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Adem Yidi Wadi

 Islam and Muslims in Zimbabwe

Adem Yidi Wadi

Zimbabve Araştırmaları Enstitüsü Başkanı-İstanbul


Geographical Location

Zimbabwe is situated on the southern hemisphere and is bordered by South Africa on the southern part and Botswana on the western, Zambia on the northern and finally Mozambique on the northern part. The word Zimbabwe is derived from two roots words namely Dzimba and Dzemabwe meaning in our vernacular language ‘Stone Houses’. Therefore the word Zimbabwe was derived from these two root words and when combined together forms the word Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has an approximate population of 12.5 Million people of which 2 percent is the percentage of Muslims and 70 percent Christians and 28 percent comprises the Traditionalists those who believe in the medium spirits and also those who have no religion at all.

Coming of Islam in Zimbabwe

The coming of Islam in Zimbabwe has a lot of controversy whereby some Historian are of the opinion that Islam came to this country in the 91st Hijrah during the rein of the prophet’s companions  while others reject this opinion and hold a stance that Islam came to Zimbabwe in the 7th Century and some say in the 10th Century. However this is a clear indication that Islam came early to Zimbabwe than Christianity.

The DNA tests review that the Varemba tribe in Zimbabwe have some blood trends of the Arabs who came to the Mapumbabwe Empire which they developed into what is known today as the Monomotapa Empire. These Arab Traders came from Yemen through the east coast of Africa Zanzibar then Mozambique and finally Zimbabwe through the Zambezi River. In the Monomotapa Empire, the Arabs practised intermarriage with the local people being the Kalanga and the Varozvi and produced off springs known today as the Varemba People. They gained control and influence especially in the chiefs like Changamire Dombo and many others, and also affected even the vernacular language Shona.Most of the the Shona words and names of places in Zimbabwe are Arabic origin in nature. To clarify my point, take for an example the word ‘BUHEIRA’ it is a name of a place believed to be given by the Arabs because in this area they used to be many small rivers.

Islamic Growth

Islam in Zimbabwe is at the moment growing very slowly due to the factors mentioned in this document. We hope that by the grace of time, Islam will improve and many people will embrace it due to its good teachings Insha’Allah.

Islamic Organisations

They are a quite considerable number of Islamic Organisations doing varies programs and activities across the country. The most famous ones are as follows:

·         Islamic Information Bureau (IIB)

·         Majlisul Ulaam of Zimbabwe

·         Zimbabwe Muslim Youth Organisation (ZIMYO)

·         Jami at –ul-Ulaam of Zimbabwe

·         Zimbabwe Muslims Association (ZIMA)

·         Supreme Council of Zimbabwe

·         Mount Darwin Islamic Propagation Trust

·         League of Graduates (Zvikomborero Trust)

·         Al-Nisaa

These are locally based organisations and we only have one external organisation that is Africa Muslims Agency (Direct Aid).

Economic Strength

The majority of Muslims in Zimbabwe are African origin who most of them migrated from Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique during the Federation Era. The Indians being a minority comprising almost 5 percent of the Muslim population are the richest in the country and have a stable financial background than the natives who are the poorest in the country. In a nut shell, Muslims are the poorest citizens in the country since most of them works in the farms and small shops.

  Major Problems faced by Muslims·         Poverty

It is very pathetic to acknowledge that the majority of Muslims are uneducated due to poverty since they can not afford to pay education expenses. In Zimbabwe, if one is not educated it is very difficult for him to get employment since all the jobs require a minimum of Ordinary Level Certificate of education. This has contributed to the poverty of Muslims in Zimbabwe and as a result they work in farms and shops and the majority are not employed.

 ·         Economic Problem

After the phasing out of the Zimbabwean currency in 2010, all the Islamic activities and programs have been affected drastically and a drop of these programs and activities have been experienced due to lack of inadequate funding. The American dollarization in Zimbabwe had made a huge impact on the economy and welfare of the people since this currency is not locally printed and manufactured. A dollar in Zimbabwe is being abused since it is not given its real purchasing and buying power.


·         Lack of Educational Institutions

They is a great need in Zimbabwe to have our own educational institutions starting from Pre School to University Level across the country. So far we don’t have such institutions and they is a great need of such institutions like what they Christians have in the country. If Muslims are provided adequate education, poverty will be alleviated to a certain extent Insha’Allah.

 ·         Scholarships

Education is the most important aspect of a human being.If our students can be offered scholarships to study in varies fields of education it will make a great difference and change in the life style of our people. This is what is lacking within our community in Zimbabwe.

·         Hajj Packages 

Most of our teachers and Imams have never been to Mecca to witness Hajj and most of them have been teaching for more than 30 years but have never got a chance to make Hajj but they teach people who will be going for Hajj on how to perform it. So if these Imams can be offered Hajj Packages they will be grateful.

 ·         Bribe by Christian Missionaries

Bribe by some of the Christian Missionaries in the country to the poor Muslims in form of food hampers, payment of medical bills and schools fees is a major problem facing Muslims since we have seen a large number of Muslims converting to Christianity.

 ·         Empowerment

If small scale project s can be rendered and awarded to the Muslims, at least poverty will be alleviated. Muslims need self sustainable projects so that they can be economically stable. So far they is no such facility of empowerment to the Muslims in Zimbabwe and the one that used to be is no longer functioning.

 ·         Waqf

This is the most effective way of funding and alleviating poverty in the society. If a building can be bought or a company of which a certain percentage will be allocated for orphans, widows and old aged and another percentage funding Islamic programs and activities across the country. Waqf in form of a building where people will pay rent is the most effective way of any project sustainability and that is what we are lacking in Zimbabwe because we don’t have any Waqf.

 ·         Orphanage and Old Aged Centres 

Due to HIV and Aids pandemics, many children have been left orphans who can not take care of themselves and as a result they end up in streets as beggars and street kids. To cab this problem they is need for construction of orphanage centres across the country in each province where these children will receive and enjoy parental care and have their education.

 ·         Lack of Islamic literatures in native language

Many citizens can not speak English and as a result can not read Islamic Literatures in English, therefore they is need to translate literatures in native language which requires funding which the locals can not afford. So if the cooperate world can assist in funding translation of literatures into Shona including the Holy Quran will be a great move in the propagation of Islam in the country.

 ·         Need of a Vehicle in Dawah work

Dawah workers face a big problem when doing their work since they can not afford a car which they can use to do the propagation especially in the rural areas. Most of them travel on foot a distance of more than 25 kilometres to reach and preach to the people. So if a vehicles which can move freely in poor roads can be donated will serve a great purpose to these religious workers.

 ·         Employment of Islamic Teachers

Many teachers and graduates from Islamic Institutes around the world can not secure employment in the country and as a result they migrate to near by countries for better wages and salaries. This has resulted in the shortage of manpower in the field of Islam in the country. If teachers can be employed with external Islamic organisations, Islam will spread in the country and save brain drainage of Islamic intellectuals.

 Zimbabwe is a country that has a great potential of Islam since at one stage it was an Islamic States and if accorded great effort it will make a difference in the Islamic History Insha’Allah.

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