Muslim Countries of the World: Sudan

Faruq Mosque of Khartoum
Photo 82374468 © Hecke01 | Dreamstime.com

The Republic of Sudan is a state in East Africa, on the shores of the Red Sea. It borders on Egypt in the north, a small segment of Libya and Chad in the west, the Central African Republic, Congo, Uganda, Kenya in the south (since 2011, after the secession of South Sudan, these countries have bordered with South Sudan) and Ethiopia in the east. After the conquest of Sudan by Egypt in the 14th century, an active mixing of the Arab and African races began, as a result of which the so-called “Sudanese Arabs”, African-race speakers of the country’s official Arabic language, have begun to predominate in modern Sudan. Sunni Islam of the Maliki madhhab (generally characteristic of North Africa) is the state religion of the country.

Islam penetrated the territory of Sudan in the 8th century, under the Umayyad caliphs, after the Arab troops, having conquered the entire Mediterranean coast of North Africa under the Rightly Guided Caliphs, moved south, towards the Sahara. Muslim sultanates of Sennar and Darfur were formed within the territory of Sudan. Part of Northern Sudan belongs to the historical Egyptian region of Nubia, on the territory of which a Christian state was founded in the 6th century, which existed in the immediate vicinity of Egypt for almost six centuries until the Egyptian Mamluks captured it and converted it to Islam. Later, until the beginning of the 19th century, there were independent states on the territory of Sudan. In 1819 they were overtaken by the Egyptian governors of the Ottoman Empire, after which Sudan became part of it. In 1885, as a result of the uprising, dependence on the Sublime Port was eliminated, but later the Ottomans were replaced by the British, together with the Egyptians. During the colonial period, the country was turned into a cotton producer.

In 1951, Egypt denounced the treaty with Great Britain on joint administration of Sudan and a year later granted Sudan independence. Unfortunately, when defining the borders of Sudan, the principles of the ethnic integrity of various peoples were violated, as a result of which conflicts arose and are emerging in the country, turning into clashes (for example, the Nubian people were cut asunder unevenly). At the same time, the Muslim organizations of Sudan act as a force consolidating the people of the country, including the mission of countering the forces of extremism.

In Sudan, strict adherence to Sharia law and the norms of Muslim piety is practiced. The religious life of the country is governed by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Waqfs, headed by Nasruddin Mufreh. The spiritual leader of Sudanese Muslims is Mufti Essam al-Bashir, President of the Islamic Fiqh Academy with the rank of government minister.

Non-Muslim religions predominate in South Sudan, therefore Islam has not been declared the state religion in the southern part of the country. In the northern part of the country, Sharia law is in force, in the south, as a compromise, “traditional law” is adopted with the possibility of using Sharia law.

Muslims of the north respect Sufi traditions and practice Sufi beliefs. Sufi tariqas played a very important role in the spread of Islam in Africa during the 9th-14th centuries, especially in states such as Sudan and Mali, Chad and Ghana to the west of it. Moving along the trade routes of the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, they founded their ‘zawiyas’ along the banks of the Niger River, as the spiritual schools were called in Africa. Since then, Sufi beliefs have enjoyed a special veneration in Africa.