CAIRO - Islam is the second largest religion in the world, with Muslims are having the lowest median age among all religious groups, a new study has found.
Muslims are going to grow as a share of the world's population and an important part of that is this young age structure, Pew Forum demographer Conrad Hackett said in a new study.
The Global Religious Landscape study by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that Muslims are numbered 1.6 billion, making up 23% of the world's 6.9 billion population.
The overwhelming majority (87-90%) of Muslims are Sunnis; about 10-13% are Shiite Muslims, it said.
Christians are estimated at 2.2 billion, making up around 32% of the world's population, while Hindus are numbered one billion (15%).
The comprehensive demographic study found that the majority of Muslims are concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region, where six-in-ten (62%) of all Muslims reside.
Three percent of the world's Muslims are concentrated in Europe, while less than 1% reside in North America and less than 1% are in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The study also found that Muslims make up 6% of the total population in Europe, nearly 1% of those living in North America and less than 1% of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The study, which is based on analysis of more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers, also showed that Muslims make up the majority of the population in 49 countries, including 19 of the 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Nearly three-quarters of all Muslims (73%) live in these countries, it said.
The study found that nearly two-thirds of Muslims (66%) live in ten countries; Indonesia (13%), India (11%), Pakistan (11%), Bangladesh (8%), Nigeria (5%), Egypt (5%), Iran (5%), Turkey (5%), Algeria (2%) and Morocco (2%).
Although Muslims are a minority in India (14% of the total population), India nonetheless has one of the largest Muslim populations in the world, the study revealed.
The landmark study also showed that Muslims have the lowest median age among all religious groups in the world.
Globally, Muslims are younger (median age of 23) than the overall global population (median age of 28), it said.
The study said that half of the world's Muslims are under the age of 23 years.
It showed that Muslims are youngest in sub-Saharan Africa (median age of 17), followed by the Middle East and North Africa (23), Asia and the Pacific (24), North America (26) and Europe (32).
Muslims are younger than the general population in each of the major regions for which data are available, the study said
It noted that Muslims in North America are aged 26 years compared to 37 years among the general population.
European Muslims are aged 32 compared to 40 years in the general population, Asia and the Pacific (24 v s. 29), sub-Saharan Africa (17 vs. 18) and the Middle East and North Africa (2 3 vs. 24).
A new British census released earlier this month found that Islam is the fastest-growing faith in Britain.
It found that the proportion of Muslims rose from 3.0 percent to 4.8 percent, becoming the fastest growing religion in Britain.A census by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies in Chicago in May also found that Islam is among the fastest-growing religions in the United States.