Aviva Directory » Local & Global » Asia » Bangladesh » Faith & Spirituality

The Bangladeshi constitution states that Bangladesh is a secular country, although Islam is, by far, the most common religion in the country. Approximately 90% of Bangladeshis adhere to Islam, primarily Sunni Muslims, although there are Shi'a and Ahmadiyya communities in Bangladesh, as well. Hinduism is the next most popular religion in Bangladesh, accounting for more than 8% of the population. There are smaller populations of Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, animists, and atheists in Bangladesh.

Topics related to faith, religion, and spirituality are the focus of websites listed in this category. Although Islam accounts for the bulk of religious thought in Bangladesh and Christianity is a minor religion within the country, Christianity is likely to be overrepresented here solely because most of the Bangladeshi Christian websites are in the English language, while it has been difficult to find Bangladeshi Islam sites in English, and the Aviva Directory lists only English-language sites. Sites representing any religion or religious thought in Bangladesh are appropriate for this category, and particularly those representing Islam in Bangladesh, given that this is the faith of 90% of the Bangladeshi population.

Bangladesh has the fourth largest Muslim population in the world. Muslims are the largest religious community and form the majority in all eight Bangladeshi divisions. About 88% of the Muslims in Bangladesh are Sunni Muslims, but there are Shi'a Muslims and Ahmadiyya Muslims as well.

Islam was introduced to the region by Muslim traders who came into the region, then known as Bengal. The large-scale Islamization of the Bengal region began in the early 1200s.

The Bengal region, including India and Bangladesh, was under British control for nearly two centuries. In 1988, Islam was made the state religion but, in practice, the government encourages secularism and respect for minority religions. Sharia Law has not been incorporated into the Bangladeshi legal system, although matters of marriage, divorce, and inheritance are left to the appropriate religious bodies, whether Islamic, Hindu, or Christian. In other words, Sharia Law is not applied to Christians.

The second most common religion in Bangladesh is Hinduism, which increased by about nine times between 2001 and 2011 but still represents less than 10% of the population. Nevertheless, Bangladesh has the third largest Hindu population in the world, following India and Nepal. Bangladeshi Hinduism is much like that of the neighboring Indian state of West Bengal, with which Bangladesh was once part of. Bangladeshi Hindus will often worship at the shrines of Muslim pits without concern for the religion to which the place is connected. There are, however, Hindu temples and shrines throughout the country. Hindu temples have, from time to time, become targets of religious disturbances, and previous governmental administrations have confiscated moveable property from Hindu temples. Because Hindus are spread throughout Bangladesh, and not concentrated in specific areas, they have had difficulty united politically. In general, Hindus have maintained cordial relationships with the Muslims around them.

Although Buddhists represent a small minority of the country today, they were once a major religion in the Bengal region. Tradition has it that Buddha once came to the region of East Bengal, and was successful in converting people to Buddhism. Prior to the 13th Century Islamic invasion, East Bengal (Bangladesh) was a Buddhist region. Buddhism was the primary religion of the region through the 12th Century but is now the third most common religion in Bangladesh, representing about 0.7% of the population.

Most Bangladeshi Buddhists reside in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region, although small communities of Buddhists are found in Bangladeshi's urban areas.

The Chittagong region is home to several Buddhist monasteries and Buddhist villages have schools where boys can learn Bengali and the ancient Buddhist scriptural language of Pali. Outside of the monasteries, Bangladeshi Buddhism has absorbed other popular creeds and practices.

Christianity represents less than 0.5% of the Bangladeshi population, yet Christian missionaries, denominations, and churches are very active throughout the country, particularly in establishing schools and healthcare facilities. There are two Roman Catholic archdioceses and six dioceses in Bangladesh. Several Bangladeshi Protestant denominations are active.

Probably, the first Christian influences in the Bangladesh region were Portuguese missionaries and traders who came in the 1500s, particularly in the Chittagong region. The Portuguese founded Chittagong, the second largest city in Bangladesh. The Jesuits founded their first mission in Bangladesh in 1600, and there was early Christian activity in Mughal and Dhaka during the British er

 

 

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