Religion in Kuwait
Religion in Kuwait is predominantly Islamic with 85% of the population being Muslim (Sunni 60%, Shi'a 40%) and the remaining 15% being Christian, Hindu and Parsi. While there are small numbers of Kuwaiti Christians, there is no significant Jewish community present. Most foreigners are Muslim, Christian, Hindus or Buddhists.
85% of Kuwait's population is Muslim, of which 60% is Sunni and 40% is Shi'a. Some other minor Muslim sects do exist in Kuwait's society, but in very small or rare numbers. The Grand Mosque of Kuwait serves the needs of many of the Sunni Muslims and activities are also conducted for Muslim expatriates by foreign born scholars at the Grand Mosque, such as those of Imam Mohammed Daniel who conducts lectures in English
60% of Kuwaiti nationals are Sunnis Muslims; while 40% are Shi'a. Shia are a diverse group. Most are originally Persians and some are Arab, many the descendants of immigrants from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Kuwaitis of Iranian origin, who often speak Persian, sometimes maintain business and family ties with Iranians across the Persian Gulf. After the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the subsequent Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88, this Shia community experienced a renewed sense of sectarian identification. The identification resulted from sympathy with their revolutionary coreligionists in Iran and from increasing government and social discrimination. During the 1980s, the tension between Sunnis and Shia, which had erupted occasionally in the past, became somewhat sharper.
Christianity is a minority religion in Kuwait. There are 140,000 Catholics in Kuwait (about 3.92% of the population). There are now about 50,000 Protestants in Kuwait (1.40% of the population). The Anglican Church has about 115 members. The National Evangelical Church has about 15000 members. The Greek Orthodox Church has about 3500 members, the Armenian Orthodox Church has about 4000 members. The Coptic Orthodox Church has about 60,000 members. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) has a ward (congregation) of approximately 300 members. The vast majority of Christians in Kuwait are foreigners. The Seventh-day Adventists are among the unrecognized Christian groups. The majority of Christians are foreign expats. However, there are approximately 200 Christian citizens, most of whom belong to 12 large families. A 1980 law prohibits the naturalization of non-Muslims; however, male Christian citizens whose families were citizens before 1980 are allowed to transmit their citizenship to their descendants, though not their spouses.
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The history of the Jews in Kuwait is connected to the history of the Jews in Iraq. In the 1920s, there was an exodus of Jews out of Kuwait to Baghdad because of the Jewish-friendly King Faisal the First who rose to power there. These were largely "Babylonian Jews" who have existed in the region for centuries, and have helped greatly in the economic development of Kuwait, Baghdad and the surrounding regions throughout the 19th-century. Today, there are no Jewish Kuwaiti citizens.
The Kuwaiti government is more tolerant of Christians and Jews than many of it's Arab and Muslim neighbors. In the new city of Madinat al-Hareer, a Jewish synagogue will be included in the landmark skyscraper together with a mosque and a Christian church.