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Prayer in Cairo 1865.jpg
Muslims in 1865 Cairo by Jean-Leon Gerome
Total population
1.8 billion worldwide (2015 est.)[1][2][3]
Regions with significant populations
 Indonesia 209,120,000[2]
 Pakistan 178,097,000[3]
 India 176,200,000[2]
 Bangladesh 134,430,000[2]
 Nigeria 77,300,000[2]
 Egypt 76,990,000[2]
 Iran 73,570,000[2]
 Turkey 71,330,000[2]
 Algeria 34,730,000[2]
 Morocco 31,930,000[2]
 Iraq 31,340,000[2]
 Afghanistan 31,330,000[2]
 Sudan 30,490,000[2]
 Ethiopia 28,680,000[2]
 Uzbekistan 26,550,000[2]
 Saudi Arabia 25,520,000[2]
 China 24,690,000[2]
 Yemen 23,830,000[2]
 Syria 18,930,000[2]
 Malaysia 18,100,000[2]
Rest of the world 287,230,000[2]

65–75% Sunni Islam[5][note 1]
10–13% Shia Islam[5]
15–20% Non-denominational Islam[6]
~1% Ahmadiyya[7]

~1% Other Muslim traditions, e.g. Ibadi Islam[6]
Sacred languages:[10]

A Muslim (Arabic: مُسلِم‎) is someone who follows or practices Islam, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion. Muslims consider the Quran, their holy book, to be the verbatim word of God as revealed to the Islamic prophet and messenger Muhammad. The majority of Muslims also follow the teachings and practices of Muhammad (sunnah) as recorded in traditional accounts (hadith).[11] "Muslim" is an Arabic word meaning "submitter" (to God).[12]

The beliefs of Muslims include: that God (Arabic: اللهAllāh) is eternal, transcendent and absolutely one (tawhid); that God is incomparable, self-sustaining and neither begets nor was begotten; that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that has been revealed before through many prophets including Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, and Jesus;[13] that these previous messages and revelations have been partially changed or corrupted over time (tahrif)[14] and that the Qur'an is the final unaltered revelation from God (Final Testament).[15]


The religious practices of Muslims are enumerated in the Five Pillars of Islam: the declaration of faith (shahadah), daily prayers (salat), fasting during the month of Ramadan (sawm), almsgiving (zakat), and the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in a lifetime.[16][17]

To become a Muslim and to convert to Islam is essential to utter the Shahada, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, a declaration of faith and trust that professes that there is only one God (Allah) and that Muhammad is God's messenger.[18] It is a set statement normally recited in Arabic: lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāhu muḥammadun rasūlu-llāh (لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله) "There is no god but Allah, (and) Muhammad is the messenger of God."[19]

In Sunni Islam, the shahada has two parts: la ilaha illa'llah (there is no god but God), and Muhammadun rasul Allah (Muhammad is the messenger of God),[20] which are sometimes referred to as the first shahada and the second shahada.[21] The first statement of the shahada is also known as the tahlīl.[22]

In Shia Islam, the shahada also has a third part, a phrase concerning Ali, the first Shia Imam and the fourth Rashid caliph of Sunni Islam: وعليٌ وليُّ الله (wa ʿalīyyun walīyyu-llāh), which translates to "Ali is the wali of God.[23]


The word muslim (Arabic: مسلم‎, IPA: [ˈmʊslɪm]; English: /ˈmʌzlɪm/, /ˈmʊzlɪm/, /ˈmʊslɪm/ or moslem /ˈmɒzləm/, /ˈmɒsləm/[24]) is the active participle of the same verb of which islām is a verbal noun, based on the triliteral S-L-M "to be whole, intact".[25][26] A female adherent is a muslima (Arabic: مسلمة‎) (also transliterated as "Muslimah"[27] ). The plural form in Arabic is muslimūn (مسلمون) or muslimīn (مسلمين), and its feminine equivalent is muslimāt (مسلمات). The Arabic form muslimun is the stem IV participle[note 2] of the triliteral S-L-M.

The ordinary word in English is "Muslim". It is sometimes transliterated as "Moslem", which is an older spelling.[citation needed] The word Mosalman (Persian: مسلمان‎, alternatively Mussalman) is a common equivalent for Muslim used in Central and South Asia. Until at least the mid-1960s, many English-language writers used the term Mohammedans or Mahometans.[28] Although such terms were not necessarily intended to be pejorative, Muslims argue that the terms are offensive because they allegedly imply that Muslims worship Muhammad rather than God.[29] Other obsolete terms include Muslimite[30] and Muslimist.[31]

Musulmán/Mosalmán (Persian: مسلمان‎) is a synonym for Muslim and is modified from Arabic. It is the origin of the Spanish word musulmán, the (dated) German Muselmann, the French word musulman, the Polish words muzułmanin and muzułmański, the Portuguese word muçulmano, the Italian word mussulmano or musulmano, the Romanian word musulman and the Greek word μουσουλμάνος (all used for a Muslim).[32] In English it was sometimes spelled Mussulman and has become archaic in usage.

Apart from Persian, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Italian, and Greek, the term could be found, with obvious local differences, in Armenian, Dari, Pashto, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Panjabi, Turkish, Kazakh, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Azeri, Maltese, Hungarian, Czech, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Dutch, and Sanskrit.


The Muslim philosopher Ibn Arabi said:

A Muslim is a person who has dedicated his worship exclusively to God...Islam means making one's religion and faith God's alone.[33]

Other prophets

The Qur'an describes many prophets and messengers within Judaism and Christianity, and their respective followers, as Muslim: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Jacob, Moses, and Jesus and his apostles are all considered to be Muslims in the Qur'an. The Qur'an states that these men were Muslims because they submitted to God, preached His message and upheld His values, which included praying, charity, fasting and pilgrimage. Thus, in Surah 3:52 of the Qur'an, Jesus' disciples tell him, "We believe in God; and you be our witness that we are Muslims (wa-shahad be anna muslimūn)." In Muslim belief, before the Qur'an, God had given the Tawrat (Torah) to Moses, the Zabur (Psalms) to David and the Injil (Gospel) to Jesus, who are all considered important Muslim prophets.


A map of Muslim populations by numbers, (Pew Research Center, 2009)
World Muslim population by percentage (2010 data from Pew Research Center)

The most populous Muslim-majority country is Indonesia, home to 12.7% of the world's Muslims,[5] followed by Pakistan (11.0%), Bangladesh (9.2%), and Egypt (4.9%).[34] About 20% of the world's Muslims lives in the Middle East and North Africa.[5][35]

Sizable minorities are also found in India, China, Russia, Ethiopia, the Americas, Australia and parts of Europe. The country with the highest proportion of self-described Muslims as a proportion of its total population is Morocco.[2] Converts and immigrant communities are found in almost every part of the world.

Over 75–90% of Muslims are Sunni.[36][37] The second and third largest sects, Shia and Ahmadiyya, make up 10–20%,[38][39] and 1%[7] respectively.

With about 1.6 billion followers, almost a quarter of earth's population,[40][5][41] Islam is the second-largest and the fastest-growing religion in the world.[42] due primarily to the young age and high fertility rate of Muslims,[43] with Muslim having a rate of (3.1) compared to the world average of (2.5). According to the same study, religious switching has no impact on Muslim population, since the number of people who embrace Islam and those who leave Islam are roughly equal.[43]

A Pew Center study in 2016 found that Muslims have the highest number of adherents under the age of 15 (or 34% of the total Muslim population) of any major religion, while only 7% are aged 60+ (the smallest percentage of any major religion). According to the same study, Muslims have the highest fertility rates (3.1) of any major religious group.[44] The study also found that Muslims have the lowest average levels of education after Hindus, with an average of 5.6 years of schooling.[44] About 36% of all Muslims have no formal schooling,[44] and Muslims have the lowest average levels of higher education of any major religious group, with only 8% having graduate and post-graduate degrees.[44]

See also


  1. ^ Original source estimated 87–90% of Muslims to adhere to Sunni Islam but counted almost all non-denominational Muslims as Sunni. To get a more accurate estimation, percentage of Non-denominational Muslims (15–20%) was subtracted from the original estimation
  2. ^ also known as "infinitive"


  1. ^ Lipka, Michael; Hackett, Conrad (6 April 2017). "Why Muslims are the world's fastest-growing religious group". Retrieved 23 August 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010–2050". Pew Research Center. 2 April 2015. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Muslim Population by Country". The Future of the Global Muslim Population. Pew Research Center. Archived from the original on 9 February 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2011. 
  4. ^ {{cite encyclopedia|author=Alford T. Welch, Ahmad S. Moussalli, Gordon D. Newby|title=Muḥammad|encyclopedia=The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World|editor=John L. Esposito|publisher=Oxford University Press|location=Oxford|year=2009|url= Prophet of Islam was a religious, political, and social reformer who gave rise to one of the great civilizations of the world. From a modern, historical perspective, Muḥammad was the founder of Islam. From the perspective of the Islamic faith, he was God's Messenger (rasūl Allāh), called to be a “warner,” first to the Arabs and then to all humankind.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population" (PDF). Pew Research Center. October 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2017. Of the total Muslim population, 10–13% are Shia Muslims and 87–90% are Sunni Muslims. 
  6. ^ a b "Chapter 1: Religious Affiliation". The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity. Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. 9 August 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  7. ^ a b See:
  8. ^ Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (2007). "Qurʼān". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 4 November 2007. 
  9. ^ Grim, Brian J.; Johnson, Todd M. (2013). Chapter 1: Global Religious Populations, 1910–2010 (PDF) (Report). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. p. 22. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2017. 
  10. ^ Al-Jallad, Ahmad. "Polygenesis in the Arabic Dialects". 
  11. ^ The Qurʼan and Sayings of Prophet Muhammad: Selections Annotated & Explained. SkyLight Paths Publishing. 2007. pp. 21–. ISBN 978-1-59473-222-5. Retrieved 31 August 2013. 
  12. ^ "Muslim". 
  13. ^ "People of the Book". Islam: Empire of Faith. PBS. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  14. ^ See:
    • Accad (2003): According to Ibn Taymiyya, although only some Muslims accept the textual veracity of the entire Bible, most Muslims will grant the veracity of most of it.
    • Esposito (1998), pp.6,12
    • Esposito (2002b), pp.4–5
    • F. E. Peters (2003), p.9
    • F. Buhl; A. T. Welch. "Muhammad". Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. 
    • Hava Lazarus-Yafeh. "Tahrif". Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. 
  15. ^, Quran: The Final Testament, Authorized English Version with Arabic Text, Revised Edition IV,ISBN 0-9729209-2-7, p. x.
  16. ^ Hooker, Richard (14 July 1999). "arkan ad-din the five pillars of religion". United States: Washington State University. Archived from the original on 3 December 2010. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  17. ^ "Religions". The World Factbook. United States: Central Intelligence Agency. 2010. Retrieved 25 August 2010. 
  18. ^ From the article on the Pillars of Islam in Oxford Islamic Studies Online
  19. ^ Matthew S. Gordon and Martin Palmer, ''Islam'', Info base Publishing, 2009. p. 87. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  20. ^ Lindsay, p. 140–141
  21. ^ Cornell, p. 9
  22. ^ Michael Anthony Sells (1999). Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations. White Cloud Press. p. 151. 
  23. ^ The Later Mughals by William Irvine p. 130
  24. ^ "Muslim". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary: /ˈmʌzlɪm/, /ˈmʊzlɪm/, /ˈmʊslɪm/; moslem /ˈmɒzləm/, /ˈmɒsləm/
  25. ^ Burns & Ralph, World Civilizations, 5th ed., p. 371.
  26. ^ Entry for šlm, p. 2067, Appendix B: Semitic Roots, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed., Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000, ISBN 0-618-08230-1.
  27. ^ Muslimah. Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. 2016
  28. ^ See for instance the second edition of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage by H. W. Fowler, revised by Ernest Gowers (Oxford, 1965).
  29. ^ Gibb, Sir Hamilton (1969). Mohammedanism: an historical survey. Oxford University Press. p. 1. Modern Muslims dislike the terms Mohammedan and Mohammedanism, which seem to them to carry the implication of worship of Mohammed, as Christian and Christianity imply the worship of Christ. 
  30. ^ "Muslimite". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  31. ^ Abbas, Tahir (2005). Muslim Britain: Communities Under Pressure. p. 50. 
  32. ^ Musalman Archived 4 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine. – Internet Encyclopedia of Religion
  33. ^ Commentary on the Qur'an, Razi, I, p. 432, Cairo, 1318/1900
  34. ^ "Number of Muslim by country". Retrieved 30 May 2007. 
  35. ^ Esposito, John L. (15 October 2002). What everyone needs to know about Islam. Oxford University Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-19-515713-0.  and Esposito, John (2005). Islam : the straight path (Rev. 3rd ed., updated with new epilogue. ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 2, 43. ISBN 978-0-19-518266-8. 
  36. ^ See:
  37. ^ From Sunni Islam: See:
  38. ^ "Shīʿite". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 9 August 2010. Retrieved 25 August 2010. Shīʿites have come to account for roughly one-tenth of the Muslim population worldwide. 
  39. ^ "Religions". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 25 August 2010. Sunni Islam accounts for over 75% of the world's Muslim population... Shia Islam represents 10–20% of Muslims worldwide... 
  40. ^ "No God But God". Thomas W. Lippman. 7 April 2008. Retrieved 25 August 2010. Islam is the youngest, the fastest growing, and in many ways the least complicated of the world's great monotheistic faiths. It is a unique religion based on its own holy book, but it is also a direct descendant of Judaism and Christianity, incorporating some of the teachings of those religions—modifying some and rejecting others. 
  41. ^ "Nearly 1 in 4 people worldwide is Muslim, report says". CNN. 12 October 2009. 
  42. ^ Burke, Daniel. "The fastest growing religion in the world is ..." CNN. Retrieved 6 May 2016. 
  43. ^ a b The Future of the Global Muslim Population (PDF) (Report). Pew Research Center. 27 January 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2017. 
  44. ^ a b c d "Religion and Education Around the World" (PDF). Pew Research Center. 13 December 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 

External links