Chad is a religiously diverse country. Estimates from Pew Research Center in 2010 found that 55.7% of the population was Muslim, while 22.5% was Catholic and a further 17.6% was Protestant. Among Muslims, 48% professed to be Sunni, 21% Shia, 4% Ahmadi and 23% just Muslim. A small proportion of the population continues to practice indigenous religions. Animism includes a variety of ancestor and place-oriented religions whose expression is highly specific. Islam is expressed in diverse ways; for example, 55% of Muslim Chadians belong to Sufi orders. Christianity arrived in Chad with the French and American missionaries; as with Chadian Islam, it syncretises aspects of pre-Christian religious beliefs. Muslims are largely concentrated in northern and eastern Chad, and animists and Christians live primarily in southern Chad and Guéra. The constitution provides for a secular state and guarantees religious freedom; different religious communities generally co-exist without problems.
The majority of Muslims in the country are adherents of a moderate branch of mystical Islam (Sufism). Its most common expression is the Tijaniyah, an order followed by the 35% of Chadian Muslims which incorporates some local African religious elements. A small minority of the country’s Muslims hold more fundamentalist practices, which, in some cases, may be associated with Saudi-oriented Salafi movements.
Roman Catholics represent the largest Christian denomination in the country. Most Protestants, including the Nigeria-based “Winners’ Chapel”, are affiliated with various evangelical Christian groups. Members of the Bahá’í and Jehovah’s Witnesses religious communities also are present in the country. Both faiths were introduced after independence in 1960 and therefore are considered to be “new” religions in the country.
Chad is home to foreign missionaries representing both Christian and Islamic groups. Itinerant Muslim preachers, primarily from Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, also visit. Saudi Arabian funding generally supports social and educational projects and extensive mosque construction.