The World’s Fastest Growing Religion May Surprise You
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and in Canada as well. It is second only to Christianity in its number of followers. Muslims are believers of Islam. According to the Pew Research Center, 23 percent of the world’s population are practicing Muslims. There are slightly more than 1 million Muslims in Canada, which equates to approximately 3.2 percent of the country’s citizens.
Islam Religion Around the Globe
Islam is the majority religion in a number of countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In the following places, over 85 percent of the population is Muslim:
- Saudi Arabia
Sunni and Shia are the two main Muslim denominations. The most popular is Sunni and 75-90 percent of followers of Islam are Sunni. Shia Muslims represent the remaining 10-20 percent. The third denomination is Ahmadis and is followers constitute approximately 1 percent of all Muslims.
Islam in Canada
There are Muslims living all across Canada, but approximately 40 percent reside in the province of Ontario. Muslims make up almost 8 percent of the population of Toronto. Following are the cities with the largest Muslim populations, in order:
- Eid al-Fitr
Eid al-Fitr falls at the end of Ramadan, which is a month-long period of fasting and one of the most sacred times of year on the Islamic calendar. The Arabic translation for Eid al-Fitr is “festival of breaking the fast.” This holiday celebrates the conclusion of Ramadan and lasts from one to three days. It is customary to wear new clothes and donate money to charity. No fasting is allowed on Eid al-Fitr, and a celebratory feast takes place.
- Eid al-Adha
Eid al-Adha means “festival of the sacrifice” and occurs during Dhu al-Hijjah. Dhu al-Hijjah is the last month of the Islamic year and when the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca takes place. All Muslims must make this journey once in their lifetime if they are able. Families sacrifice animals on Eid al-Adha and distribute the meat to friends, neighbors and the poor.
Famous Canadian Muslims
There are well-known Canadian Muslims in many different professions including journalism, politics, entertainment and hockey. They include:
- Naheed Nenshi – current mayor of Calgary
- Yasmin Ratansi – first and only Muslim female Member of Parliament
- Haroon Siddiqui – journalist and former editor of the Toronto Star
- K’naan – singer-songwriter
- Zarqa Nawaz – creator of the Canadian sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie
- Nazem Kadri – player for the Toronto Maple Leafs
Canadian Muslims have been involved in several head-covering controversies over the years.
Sikh immigrant Baltej Singh Dhillon was the first Mountie to wear a turban. The government formally lifted the ban on Sikh Mounties wearing turbans in 1990 after Dhillon argued his religious rights were being violated. This decision caused many protests.
When a Quebec judge declared women who wear niqabs, which are veils that cover everything but the eyes, could vote in provincial elections, there was a tremendous backlash. At the urging of politicians, the judge later reversed his decision. The official policy currently listed on the Canadian elections website is:
“If the elector agrees to remove their face covering, the election official will follow regular voting procedures.
“If the elector does not wish to remove their face covering, the deputy returning officer will advise the elector that they must provide two pieces of authorized identification, one proving their identity and the other proving their identity and address, and then take an oath attesting to their eligibility to vote.”
Over 1.6 billion people worldwide identity as Muslim, and that number continues to grow at a fast pace. There are an ever increasing number of Canadian Muslims, and they are becoming more and more a part of the fabric of the country.