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Is Islam Spreading in Zimbabwe?

  • Irwin  Chifera

Experts and members of the Muslim community say the religion has been practiced in isolation for long but this is changing fast. (Photo: Reuters)

Experts and members of the Muslim community say the religion has been practiced in isolation for long but this is changing fast. (Photo: Reuters)

Though largely regarded as a religion for foreigners in Zimbabwe, a noticeable number of locals are turning to the Islamic faith, which is dominant in Asia, North Africa and the Middle East.

While most people, who practice Islam in Zimbabwe, are of Malawian, Zambian and Indian origins more indigenous people are converting to the Islamic faith.

Experts and members of the Muslim community say the religion has been practiced in isolation for long but this is changing fast.

Sheik Anubi Twabi, administrator at Africa Muslin Agency in Harare, attributes this to the availability of more Islamic literature and teachings in mosques around the country.

Sheik Yusuf Binali of Mbare in Harare says educated young people are also helping spread Islamic teachings.

SCHOLARSHIPS

Agnes Chiwara, a lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Zimbabwe, says the religion is attracting more people, especially the youth for a number of reasons such as the availability of scholarships offered by Islamic countries represented in Zimbabwe.

There are 13 Islamic embassies in Harare and every year they provide many scholarships to young Muslims to pursue studies in their nations.

Sheik Binali says Zimbabwe’s new constitution is enhancing efforts to spread the religion to remote areas of the country as they are allowed to move around freely without fear of being labeled foreigners or aliens.

He admits that the stigma of being labeled an alien hampered efforts to preach freely, especially in rural areas.

Chiwara says the country’s new constitution would certainly aid the spread of Islam in Zimbabwe.

Sheik Ishmael Duwa, national chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of Zimbabwe, says there are already many indigenous Muslims in Zimbabwe.

ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISTS

Chiwara says terrorist activities of Islamic fundamentalist groups like Boko Haram of Nigeria would obviously deter some people from converting to Islam.

There are an estimated 1.2 million Muslims in Zimbabwe and most of them are in towns, cities, mining settlement and farming areas. However, some organizations believe that there are less than 100,000 Muslims in Zimbabwe.

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