While there are many religions in Nigeria, this African country is primarily divided between the two most dominant world’s religions, Islam and Christianity. It is hard to name the exact proportion. According to some estimates, this ratio is 53% to 45% or 50% to 49%. The difference is not that high. Let’s talk about the different types of religion in Nigeria to understand better the citizens of the highest populated country in the whole of Africa.
With over 180 million people, Nigeria accounts, not only for Christianity and Islam but also other types of religion.
Since the country has over 371 ethnic groups and more than 520 languages, it is understood that one single religion cannot unite such a diversity of beliefs, ethnicities, cultures, and philosophies.
List of religions in Nigeria
Different parts of our country support different religions. Here is a full list of all the types of religion in Nigeria:
- Orthodox Christians
- Other Christian church’s branches
- Traditional religion and beliefs
Christianity in Nigeria
A lot of Christians originated from the Southern part of the country. This religion is popular among:
- Yoruba people
- Igbo people (mainly the Eastern area)
- Ijaw people (the Southern area)
- Some of the Middle Belt’s areas
Most Christian citizens here are Protestants. Protestantism was introduced and started to gain popularity in Nigeria in the 1990s. What are the most recognized churches among local Protestants? This list definitely includes the Church of Nigeria with over seventeen million followers. It also includes the Nigerian Catholic Church that has nearly nineteen million members as well as the Nigerian Baptist Convention that boasts of several million followers.
About 25% of all Nigerian Christians attend the Catholic church.
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Some citizens are followers of the Orthodox Church. Others are believers of different self-determining branches such as Presbyterians, Pentecostals, evangelical, apostolic, Aladura and other movements.
Islam in Nigeria
This religion was originally presented to local population back in the eleventh century. It first gained ground in the Northern part of the country. Islam slowly found its way into the Middle Belt. Later the religion also became recognized in some of the South-Western regions.
The religion still dominates in the North. It also has a large number of supporters among different cultural groups:
- Part of the Yoruba people
It is true that Nigeria boasts the biggest Muslim population in Western Africa. Here, the religion is spread across different local sects. Many followers belong to Maliki school of law (Sunni) but some belong to Shafi’i madhab. A lot of Sunni believers participate in religious movements. They support Mouride, Qadiriyya, and Tijaniyyah – all these traditions are parts of what is called the Sufi orders that mix the religion with dancing and singing.
There are many minority movements that follow Shia, Sharia, Izala laws and messianic traditions of Quraniyyun, Mahdiyya, and Ahmadiyya. Most of these movements are not popular across the country. For example, Shia followers (about three million people) can be found mainly in Sokoto State while many Northern communities are followers of the Kala-Kato group.
Some movements release their own newspapers. For example, the Ahmadiyya group has established the newspaper ‘The Truth’ that is published once a week. This source of religious mass media was the first one to represent Islam in Nigeria.
Are there any radical movements? They are a part of Islam here as well. Different extremism sects often call themselves the followers of Maitatsine. These movements exist separately from the orthodox Islam religion.
Traditional religion in Nigeria
The Nigerian traditional religion is mainly ethnic. This is not a scriptural tradition since there is no creed like the Koran or Bible. It is mainly oral. Just a lot of other African people,Nigerians believe in spirits, magic, supreme powers, one super god etc. They practice various rituals, believe in symbols, organize festivals, and retell myths.
Many Nigerians follow the moral and ethical rules of traditional beliefs. This tradition started long before the introduction of Christianity and Islam. It is focused on providing well-being right here right now. It doesn’t promise an afterlife like some other religions do.
Traditional religion followers believe that if they violate taboos and different social norms, they could bring illnesses and hardships to their community. Different rituals are believed to bring back the harmony of life and human well-being.
A lot of Nigerians honor ancestors through ceremonies and rituals. Many of them prefer visiting traditional healers instead of doctors when illnesses occur. A lot of citizens, by the way, follow the traditional religion along with one of the world’s major religions (Islam, Christianity etc).
There are many religious movements in Nigeria besides Islam, Christianity, and traditional beliefs. Several thousands of Nigerians follow Hinduism. Immigrants brought this religion manually from India. Most believers are in Lagos, which was once the most important city in the country and is still a big African financial center.
There are also people who believe in Chrislam. It’s a mix of Islam and Christianity that is based on both the Quran and Bible. Some citizens follow the Grail Message, Ogboni etc.
No matter what your religion is, we are all citizens of the country and our main goal should be its prosperity, development, and unity.
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