DOUALA, Cameroon – A new visitor to the coastal city of Douala would not fail to notice the increasing number of mosques as many Cameroonians are embracing Islam because of the exemplary behavior exhibited by local Muslims.
"The expansion of existing mosques and building of new mosques clearly shows that Islam is growing very fast in Douala and Cameroon in general," Sheikh Mohamed Malik Farouk, the chief imam of Douala, told Andolu Agency on Sunday, December 15.
"Alhamdulillah [thank God] we have now many mosques for Friday prayers in Douala and this is a sign of the growth of Islam," he added.
Deemed as the Cameroon economic capital, Douala was witnessing an increasing number of mosques recently.
At least every two years, local Muslims build a new mosque to accommodate the growing number of believers.
This was not the usual case in the coastal city.
Though Islam was first introduced in Cameroon in the 1800’s, it only came to Douala in 1922 after Muslims from northern Cameroon and foreign traders came to the coastal city.
"The first big mosque was built in 1922," recalled Sheikh Farouk, adding that the number has increased significantly over the years.
"In Douala alone we have over 90 mosques and about 500,000 Muslims out of the 3 million population of the city."
According to the CIA Factbook, Muslims constitute about 20 percent of Cameroon's total population of 20.5 million.
Most of them live in northern Cameroon and hail from major tribes such as the Fulani and the Peuhl.
Muslims in Cameroon are mostly engaged in trade and own large businesses in the African country.
Unlike in other African countries, the Cameroonian Constitution provides for freedom of religion and the government generally respects this right in practice.
Offering a role model to Cameroonians, exemplary Muslims were among the key factors of increasing number of reverts to Islam recently.
"Muslims here conduct themselves morally well. They treat their non-Muslim neighbors with respect," Sheikh Farouk asserted.
"They also don’t engage in any immorally activities, which has attracted many non-Muslims to our faith," added the local religious leader.
"Many people who want to live a clean life from drugs, alcohol and casual sex, which could lead to HIV, are rushing to join the faith."
Like the followers of other faiths, Cameroonian Muslims run schools, hospitals and other community uplifting projects.
Moreover, Sheikh Farouk added that Muslims donate generously to help build mosques or Muslim schools.
Sheikh Farouk asserted that Muslims in Cameroon live peacefully with their non-Muslims compatriots, in a prevailing atmosphere of religious tolerance.
"Despite our huge population, we have never had a religious conflict with any community in Cameroon," he noted.
"As imams we always preach unity, solidarity and brotherhood," said Sheikh Farouk.
"We tell our believers to treat their non-Muslim neighbors with respect and that’s the example the people of Central African Republic need to emulate."
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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