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The Shi'a in the World

                      

The Shi'a in the World    

                                                                                                                                        taken from:

                                                                                           Shomali, Mohamamd Ali, "Chapter Five: The Shi'a in the World," Discovering Shi'i Islam, 

                                                                                          (London: 2010, Centre for Cultural & Ethical Studies, 7th edition), 

                                                                                           ISBN 978-1-907917-01-1 (pbk)
                                                                                           ISBN 978-1-907917-00-4 (hbk)

 

According to UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund) and other sources, in the year 1999 the world population exceeded six billion. Around twenty three percent of this population (that is around 1.5 billion) adhere to Islam. A breakdown of the Muslim population of the world in 2003 is estimated as follows:

Continent

Population

Muslim Population

Muslim Percentage

Africa

861.20

414.26

48.10

Asia

3830.10

1010.65

26.39

Europe

727.40

51.19

7.04

North America

323.10

6.62

2.05

South America

539.75

1.64

0.30

Oceania

32.23

0.35

1.09

Total

6313.78

1484.71

23.52

Muslims live all over the world. The total number of countries with Muslim inhabitants is 208. About 85% of the Muslims live outside the Arab world. The majority of Muslims live to the east of the borders of Iran, especially in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country.

Among Muslims, who constitute the minority of the world population, the Shi‘a constitute about 10% of Muslims, which according to the current population of the world would amount to 120,000,000. For example, Britannica 2002 (Deluxe Edition) reads:

“Over the centuries the Shi’ite movement has deeply influenced all Sunnite Islam, and its adherents numbered about 60 to 80 million in the late 20th century, or one-tenth of all Islam. Shi‘ism (Arabic: Shi‘ah, or Shi‘i Islam) is the majority faith in Iran, Iraq, and perhaps Yemen (San‘ā') and has adherents in Syria, Lebanon, East Africa, India, and Pakistan.”

According to some sources, the figure is 11%. Thus, the present Shi‘a population of the world must be around 132,000,000. A breakdown of the Shi‘a population in some Asian countries with a Shi‘a majority or with a considerable percentage of Shi‘a population can be summed up as follows:

Afghanistan

Population (1998): 24,792,000. Religious affiliation (1990): Sunni Muslim 84%; Shi‘a Muslim 15%; other 1%.

Azerbaijan

Population (1998): 7,650,000. / Religious affiliation (1991): Shi’i Muslim 70%; Sunni Muslim 30%.

Bahrain

Population (1998): 633,000. / Religious affiliation (1991): Muslim 81.8%, of which Shi’i 61.3%, Sunni 20.5%; Christian 8.5%; other 9.7%.

India

Population (1998): 984,004,000. / Religious affiliation (1995): Hindu 81.3%; Muslim 12.0%, of which Sunni 9.0%, Shi’i 3.0%; Christian 2.3%, of which Protestant 1.1%, Roman Catholic 1.0%; Sikh 1.9%; Buddhist 0.8%; Jain 0.4%; Zoroastrian 0.01%; other 1.3%.

Iran

Population (1998): 61,531,000 / Religious affiliation (1995): Muslim 99.0%; (Shi’i 93.4%, Sunni 5.6%); Christian 0.3%; Zoroastrian 0.05%; Jewish 0.05%.

Iraq

Population (1998): 21,722,000. / Religious affiliation (1994): Shi’i Muslim 62.5%; Sunni Muslim 34.5%; Christian (primarily Chaldean rite and Syrian rite Roman Catholic and Nestorian) 2.7%; other (primarily Yazidi syncretist) 0.3%.

Jordan

Population (1998): 4,682,000. /Religious affiliation (1995): Sunni Muslim 96.5%; Christian 3.5%.

Kuwait

Population (1998): 1,866,000. / Religious affiliation (1995): Muslim 85%, of which Sunni 45%, Shi’a 30%; other Muslim 10%; other (mostly Christian and Hindu) 15.0%.

Lebanon

Population (1998): 3,506,000. / Religious affiliation (1995): Muslim 55.3%, of which Shi’i 34.0%, Sunni 21.3%; Christian 37.6%, of which Catholic 25.1% (Maronite 19.0%, Greek Catholic or Malachite 4.6%), Orthodox 11.7% (Greek Orthodox 6.0%, Armenian Apostolic 5.2%), Protestant 0.5%; Druze 7.1%.

Oman

Population (1998): 2,364,000. / Religious affiliation (1993): Muslim 87.7%, of which Ibadiyah Muslim c. 75% (principal minorities are Sunni Muslim and Shi’i Muslim); Hindu 7.4%; Christian 3.9%; Buddhist 0.5%; other 0.5%.

Pakistan

Population (1998): 141,900,000./ Religious affiliation (1993): Muslim 95.0%3 (mostly Sunni, with Shi’i comprising about 20% of total population); Christian 2.0%; Hindu 1.8%; others (including Ahmadiyah) 1.2%.

Saudi Arabia

Population (1998): 20,786,000./ Religious affiliation (1992): Sunni Muslims 93.3%, Shi’i Muslims 3.3%.

Syria

Population (1998): 15,335,000. / Religious affiliation (1992): Muslim 86.0%, of which Sunni 74.0%, ‘Alawite (Shi’i) 12.0%; Christian 8.9%; Druze 3.0%; other 1.0%.

Tajikistan

Population (1997): 6,112,000. / Religious affiliation (1995): Sunni Muslim 80.0%; Shi’i Muslim 5.0%; Russian Orthodox 1.5%; Jewish 0.1%; other (mostly nonreligious) 13.4%.

Turkey

Population (1998): 64,567,000. / Religious affiliation (1994): Sunni Muslim c. 80.0%; Shi’i Muslim c. 19.8%, of which ‘Alawi c. 14.0%; Christian c. 0.2%.

United Arab Emirates

Population (1998): 2,744,000. / Religious affiliation (1995): Muslim 96.0% (Sunni 80.0%, Shi’i 16.0%); other (mostly Christian and Hindu) 4.0%.

Yemen

Population (2000): 18,260,000. / Religious affiliation (1995): Muslim 99.9% (Sunni c. 60.0%, Shi’i c. 40.0%); other 0.1%.

The Shi‘a population in some countries is disputed. Some believe that the population of the Shi‘a is much higher than official figures, because of either a lack of accurate statistics or political issues..