A Quarter of World Is Muslim

Asia, not Middle East, is center of the world of Islam
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2009 5:31 AM CDT
Muslim women mark the beginning of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia, in August.   (AP Photo/Irwin Fedriansyah)
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(Newser) – A quarter of the world's population is Muslim, and nearly two-thirds of the religion's adherents live in Asia, according to an extensive new study mapping the world of Islam. Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation, and India, a majority-Hindu country, has the world's third-largest population of Muslims—more than twice as many as in Egypt, the most populous Middle Eastern nation.There are 1.57 billion Muslims worldwide, compared with 2.25 billion Christians.

"Increasingly, the people of the Middle East are making up a smaller and smaller percentage of the worldwide Muslim community," one Iranian-American scholar told CNN. "If the goal is to create better understanding between the US and the Muslim world, our focus should be on south and southeast Asia, not the Middle East."