Tuesday 8 February 2022

Islam in Madagascar

Madagascar, officially Republic of Madagascar, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa. It is the world's second-largest island country. It is a predominately a Christian country with about 7% of its population being Muslims. The vast majority of Muslims in Madagascar practice Sunni Islam of the Shafi school of jurisprudence.

A peep in the history shows that the island of Madagascar had been frequented by Muslims throughout the early period. The most noteworthy of these were the Zafiraminia, traditional ancestors of the Antemoro, The last wave of Arab immigrants was the Antalaotra who immigrated from eastern African colonies. They settled the north-west of the island (Majunga area) and were the first to actually bring Islam to the island. They left their indelible marks on the culture of Madagascar, particularly through the adoption of Arabic script in local documents and in the customs and cultural practices of the people. Furthermore, the history and cultural influence of Malagasy Islam have been marked by the nature of Muslim contacts over the centuries.  

Muslims represent 3 to 7 percent of the population (or approximately 1.2 million Malagasy), or 15 to 25 percent according to local Muslim sources. The vast majority of Muslims in Madagascar practice Sunni Islam of the Shafi school of jurisprudence. The ethnic makeup of the Muslim community includes Indians, Pakistanis, Comorians, and native Malagasy.

The Church is worried about conversion of locals into Muslims. As per one report, Cardinal-designate Désiré Tzarahazana of Toamasina told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need in 2018:
“The rise of Islam is palpable,” he said, noting plans to build more than 2,600 mosques. “You can see it everywhere. It is an invasion, with money from the Gulf States and from Pakistan – they buy people. You see young men setting off to study in Saudi Arabia, and when they come back they are imams.

Bishop Georges Varkey Puthiyakulangara of Port-Bergé Diocese, in the North of Madagascar told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International in the February 20 2020 interview: In Madagascar, Muslims are going as far as paying women to wear the Burka, a Muslim outer garment that covers the body and the face and giving out scholarships to non-Muslims to attend Koran lessons  He added, “We have learned that in the universities the young, non-Muslim female students are being paid three Euros a day to wear the Burka.”

On the contrary, Muslims face many a problems in the country. Wikipedia reports:
Even after the passage of the nationality law in 2017, Muslims born in the country reported that members of the community have been unable to obtain Malagasy nationality despite generations of residence.[4]
Some Malagasy Muslims have also reported difficulty in obtaining official or governmental documents at public administration offices due to their non-Malagasy sounding names. Some Muslims have also reportedly faced ridicule and harassment for being perceived as foreigners despite possessing national identity cards.

The wearing of Burkas and hijab or learning Qur'an is taken as a sign of "radical Islam."  In 2017, some two dozens Muslim schools were closed for their students were being taught Qur'an for five long hours a day. Life is thus tough and under the garb of rise of radical Islam, a simple excuse by Non Muslims to arrest the spread of Islam not in Madagascar but world over. But despite all efforts, the message of peace that Islam actually spreads continue to enlighten the hearts of countless and every years thousands enter the fold of Islam.

Having said that, we as Muslims never support the segment of Muslims who use tolls of terror to intimidate and spoil the peace of Non Muslim or even Muslim countries for their nefarious designs. And we should be watchful of teams that "recruit" rather than convert non Muslims to Islam.

Disclaimer: The data for this post has been collected from the references as given below. If any one differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

To know more about life of Muslims in other non Muslim countries, please visit our page: Islam and Life of Muslims in Non Muslim Countries

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
Photo  | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |
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