The number of Muslims in the world. Estimating their numbers in the U.S.
The ethnic origins of U.S. Muslims
Estimates of the number of Muslims in the world:
Estimates of the total number of Muslims in the world have varied greatly over the past two decades. Seven estimates from credible sources, sorted in order of increasing population, were :
0.700 billion or more, Barnes & Noble Encyclopedia (1993)
0.817 billion, The Universal Almanac (1996)
0.951 billion, The Cambridge Factfinder (1993)
1.1 billion, The World Almanac (1997)
1.2 billion, Council on American-Islamic relations (2012)
1.57 billion, Pew Research
1.6 billion, Pew Research
Many people in North America consider Islam to be primarily a Middle Eastern religion. That may be because news reports most often involve events from that area. However, most Muslims actually live in the Asia-Pacific region. Indonesia has the largest population of Muslims of any country in the world.
The Pew Research's worldwide estimate of Muslims during 2013 included:
986 million Muslims living in Asia-Pacific,
317 million in the Middle East and North Africa,
248 million in sub-Saharan Africa,
43.5 million in Europe,
3.5 million in North America, and
0.84 million in Latin America & the Caribbean. 2
As of 2016-JAN, we assume that the Pew Forum's most recent worldwide estimates of 1.6 billion as the most reliable. With that number, Muslims represent about 22% of the world's population. They are
currently the second largest religion in the world. Only Christianity is larger at 33%, with slightly more than 2 billion adherents.
The number of Muslims is growing about 2.9% per year, worldwide. This is faster than the total
world population itself which is increasing by about 2.3% annually. Islam is thus
attracting a progressively larger percentage of the world's population, and appears to be the fastest growing major religion in the world. If these rates continue, Islam will become the largest religion in the world by the middle of this century.
Attempting to estimate the number of Muslims in the U.S.:
Nobody knows precisely how many Muslims live in the United States. With the recent rise:
In Islamophobia, the fear of, and active discrimination against, Muslims, and
Terrorism by a small minority of extremist Muslims which is expanding worldwide,
many Muslims in the U.S. are reluctant to share their religion with anonymous telephone callers, including callers from polling agencies.
Estimating numbers of religious adherents is a political hot-potato. Some non-Muslims have accused Muslims
of exaggerated their numbers in order to obtain more political clout. Some
Muslims have accused non-Muslims of releasing false, low numbers in order
to "marginalize" Islam. 3 In religion, as in war,
truth is often the first casualty.
Another cause of the
disagreement appears to be related to the percentage of Muslim immigrants:
Who have abandoned Islam since they arrived in the US, or
Who still consider themselves to be Muslims, but who no longer
participate in religious activities.
As a result, recent estimates of the number of Muslims in North America have ranged
from a little over one million adults to seven million adults and children.
Ethnic origins of Muslims in the U.S.:
According to the "Faith Communities Today" report, by the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, the ethnic origins of regular participants in U.S. mosques
are as follows:
South Asian (Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Afghani) = 33 %
African-America = 30 %
Arab = 25 %
Sub-Saharan African = 3.4 %
European (Bosnian, Tartar, Kosovar, etc.) = 2.1 %
White American = 1.6 %
Southeast Asian ( Malaysian, Indonesian, Filipino) = 1.3 %
Drew Desilver, "World‚s Muslim population more widespread than you might think," Pew Research Center, 2013-JUN-07, at: http://www.pewresearch.org/
David Cho, "Evangelicals Help Pace U.S. Growth in Church Attendance;
Tally of Muslims Rejected as Low By Islamic Groups," Washington Post,
2002-SEP-16, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com
"Faith Communities Today: Mosque in America: A National Portrait,"
April 2001. Hartford Seminary's Hartford Institute for Religious Research.
Quoted in the "Demographic Facts" report by the U.S. Department of
State's, International Information Programs, at: http://usinfo.state.gov/