Population - Individuals

The Census 2001 showed that Muslims in total made up under 3% of Britain.

  Buddhist 144,453
  Christian 37,338,486
  Hindu 552,421
  Jewish 259,927
  Muslim 1,546,626
  Sikh 329,358
  Other Religions 150,720
  No Religion 7,709,267
  Religion Not Stated 4,010,658

The Census 2001 found that Great Britain had 1,588, 890 Muslims or 1.6 million approximately. This makes up 2.8% of the population and 51.9% of religious population excluding Christians (that is, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, Muslim and Other Religion). Scotland accounted for 42,264 citizens, equivalent to 0.8% of the Scottish population or 55.9% of the Scottish religious population excluding Christians.

The final answer to how many Muslims there are in Britain does not end there, however. Notably, the 2001 Census in Northern Ireland did not provide a specific question for religion other than for Christian denominations, the numbers being considered too small to introduce the new question on religion. This means that, technically, we do not have a true UK-wide count for British Muslims. The Census in England and Wales asked a different question (What is your religion?) to that in Scotland (What religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to?) and this has the potential to yield different responses, particularly from minority denominations within the larger ‘Muslim’ group.

An 8% gap in the Census 2001 provides large scope for exaggerating its religion count, particularly if the object is to seek such scope

The question of religion was a voluntary question. 7.8% did not state their religion and additionally 0.3% ticked ‘any other religion’ in Great Britain, and this 8% can provide scope for adjustments to the overall count, particularly if the object is to seek such scope. It is worth noting that Muslim community organisations were prominent voices for the inclusion of the religion question and populations of a migrant history would, in proportional terms, have greater reason to be counted. Accordingly, Muslims not stating their religion would make up a very small fraction. Such a gap in population figures can also be matched with data on ethnicity, which is a compulsory question, and which has more copious amounts of data with which to cross analyse the count of religion provided by the Census 2001.

Moreover, a closer look at the 52,041,920 written answers to the religion question in the Census 2001 in England and Wales, which covers over 97% of Britain’s Muslim population, shows 180 identified categories ranging from followers of specifically named churches to more ‘wacky’ written in categories like Animism, Occult and (following an internet campaign) Jedi Knight. None of these categories however match known Muslim (or ‘near Muslim’) sub categories. For example, no respondents wrote down Shia, Ismaili, Aga Khan or Ahmadiyyah - the great bulk of these respondents would, on answering the religion question, be caught within the specific ‘Muslim’ count. This closer examination provides a good evidential ground for the 1,588, 890 population figure of 2001 to be placed at the upper end and not the lower end as a primary starting point.

What religion did citizens say they belonged to in 2001? To see specifically named religions across England and Wales, click here.

70,651 specified their religion as Jehovah’s Witness
Census 2001
2,022 Londoners stated they were Rastafarians
Census 2001
© Crown Copyright. Source data has been derived from ONS Census 2001, unless otherwise stated.