Muslims are people who believe in and live by the teachings of Islam. There are over two billion Muslims worldwide, making the second-largest religious following, but how do the Muslim populations compare between the countries?
Before we look at numbers, let’s walk through a brief recap of Muslims versus Islam because there tends to be a lot of overlap in ways that don’t make sense. Islam is a religion, while Muslims are followers of the religion of Islam. Another way of referring to people who identify as Muslim is by calling them followers of Islam. Referring to people as Islamic individuals is a common mistake because Islam is a religion. So it is more accurate to say Muslims, not Islams.
Within specific countries, there are populations of Muslims, and then, those populations within individual countries are then compared to the global community of Muslims. We are just going to look at each country and report its current population of Muslim people to keep it simpler.
There are approximately 1.9 billion Muslims globally, making Islam the second-largest religion in the world behind Christianity. The Islam population is mainly split between 1.5 billion Sunni Muslims and 240-340 million Shia Muslims, with some others belonging to smaller denominations.
The largest Muslim country is Indonesia, where an estimated 229 million Muslims are. This is 87.2% of the Indonesian population of 263 million and about 13% of the world’s population of Muslims. Muslims in Indonesia are about 99% Sunni, 0.5% Shia, and 0.3% Ahmadi. In Indonesia, Islam can be broadly categorized into “modernism,” following orthodox theology while embracing modern learning, or “traditionalism,” following the interpretations of local religious leaders.
Islam is the dominant religion in several countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Western Sahara, Iran, and more. Countries with high numbers of Muslims tend to be in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Any country where a Muslim population comprises 50% of the population is considered a Muslim majority country.