Islam in Ghana

Ghanaian Muslims
Total population
8 million 32% of Ghana's population
Regions with significant populations
Tamale, Kumasi, Accra (0.35 million and above; 2002)
English, Akan, Dagbanli, Hausa others
(majority Sunni (51%), also Ahmadiyya (16%), Sufi (27%), Shia (8%), non-denominational Muslims (2%))
Al-Fatiha translated into Dagbani by Sheikh M. Baba Gbetobu.

Islam is one of the major religions practiced widely in Ghana. Its presence in modern-day Ghana dates back to the 10th century to coincide with the demise of the Ghana Empire. The population of Muslims in Ghana is about 30%

The majority of Muslims in Ghana are followers of Sunni Islam, with approximately 16% belonging to the Ahmadiyya movement and approximately 8% belonging to Shia Islam.[1] The Maliki school of jurisprudence was the most common until Afa Ajura's reformist activities in the 1960s saw an overwhelming shift toward Hanbali doctrine.[2] Sufism, once widespread, has waned considerably over the years; the Tijaniyah and the Qadiriyah brotherhoods, however, are still represented among Ghana's traditionalist Muslims.

Despite tensions in the Middle East and North Africa since the mid-1970s, Muslims and Christians in Ghana have had excellent relations. Guided by the authority of the Muslim Representative Council, religious, social, and economic matters affecting Muslims have often been redressed through negotiations. The Muslim Council observes the responsibility of arranging pilgrimages to Mecca for believers who can afford the journey.[1] The National Chief Imam of Ghana is the highest authority on Muslim affairs in Ghana.

Some metropolitan areas and cities, especially in areas with a significant Muslim population, have Islamic or Arabic schools offering primary, junior secondary, senior secondary and tertiary education.

History of Islam in Ghana

Islam made a momentous entry into the Northern Territories of Ghana at the beginning of the fifteenth century, mainly due to commercial (trading) activities of sahelian tribes of West Africa. Prior to that, Da'wah workers had made contact and written extensively about the people including inhabitants of Bonoman states located in the hinterlands of contemporary Ghana.[3]

Spread of Islam in Ghana

The arrival and spread of Islam in Ghana followed several and different pathways; the Mandens came through the North and North-Western corridors of Ghana while the Borno and Hausa peoples came through the North-East. Islam is thought to have successfully penetrated southern Ghana following the "collapse of the Bono and the Begho states, and its increase was encouraged by the fact that the slave trade became more lucrative and competitive".[4] Furthermore, the British colonial government in the nineteenth century enlisted people from various northern predominantly Muslim communities into the colonial army. Finally, the mass exodus of immigrants into forest areas of Ghana following the 1892 Sack of Salaga by joint forces of Dagomba, Namumba and Gonja Kingdoms significantly depleted Muslim populations in the North while boosting that of the South.[5][6]

Population of Muslims in Ghana

Larabanga Mosque, built in the 15th century. Taken in March 2006.

Muslim population is concentrated in Northern Ghana and in Zongo communities scattered across the country. Zongo communities are settlements predominated by immigrants from Sahelian areas of West Africa who have adopted Hausa language as a lingua franca. Members of the Zongo community are mistakenly but commonly regarded as Northerners. However, the two communities are distinct, having different cultures and languages.[7][8][9]

The official Ghana Statistical Service census reports 30% as being Muslims[10] although that figure is being protested by independent organizations. The Coalition of Muslim Organizations maintain that the final figures released in 2002 "contained serious flaws and as a result could not be used as reliable data for planning and projecting the country’s development agenda".[11][12] The call came at the same time groups mainly from the North petitioned the government to withdraw the results, expressing concern that some ethnic groups were underrepresented in the population count and that the service should open up their procedures for public scrutiny. CIA statistics put the population of Muslims in Ghana at 30 percent. Other accounts place the figure at 45 percent.[13][14][15][note 1] The government of Ghana's allocation of funds for national development is heavily influenced by population demographics.[16][17]

Sub groups

Muslims in Madina


Main article: Ahmadiyya in Ghana

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community, formally established in 1921, is the oldest continuous Muslim community in Ghana. Ahmadi Muslims were among the earliest Muslim missionaries in Ghana, and by 1957, they had converted over 100,000 (mostly Christian) people to Islam.[4][18] The first Ahmadi missionary to Ghana, Maulvi Abdul Rahim Nayyar, came upon invitation from Muslims in Saltpond.[19] At 16%, Ghana hosts the largest proportion of Ahmadis to Muslims by major country.[20]


See also: Sufism

Sufism is the most traditional form of Islam in Ghana because of its long presence, close association and tolerance for the culture of the indigenous peoples even though they have never come together to form an establishment or a unified community.[21] Prominent Sufi orders represented in Ghana are the Tijaniyya and Qadiriyya. Sufism is common among the immigrant Muslim population of Ghana, also known as the Zongos. Sufis make up 27 percent of Muslims in Ghana.[20]


See also: Sunni Islam

Sunni Islam was introduced into Ghana as part of the 1940s reformist activities of late Ghanaian Mujaddid, Afa Ajura, since the 1940s predate the tenth century. Afa Ajura's campaign challenged the status quo of the Sufi doctrine and pitted him against the already establish Sufi social structures. It was not until the 1970s that his message gained wide acceptance, resulting in a majority of Muslims, 51 percent (2014),[20] now affiliating with the Anbariyya Sunni Community. For most of its established time in Ghana, Sunni Islam was propagated across the country in Dagbanli - the mother tongue of Afa Ajura. Recently Sunni adherents in Zongo communities in southern Ghana (18% of Muslims)[20] have formed the "Ahlusunnah wal Jamaa" (ASWaJ) organization in order to reach the Hausa-speaking population. ASWaJ still draws inspiration from their parent Anbariyya leadership, headed by Afa Seidu in Tamale.[22][23][24]

Other denominations

See also


  1. Ghana's Muslims have previously raised concern over the census figures which states that 17% of Ghanaians belong to the Muslim faith. It is claimed that Muslims represent somewhere between 30 and 45% of Ghana. Under this, the Ahmadiyya population would number almost 2 million. The Ahmadiyya Muslim community itself gives an estimate of over 2 million Ahmadis in Ghana. See:
    • "Muslims cry foul over population figures". News From Africa. Retrieved April 30, 2014. (ref 8)
    • Ahmadiyya Muslim Mosques around the World. p. 70 (ref 11)


  1. 1 2 "The World's Muslims: Unity and Diversity" (PDF). Pew Forum on Religious & Public life. August 9, 2012. pp. 16, 30. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  2. Mohammad Saani, Ibrahim (2011). The decline of Sufism in West Africa: Some factor contributing to the political and social ascendancy of Wahhabist Islam in Northern Ghana. Montreal: Institute of Islamic Studies - McGill University.
  3. "Islam in Ghana - Report". HI/OB/IINA. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
  4. 1 2 Turkson, Peter-K. (1 October 2007). "Ghana, if Islam Becomes an Enigma". Oasiscenter. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  5. J. A. Braimah, J. R. Goody (1969). Salaga: The Struggle for Power. Historical Society of Ghana. p. 222.
  6. Abdulai Iddrisu (2009). Contesting Islam: "Homegrown Wahhabism," Education and Muslim Identity in Northern Ghana, 1920--2005. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: ProQuest. p. 283. ISBN 9781109220643.
  7. "300 Year Stay In Ghana Does Not Make You A Ghanaian". Al-Hajj. Accra - Ghana. GhanaWeb. 29 March 2012. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  8. Yahaya, Tanko Ali ([email protected]) (31 July 2013). "NDC's Phanton Sympathy For The Zongo And Northerners". Independent Minded Zongorians. Accra - Ghana. GhanaWeb. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  9. Yahaya, Tanko Ali (5 August 2013). "Zongo:the eleventh region?". Accra Ghana. GhanaWeb. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  10. Field Listing :: Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  11. Amos Safo (2002). "Muslims cry foul over population figures". Ghana. NewsFromAfrica. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  12. "International Religious Freedom Report 2006 Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor". US State Department. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  13. Ed. John L. Esposito. "Ghana, Islam in". Oxford Islamic Studies. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  14. Ahmadiyya Muslim Mosques Around the World: A Pictorial Presentation. USA: Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. 2008. p. 352. ISBN 9781882494514.
  15. Hashim, M. Ali Mahdi (PhD) (1 March 2013). "A Journey Through Islam: Muslims have come up well in Ghana". Arab News. Saudi Arabia. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  16. h olger Weiss (2007). "the expansion of Muslim ngo's in ghana" (PDF). Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  17. Branoah Banful, Afua ([email protected]). "Can Institutions Reduce Clientelism? A study of the District Assemblies Common Fund in Ghana" (PDF). Harvard University.
  18. Nathan Samwini (2006). The Muslim Resurgence in Ghana Since 1950: Its Effects Upon Muslims and Muslim-Christian Relations Christentum und Islam Im Dialog Christian - Muslim Relations Series Volume 7 of Christentum und Islam im Dialog Christian - Muslim Relations. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 342. ISBN 9783825889913.
  19. "Jamia Ahmadiyya International Ghana". Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  20. 1 2 3 4 "The World's Muslims: Unity and Diversity" (PDF) (Press release). Pew Research Centre. 9 August 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  21. Steven J. Salm (2002). Culture and Customs of Ghana. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 224. ISBN 9780313320507.
  22. "Al Sunni Muslim sect gets new leader". GNA. Tamale Ghana. Ghana Web. 23 June 2007. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  23. "Brief history of the coming together of the Ahlusunnah wal Jama'a in Ghana". Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  24. "Anbariya Sunni Community". Retrieved December 19, 2014.

The introduction of Islam into Ghana was mainly the result of the commercial activities of Mande and Hausa Speaking traders.

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