The Republic of Cameroon is located in the Central West African region and is one of the largest countries on the continent in terms of land area. Its capital is Yaoundé, and it is a multicultural and multi-ethnic nation. Cameroon is known for its geographic and cultural diversity, where various languages and cultures converge, creating a diverse religious environment as well.
The Muslim population in Cameroon is estimated to be around 24% of the total population, which was approximately 27 million people as of 2021. Some Islamic preachers claim that Muslims make up as much as 50% of the population, making Islam the second-largest religion in Cameroon after Christianity.
The Beginning of the Spread of Islam in Cameroon:
The spread of Islam in Cameroon has a history that spans centuries. Contacts with the Islamic world began in the Middle Ages through trade and cultural interactions. The northern and northeastern regions of Cameroon were the first to come under the influence of Islam. Over time, Islam expanded to other regions in the country due to internal migration and an increasing Muslim population.
Various ethnic groups in Cameroon, such as the Fulani, Kanuri, and Hausa, practice Islam, and these groups have contributed to the Islamic identity in the country. Local preachers played a significant role in spreading Islam, which gradually made its way to the south of the country.
During the German colonial period in Cameroon, which began in 1884 (1302 Hijri), Christian missionary activities gained strength, especially in the southern part of the country. Cameroon was later divided between Britain and France during World War
Challenges Facing Muslims in Cameroon
The appeal of embracing Islam has grown due to Islamic missionary efforts, the moral values of Muslims, and their humility. Entire villages and tribes have converted to Islam in large numbers.
Muslims in Cameroon face a variety of challenges as Islam continues to spread in the country. One of the most significant challenges is social and cultural integration, as Muslims must navigate between Islamic values and local traditions. This can be a particular challenge in a diverse cultural environment like Cameroon. Additionally, economic and social challenges, including issues of poverty and education, are evident.
Extreme poverty among Muslims in Cameroon has had an impact on their mosques and religious institutions. There are more than 1200 mosques in Cameroon, most of which are in very poor condition. There is limited support, primarily from a few relief organizations in countries like Kuwait and the UAE, which have established schools and Islamic centers in the capital city of Yaoundé, where over 950,000 Muslims reside.
Islamic institutions in Cameroon include the National Islamic Council, the Quranic Translation Committee, the Cultural Association, and the Islamic Association of Cameroon, which was founded in 1963.
The Role of Charitable Organizations in Supporting Muslims:
It is important to highlight the vital role that charitable organizations play in promoting religious awareness among Muslims in Cameroon. The "Ensany" Foundation has undertaken a remarkable initiative to support Muslims in this country through a campaign to distribute 1000 copies of the Quran.
This campaign involves distributing copies of the Quran to Muslims in various regions of Cameroon. This step is significant because it encourages the reinforcement of Islamic values and principles among Muslims and provides them with a means to better understand their faith. The Quran is a primary source of guidance and education in Islam, making the distribution of its copies a matter of great importance.
Despite the challenges faced by the Islamic community in Cameroon, they continue to promote their values and contribute to building Cameroonian society. The experience of Islam in this country reflects diversity and evolution in the religious and social landscape, underscoring the importance of dialogue and understanding among different communities to build a more diverse and pluralistic society.