Muslims are one of the world’s most influential religious groups occupying an equal position with Christians, Buddhists, Judaists, and followers of other less known religious confessions. Muslims were traditionally associated with certain countries in the Middle East, and preferred to inhabit specific regions not to mix with other religions’ representatives. However, modern evidence suggests that Muslims are disseminating around the world, inhabiting countries in which they were previously not met. To identify the current socio-demographic trends in the Muslim world, the Pew Report experts analyzed trends typical for Muslims regarding changes in their geographical location.
1. The major conclusions from the Pew Report are that 1.57 billion Muslims represent 23% of the total world population of 6.8 billion now. The biggest part of the world’s Muslim population is located in Asia (61.2%) according to Pew Research (5) experts, while the highest concentration of the Muslim population is in the Middle East-North Africa region and reaches 91.2% of Muslims among other religious groups. The concentration of Muslims in the Middle East-North Africa is very high (91.2%) though only 20% of all Muslims live there. These two regions are significant for Muslims, and Islamic influence in these regions is essential. The Muslims’ presence in other regions of the world is not significant, and is presented by Pew Research (6) experts as 0.3% in the American region and 2.4% in Europe.
Data from the Pew Research (7) report suggests that two world's largest Christian regions, America and Europe with its total population of 1,680 million people include only 0.043 billion Muslims. These two regions are mostly Christian with the rest 1,637 million after excluding Muslims but, nevertheless, other 1.5 billion Muslims make the second largest religious group of the world, concentrating its population in other Asian and Middle Eastern regions. Muslim minority countries like India and Ethiopia include more Muslims compared to Russia and China where Muslims. Russian and Chinese Muslims, living as minority groups in these two countries, are not significant by quantity. Only 16.5 million Muslims live in Russia and 27.7 million in China and make 11.7% of Russian and 1.6% of Chinese population only. Other minority countries like India includes 160.9 million Muslims that is significant if to compare with 44.2 million Muslims from Russia and China summarized together.
2. The regions in which Muslims predominantly reside are Asia and Africa (Middle East-North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa altogether). Asia is the region that is highly populated with Muslims, mainly in North Africa. 1.3 billion of Muslim population is in the Asian region, while the population of Muslims living in China is only 1.6% (Pew Research 7). Muslims living in Northern Africa are in the majority, while in terms of quantity, they are a smaller part of the global Muslim population. Thus, the largest part of the Muslim population is integrated into the Asian society.
The average percentage of the Muslim population in Asian countries reaches 90%. Asian countries like India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan host about 30% of all Muslims of the world, where Muslims constitute the minority population (Pew Research 5). Muslims living in India are also considered as a minority religious group, but Indian Muslims reach 10.3% of all Muslim population, which is a considerable percentage (Pew Research 5). The only European country in which Muslim population was analyzed by scholars of Pew Research (5) is Germany. The European Muslims are only 2.4% of the global Muslim population and less than 1% of them live in Germany.
The experts of Pew Research (8) estimate the Shia Muslim population at about 200 million, which is 10-13% of the global Muslim population. Sunni Muslims are the most numerous group among all Muslims, with its majority residing in Asia and reaching 75% of the total Shia population. In Iran and Azerbaijan, Shia Muslims make the majority. In Iran, the Shia Muslim population is about 40% of the world’s Shia Muslims, and makes 95% of the local Iranian population. Iran is distinguished as a country of Shia Muslims.
3. Shia and Sunni Muslims live separately from each other; Shia Muslims are located mostly in Asian countries making 150 million of population, which means that Asian Shias live densely, like Sunni Muslims who live in African countries making almost 90% among African locals. The highest concentration of Shias is in Iran where Shias make 90-95% (Pew Research 10). The Asian region (in which Iran hosting 40% of all Shias is included) has 12-15% of Shia population, while the Middle East-North African region has 11-14% of Shias. The Shia population of Turkey, Iran, and Azerbaijan together makes almost a half of all Shia population and reaches about 85 million Shia Muslims, so if they are included into the Middle East-North African region, Shia Muslims will become the majority Muslim group there.
Concluding the data from the Islamic World Pew Report, it becomes clear that Muslims are spreading permanently and steadily across the globe. The part of the world with the least population of Muslims is the two Americas. The highest populated regions are Asia and Africa, the historical Muslim’s origin, housing the most significant numbers of Muslims. The result of such Muslim’s dissemination in almost all countries is the growth of a Muslim among the other world’s religious groups, and consequently, the increase of Muslim influence in terms of culture and lifestyle.
Religion & Public Life Project, USA. Mapping the Global Muslim Population. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. 2009. Web. 5 Oct. 2014.