The Global Muslim Population

Category: World Affairs Views: 7663

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.

While Muslims are found on all five inhabited continents, more than 60% of the global Muslim population is in Asia and about 20% is in the Middle East and North Africa. However, the Middle East-North Africa region has the highest percentage of Muslim-majority countries. Indeed, more than half of the 20 countries and territories1 in that region have populations that are approximately 95% Muslim or greater.

More than 300 million Muslims, or one-fifth of the world's Muslim population, live in countries where Islam is not the majority religion. These minority Muslim populations are often quite large. India, for example, has the third-largest population of Muslims worldwide. China has more Muslims than Syria, while Russia is home to more Muslims than Jordan and Libya combined.

Of the total Muslim population, 10-13% are Shia Muslims and 87-90% are Sunni Muslims. Most Shias (between 68% and 80%) live in just four countries: Iran, Pakistan, India and Iraq.

These are some of the key findings of Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population, a new study by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life. The report offers the most up-to-date and fully sourced estimates of the size and distribution of the worldwide Muslim population, including sectarian identity.

Previously published estimates of the size of the global Muslim population have ranged widely, from 1 billion to 1.8 billion.2 But these commonly quoted estimates often have appeared without citations to specific sources or explanations of how the figures were generated.

The Pew Forum report is based on the best available data for 232 countries and territories. Pew Forum researchers, in consultation with nearly 50 demographers and social scientists at universities and research centers around the world, acquired and analyzed about 1,500 sources, including census reports, demographic studies and general population surveys, to arrive at these figures - the largest project of its kind to date. (See Methodology for more detail.)

The Pew Forum's estimate of the Shia population (10-13%) is in keeping with previous estimates, which generally have been in the range of 10-15%. Some previous estimates, however, have placed the number of Shias at nearly 20% of the world's Muslim population.3 Readers should bear in mind that the figures given in this report for the Sunni and Shia populations are less precise than the figures for the overall Muslim population. Data on sectarian affiliation have been infrequently collected or, in many countries, not collected at all. Therefore, the Sunni and Shia numbers reported here are expressed as broad ranges and should be treated as approximate.

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.

Download the full report PDF (62 pages, 10MB)


1 For a definition of "territories," see the methodology.

2 See, for example, CIA World Factbook; Foreign Policy magazine, May 2007; Who Speaks for Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think, 2008;; and

3 See, for example,; "Shia Muslims in the Middle East," Council on Foreign Relations, June 2006; and "The Revival of Shia Islam," Vali Nasr speaking at a Pew Forum event, July 2006.

Map: Distribution of Muslim Population by Country and Territory


Source: The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

  Category: World Affairs
Views: 7663
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Older Comments:
Actually sir H.A, im a muslim, I just dont think the answer for muslims right now is to keep having a barage of kids. Especially those of us that are living in improvished places in the world.
Muslims today unfortunately have a massive amount of kids thinking its going to bring them more financial resources, but all it really ever does is bring us more poverty and suffering. And in the end you have brother against brother over land and inheritance and resources.

Im just sick of it. We out to take a lesson from the successful peoples of this world such as the Japanese, jewish, Europeans, Americans, Canadians, Austrailians, and focus on quality rather then quantity.
So brother or sister H.A, no need to get personnel and sensitive. All I did was post an analysis and an opinion. If your opinion is different then mine, then that is O.K.

In Islam, you can have different viewpoints and opinions, just as they do in America and the West.
We dont have to start with the hatred and resentment just because we differ on something. A hard lesson that us muslims need to learn, otherwise we will remain behind the rest of the pack forever.

Sir Zu needs help. Sounds like another self-declared world champion despite living in the MOST violent and unethical nation (the USA) in the human history.

I wonder which radical christian group he belongs to.
Does he know that the food he ate today has BLOOD in it? It was stolen from so called "poor" countries" and also obtained by violent means.


it is underreproted number in INDIA since last twenty years I have been hearing the muslim population as 211% this was in 1980's when I was in school . now the hindu goverments and media wants to manipulate things . a lreg number of muslim are underrepresented and under reported in INDIA and they know that the muslim poulation of India has grown by leaps but fail to admit it. narender modi the notrious minister of gujrat . has siad in one o fhis peeches muslim never stop making babies. among hinsua they kill the girl infant even before it is born and there is high rate of infertility as well . the hindu dominated goverment of india does not want to accept it someobody should go and do aindepenedent survey I bet you the population is close to 25% or even more India has the largest number of muslim in the world based on land history and geography. they ruled over india for 1200 years

It doesnt matter the number. But that we have faith and follow Islam like Allah told us too. We dont need to judge one another because Allah will judge each and everyone of us. We need only to accept or walk away from the person not following the truth.

I think that is an over inflated number, the figure is near 1.2 billion. Most muslims live in poor countries anyways where they have nothing better to do than just having more kids that will wind up being poor and killing each other for resources and money.

Not impressed at all by having 1.57 billion muslims worldwide. I don't go for quantity. Out of this, how many are 'quality' muslims? My country for example, recent studies shown that only 17 -20% muslims preform solah 5 times a day, the rest are still 'sleeping'. Yes bro Adel, what Nabi pbuh said 1400 yrs ago is self-explanatory in reality.

Let's wake up and improve ourselves from becoming Muslim to Muslimin then to Muttaqin and finally Mukhlissin.

i must agree with Adel. muslims today, though adhering to the standard practices, don't really live their faith. i see a lot of people still buying and consuming from those who pay for our muslim brethren to be killed and oppressed. i see many who do not care how their food was grown, whether the animals suffered, as long as at the time of death the slaughter is zabihah. i see many who are wasteful, so very wasteful, buying things just to throw them away. i see many who are wealthy but choose to buy things, to save a few bucks, that are sourced from the oppression of other humans, even though there are more ethical options. if all that we do is ibadah, then why do i see these things among muslims? muslims who cover up and pray and fast? do we not feel shame that it is other people who are more aware of these things and more willing to make the hard choices? can we not even stop ourselves from providing the money that goes to oppress our own people? if we can't even clothe the poor even if it only means giving up just 10% of our huge and mostly unused wardrobe? if we cannot even make such a small sacrifice, obviously we will be destroyed by our enemies.

FYI: There is now about a billion Biblical Christians on planet earth.

Prophet Muhammed (saaw): 'a Time will come when the nations of the earth will gather around my ummah the way a party gathers around a feast (i.e. to dessimate it by eating their fill).
Sahaba (raa): Oh Prophet of Allah will we be few in numbers at this time.
Prophet (saaw): No, your numbers will be greater than those of the stars but they will discard you like one discards the foam from the sea and they will not fear you.
Sahab (raa): Why is this so Prophet of Allah?
Prophet (saaw): you will be allficted with 'wahn'.
Sahaba (raa): Oh, Prohpet of Allah, what is wahn?
Prophet (saaw): Wahn is love of this dunya and fear of the akhira.

I am paraphrasing but you get the point. Nothing to see here. Only 1.8 billion misfits. now move along.