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Population in Nigeria: A Breakdown of the Population by Religion

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and has a population of over 211 million people as of 2021. The country is known for its diversity, with over 250 ethnic groups and over 500 languages spoken. Nigeria is also home to various religions, with Islam and Christianity being the dominant ones. In this article, we will examine population in Nigeria, using religion as a lookbook.

Islam is the predominant religion in the northern part of Nigeria, while Christianity is predominant in the southern part of the country. According to the 2006 national census, Muslims make up about 50% of the population, while Christians account for about 40% of the population. The remaining 10% of the population follows traditional African religions or do not have a religious affiliation.

Population in Nigeria; Using Religion as a lookbook

Islam in Nigeria

Islam was introduced to Nigeria in the 11th century through the trans-Saharan trade routes. The religion was propagated by Arab traders and scholars who came to the region to trade and teach. Islam quickly spread across the northern region of Nigeria, and by the 16th century, many Hausa city-states had converted to Islam.

Today, Islam is the dominant religion in the northern region of Nigeria, where it is practiced by about 50% of the population. The largest Muslim ethnic groups in Nigeria are the Hausa, Fulani, and Kanuri. Other Muslim ethnic groups in the country include the Yoruba, Nupe, and Tiv.

There are two major branches of Islam in Nigeria – Sunni and Shia. The majority of Nigerian Muslims belong to the Sunni branch, which is the largest and most widely practiced branch of Islam worldwide. The Shia branch of Islam is a minority in Nigeria and is mainly practiced by the Iranian community in the country.

The northern states in Nigeria have implemented Sharia law, which is Islamic law derived from the Quran and the Sunnah (the teachings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad). Sharia law is enforced in areas such as criminal law, family law, and inheritance law.

Christianity in Nigeria

Christianity was introduced to Nigeria in the 15th century by Portuguese explorers and missionaries. The religion was also spread by British colonialists who came to Nigeria in the 19th century. Today, Christianity is the second-largest religion in Nigeria, practiced by about 40% of the population. The largest Christian ethnic group in Nigeria is the Igbo, followed by the Yoruba and the Ijaw.

There are several Christian denominations in Nigeria, with the largest being the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, and the Pentecostal Church. Other Christian denominations in Nigeria include the Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

Population in Nigeria

Religious Conflict in Nigeria

The religious diversity in Nigeria has led to occasional religious conflict, particularly between Muslims and Christians. The most notable religious conflict in Nigeria occurred in 2001 when the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram was founded in northeastern Nigeria. Boko Haram has been responsible for numerous attacks on both Christian and Muslim communities in Nigeria and has killed thousands of people.

In addition to Boko Haram, there have been several other instances of religious violence in Nigeria. In 2018, clashes between Muslim herders and Christian farmers in central Nigeria resulted in the deaths of over 200 people. The conflict was fueled by competition for resources and a longstanding dispute over land use.

Efforts to Promote Interfaith Harmony

Despite the occasional religious conflict in Nigeria, there are also efforts to promote interfaith harmony in the country. Interfaith dialogue is promoted by both the Nigerian government and various religious organizations in the country. The Nigerian Interfaith Action Association (NIFAA) is a non-governmental organization that promotes peace and understanding between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria.

In 2017, the Sultan of Sokoto, the leader of Nigeria’s Muslims, and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) signed the Abuja Peace Declaration, which aimed to promote peace and understanding between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria. The declaration was a significant step toward promoting interfaith dialogue and reducing religious conflict in the country.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Nigeria is a diverse country with a rich cultural and religious heritage. Islam and Christianity are the dominant religions in Nigeria, with Muslims making up about 50% of the population and Christians accounting for about 40% of the population. There have been occasional religious conflicts in the country, particularly between Muslims and Christians, but there are also efforts to promote interfaith harmony and dialogue. The Abuja Peace Declaration and the work of organizations like NIFAA are steps in the right direction toward achieving peace and understanding between Nigeria’s religious communities.