New Internationalist

Muslims - the facts

Issue 345
Andy Johnstone / Panos Pictures
Andy Johnstone / Panos Pictures

Muslims of the world

Islam is considered the fastest growing religion in the world. There are approximately 1.3 billion Muslims constituting a fifth of humanity. Most are under 25.1,2

  • Around 85 per cent of Muslims belong to the majority Sunni sect. The minority Shi’a Muslims are concentrated in Iran and Iraq.2

  • Less than 20 per cent of Muslims are Arabs. Almost half of the world’s Muslims live in South and Southeast Asia.2

World’s most Muslim nations

The populations of the following countries are almost entirely Muslim. That is, about 99.5% or more of the native populations, and nearly all of the foreign workers, are Muslim.3

Bahrain
Comoros
Kuwait
Maldives
Mauritania
Mayotte
Morocco
Oman
Qatar
Somalia
Saudi Arabia
Tunisia
United Arab Emirates
Western Sahara
 Yemen

Largest national Muslim populations^3^

Country
Number of Muslims

Indonesia
170,310,000

Pakistan
136,000,000

Bangladesh
106,050,000

India
103,000,000

Turkey
62,410,000

Iran
60,790,000

Egypt
53,730,000

Nigeria
47,720,000

China
37,108,000

Sizeable Muslim communities

There are also sizeable Muslim communities in the following countries.1,3

  • The US has an estimated 5.7 million Muslims — roughly equal to its Jewish population

  • France has an estimated 3 million

  • Germany has an estimated 2.5 million

  • The UK has an estimated 1.5 million

  • Canada has an estimated 0.5 a million

  • Australia has an estimated 200,000

Refugees

The majority of the world’s estimated 12 million refugees are Muslim. And most of them take refuge in other Muslim countries.4

Frits Meyst / Panos Pictures
Frits Meyst / Panos Pictures

  1. Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRTCIC), Ankara, Turkey.
  2. National Geographic Magazine, January 2002.
  3. http://www.adherents.com - an independent non-affiliated website of 4,200 religions

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