Tanzania, an East African country located on the coast between Kenya and Mozambique, is known for its extraordinary safari opportunities in the many national parks and national reserves in the country. Tanzania is also known for its archipelago of paradise islands which is none other than Zanzibar.
But we shall not forget Tanzania for its people of extreme kindness and generosity.
Tanzania is a country where religion is very present and important for Tanzanians.
What is the religion in Tanzania?
Three major religions coexist in Tanzania:
Religion plays an extremely important role in the daily lives of the inhabitants. Each religious holiday is celebrated on the occasion of great festivities.
There is no official and updated study on the distribution of religions in the country.
However, the estimate is as follows:
- 45% Christians: This religion in Tanzania has its roots in German and English domination. Christians are mainly Protestant, Lutheran, Anglican or Presbyterian. There is a minority of Catholics.
- 35% Muslims: the Islam practiced in this country is mainly Sunni Islam. It is inherited from the domination of the Sultanate of Oman. Most Muslims are found on the Indian Ocean coast as well as in Zanzibar. Namely, there are a large number of Muslims in Dar Es Salaam.
- 20% are related to animist beliefs: it is the belief in a spirit, a vital force, that animates living beings, objects but also natural elements, such as stones or wind, as well as in protective geniuses. This minority is mainly located inland. It is mainly the tribes that live in the most traditional way with the cults and rituals related to this African tradition.
What is the religion in Zanzibar?
Islam is the dominant religion in Zanzibar at 98%.
Islam in Zanzibar
This comes from two centuries of Omani colonization.
The Muslim tradition is very strong and powerful in Zanzibar.
I was able to spend two months on the island of Zanzibar, close to the locals and religion is an extremely important part of the daily life of the inhabitants.
From an early age, little girls wear the veil. The children, even before they start school, go to Madrassa, which is the Koranic school. They go there from 3 years old. And when children start school, they continue to go to La Madrassa on weekends.
In Zanzibar you will find very little or no alcohol outside the tourist areas, as Muslims are very serious about religion.
I was fortunate to be able to attend two traditional Muslim weddings.
To give you an idea of the tradition, at the time of the wedding the bride had never seen her future husband before, she was covered with a veil until she signed the marriage documents.
If you go to the island, don’t forget that Zanzibar is very religious and traditional. You should therefore, out of respect for the inhabitants, cover your shoulders and legs (more for women).
You will most certainly hear the call to prayer several times a day if you are not far from a monastery.
Also, be aware that during Ramadan Zanzibar slows down and that a number of establishments are closed.
Other religious minorities in Zanzibar
A number of religious minorities have settled in Zanzibar throughout history.
Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar, is known for its diversity of cultures with many Indo-Pakistani people.
But there is also a small concentration of Christians in Zanzibar. There are two major churches on Unguja Island in Stone Town.
In the village where I stayed for 2 months, I only met three Christians, the other inhabitants were all Muslims.
The different religions accept each other and the inhabitants live well together!
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