In 2020, there are approximately 586.9 million Muslims in South Asia. This means that there are far more Muslims in South Asia than the Middle East. South Asia are the seven countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Bhutan.
Most missionaries, missionary agencies, and churches put more emphasis on Arab Muslims than South Asian Muslims. Consider this, there are about 47 million Muslims in an Indian state called Uttar Pradesh. This means that there are more Muslims in Uttar Pradesh than in countries like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, or Iraq. When you think of large Muslim populations, do you think about Uttar Pradesh?
Let me give one more example. Punjab Province in Pakistan has about 114 million Muslims. If Punjab province were its own country, it would have the fifth largest Muslim population on the planet. In fact, the five largest Muslim populations would be like this:
- Indonesia – 229 milion Muslims
- Pakistan – 212.8 million Muslims
- India – 210.1 milllion Muslims
- Bangladesh – 159.5 million Muslims
- Punjab Province in Pakistan – 114 million Muslims
Luke 10:2 tells us what we need to do when we see these numbers.
“The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”
Our first response is to pray. We need to pray that God will send laborers into these fields to bring His gospel to the greatest concentration of Muslim lostness in the world. As we pray, we should follow the disciple’s example in Luke 10 and GO! There is no better way to spend your life than in pursuit of God’s glory in the nations.
Here is a brief analysis of the number of Muslims in South Asia along with references to how those numbers were calculated. These numbers are extrapolated from the relevant census data from each country.
- 2017 Census, 207.8 million people in Pakistan; 96.0% Muslim. 199.5 million Muslims in 2017.
- 1998 Census, 132.4 million people in Pakistan; 96.4% Muslim. 127.6 million Muslims in 1998.
- Growth rate of Muslims is 2.18% per year based on 1998 and 2017 Census data.
- Therefore, there are approximately 212.8 million Muslims in Pakistan in 2020.
- 2011 Census, 1,210.9 million people in India; 14.23% Muslim. 172.3 million Muslims in 2011.
- 2001 Census, 1,028.7 million people in India; 13.43% Muslim. 138.2 million Muslims in 2001.
- Growth rate of Muslims is 2.23% per year based on 2001 and 2011 Census data.
- Therefore, there are approximately 210.1 million Muslims in India in 2020.
- 2011 Census, 152.5 million people in Bangladesh; 90.39% Muslim. 137.8 million Muslims in 2011.
- 2001 Census, 130.5 million people in Bangladesh; 89.7% Muslim. 117.1 million Muslims in 2001.
- Growth rate of Muslims is 1.64% per year based on 2001 and 2011 Census data.
- Therefore, there are approximately 159.5 million Muslims in Bangladesh in 2020.
- Sri Lanka
- 2012 Census, 20.4 million people in Sri Lanka; 9.66% Muslim. 1.97 million Muslims in 20120.78
- 1981 Census, 10.3 million people in Sri Lanka; 7.56% Muslim. 0.78 million Muslims in 1981.
- Growth rate of Muslims is 3.04% based on 1998 and 2012 Census data.
- Therefore, there are approximately 2.51 million Muslims in 2020.
- 2011 Census, 26.5 million people in Nepal; 4.39% Muslim. 1.16 million Muslims in 2011.
- 2001 Census, 23.2 million people in Nepal; 4.20% Muslim. 0.97 million Muslims in 2001.
- Growth rate of Muslims 1.82% based on 2001 and 2011 Census data.
- Therefore, there are approximately 1.37 million Muslims in 2020.
- 2014 Census, 437,535 people in Maldives; the Maldives officially considers their population to be 100% Muslim.
- 2006 Census, 298.968 people in Maldives.
- Growth rate of Muslims is about 4.8% based on 2006 and 2014 Census data.
- Therefore, there are approximately 0.58 million Muslims in the Maldives in 2020.
- Bhutan – while there is a Muslim population in Bhutan, the numbers are so small that they are negligible for the purposes of calculating the number of Muslims in South Asia. Therefore, they are not considered here.