About 97% of Libyans are Muslim. Most are Sunni
Muslim, which is considered the orthodox mainstream of Islam. Most
Berbers belong to the Ibadite sect of Islam. In Libya, church and state
are not separated. The religious laws of Islam (sharia) are part
of the country's legal system. All other laws must conform to Islamic law.
Religious practices and holidays are strictly observed.
Muslims believe that Mohammed, who lived in the 7th century A.D., is the last prophet of Allah (God). An angel brought him teachings from God about what people should believe and how they should live. Mohammed told what he had heard to his followers, who wrote down his words. These teachings are collected in the Qur'an, Islam's holy book.
Muslims observe certain practices, known as the
Five Pillars of Islam. The first is shahada, an affirmation of
faith: "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His prophet." The
second, salat, is the commitment to pray five times a day facing
Mecca. Zakat is the giving of alms to the poor. The fourth pillar
is saum, the annual fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the
Muslim calendar. During this time, Muslims do not eat between sunrise
and sunset. The fifth pillar is hajj, which requires all Muslims
who can afford it to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their
Although Islam is generally not tolerant of superstition, folk beliefs persist in Libya. Some people still believe that evil spirits (jinn) live in haunted places and have the power to curse people. Some Libyans wear charms to protect themselves.
Although most Tuaregs are Muslims, they have some
unique beliefs. For example, they believe that when people sleep, their
souls can leave their bodies and wander the earth. Dead souls can also
roam and bring wisdom to the living. Some Tuaregs believe that by sleeping
on the grave of a dead person, one gains the ability to foretell the