Religious Beliefs In Mali

The Great Mosque of Djenné in Mali.
The Great Mosque of Djenné in Mali.

Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa. France colonized it in 1905. Its capital and largest city is Bamako. It is the 8th largest country in Africa covering an area of 480,000 square miles with a general population of 14.5 million. More than 90% of the country’s population are Muslims because of Islamic groups who took control of the northern part of the country with the sole aim of implementing sharia in Mali. Despite the country being majority Islam, there are several other minority religious faiths in the country like Christianity.

Religious Beliefs In Mali


Muslims in Mali make up to 92.4% of the entire population with the majority being Sunni Islam. Islam was introduced in the western part of Africa by Muslim Berber and Tuareg merchants in the 9th century and continued to spread constantly in the region. Mansa Musa, a king in Mali, played a major role in the spread of Islam as he helped build mosques throughout the country. Being a widely followed religion, Muslims have adapted well and learned how to relate better with various traditional beliefs as well as religions in the country.

West African Folk Religions And Animism

The West African folk religion is majorly the belief the various African beliefs like the veneration of the dead, use of magic, traditional medicine, belief in spirit, and a supreme creator. They view the role of humanity as one of harmonizing supernatural with the natural whereas animism, on the other hand, is the belief that various objects, creatures, and places with which human being interact possess distinctive spiritual qualities. Such believers constitute up to 5.0% of Mali’s population even though over the years it has been had to know the exact number due to the influence of other religions.

Roman Catholic Christianity

The Roman Catholic Christianity in Mali forms up to 1.5% of the country’s population which is approximately 200,000 individuals. The religion was introduced in the country in the 19th century by France missionaries after the scramble for Africa. The Catholic Church in Mali is part of the worldwide Catholic church in Rome under the leadership of the pope. There are several dioceses and archdioceses in the country which has helped promote the religion in the country.

Protestant Christianity

Protestant Christianity in Mali is one of the minority religions in the country as it constitutes only 0.8% of the entire population. Protestants are generally against the teaching of the Roman Catholic teachings and form one-third of the entire Christian population in the country.

Other Or No Beliefs

Only 0.2% of the Mali people are atheists who do not believe in the existence of a supreme creator or deities, as well as those who do not have sufficient reason rational grounds to justify the existence or non-existence of God.

Religious Freedom And Tolerance In Mali

The Constitution of Mali purports that the country is neutral in matters of the religions and does not support any religion or irreligion and on most occasions, it is mainly referred to as a secular state. Mali also supports the freedom of religion and belief, but in the recent past, there has been a severe persecution of Christians mainly in the northern part of the country. The persecution began after the imposition of the sharia rule in 2012.

Religious Beliefs In Mali

RankBelief SystemShare of Population in Mali
2West African Folk Religions and/or Animism5.0%
3Roman Catholic Christianity1.6%
4Protestant Christianity0.8%
Other or No Beliefs0.2%

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