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It is estimated that 80% of the population consists of Muslims. The black population in the south is mostly animist. (approx. 18% of the population). However, a clear distinction between the different beliefs is difficult to make because a multitude of hybrid forms can be distinguished between Islam and animism. The blending of Islam with traditional African religions is largely due to the spread of Islam in the Sahel. This history continues to this day.

Mali, great mosque of DjenneMali, great mosque of DjennPhoto: Ralf Steiberger (CC BY 2.0) no changes made

Islam in Mali is less strict than in North Africa and Asia. Veils do not have to be worn by the women and drinking alcohol is quite common. Only the Tuareg and the Moors adhere quite strictly to traditional Islam customs. However, the Tuareg deviate from this due to the fact that they are monogamous.

The "marabouts" are very important persons who actually stand between the people and Allah. They are a kind of holy men who are also involved in e.g. ritual healings and predict the future. These are also examples of a less strict Islamic doctrine.

Animist Altar in Bozo village in MaliAnimist Altar in Bozo village in MaliPhoto: Gilles Mairet CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The animists can be found mainly with the Bambara, Malinké, Bobo, Songhai, Sénufo and Dogon. The name for God therefore varies a lot: Bambara-Maa, Songhai-Irké, Sénufo-Koulouikière and Dogon-Amma.

The Christians (Roman Catholics and Protestants) are a small minority (1.2%) and are mainly found among the Dogon and the Bobo. Yet in the somewhat larger towns and villages one usually finds a Catholic mission or a Protestant representation. However, these missions are especially important because of their economic and social activities.

Religious freedom has existed in Mali since 1961.


Te gast in Mali
Verre Reizen

Velton, R. / Mali

Vlugt, B. / Mali

Westen, G. van / Mali : mensen, politiek, economie, cultuur
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info