Sheik Shaibu Asali, head of the Arabic department at an Islamic school in Harare, said the growth of Islam in Zimbabwe was a result of inter-faith dialogue and the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe which, caters for social plurality.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail Society last week, Sheik Asali said of Zimbabwe’s roughly 15 million citizens, about three percent were Muslims.
“Although the proportion does not seem very impressive, it is a significant fit in a country that stringently adheres to Christianity and African Traditional Religion beliefs,” said Sheik Asali.
“In the past, our religion was practiced in isolation but it has begun to take a ‘pro-evangelical’ stance in recent years. With more educated youths in the ranks, Islam is spreading more and more rapidly. The other reason why Islam is growing is the increase in availability of Muslim literature to locals.
“Furthermoreو the availability of educational scholarships to foreign Islam adhering countries has resulted in more converts.” He said there were 13 embassies of Islamic republics in Zimbabwe offering scholarships to young people to study in countries where the religion is dominant.
“Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution has made it easier for us to spread our beliefs. It has also allowed us to move around more freely, especially in rural areas where we were labelled as aliens.
“The new constitution indeed has played a big role in helping the spread of Islam in Zimbabwe, this is in light of its well outlined stance on equality of people and freedom of worship …
“Zimbabweans who are visiting Islamic states such as the UAE are being exposed to Islamic culture and when they return some of them decide to be Muslims.
“We have also noted that the Internet is assisting many people who are looking for information about our religion. It is giving people an opportunity to research and understand Islam,” Sheik Asali said.
He said there were more than 20 mosques in Harare, about eight in Bulawayo, and several others across Zimbabwe. Islamic organizations are also entering local education, with a recent example being the opening of the New Hope Center.