Top Muslim Nations

Due to conversions and high birthrates in the Muslim world, Islam is the world's fastest-growing religion. In fact, with 1.3 billion followers, the number of Muslims worldwide is equal to the population of China, the world's most populous country. We wonder: Measured by its population, which of the following countries is not ranked among the 15 largest Muslim nations?

A. Turkey
B. Iran
C. Nigeria
D. Saudi Arabia

A. Turkey is not correct.

With 99.8% of its population Muslim, Turkey has 71 million followers of Islam. This gives the country the world's sixth-largest Muslim population.

Turkey has less than half as many Muslims as either Pakistan or India, the world's second- and third-most populous Muslim nations — with 160 million and 151 million Muslims, respectively.

B. Iran is not correct.

With 64 million Muslims, Iran is the world's eighth-largest Muslim nation — ranking just behind Nigeria but ahead of Morocco. Like Turkey's, its population is overwhelmingly Muslim, accounting for a 98% share.

Iran has more Muslims than Afghanistan and Iraq combined (with 32 million and 27 million Muslims, respectively). While 90% of Iran's Muslims are Shiite, Shiites account for 60% of all Muslims in Iraq — and 15% in Afghanistan.

C. Nigeria is not correct.

With 50% of its population followers of Islam, Nigeria has about 68 million Muslims — giving it the world's seventh-largest Muslim population.

Although Islam began in the Arabian Peninsula, only about one-fifth of Muslims live in the Arab-speaking world. According to National Geographic, about 40% of Muslims live in South and Southeast Asia — and 30% live in Africa.

D. Saudi Arabia is correct.

Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam — but it is home to only 22 million Muslims. It thus ranks 17th worldwide in terms of its number of Muslims, placing it behind countries such as India, China, Ethiopia and Uzbekistan. In addition, Saudi Arabia has about one-ninth as many Muslims as Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation — and third-largest democracy.

While law requires that all Saudi citizens be Muslims, Saudi Arabia has a foreign population of about seven million people. It includes 1.4 million Indians, one million Bangladeshis, nearly 900,000 Pakistanis — and about 25,000 Americans.

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