1 in 4 are Muslim: Highlights from Pew Forum Study

Bismillahi arRahman arRaheem

The Pew Forum recently released its study on the size and distribution of the Muslim World population entitled: “Mapping the Global Muslim Population”. This comes about a year and a half after the Vatican released that about 1 in 5 people in the World are Muslim at 19.2%  compared with Catholics at 17.2%, back in March 2008 (Muslim Matters: Islam Surpasses Catholicism). The new study estimates the Muslim population 4% higher, making it approximately 1 in 4 people in the world are Muslims. The Christian(all denominations) estimate according to most studies is about 33% which is 1 in 3 people in the world, and has been stable for awhile.

The more likely reason for this rise is the number of kids Muslims have, which is usually higher than the rest of the world. The World fertility rate (birth per woman in her lifetime) is around 2.5-2.6, Muslims tend to have a rate substantially more than that (taking top 9 most populous muslim countries it would be close to 2.85). The population growth for Muslims from 2000-2006 according to one study was 2% while the rest of the world’s was 1.2%, otherwise read as: It would take 167 years for the world population to double while it would take about a 103 years. World Birth and fertility rates are mentioned here and here respectively. Muslim population has been growing but the birth/fertility rates have been dropping. Just shows us what lies ahead of us, meaning we need step up our game not only in birth rates but more importantly in spreading information about Islam aka Da’wah!

I heard Imam Siraj Wahhaj once say at a conference, “Everyone should carry an Almanac with them.” He was emphasizing how Muslims should be aware of the changes and trends occuring in the world. The results of the released study is only 62 pages and everyone should read it. And out of the 62 pages only about 30-35 pages consist of  relevant information, the rest includes methodogy, references, and sources. I have summarized and listed below some highlights, interesting facts,and comparisons mentioned in the study and some I noticed myself.

Two ahadith of the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) come to mind when reading studies like these:

1.Thauban reported that the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“It is near that the nations will call one another against you just as the eaters call one another to their dishes.”

Somebody asked: “Is this because we will be few in numbers that day?”

He said: “Nay, but that day you shall be numerous, but you will be like the foam of the sea, and Allah will take the fear of you away from your enemies and will place weakness into your hearts.”

Somebody asked: “What is this weakness?”

He said: “The love of the world and the dislike of death.” (Abu Dawood)

2.Narrated Ma’qil ibn Yasaar:….

The Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

‘…..for I will be proud of your great numbers before the other nations.”

(Abu Dawood)

The executive summary reads:

A comprehensive demographic study of more than 200 countries finds that there are 1.57 billion Muslims of all ages living in the world today, representing 23% of an estimated 2009 world population of 6.8 billion.

Interactive Map by Country and Territory

Interactive Map by Country and Territory

The Study was done for about 232 countries relying upon more than 1500 sources. It is possibly the most comprehensive amongst the more recent ones as they claim and possibly righfully so.

The Top Five Countries in Muslim population:

  1. Indonesia (203 Mil.*)
  2. Pakistan (174 Mil.)
  3. India (161 Mil.)
  4. Bangladesh (145 Mil.)
  5. Egypt (78.5 Mil.)
  • Nigeria (78 Mil.)

*Mil. = Million

Here are some highlights:

  • Estimated 2009 World population 6.8 Billion
  • 1 in 4 people in the world are Muslim (Approx. 23% – 1.57 Billiion)
  • 9 in 10 are Sunni as opposed to Shia (87%-90%)
  • Majority of Shia (about 80%) are found in only 4 countries: Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, India
  • 2 out of 3 Muslims live in Asia
  • Only 20% (1 in 5) of Muslims live in Arab world (N. Africa and Middle East)
  • 1 in 3 Muslims of the World live in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh
  • 1 in 5 Muslims live as minorities (300 Mil.)
  • More than 50% of those minority Muslims live in India

Muslims as Minorities and in the West:

  • India has the largest Muslim minority population, also is the third largest in the World (161 Million)
  • Followed by Ethiopia(28 Mil.), then China(21.6 Mil.), and then Russia(16.5 Mil.).
  • 2 out of the 10 top countries with Muslims as a minority are in the West: Russia and Germany
  • 11% of Russia and ~5% of Germany(4 Mil.) is Muslim, France comes in next with 3.5 Mil., then UK
  • Kosovo and Albania are the only 2 countries in Europe with more than 75% Muslims
  • US Muslim Population was estimated at 2.5 Mil.
  • and UK at 1.7 Mil.
  • and Canada at 0.65 Mil.
  • and South Africa 0.7 Mil.
  • and Australia only 0.4 Mil.
  • Suriname has the highest % of Muslims as minorities in the Americas at 16%
  • Bosnia has the has highest in the world at ~40%

Some interesting comparisons:

  • There as as many Muslims from the Arab World as there are living as Minorities (20%)
  • 17 of the 20 countries in the Arab World have more than 75% Muslim population in their countries.
  • Muslim minority population of Ethiopia is about as large as that of Afghanistan
  • and China has more Muslims than Syria
  • and Russia is home to more Muslims than Jordan and Libya combined
  • and Germany has more Muslims than Lebanon
  • Argentina has more Muslims than Canada
  • Canada’s Muslims compromise 2% of the population which is twice as much as the US according to the study.
  • There are three times more Muslims in Ethiopia than Somalia.
  • Nigeria’s Muslim population by % has slightly crossed 50% mark at 50.4%

Weighted Map Size relative to population (Click for Full Size)

Weighted Map Size relative to population (Click for Full Size)

Access the entire Study here or here (.pdf).

Some of the statistics might seem unusual and there might be a reason for that, to know why certain populations (Ex. USA) are lower than expected, look at the Methodology sections(specifically section IX, Pg. 38 in the pdf). That should suffice to explain the “discrepancies”. The study mentions its methodology and at the same time points out what part of their data-collection, and satistical calculations might cause the discrepancies. It also mentions that it will be addressing them in a future publication(in 2010) that is more thorough and accurate contigent upon ascertaining or having access to that information.

I really enjoy studies on religious and cultural demographics. Some of the upcoming studies from the PEw Forum seem interesting:

These findings on the world Muslim population lay the foundation for a forthcoming study by the Pew Forum, scheduled to be released in 2010, that will estimate growth rates among Muslim populations worldwide and project Muslim populations into the future. The Pew Forum plans to launch a similar study of global Christianity in 2010 as well. The Pew Forum also plans to conduct in-depth public opinion surveys on the intersection of religion and public life around the world, starting with a 19-country survey of sub-Saharan Africa scheduled to be released later this year. These forthcoming studies are part of a larger effort – the Global Religious Futures Project, jointly funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation – that aims to increase people’s understanding of religion around the world.

Allah the All-Mighty Knows best.

6 Responses to “1 in 4 are Muslim: Highlights from Pew Forum Study”


  1. 1 Ali October 9, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Barak Allahu feek ya akhi for this summary – it was well done and your choice of hadith also was intelligent. We have focused so much on pure numbers for so long that quality has gobe by the wayside and we are facing so many problems now with an overblown population of ignorant Muslims. May Allah guide us all and cause us not to be a fitnah for others, was-salaam alaikum

    • 2 danishalhyderabadee October 22, 2009 at 8:34 pm

      jazakAllahu khayran Ali,

      It’s an unfortunate situation but we are in this situation for a reason. It’s definitely a sign to work harder either to atleast protect others from our own harm and ignorance or protect others from the harms and ignorance of others.

      Allah Knows Best

  2. 3 Dr S.M.Tariq Zafar November 11, 2009 at 9:52 am

    AllahomdoLLilah, It is true what ever Prophet Mohammad (Pbh) has said is true. But one thing on which we have to work hard that is Tablic in positive direction. Have to promote religion in true manner which we are lacking to a great extent. Have to promote education, awareness of Quran and its Social, Scientific hidden truth. Have to explore the advantage of media technology. Through media we can reach non believer in true sense.

    Any how does Your Best Allah will do the rest?

    Dr S.M.Tariq Zafar
    Professor Finance
    Department of Management studies
    Dehradoon Institute of Technology
    Dehradoon, India

  3. 4 learningquranonline December 5, 2009 at 1:06 am

    maahallah its a detail report that i have read i did not know about it before

  4. 5 lubeivngmmee January 22, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    I can’t think of a more appropriate time and place to begin a good piece of science literature… snow on the ground… my faithful dog at my feet, bathed in the warmth of the yule time log in the fireplace.

    I am looking forward to visiting this forum regularly.

  5. 6 meccakhanmd May 26, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Hello! just wanted to say Hi!!


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Fiqh As Sawm

Islamic Rulings Surrounding Ramadhan and Fasting. Based on “Manar As Sabeel Fi Sharh Ad Daleel” Of Shaykh Ibraheem ibn Duwaiyan (d. 1353 AH) as explained by Br. Salim Morgan. Transcribed and Edited By Ibn Al Hyderabadee

Prologue Introduction

Chapter 1: Fasting in Ramadhaan
1. A pillar of Islam 2. Obligation of Fasting 3. Sighting of the Moon for start of Ramadhaan 4. One reliable witness' presence is sufficient 5. Conditions that make Ramadhan Obligatory for an Individual 6. Expiation for the inability to fast due to age or illness 7. Requirements of a valid fast 8. Obligations to fulfill during fasting 9. Recommended acts of fasting

Chapter 2: Permissions and Prohibitions

1. Impermissible to break fast during Ramadhan 2. Prohibited to fast for a woman in her menstrual or post-partum bleedin 3. Obligatory to break it when it is required to save a person’s life 4. Recommended to break fast for one who is ill and fears harm from fasting. 5. Recommended to break fast when one is traveling 6. Permissible for one to break fast who begins a journey while fasting 7. Permissible for a pregnant or nursing (breast feeding) woman 8. Change of condition of a person doesn’t obligate one to refrain from eating and drinking the rest of the day. 9. Prohibited to fast a voluntary fast instead of an obligatory one.

Chapter 3: That which Invalidates Your Fast

1. Intentional Intake of anything into the abdomen 2. Intention to break fast 3. Fluctuating Intention to fast 4. Vomiting intentionally 5. Menstruation or Post Partum Bleeding 6. Masturbation 7. Marital Relations 8. Cupping for both parties 9. Death 10. Apostasy 11. Above are Exempted in some cases

Chapter 4: Repayment
1. Missing a day of fast in Ramadhan
2. When does one make up a missed fast
3. If missed fast are not made up until few dats before next Ramadhan
4. Missed fasts first or voluntary?

Chapter 5: Recommended, Disliked, and Impermissible Days of Fasting
1. Recommended Every Other Day Sawn Dawood
2. The three white days of every Islamic month
3. Six days of Shawwaal
4. Month of Muharram and the 10th
5. Ten days of Dhil Hijja and that of Arafat
6. Disliking of the month of Rajab
7. Disliking of the day of Friday
8. Disliking of the 30th of Shabaan
9. Impermissibility of fasting on the two Eids
10. Completing of a voluntary fast is not Wajib

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