Government Republic of Bangladesh is a Muslim majority nation and Islam is the state religion of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. The Muslim population was approximately 18 Crore Bangladesh the third-largest Muslim majority nation in the world after Indonesia and others country . The majority of Bangladeshis are Sunni. They follow the Hanafi Islamic jurisprudence, Religion has always been a strong part of Bangladeshi identity, but the specific identity has varied at different times. Bangladesh although a developing country is one of the few secular Muslim majority countries in the world
Islam in Bangladesh existed in communities along the Arab coastal trade routes in Bengal as soon as the religion originated and had gained early acceptance in the Arabian Peninsula.
Main article: Shah Jalal
One of the notable Muslim pirs was Shah Jalal. He arrived in the region of Sylhet in 1303 with many other disciples to preach the religion to the people. However, according to a 16th-century biography by Shaikh ‘Ali a descendant of one of Shah Jalal’s companions, Shah Jalal had been born in Turkestan, where he became a spiritual disciple of Saiyid Ahmad Yasawi, one of the founders of the Central Asian Sufi tradition.
According to legend, Shah Jalal, came to Sylhet from Delhi with a band of 360 disciples to preach Islam and defeated the Raja Gour Gobinda in a dispute. As a result, Sylhet developed into a region that was home to numerous saints and Islamic shrines. According to sources, his uncle, Sheikh Kabir, one day gave Shah Jalal a handful of earth and asked him to travel to Hindustan with the instruction that he should settle down at whichever place in Hindustan whose soil matched completely in smell and color, and devote his life for the propagation and establishment of Islam there. Shah Jalal journeyed eastward and reached India in 1300, where he met with many great scholars and mystics. He arrived at Ajmer, where he met the great Sufi mystic and scholar, Khawaja Gharibnawaz Muinuddin Hasan Chisty, who is credited with much of the spread of Islam in India. In Delhi, he purportedly met with Nizamuddin Auliya, another major Sufi mystic and scholar.
During the later stages of his life, Shah Jalal devoted himself to propagating Islam to the masses. Under his guidance, many thousands of Hindus and Buddhists converted to Islam. Shah Jalal become so renowned that even the famed Ibn Battuta, whilst in Chittagong, was asked to change his plans and go to Sylhet to visit him. On his way to Sylhet, Ibn Battuta was greeted by several of Shah Jalal’s disciples who had come to assist him on his journey many days before he had arrived. On meeting Shah Jalal, Ibn Battuta described him as tall and lean, fair in complexion and lived by the mosque in a cave, where his only item of value was a goat from which he extracted milk, butter, and yogurt. He observed that the companions of Shah Jalal were foreigners and known for their strength and bravery. Ibn Battuta also mentioned that many people would visit him and seek guidance. Shah Jalal was therefore instrumental in the spread of Islam throughout north east India including Assam.
Main article: Bangladesh Liberation War
Islamic sentiments powered the definition of nationhood in the 1940s when Bengalis united with Muslims in other parts of the subcontinent to form Pakistan. Defining themselves first as Muslims they envisaged a society based on Islamic principles. However, by the beginning of the 1970s the Bengalis were more swayed by regional feelings, in which they defined themselves foremost as Bengalis before being Muslims. The society they then envisioned was based on western principles such as secularism and democracy. While Islam was still a part of faith and culture, it no longer informed national identity.
The phenomenon both before and after the independence of Bangladesh was that the concept of an Islamic state received more support from West Pakistanis than from East Pakistanis. Bangladesh was established as a secular state and the Bangladeshi constitution enshrined secular and democratic principles.
There are also few Shi’a Muslims, particularly belonging to the Bihari community. The Shi’a observance commemorating the martyrdom of Ali‘s sons, Hasan and Husayn, are still widely observed by the nation’s Sunnis, even though there are small numbers of Shi’as. Among the Shias, the Dawoodi Bohra community is concentrated in Chittagong. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which is widely considered to be non-Muslim by mainstream Muslim leaders, is estimated to be around 100,000, the community has faced discrimination because of their beliefs and have been persecuted in some areas.
Muslims who reject the authority of hadith, known as Quranists, are present in Bangladesh, though having not expressed publicly but are active virtually due to fear of gruesome persecution considering the present political situation.
Although Islam played a significant role in the life and culture of the people, religion did not dominate national politics because Islam was not the central component of national identity. When in June 1988 an “Islamic way of life” was proclaimed for Bangladesh by constitutional amendment, very little attention was paid outside the intellectual class to the meaning and impact of such an important national commitment. However, most observers believed that the declaration of Islam as the state religion might have a significant impact on national life. Aside from arousing the suspicion of the non-Islamic minorities, it could accelerate the proliferation of religious parties at both the national and the local levels, thereby exacerbating tension and conflict between secular and religious politicians. Unrest of this nature was reported on some college campuses soon after the amendment was promulgated.
Friday prayer for Muslims in Dhaka
The Constitution establishes Islam as the state religion but upholds the right to practice—subject to law, public order, and morality—the religion of one’s choice. The Government generally respects this provision in practice. However, the present government, led by Bangladesh Awami League strongly propagates secularism and respect towards other religions. Despite all Bangladeshis saying that religion is an important part of their daily lives, Bangladesh’s Awami League won a landslide victory in 2008 on a platform of secularism, reform, and a suppression of radical Islamist groups. According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2009, simultaneous strong support of the secular Awami League and the near unanimous importance of religion in daily life suggests that while religion is vital in Bangladeshis’ daily lives, they appear comfortable with its lack of influence in government.