Religious Beliefs in the Gambia

King Fahad Mosque in Banjul, the Gambia.
King Fahad Mosque in Banjul, the Gambia.

The Gambia is a country in West Africa. It had a population of 1,857,181 in 2013 and is the smallest nation on the African mainland, covering an area of 10,689 square km. Agriculture, fishing, and tourism dominate the economy of the Gambia. The country has a high rate of poverty.

The majority of the Gambia’s population are Muslim. In fact, Muslims account for about 90% of the national population, while the remaining 10% practice other religions or are non-believers.

The Most Common Religion in the Gambia

Most of the Gambia’s Muslims are Malikite Sunnis, although there is also a large population of Ahmadiyya Muslims. Shiites make up a small proportion of the Muslim population and are mostly represented by descendants of Arabian and Lebanese immigrants. Sufism and traditional African beliefs have a significant influence on the Islamic religion practiced in the Gambia. Major Muslim holidays are observed as national holidays in the Gambia.

Christianity in the Gambia

Christians are the second biggest religious group in the Gambia and account for about 9% of the country's population. Christians live primarily in southern and western parts of the Gambia. Most of the Gambia’s Christians are Roman Catholics, although there are also members of other Christian denominations.

The Serer Religion in the Gambia

Only about 1% of the Gambia's population adhere to traditional African religions, such as the Serer religion. The Serer people are primarily from Senegal and believe in the Roog as a supreme deity. Cosmology, poems, ancient chants, belief in spirits, and initiation rights are all important parts of the religion. Additionally, the religion also involves a number of unique celebrations like the Randou Rande and Mbosseh.

Other Religions in the Gambia

Individuals of other religious beliefs also live in the Gambia, such as Hindus, Buddhists, and Bahá’ís. Most followers of these religions trace their origins to South Asia.

Religious Harmony in the Gambia

Both Muslims and Christians in the Gambia syncretize their faith with indigenous religions. Interfaith marriages are common in the country, and the percentage of atheists is small. The Gambia's constitution guarantees freedom of religion to its citizens, and also mentions that political parties cannot be formed on the basis of religion. The country has Qadi courts in different regions that declare judgments based on the sharia law that applies only to Muslims living in the country or to the partners in an interfaith union in which one partner is Muslim.


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