Bangladesh – the Parliamentary democratic country situated towards the Eastern region of Bengal has a long religious history. This nation became an independent nation and got partitioned from both Pakistan and India post-Indian subcontinent acquired independence from Great Britain. When it comes to the global population of Muslims in the world, this nation is just behind India, Pakistan, and Indonesia. Most of the Bangladeshis living are the Sunni Muslims and Hindus are the minority in this nation.
From the other religion, Islam is the dominant one in Bangladesh that constitutes almost 83.4% of the entire population. Islam got introduced in Bengal back in the early 13th Century. Persian and Arab merchants and missionaries were the people that lead to Islam conversion. Both Buddhists and Hindus got attracted to Islam due to the equality which was the most frustrating thing during the period. Further conversion into Islam resulted due to the arrival of the Muslim Pirs who has a huge knowledge on Islam matters. Sunni Muslims are available throughout the country and they mainly comply by the “Hanafi School of Thought”. Islam has a huge influence on the lives of Bangladeshi Muslims which is clearly visible in their festivals and religious practices like Eid-e-Miladunnabi and Eid-ul-Fitr. The state religion of this place is Islam but people are independent to choose their religion. All the legal matters that take place in Muslims like Divorce or marriages; everything is handled by the Qazi – Traditional Muslim Judge.
The country has almost 10.3% of Hindu religion in its entire population. Hinduism was most in the region of ancient Bengal. Post India Bangladesh partition, the population of Hindu was much more in the new Bangladesh. It is said that there is a similarity in the rituals practiced by the Hindus in West Bengal India and Hindus in Bangladesh. Hindus are available in almost most of the parts of this region, but most Hindus are available in the areas of Barisal, Faridpur, and Khulna. The country definitely has numerous temples wherein the Hindus worship. Moreover, popular Hindu festivals like Durga Puja and Rath Yatra are celebrated by the Hindus in Bangladesh.
Over the past few years, the population of Hindus is declining in a drastic manner. As per the 2011 census, the Hindu population was 13.5 which previous year decreased to 9.5%.
Buddhist living in Bangladesh is an integral part of their culture along with the history of this nation. Archaeologist and historians assume that Buddhist got introduced in this part of the world prior to the Common Era which is during the Mauryan Empire. In the second century, the presence of Buddhism in the nation was accepted. Based on the Mahasthan Brahmi Inscription, the ruler approved the Buddhism practice. There is no doubt that Bangladesh plays a huge role in increasing and developing Buddhism in the country. This again led to creating mystical Tantric Buddhism.
Buddhism was considered as the popular religion in the rule of the Buddhist Emperor which is from 304-232BC till 12th Century. Despite the majority of Islam population in the country, the nation was in the hold of Buddhism.
In the census that took place in 2011, it was studied that the population of Buddhism is 0.5 to 1% that practiced Buddhism. In recent times, Buddhist followers are mainly Arakanese people belong from the tribe of Marma, Chakma Tenchugya, Khyang, and Chak. It was said that the tribes practice Buddhism from time immemorial.
The Christian missionaries and Portuguese traders are the ones to introduce Christianity in this region in the late 16th to 17th century CE. In Bangladesh, the population of Christians is only 1%. Majority of this 1% of the Christian population constitutes of Roman Catholic and the others are Protestants. Most of the religious and ethnic minority communities are concentrated towards the northern regions and the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
These days most of the Christians living in rural parts are being pressurized by the Muslim leaders, local mosques and families. Over a few years, violence has increased to a huge level. The newly converts have also been reported to have killed because of their religious practice. It is estimated that 91,000 Muslims have converted into Christians during the past six years.
The minority groups are others as they are a very small percentage. This includes animism and followers are the believers of that each and every object has soul attached to it which can either be appeased or worshipped. As per the Bureau Statistics of Bangladesh, the population of tribal race is only 0.05%. Different tribes follow different religions which are self-made. The Chittagong tribes follow their own belief which is a combination of Buddhism and tribal rituals.
Even when religious tolerance is always promoted by the laws of Bangladesh,, very few steps have been taken by the nation’s head to protect the minority. Hopefully, in the coming days, Bangladesh will become a country where any and every religion can be practiced without any barriers or opposition.