Most of the people of Madagascar (the Malagasy) originally came from the islands of Indonesia. However some of the Malagasy have different origins. Centuries ago, Arabs began to develop trade in the Indian Ocean. Toward the year 1000 AD some of their descendants (the Antalaoras) came to Madagascar and brought Islam with them. These Muslim traders established various trading centres in the northeastern part of the island. They maintained extensive links with the Comoro Islands and eastern Africa for many centuries.
Madagascar growing quickly
According to tradition other Muslims originally came from Arabia and settled on the southeastern coast of the island (the region of Vohipeno). This group apparently became isolated from other Arabs, and over several generations they intermarried with the Malagasy people and adopted the local religion (animism and ancestor worship). In recent times Muslim preachers in that area have been calling their people to return to the religion of their ancestors (Islam). Many people are being attracted to this call and even a small number of Christians have renounced their faith to become Muslims. During the last 10 years the number of mosques and Islamic centers in the region has increased from 10 to 50.
Many Muslim immigrants from the Comoro Islands settled on the northwestern coast of Madagascar during the French colonial period. They built several mosques and spread their religion among the indigenous Malagasy people. When one considers the whole Muslim population of Madagascar, it is obvious that this region is one of the least touched by the Gospel.
The Spread of Islam in Madagascar
The Muslims of Madagascar have developed a strategy to spread their faith throughout the island. Many Malagasy youth have been trained in Islamic universities overseas. In several places Muslims have built medical clinics, schools, and social centres. Islam is proclaimed through national television and radio.
Some Indian Muslims living in Madagascar (the Karanas) kept their beliefs to themselves for a long time. They never really thought of spreading their faith. Now some Karanas are largely responsible for the proclamation of Islam to the Malagasy people. They have also created the greatest number of medical dispensaries and schools.
Prayer Guide for Madagascar:
* There are still good relations between the Muslims and the Christians of Madagascar. Pray that this may continue.
* In some villages, the Muslim population is 99%. May many Muslims have an opportunity to acknowledge Christ as their Lord and Saviour (Isaiah 55:3).
* Pray especially for the Christians in the region of Vohipeno that they might be faithful witnesses for Christ to their Muslim neighbors (Luke 12:8).
* Many of Madagascar’s Muslims are refugees. (Approximately 50,000 including the Karanas, Comorians and Somalians). There are very few Christians among them. Pray for these refugees (Psalm 69:29).
* Pray for the churches of Madagascar.
Background on Madagascar (World Factbook)
Formerly an independent kingdom, Madagascar became a French colony in 1896, but regained its independence in 1960. During, free presidential and National Assembly elections were held, ending 17 years of single-party rule. In 1997, in the second presidential race, Didier RATSIRAKA, the leader during the 1970s and 1980s, was returned to the presidency. The 2001 presidential election was contested between the followers of Didier RATSIRAKA and Marc RAVALOMANANA, nearly causing secession of half of the country. In April 2002, the High Constitutional Court announced RAVALOMANANA the winner. Numerous attempts have been made by regional and international organizations to resolve the subsequent political gridlock by forming a power-sharing government.
Economy of Madagascar
Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy, accounting for more than one-fourth of GDP and employing 80% of the population. Exports of apparel have boomed in recent years primarily due to duty-free access to the US. Deforestation and erosion, aggravated by the use of firewood as the primary source of fuel, are serious concerns. Poverty reduction and combating corruption will be the centerpieces of economic policy for the next few years. Tourism dropped more than 50% in 2009, compared with the previous year, and many investors are wary of entering the uncertain investment environment.
Statistics on Madagascar
Population: 22,599,098 (July 2013 est.) World Rank #53
Life Expectancy at Birth: 64.85 years. World Rank #174
Ethnic groups: Malayo-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo), Cotiers (mixed African, Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry – Betsimisaraka, Tsimihety, Antaisaka, Sakalava), French, Indian, Creole, Comoran
Religions: indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, Muslim 7%
Languages: French (official), Malagasy (official)
Literacy: 64.5% male: 67.4.5% – female: 61.6%
School Life Expectancy: 10 years
Madagascar – Video
Andilana, located in the interior of Nosy Be. The white sandy beach is being reborn as a tourist resort, but further inland, where lines of houses dot a pretty landscape, an atmosphere of honest simplicity remains strong