Malagasy religions

Madagascar is a theater of marriage intercultural, between traditional belief and the other religion establish by Europeans and the Arabs.

Ancestral belief

On the Red Island, the population is monotheistic. This means that Malagasy people recognize only one transcendent being, like God. He is called Andriananahary, or Andriamanitra (the scented prince). However, Malagasy believe that this god is far away. For this, they take the ancestors as mediators who can intercede for them with Zanahary. Reason why they invoke these ancestors during the different rituals. Note that this belief is purely traditional.

Ancestor worship is a celebration of the “science of life” because the defunds are the bearers of power and the defenders of life on earth, both material and spiritual.

The power of each ancestor is revealed through sacred orders which dictate the political, cultural, medical organization of the family or the community.

On each occasion marking life, “Razana” will be consulted, invoked. Animals (chickens, zebus) or food (rhum, honey) will then be offered in sacrifice or in libation.


Western religion brought by the group of London Missionary Society in the XIXth century, while the group take Madagascar as a site of extensive Christian missionary activity. The protestant was the first Christianity church who came to Madagascar and then followed by the Catholic from France, whose numbers grew as French influence increase (During French domination in Madagascar). Nowadays, a big majority of Malagasy people follow the Christian belief, over 85% of the population are divided between protestant, catholic, and other. However, some Malagasy people did not forget their traditional belief even among Christian, they keep giving respect to their ancestors and practice the traditional ritual in harmony with Christian belief.


Islam was first brought to the island in the Middle Ages by Arabs and Somali Muslim traders, who established several Islamic schools along the eastern coast. Although Islamic astrology has spread across the island, the Islamic religion has failed to establish itself, except in a handful of coastal locations in the southeast. In 2010, Muslims represented approximately 1.1% of the population of Madagascar, mainly Comorian and Indo-Pakistani, who are largely concentrated in the northwestern provinces of Mahajanga and Antsiranana (Diego Suarez). But today with missionaries from the Arabian Peninsula, Muslims represent almost 15% of the population with, for example, 160,000 Malagasy.

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