing day by day by rapid spreading of their teachings all around the globe especially in distinct parts of Central Africa.  Meanwhile in Nigeria, Shia Islam was hardly known till 1980s. Ibraheem Zakzaky was the first person to put this form of Islamic customs in practice there. He played a major role in Shia revivalist movements in Nigeria for the demolishment of their correct practices and Islamic Calendar.

The government of Socoto made remarkable amendments in Islamic Calendar in 2007 like the mark their events and specific dates of mourning like Ashura (9th & 10th Muharram) due to rapidly increasing Shia population. Moreover, Imam Umaru Danmaishiyya was assassinated for preaching fierce anti Shia ethics to people in Nigeria. In Senegal, Shia Islam was put into practice by Sheikh Abdul Mun’am Az’ zain who belonged to Lebanon. He was greatly highlighted in building many Shia mosques and schools for welfare of people following Shitte ideology. It has been recorded that now almost 7 percent of total population of Senegal practice Shia Islam. Most of the population of Shias in Africa is Twelvers. In Western Africa lies Ghana, population is Shia community has increased up to 1 million. They possess their specific community centers where they celebrate their mournings according to their preached ethics. They have established public libraries due to which many people are converting  into Muslims from non- Muslims. In North African state of Tunisia, the message of Ahlebayt spread by ‘The Berber’ people (World Muslims, 2008). These Berber people were originally those people who had possessed special roles during the ancient times of martyrdom of people of Al – Medina by Umayyad Dynasty. In Tunisia, spread of Shia Islam took place on rapid basis due to individuality of people with lack of negative religious extremism among them.  In important countries of East – Africa like Kenya, Uganda and Zanzibar, most of the Shia populations found have migrated as immigrants from South Asia. Most of the people in this region comprises of further divided sub group of Shia community known as Ismaelis (Khoja). In areas like Central Africa, South Africa, Burundi and Zaire, immigrant Shia settlements are found in high levels of diversity within itself. In whole Africa, increase in Shitte population took place by highly educated mind frames of people as well as Muslim migrations.

In 2013, approximately thirty thousand people converted into Shia Muslims in Morocco. A lot of Moroccan Jews were also found changing their fates to Shitte ideology. In Match’ 2015, it has been reported that many Moroccan Islamic scholars have started protesting against Shia Muslims complaining that they are straying people from their chosen paths comprising other clans of religion Islam. The entire Sunni community considers Shia population a major threat to their customs and practices in Morocco as well as all around Africa (Parkison, 2015). These controversies between Shias and Sunnis gave rise to another Shitte group in Tangier which is a Northern part of the country which is fighting against the harsh treatment with Shia community and their spreading in Morocco by Sunni communities. In areas like Rabat, which is also the capital of Morocco, Shia Communism such that their system of their own social theories and organizations are playing a major role as a threat to Muslim countries and their stability all around Africa. Shia immigrations have been prevented at major basis in Morocco. These unstable conditions have led to migration of Moroccan Jews and Sunnis to other parts of the world. The main reason for this migration is that Shia community has become a threat to other sub-groups of Muslims community as well as non-Muslim community and they are straying from the path of humanity for their successful survival and growth.

In Western countries, many communities of Shias and Sunnis have lived peacefully together for many consecutive centuries. Many people in the west intermarry in different clans of Muslim community. But, lives of many people and major communities are affected by migration of Shia groups in West.  Many rituals of migrating Shia Muslims are still not tolerated in many Western countries like England, Germany and France.  Sunni, Muslims and Ahmaddis oppose Shia teachings like praying only 3 times a day, return of their last Imam, passion for martyrdom etc.  In England, after many years of peaceful survival, ever increasing Shia migrations is a major cause of violation of peace between Shias and Sunnis (Wyatt, 2015).  The main reason of this violence is different of their beliefs in basic Islamic principles. In Islamic centers of England, a major discussion is raised that Shias are not a part of Muslim community which is making Shias less demonstrate their individualism.  In Europe there is an increasing number of Ahmaddi Muslims who are protesting against Shia community which is making them socially dominated and unacceptable in many parts of United Kingdom and Germany.

They are now found hiding their identities by not portraying their surnames in public and major official documentations.  In many Islamic Societies at British universities, comfortable survival of a Shia Muslim has become difficult due to majority of Sunni Muslims with a conflicting influence. Sunnis and [2]Shias are found augmenting on a large basis all around London which is a disrespectful and sad picture[3] of Western countries among which radicalism in universities is the worst. This tension has spilled over all the Middle East in the meantime.

In France, there is approximately 0.5 percent Shia population, the exact number of Shia immigrations in France is not clearly known due to severe security issues. Many people from Morocco have migrated to France as Shia Muslims due to ever increasing conflicts in the country. In 2008, Shia French population was recorded as 358.800 out of total population of 63.587.700. (Shia Population in: France, 2013). In 2009, Shia population increased up to 2 to 3 percent. The total Muslim population gives off 10 to 13 percent of Shia population and 87 to 90 percent of Sunni Muslims in France.

There is a large number of Shia population also found in Germany and Sweden.  In Germany there is 0.55 percent of Shia population in total. In Berlin, there is high amount of migrations of Shia Muslims which have comparatively created a healthy and prosperous environment for both Shia and Sunni Muslims in the state. In Germany there is less domination of Shia Muslims and high amount of Sunni Muslims and Ahmadiyyas are found. The Islamic Centre, Hamburg in Germany is marked as one of the oldest mosques related with Shia Community in Germany.  Shitte population practices their own rituals, beliefs, mournings and festivals without any negative extremism and dominance by opponent forces.

In many parts of the world, Shia population has greatly increased and affected other populations negatively and positively. In some parts of Africa like Morocco, Shia population has threatened the Sunni populations as many people were forced to enter Shitte community. While in other parts of the same continent, people became influenced established public libraries and converted in Shiites by themselves. The main rise in Shia population took place in Africa from where Western countries were greatly affected. In Europe, people recognized Shia community as evil elements of society which led them fight with other clans in educational institutes and Islamic centers.

This act majorly took place in England. In other western parts, French Shia community rose o very minor basis. In some parts of the world, Shias and Sunnis are inter marrying each other and living in complete brotherhood while in other parts of the world, severe blood shed is taking place resulting in severe war face of the Muslim society. A wide range of facts have already differentiated Shitte community in the world which is fatal for other Islamic groups and are opposed heavily by the scholars around the globe but the increasing number of population of this group cannot be ignored at any cost which provides them a powerful set back and a number of methods for deliverance of their message.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

World Muslims. (2008). Shia Muslims Around the World.

(2013). Shia Population in: France. Paris.

Ashram, A. (2011). Shias in Tanzania.

Bugnacki, J. (2010). Policy Making in Islam. Six Charts That Explain Shia Islam.

Parkison, J. (2015). Morocco World News. Morrocan Islamists Warn Against ‘Shia Threat’ in Morocco.

Sakhthivel, V. (2014). Shitte Population Becoming More Vocal in Morocco. Morocco: Majalla.

Wyatt, C. (2015). Feas over deepening Shia Sunni divide in UK. London: BBC News.

[1] Ashram, A. (2011). Shias in Tanzania.

Bugnacki, J. (2010). Policy Making in Islam. Six Charts That Explain Shia Islam.

Sakhthivel, V. (2014). Shitte Population Becoming More Vocal in Morocco. Morocco: Majalla.

 

[2] Wyatt, C. (2015). Feas over deepening Shia Sunni divide in UK. London: BBC News.

(2013). Shia Population in: France. Paris.

Parkison, J. (2015). Morocco World News. Morrocan Islamists Warn Against ‘Shia Threat’ in Morocco.