Islam in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone last conducted a census in 2009 and estimates there are 4,059,000 Muslims in Sierra Leone . This suggests 71.3% of the country's total population is Muslim.[1]

Composition and practice

There are 18 ethnic groups in Sierra Leone, the two largest being the Temne and Mende. The Temnes are the main tribe in the north and are predominantly Muslim. At least nine of Sierra Leone's sixteen ethnic groups are predominantly Muslim.

The vast majority of Sierra Leonean Muslims are Malikite Sunni; while small minorities are Shia and Ahmadiyya. Though small in numbers, the Ahmadiyya has one of the largest Islamic institutions across country, including 186 primary and 55 secondary schools.[2]

The majority of Sierra Leonean Muslims are adherent to Sunni Islam. Significant portions of Sierra Leonean Muslims are Ahmadis, Shia, and Non-denominational Muslims. .

Most mosques in Sierra Leone are non-denominational. The largest mosque in Sierra Leone is the Freetown Central Mosque, located in the capital Freetown. Sitting Sierra Leonean Heads of State, regardless of their religions, have traditionally made occasional visits to the Freetown Central Mosque, especially during Friday jummah prayer.

The chief imam of the Freetown Central Mosque is Sheikh Ahmad Tejan Sillah, a Shia Muslim, who is also the spiritual leader of the Sierra Leone United Council of Imams.[3][4] This is an Islamic organisation made up of imams from across Sierra Leone[5][6][7] The head of the Ahmadiyya branch of Islam in Sierra Leone is sheikh Mauvi Sadeeur Rahman.[7]


In the early 18th century Fulani and Mande-speaking tribesmen from the Fouta Djallon region of present-day Guinea converted many Temne of northern Sierra Leone to Islam. During the period of British colonization, attempts to spread Christianity were mostly ineffective.

Islam continued to spread after independence in 1961; in 1960 the Muslim population was 35 percent and grew to 60 percent by 2000, and then to 71% in 2008. It is difficult for people from Sierra Leone to travel to Mecca for the Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, due to the distance between the two places and the cost of travel being beyond the means of most Sierra Leoneans. The current Ebola crisis has also made it impossible for them to obtain Visas to Saudi Arabia.

The recent Sierra Leone Civil War was secular in nature featuring members of Christian, Muslim, and Tribal faiths fighting on both sides of the conflict.

See also


  1. "Ahmadiyya Movement Goes Mainstream in Sierra Leone". Retrieved June 12, 2014.
  2. Alpha Rashid Jalloh, PV Freetown Bureau Chief. "Profile: The Democratic Cleric". The Patriotic Vanguard. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  4. "Shiite, Ahmadiyya and Sunni Under One Umbrella | Sierra Express Media". Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  5. "In Sierra Leone, President Koroma Commends Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat". Retrieved 2014-06-17.
  6. 1 2 "No More Violence... Ahmadiyya Leader Warns Sierra Leoneans | Sierra Express Media". 4 April 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
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