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Mosque in Voinjama

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Islam in Liberia is practiced by an estimated 20% of the population.[1] The vast majority of Liberian Muslims are Sunni, with only a few Shi'ites. The primary Muslim ethnic groups are the Vai and Mandingo but also Gbandi, Kpelle and other ethnic groups.[2] Historically, Liberian Muslims have followed a relaxed and liberal form of Islam that is heavily influence by indigenous religions that were integrated into Islam when it came to Liberia in 16th century with the collapse of the Songhai Empire in Mali. Religious practices varying in cities and towns across the country. Younger Liberians, particularly in the cities along the coast, tend to be more secular but still practice Islam in everyday life. In rural countryside, Liberian Muslims are more conservative in dressing modestly, performing prayers and attending religious studies. The practice of Islam in Liberia has been compared to Sufi Islam common in Senegal and Gambia. The major Islamic holidays, Eid el Fitr, Ramadan and Eid al Adha called Tabaski Day are celebrated annually in Liberia. People have began to go on Hajj to Mecca in recent years. Join English-Arabic language, Quranic, Muslim universities and Islamic studies schools have opened and been rebuilt in the capital Monrovia, rural towns and other cities. Islam appears to be experiencing revival alongside Christianity in the country as a result of the Liberian Civil War. America-Liberian Methodists, the first Christians in Liberia, arrived on January 7, 1822.[3]

Contents

Charles Taylor

President Charles Taylor promulgated Islam for political reasons. Taylor, an ally of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, trained in Libya before returning to Liberia. Taylor's government sent 220 Muslims to Mecca to do Hajj in 2001 and gave the Liberia Muslim's council a prominent building in Monrovia and the designation of two hours of national broadcasting weekly for Islam-related programming.

Destruction of Mosques

A consequence of the civil war in Liberia was destruction of religious buildings, schools and places of worship across the country. In both the city and towns in urban and rural areas, government and opposition rebel forces destroyed numerous mosques belonging to Liberian Muslims from what government considered enemy ethnic groups. Several massacres were also committed near mosques and schools. One of the most well known and gruesome was the Bakedu Massacre in Lofa County in 1990. Over 300 civilians were killed and later burned alive by Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). Destroyed buildings still stand on uneven foundations, raddled with bullet holes, demolished walls or simply blasted to skeletal buildings. Such destruction not only led to many faithful followers fleeing their hometowns, cities and villages for refugee camps in Sierra Leone, Ghana and other neighboring countries but also remorselessly destroyed an Islamic architecture that represented the blend between traditional Liberian, West African and Arab architectural design and influences. In recent years Diaspora Liberians abroad who practice Islam and Liberians in Liberia have participated in joint projects to rebuild and finance the reconstruction of mosques in many towns in the countryside.

2000s

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Society of Liberia held their seventh annual Jalsa Salana convention on December 29, 2007. Countries such as Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, etc have created Diplomatic relations with Liberia. Islamic organizations provide help to Liberian Muslims wanting to go on Hajj to Mecca. Laurence K. Bropleh, Liberia's Information Minister and a reverend, attended as a guest speaker. Minister Bropleh called on the nation's legislature to designate non-Christian holidays as national holidays, specifically Hajj. He also suggested establishing a religious advisory board, representing all of the major religions practiced in Liberia, to advise the President. Methodist leaders condemned Bropleh's comments and accused him of fueling inter-religious tension.[4]

References

  1. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2008: Liberia. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
  2. ^ Larkin, Barbara (2001). International Religious Freedom (2000): Report to Congress by the Department of State. p. 46. 
  3. ^ Olukoju, Ayodeji. Culture and Customs of Liberia. p. 28. 
  4. ^ Konah L. Parker (2008). "Liberia: Monrovia District Conference Condemns Information Minister's Statements Against the Christian Church" (HTML). AllAfrica. http://allafrica.com/stories/200801080783.html. Retrieved 20078-01-09. 

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