Muslims are followers of the Islamic faith. Islam is an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion that began in the 7th century B.C., though its roots are believed to date back further. Most Muslims live in North and Central Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
Islam is the world's second-largest religion
Earth is home to more than 1.9 billion Muslims. Islam is also the world's fastest-growing religion. The Islamic population is mainly split between 1.5 billion Sunni Muslims and 240-340 million Shia Muslims, with the remainder scattered among a few smaller denominations.
A Muslim-majority country is one in which more than 50% of the people are Muslims. There are currently approximately 50 Muslim-majority countries in the world, though the precise number differs slightly depending upon the source. In most cases, these inconsistencies can be attributed to one of two causes. First is the age of the estimate, which is relevant because the Muslim population in each country tends to grow, raising the nationwide percentage of Muslims over time. The second cause is that some sources include various regions such as Western Sahara or Palestine, which are sometimes considered countries and sometimes considered territories, and other sources do not.
The Pew Research Center acknowledged a total of 50 Muslim-majority nations (including territories West Bank, Gaza Strip, Mayotte, and Western Sahara) in the world in 2010, but added Nigeria to its 2020 estimate to reach 51. In comparison, the 2021 United States CIA World Factbook leaves out Mayotte, Western Sahara, and (somewhat inexplicably) Kazakhstan, but adds Bosnia & Herzegovina for a total of 49.
Another country that is currently left off of most lists of Muslim-majority countries, but which may be added someday soon is Eritrea, whose Muslim population has been estimated to be as low as 36.6% and as high as 51.6%. If updated numbers become available, Eritrea may well become the newest Muslim-majority country.
Top 10 Countries with the Highest Percentage of Muslims - 2021:
- Maldives - 100%)
- Mauritania - 99.9%
- Somalia - 99.8% (tie)
- Tunisia - 99.8% (tie)
- Afghanistan - 99.7% (tie)
- Algeria - 99.7% (tie)
- Iran - 99.4%
- Yemen - 99.2%
- Morocco - 99%
- Niger - 98.3%
*Note: At 99.4% Muslim, the disputed territory Western Sahara would rank at #8–but as it has not yet been recognized as a country by the United Nations, it was disqualified.
Although the countries listed above have the highest concentrations of Muslim citizens, it's worth noting that many larger countries have more Muslims overall.
Top 10 Countries with the Most Muslims - 2021:
- Indonesia - 231,000,000
- Pakistan - 212,300,000
- India - 200,000,000
- Bangladesh - 153,700,000
- Nigeria - 95,000,000–103,000,000
- Egypt - 85,000,000–90,000,000
- Iran - 82,500,000
- Turkey - 74,432,725
- Algeria - 41,240,913
- Sudan - 39,585,777
The Quran and fundamentals of Islam:
Muslims worship the same God, whom they typically refer to as Allah, as do Christians, Jews, and the Bahá'í faith. While Muslims acknowledge that spiritual figures such as Adam, Moses, and Jesus were prophets, they believe the prophet Muhammad, the founder of their faith, was sent to convey Allah's final teachings.
These teachings are contained in the Quran (often spelled Qur'an or Koran), Islam's religious text, which Muslims believe to be God's verbatim words. Muslims also follow a legal system known as Sharia Law, a faith-based code of conduct that includes guidelines for nearly every aspect of Muslim life.
Muslims follow five fundamental pillars that are essential to their faith. These are known as the five pillars of Islam.
The Five Pillars of Islam:
- Shahada: One must recite the shahadah, declaring one's faith in God and belief in Muhammad
- Salat: One must pray five times per day: at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and evening, while facing toward the Ka'bah, a mosque in Mecca
- Zakat: One must give to those in need
- Sawm: One must fast from dawn to sunset during Ramadan
- Hajj: One must make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during a person's lifetime if possible