The world population in 2020 is estimated to be above 7.794 billion.1

The breakdown is as follows:

Africa

Asia

Europe

North America

Latin America & the Caribbean

Oceania

1.340

4.641

0.748

0.369

0.654

0.043

There are an estimated 1.9 billion Muslims in the world—roughly 25% of the global population. 2 The Muslim population in the world and every region in 2020 is estimated as follows:3

Muslims

All


World

North America

Latin America-Caribbean

Europe

Middle East- North Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa

Asia-Pacific

1,907,110,000

4,890,000

890,000

50,470,000

381,140,000

329,740,000

1,139,990,000

7,657,330,000

371,700,000

653,390,000

740,600,000

409,310,000

1,048,930,000

4,433,390,000

The charts below illustrate the religious landscape of the world in 2020:

Muslims live all over the world. In 2017, Muslims made up a majority of the population in 49 countries around the world. Unlike what some people may think, the majority of Muslims are not Arab or Middle Eastern. Actually, the majority of Muslims live to the east of the borders of Iran, especially in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Two-thirds of Muslims live in 10 countries. Of the 10 countries, six are in Asia (Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey), three are in North Africa (Egypt, Algeria and Morocco) and one is in Sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria).4

In 2017, countries with the largest Muslim populations were as follows:

Indonesia209.1 million
Pakistan176.2 million
India67.4 million5
Bangladesh134.4 million
Nigeria77.3 million
Egypt77 million
Iran73.6 million
Turkey71.3 million
Sudan39 million
Algeria34.7 million
Morocco31.9 million
Iraq31.2 million6

The majority of Muslims are Sunni. It is estimated that Sunni Muslims constitute more than 75% of the world’s Muslim population.7 From a jurisprudential point of view, Sunni Muslims are divided into four major groups: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi‘i and Hanbali.

  • Hanafi: Mostly in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, the Balkans, Central Asia and China
  • Maliki: Dominant in Morocco, Sudan and West Africa
  • Shafi‘i: Mostly in Syria, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, East Africa, Malaysia and Indonesia, and co-exists with other schools in Jordan and Egypt
  • Hanbali: Official school in Saudi Arabia and Qatar

According to one estimate, Shi‘a Muslims represent 10-20% of Muslims worldwide. 8 According to Britannica, 10-13% of the world’s Muslim population are Shi‘a.9 According to some sources, the figure is 23 %.10

Most Shi‘a Muslims—between 68% and 80%—live in four countries: Iran, Pakistan, India and Iraq. Sizeable numbers of Shi‘a (1 million or more) are found in Turkey, Yemen, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Nigeria and Tanzania.11

A breakdown of the Shi‘a population in some Asian countries 12 with a Shi‘a majority or with a considerable Shi‘a population can be summed up as follows:

Afghanistan:Population (July 2020 est.): 36,643,81513
Religious affiliation (2009 est.): Muslim 99.7% (Sunni 84.7 – 89.7%, Shi‘a 10 – 15%), other 0.3%. 14 Britannica (2020) suggests that the Shi‘a make up about 19% of the whole population.15
Azerbaijan:Population (July 2020 est.): 10,205,81016
Religious affiliation (2010 est.): Muslim 96.9% (predominantly Shi‘a), Christian 3%, other <0.1, unaffiliated <0.1. 17 Britannica (2020) holds that “more than three-fifths of the population is Shiʿi, and about one- third is Sunni.”18 19
Bahrain:Population (July 2020 est.): 1,505,00320
Religious affiliation (2017 est.): Muslim 73.7%, Christian 9.3%, Jewish 0.1%, other 16.9%. 21 Britannica (2020) holds that 46% of the whole population of the country are Shi‘a and 24% are Sunni.22 23
India:Population (July 2020 est.): 1,326,093,24724
Religious affiliation (2011 est.): Hindu 79.8%, Muslim 14.2%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.7%, other and unspecified 2%. 25 (2020) holds that about 2% of the population is Shiʿa—that is, some 16 to 24 million people.26
Iran:Population (July 2020 est.): 84,923,31427
Religious affiliation (2011 est.): Muslim (official) 99.4% (Shi‘a 90-95%, Sunni 5-10%), other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian) 0.3%, unspecified 0.4%28 29
Iraq:Population (July 2020 est.): 38,872,65530
Religious affiliation (2015 est.): Muslim (official) 95-98% (Shi‘a 64- 69%, Sunni 29-34%), Christian 1% (includes Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Assyrian Church of the East), other 1-4%.31 In some sources, it has been suggested that in 2018, 63.7% of the nation’s population was made up of Shi‘a Muslims.32 According to Britannica (2020), about three-fifths of the population is Shiʿa and about two-fifths is Sunni.33 34
Kuwait:Population (July 2020 est.): 2,993,70635
Religious affiliation (1995): Muslim 85%, of which Sunni 45%, Shi‘a 30%; other Muslim 10%; other (mostly Christian and Hindu) 15%.36 Britannica (2020) declares that about one third of Muslim population is Shiʿa. 37
Lebanon:Population (July 2020 est.): 5,469,612
Religious affiliation (2018 est.): Muslim 61.1% (30.6% Sunni, 30.5% Shi‘a, smaller percentages of ‘Alawites and Ismailis), Christian 33.7% (Maronite Catholics are the largest Christian group), Druze 5.2%, etc.38 39 Britannica (2020) declares that the Shi‘a comprise 45–55% of the country’s Muslim population.40
Oman:Population (December 2019 est.): 4,664,84441
Religious affiliation (2010 est.): Muslim 85.9%, Christian 6.5%, Hindu 5.5%, Buddhist 0.8%, Jewish <0.1%, other 1%, unaffiliated 0.2%. Among Muslims, the Shi‘a constitute about 5%. 42
Pakistan:Population (July 2020 est.): 233,500,63643
Religious affiliation (2010 est.): Muslim (official) 96.4% (Sunni 85- 90%, Shi‘a 10-15%), other (includes Christian and Hindu) 3.6%44 45
Saudi Arabia:Population (July 2020 est.): 34,173,49846
Religious affiliation (2012 est.): Muslim (official; citizens are 85-90% Sunni and 10-15% Shi‘a), other (includes Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh)47
Syria:Population (July 2020 est.): 19,398,44848
Religious affiliation (2020): Muslim 87% (official; includes Sunni 74% and ‘Alawite, Ismaili, and Shi‘a 13%), Christian 10% (includes Orthodox, Uniate, and Nestorian), Druze 3%, Jewish (few remaining in Damascus and Aleppo)49 50
Tajikistan:Population (July 2020 est.): 8,873,66951
Religious affiliation (2014 est.): Sunni Muslim 95%; Shi‘a Muslim 3%; other 2%52
Turkey:Population (July 2020 est.): 82,017,51453
Religious affiliation (2005): Sunni Muslim approximately 82.5%; Shi‘a Muslim approximately 15%, (mostly ‘Alevis)54
United Arab Emirates:Population (July 2020 est.): 9,992,08355
Religious affiliation (2005 est.): Muslim (official) 76%, Christian 9%, other (primarily Hindu and Buddhist, less than 5% of the population consists of Parsi, Baha’i, Druze, Sikh, Ahmadi, Ismaili, Dawoodi Bohra Muslim, and Jewish) 15%. 56 Britannica (2020) asserts: “About three-fifths of the population is Muslim, of which roughly four-fifths belong to the Sunni branch of Islam; Shiʿite minorities exist in Dubai and Sharjah.”57
Yemen:Population (July 2020 est.): 29,884,40558
Religious affiliation (2010 est.): Muslim 99.1% (official; virtually all are citizens, an estimated 65% are Sunni and 35% are Shi‘a), other 0.9% (includes Jewish, Baha’i, Hindu, and Christian; many are refugees or temporary foreign residents)59

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.

Countries with More Than 100,000 Shi‘a Muslims60


Estimated 2009
Shi‘a Population (million)
Approximate Percentage of
Muslim Population that is Shi‘a
Approximate Percentage of
World Shi‘a Population
Iran66 – 7090 – 95%37 – 40%
Pakistan17 – 2610 – 1510 – 15
India16 – 2410 – 159 – 14
Iraq19 – 2265 – 7011 – 12
Turkey7 – 1110 – 154 – 6
Yemen8 – 1035 – 40~5
Azerbaijan5 – 765 – 753 – 4
Afghanistan3 – 410 – 15~2
Syria3 – 415 – 20~2
Saudi Arabia2 – 410 – 151 – 2
Nigeria<4<5<2
Lebanon1 – 245 – 55<1
Tanzania<2<10<1
Kuwait500,000 – 700,00020 – 25<1
Germany400,000 – 600,00010 – 15<1
Bahrain400,000 – 500,00065 – 75<1
Tajikistan~400,000~7<1
United Arab Emirates300,000 – 400,000~10<1
United States200,000 – 400,00010 – 15<1
Oman100,000 – 300,0005 – 10<1
United Kingdom100,000 – 300,00010 – 15<1
Bulgaria~100,00010 – 15<1
Qatar~100,000~10<1
World Total154 – 20010 – 13100

Footnotes

1 https://worldpopulationreview.com

2 http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/08/09/muslims-and-islam-key-findings-in-the-u-s-and-around-the-world/

3 https://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projection-table/2020/number/all/

4 https://www.pewforum.org/2009/10/07/mapping-the-global-muslim-population/

5 https://www.pewforum.org/2009/10/07/mapping-the-global-muslim-population/

6 https://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/muslims/pf_15-04-02_projectionstables74/

7 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/fields/401.html

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

10 Unfortunately, there are no accurate statistics reflecting the exact number of Muslims in general and Shi‘a in particular. What is suggested above is based on the majority of the sources available on the subject. However, it has been suggested that the Shi‘a comprise 23% of Muslims. See S. M. Qazwini, p. 4, taken from the Bulletin of Affiliation: Al-Madhhab – Schools of Thought, vol. 17, no. 4 (December 1998), p. 5.

11 https://www.pewforum.org/2009/10/07/mapping-the-global-muslim-population/

12 It should be noted that this list is not meant to be exhaustive; it is a selection based on the collected information from the source on each country. For example, Qatar is missing, while according to MEDEA, 10% of its population is Shi‘a.

13 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html

14 Ibid. According to Westerlund and Svanberg (1999, p. 177), about 18% of Afghanistan’s population are adherents of Twelver Shi‘ism, and somewhat less than 2% are Ismailis.

15 https://www.britannica.com/place/Afghanistan

16 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html

17 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/aj.html

18 https://www.britannica.com/place/Azerbaijan

19 According to World Atlas website (May 2018), 65-75% of the country’s population is Shi‘a and only 15% is Sunni. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/shia-shi-a-muslim-countries.html

20 This estimate includes non-nationals. Immigrants make up approximately 48% of the total population, according to UN data (2017).

21 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/ba.html

22 https://www.britannica.com/place/Bahrain/Religion

23 According to World Atlas website (May 208), Shi‘a Muslims make up 65-70% of the Muslim population in Bahrain. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/shia-shi-a-muslim-countries.html

24 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html

25 Ibid.

26 https://www.britannica.com/topic/Shii

27 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/ir.html

28 Ibid.

29 According to World Atlas website (May 2018), 92.2% of the
country’s Muslim population is Shi‘a, while only about 5% is Sunni. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/shia-shi-a-muslim-countries.html

30 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/iz.html

31 Ibid.

32 https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/shia-shi-a-muslim-countries.html

33 https://www.britannica.com/place/Iraq

34 According to Fuller and Francke (1999, p. 87), the Shi‘a form 55 to 60percent of the population of Iraq. It adds that since the late 1970s Iraqi Shi‘a have been leaving Iraq in large numbers to settle in Iran, Syria, Britain and other countries.

35 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the- world-factbook/geos/ku.html Note: Kuwait’s Public Authority for Civil Information estimates the country’s total population to be 4,420,110 for 2019, with non-Kuwaitis accounting for nearly 70% of the population.

36 According to CWF and MEDEA, Sunni Muslims of Kuwait constitute 45% and Shi‘a 40%.

37 https://www.britannica.com/place/Kuwait

38 Note: These figures do not include Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/le.html

39 According to Fuller and Francke (1999, p. 203), the Shi‘a form 30 to 40 percent of the population and represent the single largest sectarian group in Lebanon.

40 Newman, Andrew J., “Shi‘” in Encyclopaedia Britannica, published Jan 28, 2020 at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Shii

41 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the- world-factbook/geos/mu.html Note: immigrants make up approximately 46% of the total population (2019).

42 Ibid.

43 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the- world-factbook/geos/pk.html Note: Provisional results of Pakistan’s 2017 national census estimate the country’s total population to be 207,774,000.

44Ibid.

45 Britannica (2020) holds the same percentage. [Newman, Andrew J., “Shi‘”” in Encyclopædia Britannica, published Jan 28, 2020 at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Shii] According to Westerlund and Svanberg (1999, p. 225), Muslims make up more than 96% of the total population. Among Muslims, 15-20% are estimated to be Shi‘a.

46 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/sa.html Note: Immigrants make up 38.3% of the total population, according to UN data (2019).

47 Ibid.

48 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/sy.html

49 Ibid.

50 Britiannica (2020) suggests that Sunni Muslims constitute about 74% and the Shi‘a (‘Alawite) Muslims about 11% of the whole population. https://www.britannica.com/place/Syria/The-winds#ref29954

51 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/ti.html

52 Ibid.

53 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/tu.html

54 https://www.britannica.com/place/Turkey. Note: CWF just states that 99.8% are Muslim (mostly Sunni) and others 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews). According to Westerlund and Svanberg (1999, p. 133), Sunni Muslims are thought to be 70 to 80% of the population and the bulk of the remaining 20 to 30% are Alevis.

55 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/ae.html Note: The UN estimated that the country’s total population was 9,771,000 as of mid-year 2019; immigrants make up 87.9% of the total population, according to UN data (2019).

56 Ibid. Note: Data represent the total population; as of 2019, immigrants make up about 87.9% of the total population, according to UN data.

57 https://www.britannica.com/place/United-Arab-Emirates

58 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/ym.html

59 Ibid.

60 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life • Mapping the Global Muslim Population, October 2009: https://www.pewforum.org/2009/10/07/mapping-the-global-muslim-population/ Note: Countries with an estimated Shi‘a population of less than 1% of the country’s Muslim population are not listed.


Discovering Shi’i Islam Mohammad Ali Shomali 9th edition