Two out of three Muslims are Asian, reports Peter Beaumont (witness the Chinese mosque above). A new survey – Mapping the Global Muslim Population – reminds us that Islam is not to be identified with the Arab world, and the Arab world is not to be identified with Islam. Fifty demographers and social scientists have analysed thousands of sources and given the most accurate picture to date of Islam’s global distribution.
The world’s Muslim population stands at 1.57 billion, meaning that nearly one in four people practise Islam, according to the US Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which published the survey. This compares to 2.25 billion Christians.
The top five Muslim countries in the world include only one in the Middle East ‑ Egypt ‑ behind Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, in that order. Russia, the survey shows, has more Muslims than the populations of Libya and Jordan combined. Germany has more Muslims than Lebanon. China has a bigger Muslim population than Syria…
Brian Grim, one of the researchers, said: “We started on this work because the estimates for the number of the world’s Muslims ranged so widely, from 1 billion to 1.8 billion. For people who do this kind of work, perhaps the figures are not surprising but there are a lot of highly educated people who do not know that one in four are Muslim.”
A similar survey is planned by the Pew Forum on the distribution of Christians.