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El Hadji Malick Sy, Leader of the Tidian Brotherhood, SenegalEl Hadji Malick Sy, Leader of the Tidian Brotherhood, SenegalPhoto: Moustarchid94 CC 4.0 International no changes made

Officially about 90% of the population is a follower of Islam. In contrast to the Arabic form of Islam, where the imam plays a very important role, there is a clear Islamic organization in Senegal. Most Muslim Senegalese belong to one of the Brotherhoods. A brotherhood is headed by a caliph. Leaders and teachers (marabouts) have much, and often political, power. For example, the voting advice of marabouts in elections can influence the result. Half of the Senegalese Muslims belong to the Tidian Brotherhood. President Diouf belongs to this brotherhood.

About 35% belong to the Brotherhood of the Mouriden. The Mouriden are somewhat more fanatical in the teachings of Islam than the Tidians and possess a lot of political and economic power. The oldest brotherhood in Senegal is that of the Qadiriya, which has millions of followers all over the world and has Baghdad as its religious center.

Dakar Cathedral, SenegalDakar Cathedral, SenegalPhoto: Manu25 CC 4.0 International no changes made

Between five and ten percent of the population, especially Diola and Sérèr, is Roman Catholic. Catholics mainly play a role in education and health care.

Despite the fact that almost all Senegalese adhere to an official religion, animism still plays a major role in the life of the population. Animism is a primordial belief in which it is believed that all earthly things, such as trees, animals or even stones, have their own spiritual power. Spirits of ancestors, gods, fetishism, initiation rites, superstitions and talismans also play a role in the religious world of the Senegalese. Convinced animist groups are found in the southeast and in the Casamance.

Religious conflicts between the different groups are rare. The constitution states that church and state must remain separate and religious parties are therefore prohibited.

Mosque of Touba, SenegalMosque of Touba, SenegalPhoto: Franco Visintainer CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The largest mosque in West Africa is in Touba.


Derksen, G. / Gambia, Senegal

Dirkx, J. / Reishandboek Senegal

Else, D. / The Gambia and Senegal
Lonely Planet

Gambia en Senegal

Hesseling, G. / Senegal/Gambia : 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