“If you can’t fight them, copy their style.”
This appears to be the new war cry launched by Muslim groups in Nigeria in an attempt to stop the decline in their membership due to the success of evangelical leaders in drawing people, even Muslims, to Christian churches.
A growing number of these Muslim groups are now copying Pentecostal cults to prevent Muslims from attending Sunday morning Christian services and in an attempt to win over converts, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
Previously there were more Muslims than Christians in Nigeria. According to the Pew Research Center, in 1953 45.3% of the Nigerian population was Muslim and only 21.4% Christian, of which 33.3% belonged to other religions.
But in 2010, Nigeria had 80.5 million Christians and 75.7 million Muslims, according to Pew data.
Nigeria now has the largest Christian population in Africa, which includes nearly 60 million Protestants, approximately 20 million Catholics and over 750,000 other Christians.
Pew noted that all of the major Christian groups have flourished in Nigeria since the 1970s, with the greatest growth seen in Pentecostal churches.
Vibrant worship in churches is said to be one of the main reasons for the massive success of Pentecostal Christianity in Nigeria.
To counter this trend, some Islamic groups in southwestern Nigeria have introduced “new modalities of prayer, ways of proselytizing and repertoires of devotion which closely resemble forms normally exclusively associated with Pentecostal Christianity”, Ebenezer Obadare, professor in sociology at the University of Kansas. , told AFP.
These Islamic groups now hold âcharismaticâ sessions on Sunday mornings in addition to their traditional Friday prayers. Obadare said this was to prevent Muslims from attending Sunday morning Christian services.
In the capital Lagos, the imam of the Nasrul-lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria even emulates the burgeoning preaching style of evangelical pastors in Nigeria. As he walked through the aisles in front of thousands of worshipers, men and women on prayer rugs raised their hands to the sky, just like the Pentecostals do.