Chad has a number of religions that are widely and freely practiced in the country. The constitution grants religious liberty which has allowed for diverse religious groups. Islam and Christianity are the leading denominations with millions of adherents. However, several senior government officials ascribe to the Islamic faith. By the time of the arrival of the White people, Islam had long established roots in Chad having entered the country from Northern Nigeria and Sudan. Traditional African religious system is also widely practiced by some communities. There is also the minority that does not subscribe to any religion.
Religious Beliefs In Chad
Muslims constitute about 55% of the Chadian population. It was already present in Chad at the time of the arrival of Arab immigrants from the East in the 14th century. The religion was spread through interaction and economic activities such as trade as opposed to conquests as it was in other regions. Quranic schools were established extensively in the region to facilitate the process of the Chadians learning the Arabic language mainly by rote. Most of the Muslims in Chad are Sunnis and adhere to the Maliki legal school. They base their Islamic knowledge on extensive literature. Higher Islamic education is not existent in Chad and those interested in pursuing it have to travel abroad. Some of the popular destinations include Cairo and Yemen.
They make up 16.9% of the entire population. The first group of Protestants got to Southern Chad in 1920s. The American Baptists were the first and were later on followed by other groups. Such organizations looked to the mother churches and their governments for financial support, and this enabled them to operate independently of the French colonialists. They came with educational and health projects which attracted people. Some of the early converts would leave their villages to settle around the missionary centers. Some of the missionaries settled in the country, had wives and children who also continued the work of converting the natives.
Roman Catholic Christianity
They are 23.9% of Chad population. The Roman Catholic missionaries started their work in 1929. The missionaries were more open to the local culture compared to their Protestant counterparts. However, the doctrine of celibacy repelled some of the would-be priests. The church’s insistence on the doctrine of monogamy also limited the local converts that were rich enough to marry many wives. The church has remained influential in several aspects of the social development of the country. Like the Protestants, the church has facilitated the development of education and healthcare through the construction of schools and hospitals.
They constitute 6% of the country’s population. Ancestors play a critical role in their traditional religions. They are believed to be capable of mediating between the living and the supernatural world. The religion believes in the existence of one Supreme Being; the creator of the entire universe who is benevolent to all good people. Their religion is characterized with rituals, sacrifices and particular special occasions and ceremonies.
Impact of Religion
The Chadian society is rather religious believing in the existence of God. The government has allowed for the freedom of religion making people willing to engage in diverse, lawful practices. Religion since the colonial times has played a significant role in the socio-economic development of the country.