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How High Does the U.S. Rank in World Muslim Population?

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During the past week, President Barack Obama has made a determined effort to emphasize both the importance of Islam to American culture and history, as well as suggesting Muslims comprise a substantial percentage of the U.S. population.

Obama first got into factually murky waters on Monday when, during an interview with France’s Canal Plus Television, he stated:

"If you actually took the number of Muslims Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world."

During Thursday's speech in Cairo watched around the world, Obama backed off this assertion, although the President frequently employed language to suggest there is a large Islamic presence in the United States:

“Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders….So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.”

But how many Muslims actually live in the United States, and how does its population rank worldwide?

The data on the precise number of adherents to Islam in the United States varies greatly, with many organizations estimating over 5 to 6 million.

However, in order to make worldwide comparisons, Smart Politics conducted an analysis of C.I.A. World Factbook data, which now includes new July 2009 total population estimates for each nation.

The C.I.A. Factbook states that just 0.6 percent of Americans identify themselves as Muslim, which ranks sixth behind Protestants (51.3 percent), Roman Catholics (23.9 percent), Mormons (1.7 percent), Jews (1.7 percent), and Buddhists (0.7 percent).

With a July 2009 estimated population of 307,212,123 Americans, that means there are just over 1.8 Muslims living in the United States today.

How does that number rank worldwide?

Quite low, as it turns out, and not even in the Top 50.

According to an analysis of World Factbook data, the United States ranks 61st in the world in terms of the largest Muslim population by country. The USA also has the lowest percentage of Muslims of any of the Top 70 nations with at least 1 million adherents to Islam.

Muslim Population by Country

Rank
Country
Population
% Muslim
Muslims
1
Indonesia
240,271,522
86.1
206,873,780
2
Pakistan
176,242,949
95.0
167,430,802
3
India
1,166,079,217
13.4
156,254,615
4
Bangladesh
156,050,883
83.0
129,522,233
5
Turkey
76,805,524
99.8
76,651,913
6
Egypt
83,082,869
90.0
74,774,582
7
Nigeria
149,229,090
50.0
74,614,545
8
Iran
66,429,284
98.0
65,100,698
9
Morocco
34,859,364
98.7
34,406,192
10
Algeria
34,178,188
99.0
33,836,406
11
Afghanistan
33,609,937
99.0
33,273,838
12
Sudan
41,087,825
70.0
28,761,478
13
Saudi Arabia
28,686,633
100.0
28,686,633
14
Iraq
28,945,657
97.0
28,077,287
15
Ethiopia
85,237,338
32.8
27,957,847
16
Uzbekistan
27,606,007
88.0
24,293,286
17
Yemen
23,822,783
100.0
23,822,783
18
China
1,338,612,968
1.5
20,079,195
19
Syria
20,178,485
90.0
18,160,637
20
Russia
140,041,247
12.5
17,505,156
21
Malaysia
25,715,819
60.4
15,532,355
22
Tanzania
41,048,532
35.0
14,366,986
23
Senegal
13,711,597
94.0
12,888,901
24
Niger
15,306,252
80.0
12,245,002
25
Zambia
11,862,740
100.0
11,862,740
26
Mali
12,666,987
90.0
11,400,288
27
Tunisia
10,486,339
98.0
10,276,612
28
Somalia
9,832,017
100.0
9,832,017
29
Guinea
10,057,975
85.0
8,549,279
30
Cote d'Ivoire
20,617,068
38.6
7,958,188
31
Burkina Faso
15,746,232
50.0
7,873,116
32
Azerbaijan
8,238,672
93.4
7,694,920
33
Kazakhstan
15,399,437
47.0
7,237,735
34
Democratic Republic of Congo
68,692,542
10.0
6,869,254
35
Tajikistan
7,349,145
90.0
6,614,231
36
Libya
6,310,434
97.0
6,121,121
37
Jordan
6,342,948
92.0
5,835,512
38
Chad
10,329,208
53.1
5,484,809
39
Philippines
97,976,603
5.0
4,898,830
40
France
64,057,792
7.5
4,804,334
41
United Arab Emirates
4,798,491
96.0
4,606,551
42
Turkmenistan
4,884,887
89.0
4,347,549
43
Kyrgyzstan
5,431,747
75.0
4,073,810
44
Uganda
32,369,558
12.1
3,916,717
45
Kenya
39,002,772
10.0
3,900,277
46
Sierra Leone
6,440,053
60.0
3,864,032
47
Mozambique
21,669,278
17.8
3,857,131
48
Ghana
23,832,495
15.9
3,789,367
49
Cameroon
18,879,301
20.0
3,775,860
50
Oman
3,418,085
100.0
3,418,085
51
Mauritania
3,129,486
100.0
3,129,486
52
Germany
82,329,758
3.7
3,046,201
53
Thailand
65,905,410
4.6
3,031,649
54
Eritrea
5,647,168
48.0
2,710,641
55
Albania
3,639,453
70.0
2,547,617
56
Lebanon
4,017,095
59.7
2,398,206
57
Kuwait
2,691,158
85.0
2,287,484
58
Benin
8,791,832
24.4
2,145,207
59
Burma
48,137,741
4.0
1,925,510
60
Bosnia and Herzegovina
4,613,414
40.0
1,845,366
61
United States
307,212,123
0.6
1,843,273
62
Malawi
14,268,711
12.8
1,826,395
63
United Kingdom
61,113,205
2.7
1,650,057
64
Kosovo
1,804,838
90.0
1,624,354
65
Sri Lanka
21,324,791
7.6
1,620,684
66
Gambia, The
1,782,893
90.0
1,604,604
67
Madagascar
20,653,556
7.0
1,445,749
68
Togo
6,019,877
20.0
1,203,975
69
Nepal
28,563,377
4.2
1,199,662
70
Israel
7,233,701
16.0
1,157,392
Note: C.I.A. World Factbook population and religion data compiled by Smart Politics. Data on the percentage of Muslims comprising Zambia and Eritrea culled from the U.S. State Department.

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7 Comments


  • There are more Muslims in America than in Israel. Maybe they should get independence and 1 state in America called "Palistate"..

  • Thanks for your analysis. This subject matter – the extent and significance of the Muslim population in America - is important, and I'm glad you've written this column.

    However, the quality of the data source you cite does not inspire your factual conclusion that “there are just over 1.8 (million) Muslims living in the United States today”. You've omitted significant facts in your analysis. Likewise, some reasonable interpretations of the data you cite and the information left out, would tend to weaken your point.

    ...The numbers for U.S. religious affiliation in the CIA Factbook don't add up to 100%, (97.9%, leaving out 2.1%) even when the numbers you've omitted are added in (specified below). I find this very interesting, as the CIA had no trouble coming up with 100%, and ALL of these Muslims, in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Zambia, Somalia, Oman, & Mauritania. I am wondering if you yourself believe these numbers, these 100 percenters, and the 99+ percenters like Turkey, Algeria, Afghanistan? If these numbers are not credible, why should we subscribe to a firm belief in the CIA numbers in the same data set for the U.S.?

    ...The CIA has in some instances been so terribly wrong about factual matters (failure to realize how weak the Soviet Union was, to the point the agency was astonished at its dissolution after decades of representing it as a powerful monolith; and then of course there is that little matter of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the "slam dunk") - that we should hesitate to bet the farm on their numbers. I would think Muslim and other sources (see below) would be more reliable, or at the very least ought to be weighed alongside CIA sources before drawing a conclusion.

    ...The CIA numbers for the U.S. omitted from your column are:

    2.5 % "other or unspecified"
    12.1 % "unaffiliated"
    4.0 % "none"
    18.6 % Total omitted

    Could it be that some Muslims are hidden in these numbers but were reluctant to identify themselves as such?

    ... I think it's reasonable to take *individual* self-reporting on religion with a huge grain of salt, especially in this case.

    It’s not only that in some of these countries in the CIA data, either the data source is not a survey of individuals at all, or else individuals may fear identifying themselves as NOT Muslim - see the 100 percenters and 99 percenters above. Only the CIA could publish such numbers with a straight face.

    But in addition, and conversely, individuals in the U.S. who believe themselves to be targets of suspicion, prejudice and/or government surveillance BECAUSE of their beliefs could be expected to be reluctant to give out such information about themselves. Maybe it might seem safer to answer “other”, “unaffiliated”, or “none”. Muslims in America have good cause to fear suspicion, prejudice, and government surveillance.

    …The Center for Immigration Studies, in a 2002 paper, after specifying a number of problems in estimating the Muslim population in the U.S., states,

    “Taking these and other complications into account, a statistical picture is emerging that points to a total Muslim population in the United States of about THREE MILLION, of which immigrants make up two-thirds to three-quarters.” (emphasis added)

    And that was SEVEN years ago! The CIS does nothing but study immigration. I’ll take their numbers over the CIA’s any day.

    …Finally, regardless of data sources and arguments about their quality, it is obvious that the number of Muslims in America has grown significantly in recent years, and is still climbing a significant growth curve. It is very difficult to get a firm handle on exact numbers, for a lot of reasons. But it IS significant.

    Eric, I appreciate your columns and I like the way you go about presenting a point of view, virtually always presenting a table of data from your chosen source in support. This alone sets you apart from nearly all other political commentary that I come across. I love your method, if not your conclusions. Don’t stop.

    But I feel that sometimes, and perhaps it is unintentional, your presentation may tend to suggest a prejudice in choosing your data set, or in your interpretation of same. In this specific case, even though you don’t state so literally, the overall impression I get is of dismissal of other sources of information, relative to the CIA, as if it were an unimpeachable source. But there is good cause to question this source.

    And further, an innocent reader might get the impression from your column that the Muslim population in America is not significant - that claims to the contrary, including President Obama’s, are overblown or exaggerations. I’m not so sure about that, either.

  • Hello! Good Site! Thanks you!

  • hello,
    I think the numbers are very much a true reflection.People will not hide from their beliefs.Religion is too big a part in an individual's life.People today in western China are facing problems but will not disguise their beliefs,this is almost too contradictory to human nature.Thank you

  • This looks like a table put together to make some groups in the U.S. feel good about the low number of Muslims in that country. Obama in his speech in the U.S. and in Egypt said there are more than 7 million Muslims in the U.S.CAIR and other Muslim organizations attest to that. That brings the Muslim population in the U.S. to more than 2.3%.

    This report is an absolutely biased and incorrect. It follows the arguments of Daniel Pipes and other Zionist organizations that always preach against Islam.

  • On my last visit to the US (I am Israeli), I attended an interesting convention on the topic in Columbia University. Currently the muslim population in the US is slowly yet steadily increasing, and is strong around NJ. I don't think your report is biased, incorrect or non-objective. There has been some further research done about the subject with very interesting information. The Pew research center have created a very compelling research (http://www.wepapers.com/Papers/93292/Mapping_The_Global_Muslim_Population) about the Muslim population spread around the world. It's pretty updated - October 2009.
    America does not seem prominent there.

  • No one can verify exactly how many muslims are in the U.S. Many have come here serepticiously and have simply become invisible. Therefore, they are here illegally. This situation, much like the illegal mexican invaders, has become a major focal point for many U.S. patriots, who are angry and disgusted by this invasion. Further, this government, under Barack Obama, has refused to address this situation, for obvious reasons. He is putting in place, the most massive, involuntary, transfer of wealth and opportunity, ever imagined. And he will complete this assault on the American public if he is re-elected. All the while, the silent majority sits and watches as their future is stolen from them. Muslims have entered most countries in the western world, not to assimilate and become new members of that society, but to completely transform that country into a 12th century, muslim nation, complete with sharia law and all the "benefits" of that cult. If the U.S. and the western world does not wake up, we will all become enslaved to an alien monster.

  • Leave a comment


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