The constitution specifically defines the country as a secular state and provides for the free practice of religious beliefs, provided public order is maintained, as well as self-governance by religious groups, free from state interference. The constitution prohibits political parties from identifying with a specific religion.
Muslims may choose either the civil family code or sharia to adjudicate family conflicts, such as marriage and inheritance disputes. Civil court judges preside over civil and customary law cases, but religious leaders informally settle many disputes among Muslims, particularly in rural areas.
By law all groups, religious or otherwise, must register with the interior ministry to acquire legal status as an association. To register, groups must provide documentation showing they have worked for at least two years as an association. Groups must also provide a mission statement, bylaws, a list of goals, objectives, and activities or projects implemented, and proof of previous and future funding. They must also pass a background check. Registration enables a group to conduct business, own property, establish a bank account, receive financial contributions from private sources, and receive applicable tax exemptions. There is no formal penalty for failure to register other than ineligibility to receive these benefits. Registered religious groups and nonprofit organizations are exempt from many forms of taxation.
In addition, the law requires domestic associations, including religious groups and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) affiliated with them, to obtain authorization to operate from the Ministry of Women, Family, and Social Development. Foreign NGOs must obtain authorization from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.