- As of 2018, there are over 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, according to the Pew Research Center; together, they make up nearly one-fourth of the world’s population, making Islam the world’s second largest religion after Christianity.
- Within the second half of this century, Muslims are expected to become the world’s largest religious group. The Pew Research Center estimates that by 2070, Islam will overtake Christianity, due to faster birth rate (2.7 children per family vs. 2.2 for Christian families).
- As of 2018, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world.
The Muslim population is a diverse community of believers spanning the globe. Over fifty countries have Muslim-majority populations, while other groups of believers are clustered in minority communities in nations on nearly every continent.
Although Islam is often associated with the Arab world and the Middle East, fewer than 15% of Muslims are Arab. By far, the largest populations of Muslims live in Southeast Asia (more than 60% of the world’s total), while the countries of the Middle East and North Africa make up only 20% of the total. One-fifth of the world’s Muslims live as minorities in non-Muslim countries, with the largest of these populations in India and China. While Indonesia currently has the largest population of Muslims, projections suggest that by 2050 India will have the world’s largest population of Muslims, with estimates expected to reach at least 300 million.
Regional Distribution of Muslims (2018)
The largest Muslim populations are found in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.
- Latin America/Caribbean: 840,000
- North America: 3,480,000
- Europe: 43,470,000
- Subsaharan Africa: 248,420,000
- Middle East/North Africa: 370,070,000
- Asia/Pacific: 986,420,000
Countries With the Largest Muslim Populations (2018)
Although many people believe the largest Muslim populations are found in the Middle East, the countries with the most Muslims are actually found in South and Southeast Asia.
- Indonesia: 209.1 million
- Pakistan: 176.2 million
- India: 167.4 million
- Bangladesh: 134.4 million
- Nigeria: 77.3 million
- Egypt: 77 million
- Iran: 73.6 million
- Turkey: 71.3 million
- Sudan: 39 million
- Algeria: 34.7 million
- Morocco: 31.9 million
- Iraq: 31.2 million
The Spread of Islam Around the World
Islam began in the 7th century in Mecca, a city in present-day Saudi Arabia. Within 100 years, the first Islamic caliphate had taken control of the Middle East and North Africa. The Islamic Golden Age, a period that lasted from the 8th century to the 13th century, saw the expansion of the Muslim world into new territory, along with the establishment of trade routes. It was through trade that Islam was first introduced to Southeast Asia. Later, Sufi missionaries made deliberate efforts to spread the faith by blending Muslim ideas with local beliefs. Islam reached other continents, including North and South America, through immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Muslims in America
After Christianity and Judaism, Islam is the third largest religion in the United States. However, Muslims still make up a relatively small portion of the population, at 0.9%. American Muslims include a large proportion of immigrants (58% of adult American Muslims), including many Asians. In general, American Muslims are one of the most racially diverse groups in the country, with a makeup that is 41% white, 20% black, 28% Asian, and 8% Hispanic.
As of 2014, the states with the greatest percentage of adult Muslims were New Jersey (3%), Arkansas (2%), District of Columbia (2%) and New York (2%). The city with the largest Muslim population in the United States is Dearborn, Michigan, with a population of 98,153, many of whom are immigrants from Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.
Since 2001, the year of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, there has been a rise in Islamophobia in the United States, and in 2015 and 2016 there was a spike in the number of hate crimes committed against Muslims.