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Islam in Mozambique: Some Historical and Cultural Perspectives

S. Von Sicard

To cite this Article Von Sicard, S.(2008) 'Islam in Mozambique: Some Historical and Cultural Perspectives', Journal of
Muslim Minority Affairs, 28: 3, 473 — 490
To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/13602000802548201
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13602000802548201


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Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Vol. 28, No. 3, December 2008

Islam in Mozambique: Some Historical and Cultural



Islam in Mozambique has a history that goes back to at least the tenth century. The
records show that the region was known and well frequented by Muslim travelers
and traders. By the middle of the fifteenth century, permanent and flourishing
commercial and religious sultanates had been established along the coast and
some had penetrated up the Zambezi. The arrival of the Portuguese introduced
the centuries-long confrontation between Christians and Muslims. Prior to the
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arrival of the Portuguese, some Indians had found their way to the area. By the
eighteenth century, Islam was well established and organized particularly in north-
ern Mozambique. The turuq, through their networks, contributed to the growth of
Islam. During the period leading up to independence in 1975, Muslims were orga-
nizing themselves into political action groups under the cover of social programs.
In spite of this, Muslims experienced considerable difficulties during the early
years of independence. From 1987, however, a gradual restoration took place.

The earliest known Arabic sources refer to the country Mozambique as bilād al-sufāla.
Thus al-Mas’ūdı̄ who visited the coast in 304 AH/916 CE uses the term sufāla in a
general manner. He speaks of the sufāla of the Zanj as the limit of the Bilād al-Sūdān.
Elsewhere he mentions that the sailors of “Umān travel on the sea of the Zanj as far as
the island of Kanbalū and Sufāla”. In this context sufāla may be interpreted as “low-
land” or “shoal”. Al-Mas’ūdı̄’s contemporary Buzurg b. Shahriyār also seems to think
of it as an area rather than a particular settlement. The distinctions become clearer in
al-Idrı̄sı̄ (493/1100 – 560/1166), who divides the East African Coast into four sectors:
Bilād al-Barbara, the present Somali coast; Bilād al-Zanj, the present coasts of Kenya
and Tanzania; Bilād al-Sufāla, or Sufāla al-Zanjı̄, Ard al-Tibr or Ard al-Dhahab (The
land of metal or gold); and finally Bilād al-Waqwaq an onomatopoeic name referring
to people whose language included clicks like the Khoisan, Xhosa, etc.1
The name Mozambique does not occur in Arabic literature before Ahmad b. Mājid
(end of ninth/fifteenth century) who writes it as Musanbı̂j. The History of Kilwa which
was written around 1550 CE mentions Musanbı̂h. In Arabic literature and in sixteenth
and seventeenth century Portuguese sources it is simply the name of a town, never of
the country.2 According to tradition it is derived from Musa bin Biq, Musa Mbiki, or
possibly Musa Malik, the name and title of the sultan on the Island of Mozambique.3
Only after Mozambique Island became the main Portuguese settlement in 1568 was
the name applied to the whole country. Mozambique did not become the official
name until independence in 1975 having been known previous to the West as Portuguese
East Africa.

ISSN 1360-2004 print/ISSN 1469-9591 online/08/030473-18 # 2008 Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs
DOI: 10.1080/13602000802548201
474 S. Von Sicard

Methodological Concerns
Most of the historical material available goes back to Portuguese sources. These clearly
reflect the spirit of their time with its preconceived ideas, prejudices and vested interests.
So far hardly any sources have come to light from the official and personal archives in
Madagascar, the Comoro Islands, Zanzibar, Yemen, Hadhramaut, Oman and Iran.
The picture presented is therefore of necessity one-sided and limited. It is hoped
however that this paper will provoke others to take up the study of a much neglected
area in East Africa.

The literature presents names, whether of places, people or groups as well as various
technical terms in a variety of ways and spellings. An attempt has been made to standar-
dize these as far as possible. Where appropriate both the hijri (Islamic) and the masihi
(Christian) dates are given.
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Early History
Mozambique’s earliest inhabitants are believed to have been nomadic hunter-gatherers,
possibly related to the Khoisan speaking San of South Africa and Namibia. From around
1000 BCE Bantu speaking peoples from the Niger Delta region in West Africa began
migrating slowly through the Congo basin, reaching Southern Africa some time after
the first century BCE.
The new groups possessed advanced agricultural skills and knowledge of iron-working
techniques. They lived in small, loosely affiliated chiefdoms. Some, like the Yao devel-
oped commercial networks across the country.
In the latter half of the first millennium CE, traders from Arabia began to arrive. The
main settlement was at Sofala. The original Sofala has long since been eroded and swept
away by the sea.4
Since trading links have existed for more than a thousand years, the history of Islam in
Mozambique can be divided into at least three periods, i.e. (a) seventh to fifteenth
century, (b) sixteenth century to independence in 1975, and (c) since independence.

Seventh to Fifteenth Century

During the first period, the Muslim presence was limited to coastal settlements such as
Sofala, Mozambique Island, Angoche, the Querimba islands and a few settlements along
the Zambezi. According to Eduardo do Couto Lúpi two Muslims, Musa and Hassan,
arriving on Mozambique Island from Kilwa, came across a few Muslims who had pre-
ceded them. These early arrivals were referred to as mwinyi (Port. muinhé/monhé).5 By
the thirteenth century, the Indian Ocean was a Muslim sea thus laying the foundation
for a more permanent Muslim presence in Mozambique.6 By the middle of the fifteenth
century, Arab and Swahili traders had established a string of permanent commercial and
religious sultanates along the Mozambique coast between the islands of Angoche and
Mozambique in the north and Sofala in the south. The records indicate that by the
turn of the ninth/fifteenth CE, Sofala, south of present day Beira, was ruled by a
shaikh, appointed by the Sultan of Kilwa, in present day Tanzania. The establishment
of these enclaves marked the beginning of the process of incorporating Mozambique
Islam in Mozambique 475

into the wider world culturally, economically and religiously. The Querimba Islands or
Ilhas do Cabo Delgado had a considerable Muslim population involved in the manufacture
of a cloth known as maluane, for which silk and cotton were woven and dyed with locally
grown indigo.7 At Mozambique dhows and vessels for the coastal trading were being
built. The high rate of return made foreign merchants content to enter into commercial
alliances with the ruling class or dominant local stratum and so remain outside the
system of production.8 Besides the main penetration into the interior along the Zambezi
other main Muslim trade routes into the hinterland developed along the Limpopo, Save
and Rovuma valleys.9 The coastal influence was marked by the adoption of Swahili
words such as fumo (chief), mwene (sub-chief), mujoge (Swahili trader).10 Islamic practices,
such as circumcision, were also accepted.11
The main items of trade seem to have been gold, metals and ivory mainly from the
interior. Mangrove poles, with their resistance to insects became an important export
over the centuries, particularly to countries where wood for house construction and fur-
niture is scarce. Beeswax, ambergris, pearls, gum copal (trachylobium verrucosum), and
India rubber (landolphia kirkii) also seem to have been exported.12 European sources
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have made much of the slave trade particularly during the nineteenth century. That
slaves were part of the trade goes without saying, but European sources have failed to
distinguish between the trade and slavery itself. It therefore seems appropriate to
Smee’s statement that “The Arabs are justly famed for the mild treatment of their
slaves. They are not overworked, are allowed to live on their master’s estate and grow
their own food, and seem fairly happy and contented”.13 The main trade in this
respect seems to have been with Madagascar and was thus part and parcel of a regular
phenomenon in Afro-Malagasy society as much as it was in Middle Eastern and
European societies.14
Not until the sixteenth century do the records presently available describe the settle-
ments in some detail. Duarte Barbosa writing around 1517/18 CE claims that the south-
ernmost Muslim settlement was on the Bazaruto Islands in the present day Inhambane
District. Further north at Sofala he claims that the Muslims had been settled for a long
time and spoke Arabic. They wore silk or cotton loin-cloth, with cloth over their
shoulders like capes, and turbans or caps. In Angoya (Angoche) however the people
spoke their own language. Further north he notes the town of Mozambique built on
three islands, the governor of which was a sharı̄f. Other places such as Quelimane and
Ibo were ruled by local sultans.

Sixteenth Century to Independence in 1975

At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Portuguese began to establish some trading
posts on the sea route to Goa. For the first four centuries of their presence in what is
today Mozambique, their penetration into the interior was minimal, except for along
the Zambezi river, and their impact on the country as a whole was insignificant. Not
until after the Berlin Conference of 1885 did they feel obliged to occupy more effectively
the territory they laid claim to.

Portuguese Attitudes and Behavior

During the colonial period Muslims suffered constant persecution, part of which was a
kind of retaliation for the centuries of Muslim occupation of Portugal.15 A grave example
of the Portuguese attitude was Baretto’s order to slaughter all Muslims at Sena as he
476 S. Von Sicard

suspected them of poisoning the water supply causing the death of the Portuguese. The
reality was that they were dying of malaria.16 In 1720, the Holy Office of the Inquisition
ordered that Muslims should not be allowed to serve as pilots, captains and sailors on
ships sent from Asia to Mozambique. The order was repeated in 1723 to avoid, as the
inquisitors saw it, the evil which might afflict Mozambique. Resulting from this was
the order to remove the Indian Paymaster at Mozambique, Basire Maali (Bashir
Musa), because, it was argued, of the evil results of his residence as he was employing
the profits of his position in the worship of his false prophet. He proved to be too rich
and powerful and the order was never implemented.17 A further example is Elton’s
report that in 1874, Shaikh Ali Heri of the Mosembe district had been sent to Portugal
as a prisoner, presumably for opposing Portuguese rule.18
An amusing development from this period is that hereditary chiefs, almost all of whom
were Muslims, who ruled a number of chiefdoms along the coast, e.g., Quitangonha,
Sancul, Sangage and Angoche, were paid an allowance by the Portuguese who con-
sidered them to be their vassals. However, for their part, the chiefs, as true Muslims,
regarded these payments as a tribute, or jizya, paid to them by the King of Portugal,
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as a dhimmi, whose appropriate activity was trade.

The Role of the Indians

Indian traders, including Muslims from the West Coast of India (Malabar) traded with
the East African Coast long before the arrival of the Portuguese. Vasco da Gama found
Hindu traders at Mozambique Island when he visited it in 1499. With the coming in of
the Portuguese, those contacts increased and became more permanent. There were
Indian traders in Manica in the 1560s and Indian soldiers fought in the local wars in
Zambezia in the 1640s.19 The Hindu traders referred to as Baneanes came to Mozambi-
que Island under the guise of being Portuguese subjects particularly from 1686 when the
Banyan Company of Mazanes of Diu was granted a charter by the Count of Alvor.20 The
charter did not include trade with the hinterland, but was limited to operations on the
island. The instability along the northern part of the coast after the fall of Mombasa
in 1698 led many Indian traders to move their operations to Mozambique Island.
Although considered as Portuguese subjects, they were not treated as equals by the Por-
tuguese and suffered from racial, cultural and economic antipathy and discrimination.21
They were not always welcomed by the local rulers either. At Dambarare Indians as well
as the Portuguese were killed in 1693.22 A special license was issued in 1727 allowing
Indian Muslims to trade on the mainland, but they were prohibited from owning
slaves. The Muslims were in 1728 prohibited from converting Africans to Islam or
trade in baptized slaves.23 None of the above regulations applied to the East African
Muslims as it would have been impossible to implement.24 In 1730, Indian Muslims
were permitted to keep slaves as long as their parents or grandparents had been
Muslims.25 In 1736, an order was issued in Goa against the ‘Moors’ teaching their doc-
trines to the Africans. A few years later the Archbishop of Mozambique lamented
Muslim success in conversion in comparison with the Church’s failure. He noted their
easy access to Quelimane, Sofala and Inhambane and their freedom to practice their
religion. Not surprisingly he began to argue against their right to exercise their religion
at all.26 In the 1740s and 50s there were restrictions on the right of Indians to hold prop-
erty and boats, to trade with the Yao and other local people. In order to travel from
Mozambique Island to the mainland they were required to have a pass or license.27 In
1759, five Indian Muslims were sent back to Mozambique from Inhambane because
Islam in Mozambique 477

they had established Arabic language schools for the local Africans.28 The Indians were
generally petty traders dealing in ivory, cereals, cattle and slaves. They were also the
bankers and main suppliers of spices and general merchandise on whom the Portuguese,
to their chagrin, became dependant.29

Penetration and Nature of Islam

A report from 1789 notes that the Muslims who traveled inland from Angoche were dili-
gent in spreading their faith.30 The nineteenth century became a period of revival and
jihād aided by an increase in contacts across the Indian Ocean and the trade routes
into Central Africa.31 Already at the beginning of that century it was estimated that
there were 15,000 Muslims in the Cape Delgado region and some 20,000 in the
coastal hinterland of Mozambique Island.32 According to oral tradition, one young
man, a Musa Momadi from Angoche, accompanied a relative who was a sharı̄f and a
hajji on an extended da’wah expedition into the interior as far as the Lugenda valley.
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After his return to the coast, he traveled to Mozambique Island, Zanzibar, the
Comoros and northwest Madagascar. His relative, however, was concerned with con-
verting the people he came across including the Yao, who by this time had migrated as
far as the Shire valley.33 In the light of this and the possibility that other dedicated
Muslims were spreading the faith, it is not surprising to find the Governor of Mozambi-
que commenting on the extraordinary advance of Islam in the interior in 1852.34
As on the other parts of the coast, the propagation of Islam was primarily undertaken
by people of mixed Arab and African blood, referred to in the sources as mestizos. Elton
in recording people taken as prisoners when slave dhows were captured notes one
Hummadi b. Saleh from the Yusi River area who claimed to be an ‘alim. He was remun-
erated for teaching the boys the Qur’ān by being given slaves. Hummadi had complained
that he had been deprived of his Qur’ān which he wore around his neck enclosed in a
cover called a bahasha. The Qur’ān was returned to him. There is also the mention of
Ibrahim and Abid from Muscat, who had married Makua women and had lived
among them for some time.35 The penetration is indicated by the fact that by the
1870s, women in their mid-twenties are recorded as having Muslim names.36 The
impact can also be gauged by the report that around 1880, Ali, a Comoro trader at Quis-
sango, and other Muslims had farms along the coast in which they grew sesame (gingil
(Ar. juljulan)).37
It would seem that by the 1880s most major Yao chiefs had embraced Islam. Their
settlements were centers for the spread of Islam through Qur’ān schools. The growing
Muslim presence is documented in a report from 1893 that shows that Muslims were
active along the Licungo River and Maganja da Costa north of Quelimane. Five
Muslims had established a school at the mouth of the Moniga River, about 100 miles
north of Quelimane, and were recruiting disciples and students along the coast.38
The reasons for the growing Islamization were varied and complex but undoubtedly
had to do with closer association with Muslim trading partners on the coast, the
increased prestige of Islam through the Āl-Busaid dynasty and its representatives
along the coast. The presence of Swahili scribes, scholars and traders and the desire to
correspond with coast contacts as well as their availability to produce Islamic charms
or talismans (Sw. hirizi; Ar. talası̄m; cf. Greek télesma) at a time when the area was
experiencing turmoil through the encroachment of European interests, also contributed
to the spread of Islam.
478 S. Von Sicard

The development of Islam in Malawi had repercussions for Mozambique. Thus an

important shaikh who influenced the developments of Islam on the Mozambican side
of Lake Malawi was Issa Chikoka, who obtained his ijāza from ‘Abdallah b. Haji
Mkwanda (c. 1860 – 1930) at Makanjila’s in present day Malawi.39 Another important
Yao shaikh active on the Lichinga plateau in northwestern Mozambique was Mzee
Chiwaula, who studied at Nkhotakota.40
An interesting development during the latter part of the nineteenth century was the
establishment of a madrasah in Lorenço Marques by Abu Bakr Effendi (d. 1880), a
Kurdish scholar sent to the Cape in 1862 to build up the Muslim community there.41
Coutinho records meeting Yao caravan leaders at Quelimane who claimed to be
Muslims and who carried the Qur’ān carefully wrapped in a fold of their cloth.
Coastal Muslims however ridiculed the Yaos who claimed to be Muslims saying that
they were mushrikūn.42 It is therefore not surprising to find that Chiefs Mazeze and
Said Ali and people in the Quissango and Pemba districts were pretending to be strict
Muslims. In spite of this the records show that there was a lot of syncretism. A surviving
account narrates the installation of a chief at Quitangonha in 1874 where the ceremony
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combined Islamic, Makua, Portuguese and Swahili rituals. The Portuguese officials
arrived by boat. Two lines of women, singing and dancing, and playing cuche-cuches
(wooden spoons), walked into the water to greet them. A procession formed, and the
Portuguese army played the national anthem, catholic hymns were sung and patriotic
marches performed. There followed a service of prayers in the mosque. Flour was
placed on the new chief’s head.43
At the beginning of the twentieth century there were fifteen mosques and ten Qur’ān
schools in the Angoche region. The basis for this may be found in the writings of a
Comorian who recorded the migration of learned men to Angoche to teach Arabic
and sharı̄’ah.44 All the monhes were said to be able to write their own language in
Arabic script, in fact on the island itself numerous Muslim women were said to be
able to read and write using the Arabic script.45 The Portuguese seeking to subdue
the north and considering that Muslims and local Africans were making common
cause found the situation intolerable and as a result ransacked the town of Angoche in
1903 destroying houses and mosques.46 In spite of Portuguese efforts Muslim commu-
nities with Qur’ān school were a growing force in the hinterland in 1905. Islam was being
spread peacefully by Muslim traders, as well as walimu, shurafā with their religio-magic
knowledge and mafundi (artisans) using a hut, a veranda or the shade of a tree, teaching
the children Swahili.47 The most influential Muslim on the mainland north of Ibo was
one Haji Musa Yusufu. On Quirambo island there was a tomb venerated because it con-
tained the remains of a sharı̄f who had come from Angoche many years earlier.48

Muslim religious brotherhoods did not appear in Mozambique in any systematic and
organized form until the end of the nineteenth century. By that time, both the Qādirı̄yya
and the Shādhilı̄yya brotherhoods were established on Mozambique Island. The latter
was established by students who went to a school in Kilwa established by Husayn
b. Mahmud, himself a khalı̄fa of the Hadrami sharı̄f Muhammad Ma’ruf b. Shaikh
Ahmed b. Abi Bakr (1853 – 1905) of Moroni, Ngazidja, one of the Comoro islands. In
1896, a trader and a member of the Yashrutı̄yya, Amir b. Jimba from Moroni, settled
in Mozambique. In 1897, Muhammad Ma’ruf visited Mozambique Island and
appointed two individuals as joint leaders of the order.49 The exclusion of
Islam in Mozambique 479

Amir b. Jimba led to serious tension necessitating an arbitrator (Sw. msuluhishi; Ar.
hakam) being sent from Comoro. The struggle seems to have had socioeconomic
grounds. By 1924 –1925 the mother house in Madina had to intervene and a new
branch, the Shādhiliya al-Madhaniya was established. Ten years later in 1936 another
schism took place with the establishment of the Shādhiliya Itifāq.50
The Qādirı̄yya seems to have been established by ‘Ali Msemakweli, a Yao who as a
khalı̄fa of Husayn b. ‘Abd Allah al-Mu’in spread the order to Northern Mozambique
by way of Kilwa. The Qādirı̄yya Sadate was established in Mozambique in 1904 by
Isa b. Ahmad from Zanzibar.51 The latter was a branch of Uways b. Muhammad’s
branch of the Qādiriyya more commonly known as the Uwaysı̄yya. When Isa
b. Ahmad returned to Zanzibar in 1925 he handed over the leadership to a local
Muslim by the name of Momade Arune (Muhammad Harun). A sub-branch of the
tarı̄qah was founded in Angoche at this time. After Momade Arune’s death in 1929
the tarı̄qah was split due to leadership rivalries leading in 1934 to the formation of the
Qādirı̄ya Baghdādı̄ branch. A further split took place in 1945 with the establishment
of the Qādirı̄yya Jilānı̄. The Baghdadi branch in turn split in 1953 with the establishment
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of the Qādirı̄yya Baghdādı̄ Hujat Sālihı̄n. A fifth branch, the Macheraba (mashraba – the
place of refreshment, restoration), was established in 1963 when the leadership of the
Sadate branch was taken over by Mahamudo Selemangy, a descendant of Daman
Muslims who originally had come to Mozambique from Gujarat. Mecufi in Cabo
Delgado became an important Qādirı̄ centre under ‘Abd al-Mājid in the 1930s.52
Developments which facilitated the growth of Islam during the second decade of the
twentieth century included the construction of the railroad from Lumbo, on the main-
land opposite Mozambique Island, which began in 1913, the advance of Indian
Muslim merchants beyond the coast and towards the end of World War I the presence
of a considerable number of Muslims in the British forces engaged in the war with
von Lettow’s forces. As a result the turuq established branches in the principal settle-
ments such as Nampula and Cabo Delgado. Mosques were constructed for the men
and zawāyā (enclosed spaces) for women.53 Carvalho has suggested that the turuq
were religious and political constituencies of the different factions of local society.54
Just as in the case of the rest of the East African coast, Muslims from different parts of
the world arrived bringing a variety of cultural and sectarian backgrounds. This has had
its repercussions into the present, where Muslims in different areas of the country have
tended to remain confined and isolated from one another.
The Indian Muslims had their own mosques, which were well built and ornate. They
had cemeteries for their own exclusive use and brought and supported their own a’imma
(plural for imam) from India. The Indian Muslims observed the ordinances of the
Qur’ān and the sharı̄’ah strictly. They observed what is harām, fulfilled the requirements
of ablutions and frequented the mosques assiduously. The African and mestiço (Portu-
guese for ‘mixed race’, i.e. descendants of unions between African women and Arab
or Portuguese men) Muslims have their own mosques built as thatched huts which
were indistinguishable from other huts. Their observance of Islam was less vigorous.
Their attendances at mosques were less frequent and their prayers and recitations less
perfect because of their ignorance of Arabic language and the absence of any of the
required texts in local vernacular. All male Muslims, whether Indian or African, were
circumcised. They wore the malaia, also referred to as cabaia, and wore the cofio or a
turban.55 The wearing of these clothes was a clear mark of the Muslim influence.
Antonio Ennes writing in 1913 claimed that Islam was spreading like a weed because it
was not being cultivated. He observed that it had no assistance from the civil authorities,
480 S. Von Sicard

its members were not wealthy, there was no clergy, no outstanding representatives to
imitate, yet it was gaining ground rapidly in the northern districts and at Inhambane.56
In Balane he found people observing Islamic practices, thoroughly performing ablutions
before entering a mosque and being heard reciting the Qur’ān inside but there were few
signs of the propagation of Islam. He reported that the children at Inhambane were
receiving instruction in what he describes as “booths covered with palm leaves”. He
reported that a Makua had described Islam as a fashion, indicating that people were
becoming Muslim by imitation, stimulated by self interest in acquiring the malaia
giving a person some status. This in turn led them to accept Islamic practices and
created solidarity.57
Half a century later Gonçalves claims that the picture which Ennes painted of Islam
held true and that the situation in the early 1960s was the same. The statistics available
indicate that there were around 66,000 Muslims in Mozambique in the mid-1950s.58
At that time it was estimated that there were 1,956 Orientals and 15,188 Indians.59
Gonçalves summing up the widely fluctuating statistical information comes to the con-
clusion that if one were to take the estimates of the civil servants trained in this field, the
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probably figure for Muslims in Mozambique in the mid-1950s was somewhere between
700,000 and a million out of a population of around six million.60
Writing in the early 1960s Gonçalves claimed that Islam was spreading rapidly
throughout the country noting that there were mosques in Beira, Quelimane, Lorenço
Marques (Maputo), etc. However, he notes that almost all Muslims in Lorenço
Marques were Isma’ili.61
Representatives of the Isma’ili community were established at Inhambane and Queli-
mane at an early stage. By the 1950s they were to be found on the Island of Mozambique,
in the area of Porto Amelia and in Maputo and their number in the country was esti-
mated at 1,700. The community has, like other Indian communities been closed from
an ethnic, but open from a social point of view having established educational,
medical and sports facilities for the community. Its work has been centered around
the Jamat Khanas, which are understood to be the property of the Aga Khan. Its
members are primarily business people, some of whom have been and are quite powerful.
They use their means to strengthen those in the community who are not as well off. They
are not involved in da’wah. Ali Khan visited Mozambique on behalf of his grandfather in
1957, and then in his own right as the Aga Khan in 1958.62
Referring to a work by G. Cota, Gonçalves notes that the Makua reflect a strong
mixture of African, Arab and to some extent Indian blood, so that he describes the
Makua between Moma and Tungue as being to a large extent mestiço. By far the most
islamized of the people were the Swahili who used that language to communicate. He
also notes that the Yao have been strongly influenced by Islam, whereas the Makonde
have hardly been touched. The same is implied for the area south of the Save River
(also known as the Sabi River).63
In a chapter dealing with the customary laws of Islamized people, Cota states that the
Islamic influence was particularly evident when it came to pre-nuptial agreements, prop-
erty regulations, marital duties, inheritance, etc. He refers to the fact that a man could
disinherit a nephew or son for ingratitude or disrespect to a paternal grandmother as
well as practices contrary to the sharı̄’ah. Cota observes that the only true religious
marriages were between Muslims and that these were celebrated in accordance with
qur’anic teachings.64
Portuguese policy towards Islam can be said to have been marked by hysteria and
paranoia. They seem never to have abandoned the Roman Catholic crusade that
Islam in Mozambique 481

characterized their concept of “civilising mission”. Some of their fears related to the fact
that Muslims in Mozambique looked to Zanzibar as the centre of Sunni Islam and source
of Islamic publications; they viewed the Sultan as their protector, remembering his name
during the Friday khutbah, even though he was an Ibādhi. This was enforced by the fact
that the leader of the Qādirı̄yya Sadate between 1929 and 1963 referred to himself as the
Sultan’s representative to Mozambique.65
Portuguese fears were further exacerbated, first by the “Mecca letter” scare of 1908
and then by the “defense of Ethiopia letters” circulated in Cabo Delgado and Mozam-
bique Districts in 1937. Believing that Muslim traders were circulating the letters the
colonial authorities took action against the promoters of Islam and closed Qur’ān
schools and mosques in the two districts on the pretense that they had no legal licenses.
The ban was however lifted in 1938.66

New Religious and Political Ripples

By the 1960s the isolation of Muslims in Mozambique was breaking down. The colonial
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authorities discovered that Muslims were seeking education in Tanzania and Arabia.
Islamic publications from Cairo and Mumbai were available and Muslims were keen
to acquire literacy in Arabic. People were listening to Sauti’l-Arab min al-Qāhira and
becoming aware of their religious roots. Arab and Islamic phonographs from Egypt
were circulating. It was reported that Yao Muslims looked to Baghdad and coastal
Muslims to Oman for religious leadership. African nationalism was gaining ground
among the Muslims which was linked to Arab anti-Portuguese propaganda. In the
light of this it is possible that clandestine Islamic associations were being established
as early as the 1950s.67
This was nothing new because Islamic revivalist movements had been opposing colo-
nial rule in northern Mozambique since the 1920s, when some Muslim leaders protested
against the abuses of forced labor, low wages and land appropriation in the Quelimane
area. From the 1930s, Muslim Africans and various Indians organized themselves into
interest groups that carried out political action under the cover of social programs,
mutual aid, cultural and athletic activities.68 From an Islamic point of view, the situation
became even more acute from 1942 when Mozambique became Portugal Ultramar (term
used to refer to Portuguese territories overseas). Forced labor, arbitrary taxation, obli-
gation to plant cash crops, and the lack of social improvement produced an acute discon-
tent among the Africans which led to the awakening of a national consciousness.
Given the total absence of liberty to form political organizations under the Portuguese,
the African Mozambicans living abroad, in Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Malawi, came
together to form the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO—Frente de Libertaçao
de Moçambique) in 1962. An armed struggle began in 1964, but not until after the
1974 coup d’état in Portugal did Mozambique gain its independence in 1975.
During the armed struggle the colonial policy changed, designed to win the support of
the Muslim community against the forces of FRELIMO, which the colonial authorities
thought had alienated the Muslims because of its Marxist policies. The Portuguese
administration sought to work through the Muslim religious leadership, i.e. the turuq,
which they considered a conservative, local force against more radical, internationally
organized expressions of Islam bent on political subversion.69 The Portuguese auth-
orities capitalizing on the new situation that arose after the abolition of the Sultanate
of Zanzibar in 1963 utilized the new links between the Muslim leadership in Northern
Mozambique with the Comoros and invited the Mufti, Sayyid Omar b. Ahmad b.
482 S. Von Sicard

Abu Bakr b. Sumayt al’Alawi to settle disputes between the turuq.70 They also embarked
on publishing an official, Portuguese language version of abstracts of Al-Jâmi’ al-Sahı̂h of
al-Bukhârı̂ (194 –256 AH/810 – 870 CE).71
Some Muslims were involved in the liberation struggle. Thus FRELIMO’s rep-
resentative in Cairo was a Muslim by the name of Sharffudin Muhammad Khan.
He later represented the movement in the United States. An office was also opened in
Algiers.72 Islam’s influence received a boost when various Arab countries offered to
train the freedom fighters. Thus some 130 of them were sent to Algeria for training.
FRELIMO established international relations with the Arab League and the Organiz-
ation of Islamic Conference73. Although such links might have led to religious friction,
FRELIMO’s policy was to combat religious intolerance in its ranks.74 There is no
mention in FRELIMO’s educational program of Qur’ān schools, but it would seem
that traditional institutions like the poro/sande initiation institutions were acknowl-
edged.75 It is possible that to some extent Muslim influence would have been spread
through these, as had been the case with other initiation practices in the region.
In view of the fact that the liberation struggle was predominantly in the north, Muslims
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of Indian origin who lived in the southern part of the colony and adhered to the Hanafi
legal tradition, with their orientation to Durban and Karachi, did not play an important
role. The Indian communities, which represented peripheral groups, continued to run
small scale commercial ventures, and, where possible, bush (rural) trading centers76
and small shops in towns. As closed communities they hardly had any contact with
Africans, Europeans or Indian groups other than in business. Some of their students
attended universities or enrolled in professional courses at technical schools in Portugal.77

Since Independence
After independence in 1975, the Muslim leadership which had cooperated with the colo-
nial authorities was discredited. Some Muslim associations were banned in 1976.
Muslims on the other hand who had had restriction imposed on them during the colonial
period gained some freedom. However, the civil war which erupted soon after indepen-
dence and lasted until 1992 between FRELIMO (which had transformed itself into a
Marxist Party) and the Resistençia National Moçambicana (RENAMO—Mozambique
National Resistance Movement) which sought to restore democracy in Mozambique,
did not serve the Muslims well.78 By 1980 Mozambican Muslim students in exile in
Dar es Salaam were denouncing the repression of Islam by the FRELIMO govern-
ment.79 Until around 1982 the regime was characterized by hostility to organized reli-
gion in general. There was considerable harassment including throwing pigs into
mosques. Virtually all religious communities lost property during the nationalizations.
Such property often included schools or facilities for religious observance. Religious
associations were forbidden and attempts were made to prevent religious activities any-
where but in mosques. An indication of the difficulties Muslims were experiencing may
be found in the fact that only one Muslim is recorded as having undertaken the pilgrim-
age in 1981.80 The attitudes began to change after the establishment of RENAMO and
the destabilization which this movement created with the help of South Africa and
Rhodesia. FRELIMO found that its treatment of Muslims provided reasons for both
Saudi Arabia and Oman to send supplies to RENAMO. South Africa and the Comoro
Islands also served as conduits for supplying RENAMO from 1983 to 1989. That situ-
ation made any allies, including the religious communities acceptable. Thus in 1983
Islam in Mozambique 483

FRELIMO officially recognized the new national Council of Muslims of Mozambique

(CISLAMO—Concelho Islamico de Moçambique).81
Contrary to FRELIMO practice it was reported that whenever RENAMO attacked a
village often the mosque or church were the only buildings left undamaged. There seems
to have been a more positive attitude to religion in RENAMO circles. Their bases exhib-
ited this in the form of mosques and churches.82

Restoration and New Legislation

With the accession of Joachim Alberto Chissano in 1987, FRELIMO began a gradual
restoration of social legitimacy to religious bodies of all kinds. In that year Mozambique
hosted the fifth Southern Africa Islamic Youth Conference. Although developments were
still limited to the Maputo area, it was an indication of the new trend. In a speech to the
Central Committee in March 1988, Chissano stated that FRELIMO aspired to:
A society where every citizen advances along with the advancement of our
Fatherland, and a society where the people will benefit from the wealth gener-
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ated by the work and intelligence of the Mozambican people.83

Such a spirit was welcomed by the Muslims as it expressed in socialist terms the very
foundational principles of the ummah. By mid-1988 confiscated properties were being
returned.84 The situation improved further when article 19 of the 1975 constitution
which affirmed that there “exists an absolute separation between the State and religious
institutions”, and “activities of religious institutions must conform with State Laws” was
changed in 1990 to “The state shall respect the activities of religious denominations in
order to promote a climate of social understanding and tolerance and to strengthen
national unity”.85
The 1989 Law on Religious Freedom requires religious institutions and organizations
to register with the Ministry of Justice, reveal their principal source of funds and provide
the names of at least 500 followers in good standing. At the end of 2000 there were
394 distinct religious groups registered with the Department of Religious Affairs of
the Ministry of Justice. Among Muslims only the Sunni and Isma’ili communities are
The government routinely grants visas and residence permits to da’i. Some of these
have established madāris in many places, particularly in the northern provinces. The
Tabligh Islamic Call Society is active in the country. The constitution gives religious
groups the right to own and acquire assets. They are allowed by law to own and
operate schools. Religious instruction in public schools however is prohibited.87
Although all places of worship nationalized by the State in 1977 have been returned to
their respective religious organizations, certain Muslim communities have complained
that other properties such as schools, health centers and residences are still in govern-
ment hands.88
The elections of 1994 returned FRELIMO to power. The 1999 elections in which
FRELIMO gained 133 deputies and RENAMO 117, reflected a better balance
between the two parties. Rather revealing was the fact that out of FRELIMO’s 133 depu-
ties, only one seems to be a Muslim, whereas out of RENAMO’s 117, twelve were
Muslims. The lists of deputies do not make it clear if any representative of the Indian
Muslims has been elected to parliament.89 Thirteen parties contested the 1999 election.
Of particular interest from an Islamic point of view was the Mozambique Independence
Party (PIMO—Partido Independente de Moçambique) established in 1993. Its chairman
484 S. Von Sicard

Yaqub Sibindy was also a candidate for the presidency. Its Standing Committee meeting
in Nampula in 1997 called for the party to change its name to the Islamic Party. The con-
stitution however bans parties based on regional, ethnic, tribal, racial or religious distinc-
tion. The attorney General Antonio Namburete therefore warned that the party would
be suspended since religio-political entities are dangerous as they can incite believers
into acts that would disturb the social order. In the event Partido Independente received
only 0.71% of the votes or ninth position out of twelve. There is however the Movimento
Islamico, a parliamentary caucus of Muslims from the ruling party, FRELIMO, which is
seen by some as being tantamount to a religious party.90
By the end of the 1990s Mozambique had become a member of the Organization of the
Islamic Conference (OIC) thus securing economic benefits. Tensions between the Sufi
leaders of the majority Muslims in the north and the more radical reformers based in
the south has led the former to split off from CISLAMO to form the Congresso
Islâmico.91 In further attempts to gain the support of Muslims, FRELIMO recognized
the Islamic holidays of ‘Id al-Adha and ‘Id al-Fitr as national holidays in 1996. The Comu-
nidade Mahometana has its own homepage describing its religious basis and listing Abdul
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Azziz Osman Latif as its president. The community has plans for an Islamic Cultural
Centre, a Friday mosque and a school for the community at large.92 A further indication
of the new lease on life for Muslims in Mozambique is the number of pilgrims registered
by the Saudi Arabian authorities which rose to 309 in 1999.93
African traditional rituals can be found in the practices of Muslims in Mozambique.
Thus Muslims commonly travel to the graves of ancestors to say special prayers for
rain. They also practice rituals of preparation for important events, examinations, first
job, swearing-in, etc., by offering prayers and pouring libations on the ground to
please the ancestors. Muslims, in search of good luck, healing and solution to problems,
consult curandeiros, traditional healers or spiritualists, some of whom are themselves
nominal Muslims.94
Interfaith cooperation takes place through the Forum of Religions established in 1997.
It is an organization for social and disaster relief composed of members of the Christian
Council of Mozambique; the Greek Orthodox Church; and the Muslim, Baha’i and
Jewish communities. The goal of the forum is to offer collective assistance to the
needy, without regard to creed. The forum was actively engaged in the disastrous flood-
ing in February and March 2000 and again in relief to the Zambezi District which was
struck when the Zambezi bursting its banks in February 2001.
During the year 2000, civil society and the media have highlighted religious aspects of
a draft Family Law. The debate has focused on the need for legal recognition of religious
and common law marriages, since at present only civil marriages are legal. A sticking
point is the Muslim opposition not to recognize polygamous marriages. Muslim
women have however demonstrated against polygamy. Some Muslim groups oppose
the section of the law that would raise the legal age of marriage to 16 for both men
and women.95

Although Islam has a long and prestigious history in Mozambique, the colonial period,
the struggle for independence, and the independence period have been detrimental to its
development. The Portuguese brought with them their preconceived ideas of Islam and
Muslims which resulted in harassment and persecution. During the years of the indepen-
dence struggle it was particularly Muslims in the North of the country, where Muslims
Islam in Mozambique 485

are the majority, who suffered. With the declaration of independence under a Marxist
government, Islam and Muslims together with other religious traditions were under
duress or simply proscribed. By the mid-1990s, greater openness by the political
parties augured well for Muslims. The government’s secularist policies have, however,
had their impact on the community. Internal tensions between traditionalists and refor-
mers as well as cultural differences between the various ethnic groups in the Muslim
community have also contributed to a weakening of their potential for a real contribution
to the new nation. Some Muslims continue to practice a ritual of preparation or inaugu-
ration at the time of important events by offering prayers and spilling beverages on the
ground to please ancestors. Others consult curandeiros, traditional healers or spiritualists,
some of whom claim to be Muslims, in search of good luck, healing, and solutions to pro-
blems. External forces aligning themselves with different groups, including the arrival of
a significant number of South Asian immigrants, continue to undermine their efficacy in
bearing witness to the values inherent in Islam that could, given a chance, make a sub-
stantial contribution to the nation. External agencies help with medical and educational
development projects, including scholarships for studies in the Middle East and so
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prepare members of the community for their place in building up the nation. Although
the attempts that have been made to co-ordinate the activities of various groups through
the Islamic Council of Mozambique and different publications like al-Furqan are prom-
ising signs, the tension between the Council and the Islamic Congress of Mozambique
both vying with each other for government patronage continues to undermine the
Islamic witness.

1. A.M.b.M. Idrı̄sı̄, Nuzhat al-Mushtāq fı̄ Ikhtirāq al-Āfāq [The recreation of him who yearns to traverse
the lands], 548/1154, cited in G. Ferrand, Relations de Voyages et Textes Geographiques, Paris: no pub-
lisher, Vol. 1, 1913, p. 59; see also F. Storbeck, Die Berichte der arabischen Geographen des Mittelalters
über Ostafrika [The accounts of the Arab geographers of the Middle Ages regarding East Africa],
Berlin: Reichsdruckerei, 1913, pp. 42–50; G.S.P. Freeman-Grenville, ed., The East African Coast.
Select documents from the First to the earlier Nineteenth Century, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961,
pp. 9– 17; Martin Waldseemüller’s huge map of the world in 1507 includes a sheet portraying
Africa “according to the tradition of Ptolemy” but with the addition of the Portuguese discoveries,
in R.V. Toley’s Landmarks of Mapmaking, Ware, Herts: Wordsworth, 1989, p. 160, which has mon san-
biqui; Waldseemüller’s map made for Ptolemy’s Geographia of 1513 has mon mbiqui, in R.V. Toley’s
Landmarks, op. cit., p. 159.
2. However Ortelius’ map of 1570 has Mozambique marked for the hinterland. See R.V. Toley, Land-
marks, op. cit., p. 162.
3. M. Amra, “Islam in Southern Africa. A Historical Perspective”, Paper presented at the Islam in Africa
Conference, Binghamton University, 19– 22 April 2001, p. 17; M. Fitzpatrick, Mozambique, London:
Lonely Planet Publications, 2000, p. 12.
4. An indication of this may be that Elton came across a settlement in the Quissanga area which he refers
to as Dhubbai. See J.F. Elton, Travels and Researches among the Lakes and Mountains of Eastern and
Central Africa, London: F. Cass, 1968, p. 229.
5. E. do Couto Lúpi, Angoche. Breve Memória sobre Uma dass Capitanias-Mores [Angoche. A short
memoir on one Capitanias-Mores], Lisboa: Ministério dos Negócios da Marinha e Ultramar,
1907, p. 276. The term monhé seems at times to have been used in respect of the Indian Muslims.
See J.J.Gonçalves, “Influência ârabo-islâmica em Moçambique” [The Islamic influence in Mozambi-
que], in O Mundo Arabo-Islamico eo Ultramar Portugues [The Arab-Islamic World of Overseas Portu-
guese Territories], Lisboa: Junta de investigacoes do ultramar, 1962, pp. 267, 280. Alpers, however,
notes that the term applied to mixed Afro-Muslims, as opposed to Swahili, i.e. coastal Muslims. See
E. Alpers, “East Central Africa”, in The History of Islam in Africa, eds. N. Letzion & R.L. Pouwels,
Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2000, p. 309; M.V. Jackson Haight, European Powers and
486 S. Von Sicard

South-East Africa. A study of international relations on the south-east coast of Africa 1796– 1856, London:
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967, p. 39, for munhaes [soldiers] of the Monomotapa.
6. N. Levtzion, “Islam. East Africa”, in The Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. M. Eliade, New York: Mac-
Millan Publishing Co., 1987, Vol. 7, p. 355.
7. M. Newitt, “The Southern Swahili Coast in the First Century of European Expansion”, Azania, Vol.
13, 1978, p. 116; J. dos Santos, Ethiopia Oriental e Varia História de Cousas Notaveis do Oriente [Eastern
Ethiopia and various histories of notable things in the East], Evora: no publisher, 1609, p. 81.
8. A. & B. Isaacman, Mozambique. From colonialism to revolution 1900–1982, Boulder, CO: Westview
Press, 1983, pp. 13ff., 17, 18, 21.
9. M.D. Newitt, Portuguese settlements on the Zambezi, London: Longman, 1973, p. 208.
10. Ibid., p. 198; J. Duffy, A Question of Slavery. Labour policies in Portuguese Africa and the British Protest,
1850– 1920, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967, p. 67. At one time they attacked and scuttled an entire
shipload of Muslim pilgrims. See P.B. de Rezende, “Breve trotado e epilogo todos os visoreys que tem
travido no estado da India” [Brief treatise and epilogue on all the vice-realms which have existed in the
Indian State], Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris, MS Portgugais No. l (no date). For the intolerant beha-
vior of Fr. Joao dos Santos during his time in Mozambique between 1590 and 1592, see J. dos Santos,
Etiopia Orientale, Lisboa: Bibliteca de Classicos Portugueses, 1981, Vol. 2, pp. 242ff.; P. Schebesta,
Portugals Konquistamission in Sudost-Afrika. [Portugal’s Conquest Mission in East Africa],
St. Augustin: Steyler Verlag, 1966, pp. 93ff. The term mujoge often appears in J.F. Elton, Travels
and Researches, op. cit., p. 30, without explanation. The term appears in M.V. Jackson Haight, European
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Powers and South-East Africa, op. cit., 1967, p. 314, as mujojo (Port.) and on p. 315 as mujujo (Engl.).
Could it refer to a muyao? See R. Honwann, ed., The life history of Paul Honwana. An inside view of
Mozambique from colonialism to independence, 1905– 1975, with an introduction by A.F. Isaacman,
Boulder & London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1988, which describes mudjodjos as Africans who
had converted to Islam and were from Zanzibar, Pemba and the Comoros (p. 94).
11. Documents on the Portuguese in Mozambique and Central Africa, ed. A. da Silva Rego, Lisboa: Centro de
estudos históricos ultramarinos, 1971, Vol. 7, pp. 504, 505.
12. G.S.P. Freeman-Grenville, “Mozambique” in Encyclopedia of Islam, second edition, Vol. 7, Leiden:
E.J. Brill, 1993, p. 245; J.F. Elton, Travels and Researches, op. cit., p. 206. Although Elton refers to
Landolphia Kirkii, it is more likely that the creeper he refers to was the rubber vine, Saba Comorensis
(Sw. mbungo).
13. Quoted by R. Coupland, East Africa and its Invaders, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1938, pp. 183ff.
Smee’s, Owen’s and others’ indignation had to do with the trade itself and the treatment of captured
people as chattels. E.H. Burrows, Captain Owen of the African Survey, Rotterdam: Balkema, 1979,
p. 123.
14. In Mesopotamia slaves from East Africa revolted in 696, and between 869 and 883 they threatened
the Caliphate in Southern Iraq. The Portuguese shipped slaves to Brazil. See R. Oliver & G. Mathew,
eds., History of East Africa, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963, Vol. I, p. 101.
15. T.H. Henriksen, Mozambique. A History, London: Rex Collins, 1978, p. 17.
16. J. Duffy, Portuguese Africa, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1959, p. 37.
17. E.A. Alpers, Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa: Changing Patterns of International Trade to the Late
Nineteenth Century, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1975, p. 92ff., referring to G.M.
Theal, Records of South-Eastern Africa, London: W. Clowes, 1898, Vol. 5, pp. 124–126. See also
A.A. de Andrade, Relações de Moçambique Setentista [Descriptions of Northern Mozambique],
Lisboa: Agencia Geral do Ultramar, 1955, p. 100, where the name is given as Baxira Mocalli
(Bashir Musa Ali?).
18. J.F. Elton, Travels and Researches, op. cit., p. 141.
19. No author listed, “Inquérito em Moçambique no anno de 1573” [Enquiry into Mozambique from
the year 1573], in Studia, ed. Alcantara Guerreiro, Vol. 6, no city of publication or publisher,
1960, pp. 7– 19; António Gomes, “Viagem que fez o Padre António Gomes, da Companhia de
Jesus ao Imperio de Monomotapa; e assistencia que fez nas ditas terras de algus annos” [Antonio
Gomes, Travels made by Padre Antonio Gomes, Society of Jesus, to the Empire of Monomotapa
and the assistance made in those territories in different years], Studia, Vol. 3, no city of publication
or publisher, 1957, p. 241, referred to by M. Newitt, A History of Mozambique, London: Hurst &
Co., 1995, p. 181ff.
20. A. Lobato, Sobre Cultura Moçambicana [Regarding Mozambiquan Culture], Lisboa: Centro de
Estudos Históricos Ultramarinos, 1952, p. 125. For reasons why Indian traders appeared in such
Islam in Mozambique 487

numbers on the East African Coast, see E.A. Alpers, Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa, op. cit.,
p. 90ff. Banian, Ar. banyan from Gujarati vaņiyo—man of trading caste.
21. E.A. Alpers, Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa, op. cit., p. 92.
22. M.S. Alberto e F.A. Toscano, O Oriente Africano Português. Sı́ntese chonológia da História de Moçam-
bique [Portuguese East Africa. A chronological synthesis of Mozambiquan history], Lorenço
Marques: Minerva Cantral, 1938, p. 58; E. Axelsson, Portuguese in South-East Africa 1600–1700,
Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1960, p.182.
23. E.A. Alpers, Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa, op. cit., p. 93, referring to G.M. Theal, Records of
South-Eastern Africa, op. cit., Vol. 5, pp. 143– 145.
24. E.A. Alpers, Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa, op. cit., p. 93, referring to G.M. Theal, Records of
South-Eastern Africa, op. cit., Vol. 5, pp. 155– 158.
25. E.A. Alpers, Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa, op. cit., p. 94.
26. Ibid., pp. 92–94; E.A. Alpers, “East Central Africa”, op. cit., p. 305.
27. M.V. Jackson Haight, European Powers and South-East Africa, op. cit., p. 45.
28. A.A. Andrade, Relações de Moçambique, op. cit., p. 97.
29. M.V. Jackson Haight, European Powers and South-East Africa, op. cit., p. 79ff.
30. E.A. Alpers, “East Central Africa”, op. cit., p. 306 referring to J.J.N. de Andrade, “Descripçao da
Estrada em que Ficavão os Negocios da Capitania de Mossambique nos Fins de Novembro de
1789 com Algumas Observaçoens, e refleçoens a causa da decadencia do Commercio dos Estabelec-
imentos Portugueses na Costa Oriental da Africa” [A description of the direction that had been taken
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by the affairs of the Mozambique Capital by the end of November 1789 together with some remarks
and reflections on the cause for the commercial decline in the Portuguese establishments on the East
Coast of Africa], in Arquivo das Colónias [Colonial Archives], Lisboa: no publisher, Vol. 1, pp. 75 –96,
115– 34, 166–184, 213 –35, 275–88.
31. M.D. Newitt, Portuguese settlements on the Zambezi, op. cit., p. 217; M.V. Jackson Haight, European
Powers and South-East Africa, op. cit., p. 141ff.
32. E.A. Alpers, “East Central Africa”, op. cit., p. 306. The level of Muslim penetration may be assessed
by the fact that the information most of the slaves imported to the Cape Colony at this time was from
Mozambique and that it was at the Cape that they embraced Islam. G.M. Theal, Records of the Cape
Colony, Cape Town: Govt. Printers, 1903, Vol. 6, p. 271, referring to a letter from the Earl of Caledon
to Viscount Castlereagh dated 4 February 1808.
33. E.do Couto Lupi, Angoche, Lisboa: Typographia do Annuario Commercial, 1907, p. 183; J. de
A. Coutinho, Do Nyasa a Pemba [From Nyasa to Pemba], Lisboa: Typographia do Companhia
Nacional Editora, 1893, p. 10f.
34. F.A. Monteiro, “As communidades islâmicas em Moçambique: Mecanismos de communicação”
[The Islamic Communities in Mozambique: Means of Communication], Africana (Porto), Vol. 4,
1989, p. 69. In 1866, D. Livingstone’s Arab guide at Cape Delgado indicated that no attempt had
been made to bring the Makonde into the household of faith although he noted that some
Makonde slaves at the coast had become Muslims. See D. Livingstone, Last Journals, London:
J. Murray, 1874, Vol. 1, p. 23f. Elton, while traveling in the area in 1875–1876, noted that Islam
was established in certain localities. Some Makua chiefs wore kanzus even if they were not
Muslims. See J.F. Elton, Travels and Researches, op. cit., pp. 171, 178, 197; J. de A. Coutinho, Do
Nyasa a Pemba, op. cit., pp. 40, 42, 44; cf. J. Stevenson-Hamilton, “Notes on a journey through Por-
tuguese East Africa, from Ibo to Lake Nyasa”, Geographical Journal, Vol. 34, 1909, p. 525f.
35. J.F. Elton, Travels and Researches, op. cit., pp. 171, 172.
36. J. Duffy, A Question of Slavery, op. cit., p. 68.
37. Ibid., p. 85 footnote; J.F. Elton, Travels and Researches, op. cit., pp. 206, 207, mentions that coffee grew
wild on the mountains in the region of the Nkomburi (Mecuburi) River (Nampula Province) and was
exported. In that area he encountered a “British protected subject from Cutch” who had been in the
area for 14 years, i.e. since 1862.
38. F. Desmaroux, “Informações acerca da situação moral e religiosa e dos usos e costumes dos povos no
meio das quais a Missão dos Santos Anjos é destinada a exercer a sua influência (Zambezi)” [Infor-
mation regarding the moral and religious situation and the habits and customs of the people among
whom the Holy Angels Mission is meant to exert its influence (Zambezi)], Boletim da sociedade de
Geografia de Lisboa [Bulletin of the Geographical Society of Lisbon], Vol. 14, 1895, p. 680f.
39. E.A. Alpers, “East Central Africa”, op. cit., p. 311; A. Thorold, “Yao Conversion to Islam”, Cam-
bridge Anthropology, No. 12, 1987, p. 24.
488 S. Von Sicard

40. A.E. Alpers, “East Central Africa”, op. cit., p. 311; M.G. Amaral, O Povo Yao - Subsidios para o Estudo
de um Povo do Noroeste de Moçambique [The Yao People – Subsidy in regard to the study of a people in
Northeastern Mozambique], Lisboa: Instituto de Investigação Cientifica e Tropical, 1990, p. 379;
R. Greenstein, “Shaykhs and Tariqas: The Early Muslim ‘Ulama’ and Tariqa Development in
Malawi (c. 1885–1949)”, Seminar Paper, History Department, Chancellor College, University of
Malawi, 1976/77, p. 22.
41. R.C.H. Shell, “Islam in Southern Africa 1652–1998”, in The History of Islam in Africa,
eds. N. Levtzion & R.L. Pouwels, Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2000, p. 338f.; M. Brandel
Syrier, The religious duties of Islam as taught and explained by Abu Bakr Effendi, Leiden: E.J. Brill,
1971, p. vff.; S.A. Rochlin, “Aspects of Islam in 19th Century South Africa”, Bulletin of the School
of Oriental and African Studies, Vol. 8, 1936, pp. 213–221.
42. J. de A.Coutinho, Do Nyasa a Pemba, op. cit., p. 46.
43. G.S.P. Freeman-Grenville, “Mozambique”, op. cit., p. 246.
44. Ibid.
45. F.A. da Silva Neves, Informações á cerca da Capitania-Mór de Angoche [Information about the Capita-
nia-Mor of Angoche], Moçambique: Impressa Nacional, 1901, p. 17.
46. J.P. de Sampaio Forjaz de Serpa Pimental, No Districto de Moçambique - Memorias, Estudos e Consider-
ações (1902 –1904) [Our Mozambique District – Memoirs, Studies and Considerations], Lisboa: no
publisher, 1905, p. 75.
47. Ibid., p. 158; E. Do C. Lupi, Angoche, op. cit., p. 176ff.; P.M. de Amorim, Districto de Moçambique—
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Relatorio do Governador (1906–1907) [The District of Mozambique—Governor’s Report (1906–

1907)], Lorenço Marques: Imprensa Nacional, 1908, p. 74.
48. E.J. de Vilhena, Companhia do Nyasa—Relatorios e Memorias sobre os Territorios pelo Governador [The
Nyasa Company—Reports and Memoirs Regarding the Terriories by the Governor], Lisboa: Typo-
graphia da “A Editoria”, 1905, pp. 10f, 234f.
49. A.H. Nimtz, Islam and Politics in East Africa: The Sufi Order in Tanzania, Minneapolis, MN: Univer-
sity of Minnesota Press, 1980, p. 60
50. A.P. de Carvalho, “Notas para a História das Confrarias Islâmicas na Ilha de Moçambique” [Mem-
oranda on the history of the Islamic brotherhoods on Mozambique Island], Arquivo (Maputo), 1988,
p. 61ff.; E.A. Alpers, “East Central Africa”, op. cit., p. 311. Ittifāq . Ar. Ittafaqa – agree, conform
51. Sadate .Ar. sàada—happy, prosperous, illustrious. Sadate comes from one of the plurals of “sayyid”;
“sadat”, which in Swahili, with its emphasis on open syllables, becomes “sedate”, hence the name
would imply “the Qadiriyya of the Masters”.
52. A.P. de Carvalho, “Notas para a História”, op. cit., p. 63ff.; B.B. Joao, Abdul Kamal-Megama (1892–
1966): “Pouvoir et religion dans un district de Nord-Mozambique” [Power and religion in a northern
Mozambiquan district], Islam et Sociétés au sud du Sahara [Islam and Societies South of the Sahara],
Vol. 4, 1990, p. 139ff.
53. Zâwiya originally referred to the corner of a building, a small mosque, a prayer room. It then came to
refer to a building or group of buildings of a religious nature. Alpers, referring to the case of Mtumwa
bt.`Ali b. Yusufu of Nkhotakota, has suggested that women played a more important role in the spread
of Islam through the turuq. E.A. Alpers, “East Central Africa”, op. cit., p. 313.
54. A.P. de Carvalho, “Notas para a História”, op. cit., p. 60ff.; cf. A.P. Caplan, Choice and Constraint in a
Swahili Community: Property, Hierarchy, and Cognatic Descent on the East African Coast, London: OUP,
1975, p. 94ff.
55. Malaı́a would seem to indicate that the long white gown, known in Swahili as kanzu, originated
among the Malay. Cabaia is the Portuguese word for a Turkish tunic. Cofió refers to the embroidered
cap known in Swahili as kofia.
56. A. Ennes, Moçambique: Relatório apresentado ao governo [Mozambique: Report presented to the
government], Lisboa: Sociedade de Geografia de Lisboa, 1913, p. 516.
57. Ibid., p. 517.
58. J.J. Gonçalves, “Influência ârabo-islâmica em Moçambique”, op. cit., p. 274, quotes A. de Souza
Franklin, A ameaça islâmica na Guiné Portuguesa [Regarding the Islamic threat in Portuguese
Guinea], who estimated the Muslim population to have been approximately 66,000 in 1956. J. de
Garcia Domingues, Influência Árabo-Islâmica no Ultramar [The Arab-Islamic Influence in our Over-
seas territories] (Estudos Ultramarinos. Revista do Instituto Superior de estudos Ultramarinos,
Vol. 5, Nos. 1–3, 1955, p. 268) estimated around 60,000 Muslims in 1955. The general census of
1950 gave the figure of 598,767 Muslims, while A. da Silva Rego, Curso de Missionologia (Lisboa:
Islam in Mozambique 489

Centro de Estudos Polı́ticos e Sociais, 1946, as quoted in J.J. Gonçalves, “Influência ârabo-islâmica
em Moçambique”, op. cit.), estimated half a million in 1956. The January/February issue of Portugal
in Africa (Catolicismo no Ultramar Portugues, Vol. 13, No. 73, pp. 51 –62, as quoted in J.J. Gonçalves,
“Influência ârabo-islâmica em Moçambique”, op. cit.), calculated that there were half a million
Muslims in the diocese of Nampula. O Missionário Católico [The Catholic Missionary] (2nd Series,
Vol. 32, No. 31, July 1956), in an article entitled “Maometanos em Moçambique”, quoted from a
Fides report which referred to 563,000 Muslims in the diocese of Nampula. The Review of the
African Clergy (Lorenco Marques, 1965, p. 258ff.) estimated over 100,000 in the Dioceses of
Lorenco Marques, Beira and Quelimane (p. 258ff.). A.F.J. Peirone, “Importância do Estudo da
Lingua e da Cultura Árabe para a Missionaçãao dos Indigenas Islamizados de Moçambique” [The
importance of study of the Arabic language and culture for missionary work among the islamized
indegenes of Mozambique], Garcia de Orta, Vol. 3, No. 4, 1956, pp. 371–381, gives the number
as 700,000, in comparison with L. Massignon’s and Pellegrin’s estimates, which he quotes as
60,000 and 80,000 respectively; M. Brelvi, Islam in Africa, Lahore: Institute of Islamic Culture,
1964, pp. 539– 543, gives the figure as 7%.
59. E. Mondlane, The Struggle for Mozambique, Hamondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd., 1969, p. 39. In
1967, it was estimated that there were 900,000 Muslims in the coastal zones of Cabo Delgado,
Mozambique and Zambezia. See T.H. Henriksen, Mozambique. A History, London: Rex Collings,
1978, p. 22, quoting A.B. Herrick, et al., Area Handbook for Mozambique, Washington, DC: US
State Department, 1969, p. 110.
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60. The 1970 census gives the figure of 8,168,933 for the total population. J. Murray, ed., Cultural Atlas of
Africa, Oxford: Phaidon Press, 1981, p. 199. See R. Ammah, “New Light on Muslim Statistics for
Africa”, Bulletin on Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa, Vol. 2, No. 1, January 1984,
p. 18, gives the figure of 1,384,750, representing 13% of the total population of 10,375,000. The
Islamic Forum for Africa map and calendar for 2001 gives the figure as 29%, with 5,184,599
Muslims in a population of 17,877,927.
61. J.J. Gonçalves, “Influência ârabo-islâmica em Moçambique”, op. cit., p. 276.
62. Ibid., p. 281ff.
63. Ibid., p. 277, quoting G. Cota, Projecto Definitivo do Estatuto do Direito Privado dos Indigenes da Colónia
de Moçambique [A definitive project regarding the statutes of the civil law of the indigenes of the
Mozambique colony], Lorenço Marques: no publisher, 1946. See also p. 280.
64. J.J. Gonçalves, “Influência ârabo-islâmica em Moçambique”, op. cit., p. 277.
65. Referred to by E.A. Alpers, “East Central Africa”, op. cit., p. 314, referring to Departamento de His-
tória, 1993, p. 49, in Archivo Histórico de Moçambique [Historical Archives of Mozambique], Maputo:
Fundo Governo Geral, Caixa 2450, Vol. 1, p. 56ff.
66. Ibid.
67. E.A. Alpers, “East Central Africa”, op. cit., referring to A.M. Pedro, “Influencias politico-sociais do
Islamismo em Mocambique (Relatorio Confidential)” [Islamic politico-social influences in Mozam-
bique (Confidential Report), Typescript dated 31 May 1961; Anonymous, “Islam in Mozambique
(East Africa)]”, Islamic Literature, Vol. 15, No. 9, 1969, p. 50.
68. E. Mondlane, The Struggle for Mozambique, op. cit., p. 106. A. & B. Isaacman, Mozambique. From colo-
nialism to revolution, op. cit., p. 73. See also M.D.D. Newitt, A History of Mozambique, London: Hurst,
1981, p. 131 and Branquinho, Prospecção [Prospectives], pp. 56, 81, 108, as quoted by E. Mondlane,
The Struggle for Mozambique, op. cit.
69. F.A. Monteiro, “As communidades islâmicas em Moçambique”, op. cit., pp. 80ff., 84ff.; F.A. Mon-
teiro, “Sobre a actuação da corente ‘Wahhabita’ no Islão Moçambicana: Algumas notas relativas ao
perı́odo 1964– 1974” [On the activity of the Wahhabi movement in Mozambiquan Islam: Some notes
pertaining to the period 1964– 1974], Africana (Porto), Vol. 12, 1993, pp. 85 –111; O Islão, o poder, e
a guerra (Moçambique 1964 –1974) [Islam, Power and the War. (Mozambique 1964– 1974)], Porto:
Universidade Portucalense, 1993; E.A. Alpers, “Islam in the service of Colonialism? Portuguese
strategy during the Armed Liberation Struggle in Mozambique”, Lusotopie: Enjeux contemporains
dans les espaces lusophones [Lusotopie: Contemporary risks in lusophone areas], Paris: Karthala,
1999, pp. 165– 184.
70. A.S. Farsy, The Shafı̀i Ulama of East Africa, ca. 1830 –1970. A Hagiographic Account, Translated,
edited & annotated by R.L. Pouwels, Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, 1989, pp. 99– 102.
71. F.A. Monteiro, “As communidades islâmicas em Moçambique”, op. cit., p. 83.
72. E. Mondlane, The Struggle for Mozambique, op. cit., pp. 120, 129.
73. Ibid., pp. 128, 197ff.
490 S. Von Sicard

74. Ibid., pp. 130f.

75. Ibid., pp. 175ff.
76. “Bush” refers to “rural areas”, commonly used in East and South Africa, e.g. bush station, bush
school, etc.
77. Ibid., pp. 54, 67; 2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom: Mozambique, available online
at: ,www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/irf/irf_rpt/irf_mozambique.html., 01.02.01, p. 3;
According to the 1997 census, Indians represented 0.08% of the population. See online
,www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/mz.htm.. “Indians in Mozambique”, Africa Today,
Vol. 10, February 1963, pp. 12 –13.
78. J. Hanlon, Mozambique. Who calls the shots, London: J. Currey, 1991, p. 12.
79. F. Constantin, “Mozambique: Du colonialisme catholique a l’état marxiste” [Mozambique: From
Catholique Colonialism to Marxist State], Les communautés musulmanes d’Afrique oriental (Pau)
[Muslim communities in East Africa (Pau)], No. 1, 1983, p. 89ff.; Anonymous, “Islam in Mozambi-
que (East Africa)”, op. cit.
80. M. Hall & T. Young, Confronting Leviathan. Mozambique since independence, London: Hurst & Co.,
1997, p. 86ff. See also R. Ammah, “New Light on Muslim Statistics”, op. cit., p. 18.
81. “Une-nos o amor a patria: Presidente Samora Machel aos dirigentes religiosos” [Love of the father-
land unites us: President Samoral Machel to religious leaders], Tempo (Maputo), No. 637, December
26, 1982, pp. 24 –29; F. Constantin, “Mozambique: Du colonialisme catholique a l’état marxiste”,
op. cit., p. 93.
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82. M. Hall & T. Young, Confronting Leviathan, op. cit., p. 177.

83. Quoted in ibid., p. 201.
84. Ibid., pp. 200f.
85. Quoted in ibid., p. 212.
86. 2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom: Mozambique, available online at: www.state.
gov/www/global/human_rights/irf/irf_rpt/irf_mozambique.html, p.1.
87. Ibid., p. 2.
88. Ibid., p. 2.
89. See online: ,www.mozambique.mz/governo/eleicoes/deputa.htm.; According to Impact Inter-
national, Vol. 29, No. 11, November 1999, pp. 30 –31, there were fifty-nine Muslim deputies in
the previous government.
90. Ibid., pp. 30– 31; see online at: ,www.mozambique.mz/governo/eleicoes/finais.htm. 01.02.01;
2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom: Mozambique, available online at:
,www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/irf/irf_rpt/irf_mozambique.html., p. 3.
91. S. Siefert, “Muslime in Mosambik—Versuch einer Bestandsaufnahme” [Muslims in Mozambique—
Attempt at stocktaking], Bielefeld: Universität Bielefeld Forschungsprogramm Entwicklungspolitik,
No. 36, 1994.
92. See online: ,www.paginaislamica.8m.com/communida.htm.
93. The statistics show that in 1996, there were 216 pilgrims; in 1997, 154; in 1998, 200; in 1999, 309;
and in 2000, 187 (Foundation of Pilgrimage for non –Arabic African Countries, Mecca). The lower
numbers seem to coincide with periods of tension or natural disasters.
94. 2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom: Mozambique, available online at:
,www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/irf/irf_rpt/irf_mozambique.html., p. 2.
95. Ibid., p. 3.

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