Islam in Comoros

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According to the 2006 estimate by the U.S. Department of State, roughly 98% of the population in the Comoros are Muslim. Islam and its institutions have helped to integrate Comorian society and provide identification with a world beyond the islands' shores. Most adherents are Arab-Swahili or Persian, but there are also people of Indian descent.

History

Local legend claims Islam was brought to the islands during Muhammad’s lifetime, brought by two Comorian nobles, Fey Bedja Mwamba and Mtswa Mwandze, who visited Mecca. Historical evidence suggests Arab merchants and exiled Sunni Persian Shirazi princes first introduced the religion. Islam has long played a central role in the Comoros. Ruling families learned Arabic, performed Hajj, and maintained ties with other Muslim communities, such as Kilwa, Zanzibar and Oman. Several Sufi tariqa, including the Shadhili, the Qadiriya, and the Rifa'i, are also active.

Hassan ibn Issa, a 16th century Shirazi chief who claimed descent from the Islamic prophet Muhammad, encouraged conversion and constructed numerous masaajid. In the 19th century, Sheikh Abdalah Darwesh initiated the Shadiliya tariqa in the Comoros. Born in Grande Comore, Sheikh Darwesh traveled throughout the Middle East and later converted Said Muhammad Al-Maarouf (d. 1904), who became the Shadilya’s supreme guide. Sheikh Al-Ami ibn Ali al-Mazruwi (d. 1949) was the first of the region's ulama to author Islamic literature in Swahili....
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