of Islam into West
Africa, beginning with ancient Ghana in the ninth
century, was mainly the result of the commercial activities of
North African Muslims.
The empires of both Mali
that followed ancient Ghana in the Western Sudan adopted the
religion. Islam made its entry into the northern territories of
modern Ghana around the fifteenth century. Mande
speakers (who in Ghana are known as Wangara
) traders and clerics carried the
religion into the area. The northeastern sector of the country was
also influenced by an influx of Hausa
Muslim traders from the 16th Century onwards, and a second wave of
migrants escaping the fundamentalist jihads of Usman dan Fodio
in northern Nigeria during
the early nineteenth century.
Most Ghanaian Muslims are Sunni
, following the
version of Islamic law. However, since
the 1980's, Shi'a Islam
spreading rapidly after Lebanese traders set up businesses there.
There are now an estimated one million Shi'as in Ghana now.
is not widespread in Ghana; the
and the Qadiriyah
brotherhoods, however, are represented.
Ahmadiyya, a sect originating in
nineteenth-century India, is also
tensions in the Middle East, North Africa, and Nigeria since the
mid-1970s, Ghanaian Muslims and Christians have had excellent
Guided by the authority of the Muslim
Representative Council, religious, social, and economic matters
affecting Muslims have often been redressed through negotiations.
Council has also been responsible for arranging pilgrimages to
Mecca for believers who can afford the journey.
spite of these achievements, the council has not succeeded in
taking initiatives for the upgrading of Islamic schools beyond the
provision of basic Qur'anic
may explain the economic and technological gap between Muslims and
Although official Ghanaian census reports 16% of Ghanaians as being
, this figure is questioned by some.
Some estimates put the figure closer to 30 per cent and in some
instances, as high as 45%. Such figures have been challenged though
and given the politicisation of numbers any estimate must not be
confused with facts.