Religion in Kuwait

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Mosque in Kuwait City, Kuwait

Islam is the official religion in Kuwait, with the majority of the citizen population being Muslim (Sunni 60%-70%, Shia 30%-40%).[1] Kuwait has a native Christian community, in 1999 there were 400 Christian Kuwaiti citizens.[2] In June 2013, there were 256 Christian Kuwaiti citizens residing in Kuwait.[3] There is a small number of Bahá'í Kuwaiti citizens.[4] Most foreigners in Kuwait are Muslim, Hindu, Christian or Buddhist.[4]

Islam[edit]

Grand Masjid of Kuwait

Most of Kuwait's citizen population is Muslim; there are no official figures, but it is estimated that 60%-70% are Sunni and 30%-40% are Shias.[1][5] Some other minor Muslim sects do exist in Kuwait's society, but in very small or rare numbers. There are no estimates of the number of non-citizen Sunnis, but there are an estimated 150,000 non-citizen Shia.[4]

In 2001, there were 525,000 Sunni Kuwaiti citizens, 300,000 Shia Kuwaiti citizens and 820,000 Kuwaiti citizens in total thus Sunnis formed 64% and Shias formed 36.5% of the Kuwaiti citizen population.[6] In 2002, the US Department of State reported that Shia Kuwaitis formed 30%-40% of Kuwait's citizen population,[5] noting there were 525,000 Sunni Kuwaiti citizens and 855,000 Kuwaiti citizens in total (61% Sunnis, 39% Shias).[5] In 2004, there were 600,000 Sunni Kuwaitis citizens, 300,000-350,000 Shia Kuwaiti citizens and 913,000 Kuwaiti citizens in total.[7]

Christianity[edit]

Christianity is a minority religion in Kuwait. Kuwait has a native Christian community, in 1999 there were 400 Christian Kuwaiti citizens.[2] In June 2013, there were 256 Christian Kuwaiti citizens residing in Kuwait.[3] Kuwait is the only GCC country besides Bahrain to have a local Christian population who hold citizenship. Of the non-citizen population, there are an estimated 450,000 Christians in Kuwait. The government-recognized Christian churches include the Roman Catholic Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the National Evangelical Church Kuwait (Protestant), the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Greek Catholic (Melkite) Church, and the Anglican Church. There are also many Christian religious groups not officially recognised by the government with smaller populations, including the Indian Orthodox, Mar Thoma, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and Seventh-day Adventist Church. Unrecognized groups are generally free to worship in private.[4]

Bahá'í[edit]

There is a small number of Bahá'í Kuwaiti citizens.[4] While the official 2013 census only shows three religion categories: "Muslim", "Christian" and "Other", with only 18 people in the other category,[3] another source states that there are around 400 Bahá'ís in total in Kuwait.[4]

Judaism[edit]

There were hundreds of Kuwaiti Jews before the 1950s, however all Jewish families left Kuwait by the 1980s. There are currently no known Jewish citizens and an estimated few dozen Jewish foreign resident workers.[4]

Other[edit]

The government does not recognize religious groups not sanctioned in the Quran, meaning these religions cannot operate their own official places of worship or obtain visas for their clergy. They are allowed to meet in private and to arrange the use of facilities of other religious organisations. There are no Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist citizens. There are an estimated 600,000 non-citizen Hindus, 100,000 non-citizen Buddhists and 10,000 Sikhs.[4]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.