More than half of all Rwandans are Christians; most are Catholics, but there are also several Protestant denominations. About 5% of the population is Muslim. The rest follow indigenous beliefs, which are still very influential, and many Christians and Muslims practise indigenous rituals in addition to their own. In some cities, such as Kigali, the Baha'i faith is becoming popular.

 At the centre of Rwanda's traditional religion is the god Imana, a powerful being who creates and preserves life. He presides over lesser spirits, who also affect people's daily lives. Within each human being, animal and object is a special life force, also called imana. When a human being dies, this imana is transformed into one of the abazimu (the spirits of the dead).

When the abazimu are troubled, they cause problems, such as sickness or crop failure. To prevent such hardships, Rwandans may consult an umufumu (witch doctor), who explains why the abazimu are angry and what can be done to pacify them. Over time, the abazimu of recently dead people become sacred, honoured spirits, and families pray to them. Ryangombe is the most powerful ancestral spirit, honoured in special ceremonies. The babandwa is a fraternity that is dedicated to the worship of Ryangombe. In northern Rwanda, people venerate Nyabingi, a female spirit similar to Ryangombe.

 Some Rwandans believe that small round stones from streams contain the power of Imana and bring good luck. They collect these stones and place them in a special hut called a ndaro, just outside the family compound. Every day, they bring offerings to the hut to please Imana. When a family member dies, his or her body will be buried close to the ndaro.

Because people's spirits live on after they die, funeral rituals are very important. The family stops all work after the death, and the women of the family shave their heads as a sign of mourning. Neighbours and friends do the chores during the period of mourning. Death is believed to be "hot," so the umufumu may be summoned to "cool" the house of the deceased person. The mourning period may last for several months, during which time the family may not eat meat or engage in life-giving activities, such as planting crops.
  Did you know?
In 1981, a young girl called Alphonsine Mumureke, who was attending a convent school in Kibeho, near Butare, saw a vision of the Virgin Mary. Over the next few months, several other girls at the school saw similar visions. In the following years, many pilgrims visited Kibeho, hoping to see the girls and learn from their experiences.

  Did you know?
A popular saying in Rwanda is that Imana comes back to Rwanda every night to sleep, even if he has been wandering elsewhere during the day.