Religion in Bangladesh, Culture, Churches

Islam is the official religion in Bangladesh and is practiced by some 88 percent of the country's inhabitants. Other religions that are active in Bangladesh include Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, animism and tribal belief systems.

The majority of the population who follow Islam pursue the Sunni branch of the Muslim religion whilst a small group are Shia.

Interestingly, Bangladesh is reported to have one of the biggest Muslim communities in the world. It was during the 13th century that masses began converting to Islam and this conversion continued for several centuries. It was the Muslim missionaries and mystics who brought the religion of Islam to the people of Bangladesh.

The Islamic religion in Bangladesh plays a large role in everyday life of the people as is evidenced in the celebration of festivals such as Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-e-Miladunnabi, Muharram and others. Whilst Muslims in Bangladesh are committed to Islam, adherence to certain rituals and tenets may vary depending on a number of factors. In some rural areas the people have began to incorporate other beliefs into their religion, some of which may not fall in line with orthodox Islam.

Followers of the Hindu religion in Bangladesh amount to around 13% of the country’s population. Hindu communities are concentrated in areas such as Barisal, Khulna, Dinajpur, Jessore and Faridpur. Hindu temples can be found scattered throughout the country. Making up 0,5 to 1% of the population are followers of the Theravada school of Buddhism, most of whom reside in the Chittagong Hills. Christians make up another 1% of Bangladesh’s population. The majority are part of the Roman Catholic Church. Another prominent church is the Church of Bangladesh, a united church formed by several protestant churches. Tribes in the Chittagong Hills have formed their own religion, a blending of Buddhism and tribal rituals.

Whilst religious tolerance is promoted in the laws of Bangladesh, little is currently being done to protect the rights of Bangladesh’s religious minority groups. Hopefully Bangladesh can look forward to a future where everyone can practice their religion without opposition.

When visiting this fascinating country, why not take some time to get to know people from different religions in Bangladesh? You are certain to learn a lot.

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