Islam in cameroon

chapter3 :Islam in cameroon

Islam was first introduced by the Prophet Mohammed in 622 A.D in Mecca-Arabia. It zas later introduced in Kanem-Bornu by Arab travelers and traders. In 1050 A.D the king of Bornu, Mai Umme Jilni was converted to the Islamic faith. From the 13th and 14th centuries Fulbe or Fulani people started arriving in Cameroon in search of pasture and agricultural land from the Futa Toro Savanna Plateau Region of West Africa. They submitted themselves quietly and peacefully to the local pagan rulers. As their number increased, they started creating indipendent settlements and intergrating themselves in the administrative and political set up of the region in the 19th century. These fulani settlers decided tn the complete islamisation of Northern Cameroon and the establishement of a fulani hegemony which was done through peaceful, diplomatic and military methods.


  1. Peaceful and Diplomatic Methods

Before the 19th century, the Fukani were a dominated or even a subjugated group in North Cameroon. Islam was also a religion of minority.  The fulani later rose to the position of power and Islam became the main religion in the area because of the following peaceful and diplomatic steps taken by the muslim fulani.

  1. The Fulani entered into friendship pacts with the local rulers. These treaties ended trade and social discrimination against the Fulani. The land and markets they acquired through these pacts enabled them to control substantial portions of land and wealth in North Cameroon.
  2. The Fulani also established trade links with the Arabs from North Africa. Their constant visits in Northern Cameroon propagated Islam in the region.
  3. Also intermarriages between the Fulani and local pagans (Kirdis) facilitated the introduction of Islam, the Fulani culture and language which were superior to the local culture and language. These intermarriages and transhumance took the Fukani to all the nooks and corners of the Northern region of Cameroon spreading the religion.
  4. The fulani accepted tribute payment. Since they needed vast land for grazing they accepted to pay tributes, land tax, cattle tax to their overlords. This tribute payment gave room for peaceful cohabitation between the original settlers and their foreigners. Hozever, the Fulani later embraced the jihads in order to attack the land owning pagans and end tribute payement.
  5. Islam also gained grounds in Northern Cameroon through the opening of Koranic schools by the muslim fanatics. Muslim scholars taught the youths, elements of history of Islam, Islamic law and scriptures. These schools helped to propagate Islam.


  1. The Military Methods (The Jihads)

The jihads were muslim holy wars or crusades organised in the 19th century in order to convert and spread Islam to pagansor infidels. The jihads were prescribed by the Koan and endorsed by the teaching of Prophet Mohammed. The muslim jurists have divided the world into two parts, the “Abode” of Islam and the “Abode” of war which is the territory not under Muslim rule. It is the duty of every muslim to summon the unbelievers to embrace Islam. If they accept the invitation then they become members of the muslim community and their territory becomes part of the “Abode” of Islam. But if they refuse then they should be fought against. They were organised by Uthman Dan Fodio in the Northern Nigeria, Seku Ahmadou in the Massina area and Al-hajj Umar in the Futa Toro. Those launched in Northen Nigeria were spread by Modibo Adama (1809-1814) to Fumbina in North Cameroon which later name Adamawa after him.

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