Indonesia tops the list of the ten largest Muslim populations found in either Asia, Africa, or the world as a whole. Iran is the only Islamic independent nation in the world. The dominant branch of Islam in the world is Sunni Islam, which comprises nearly 90% of all global Islam adherents. Shia Muslim trails behind at approximately 10% and Ahmadis make up only 1% of Muslims globally. The countries with the largest numbers of Muslims are looked at below.
Indonesia boasts of being home to 223,226,484 Muslims, which accounts for 13.11% of all global Muslims. The prevalence of all forms of Islam in the country is 82.7% with the predominant form being Sunni. Indonesia has no official state religion, but Islam surpasses all other religions to become the dominant one. Islam in Indonesia can be traced to early Muslim traders who facilitated the adoption of the religion by local communities. Muslims in the country express their faith in a similar way as other Muslims in most parts around the world. They pray five times a day, adhere to and read the Quran, observe Ramadan fasting and celebrate Eid holidays. Their view on Islam is however different from other Muslims because of the various Islamic schools. Muslims in Indonesia mostly subscribe to the Shafi’i principles. Islam in the country takes two forms, where modernist Muslims adhere to conservative ideology but are welcoming of modern learning, while on the other hand traditionalists or Puritans strictly follow traditional Islamic thought. Indonesia has been largely a religiously tolerant country, with different religions existing under the dominance of Islam. The rise of Islamic extremists is, however, threatening this harmonious balance.
Pakistan is the second ranking country among those with the largest numbers of Muslims, with Pakistani Muslims currently numbering 191,918,757. The country has 11.27% share of global Muslims. Sunni Islam is the dominant branch of Islam and prevalence of Islam of all forms stands at 96.4%. Islam is recognized constitutionally as the state religion. Alongside Sunni Islam is Shia Muslims who are between 10% and 20%. Although there is a provision for freedom of worship in Pakistan, minority religions have limited political rights. Only Muslims can hold the president’s or Prime minister’s office. Pakistan is teeming with religious schools (madrasas) and almost all Sunni Muslims in Pakistan are party to the Hanafi Islamic School, while a minority is a party to the Hanbali Islamic School. Religious schools in Pakistan have been accused of nurturing Muslim extremists. Pakistan is home to one of the largest mosques in the country in Islamabad, the Faisal Mosque. Islam exerts a great deal of influence in Pakistan, especially in the political sphere. Over the years, Pakistan has earned itself the title of the ‘global center of political Islam’. Sharia Law is observed in all judicial proceedings in the country.
The second most populous country on earth, India has a population including 177,740,773 Muslim residents. The nation accounts for 10.44% of all global Muslims. Prevalence of all forms of Islam is 14.2% while Sunni Islam is the dominant form. India has no official religion and different religions thrive in the nation. Hinduism is the dominant religion in India although recent trends suggest that Islam will overtake Hinduism by 2050. The introduction of Islam to India can be attributed to Arab merchants and Persian missionaries. Muslims and Hindus collaborated heavily during India’s struggle for independence from British rule. Muslims would later lobby to gain independence from India along religious lines, and Pakistan was born in 1947. Muslims were mainly in the newly created Pakistan, but around a third of the total number was left in India. The partition process was not a smooth one as there were numerous instances of violence and displacement. Sunni Islam in India is primarily based on the moderate Barelvi Movement. Shia, Dawoodi Bohra, Sufis, Khojas and Quranists are other forms of Islam present in India.
Bangladesh accounts for 8.56% of all global Muslims, which translates to 145,810,534 Muslim residents in the country. Prevalence of Islam of all forms in the state is at 86.3% while Sunni Islam is the most dominant branch of the religion. Islam flourished in the Bengal area after its introduction by Arab Merchants. It was the conquests of the region by North India and activities of Muslim missionaries that facilitated the widespread adoption of the religion. Islam is the official state religion, but there is a constitutional provision for freedom of religious worship. Sharia Law in Bangladesh is not the official law although matters involving Muslim weddings, inheritance and divorce are handled by a qazi (a traditional Muslim judge). Although Islam has long exerted some level of influence on Bangladesh affairs, there is a rising wave of secularism in the country.
Future Growth of the Faith
Other countries with large Muslim populations, and their respective shares of the global total, are Nigeria (5.11%), Egypt (4.92%), Iran (4.79%), Turkey (4.60%), Algeria (2.29%), and Sudan (2.06%). The global Muslim population is expected to increase to approximately 2.2 billion by 2030. The Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and North Africa regions are projected to be home to the largest Muslim populations in the future.
Which Countries Have The Most Muslims Around The World?
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