Islam in Lebanon

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Islam in Lebanon
الإسلام في لبنان
Total population
Sects of Islam in Lebanon (2020)[2]
Muslim denomination percent
Sunni Muslims
Shia Muslims

Islam in Lebanon has a long and continuous history. According to an estimate by the CIA, it is followed by 67.8% of the country's total population.[3] Sunnis make up 31.9%,[4] Shias make up 31.2%,[5] with smaller percentages of Alawites and Ismailis. The Druze community is designated as one of the five Lebanese Muslim communities (Sunni, Shia, Druze, Alawi, and Ismaili),[6][7] even though most Druze do not identify as Muslims,[8][9][10][11][12] and they do not accept the five pillars of Islam.[13]

Under the terms of an agreement known as the National Pact between the various political and religious leaders of Lebanon, the president of the country must be a Maronite, the Prime Minister must be a Sunnite, and the Speaker of Parliament must be a Shiite.


Lebanese Muslims [14][15][16][17][18][2]
Year Percent

Note that the following percentages are estimates only. However, in a country that had last census in 1932, it is difficult to have correct population estimates.

The number of Muslims in Lebanon has been disputed for many years. There has been no official census in Lebanon since 1932. According to the CIA World Factbook,[19] the Muslim population is estimated at around 59.5%[20] within the Lebanese territory and of the 8.6[21]–14[22] million Lebanese diaspora is believed by some to be about 20%[citation needed] of the total population.

The last census in Lebanon in 1932 put the numbers of Muslims (Shia 19%, Sunni 22%, Druze 7%) at 48% of the population (388,400 of 791,700).[23] A study done by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1985 put the numbers of Muslims (Shia 41%, Sunni 27%, Druze 7%) at 75% of the population (1,667,000 of 2,228,000).[23]

Current political and religious issues[edit]

Although Lebanon is a secular country, family matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance are still handled by the religious authorities representing a person's faith. Calls for civil marriage are unanimously rejected by the religious authorities but civil marriages conducted in another country are recognized by Lebanese civil authorities.

Non-religion is not recognized by the state, the Minister of the Interior Ziad Baroud made it possible in 2009 to have the religious sect removed from the Lebanese identity card. This does not, however, deny the religious authorities complete control over civil family issues inside the country.[24][25]

Distribution of Lebanon's religious groups according to 2009 municipal election data.
An estimate of the area distribution of Lebanon's main religious groups.


Lebanese Muslims are divided into many branches like Shiites, Sunnis, Druze, Alawites, and Ismailis.

Shia Islam[edit]

The Lebanese Shia Muslims are around 27%[20]–29%[26][27] of the total population. Twelvers are the predominant Shia group, followed by Alawites and Ismailis. The Speaker of Parliament is always a Shi'a Muslim, as it is the only high post that Shi'as are eligible for.[28][29][30][31] The Shiites are largely concentrated in northern and central Beqaa, Southern Lebanon, in south Beirut (southern parts of Greater Beirut).[32][33]

Sunni Islam[edit]

The Lebanese Sunni Muslims constitute also about 27%[32]–29% [20] of the total population with the Hanafi and Shafiʽi madhhab being the predominant Sunni groups. Sunni notables traditionally held power in the Lebanese state together, and they are still the only ones eligible for the post of Prime Minister[34] Sunnis form the majority in west Beirut, Tripoli, Sidon, Central and Western Beqaa and hasbaya, ikleem al kharroub, Miniyeh and Danniyeh districts, and Akkar in the north.[32] Several large Sufi orders are active in the country, including the Naqshbandi and Qadiriyya tariqas.


The Lebanese Druze constitute 5%[20] of the population and can be found primarily in Mount Lebanon and the Shouf District. Under the Lebanese political division (Parliament of Lebanon Seat Allocation) the Druze community is designated as one of the five Lebanese Muslim communities (Sunni, Shia, Druze, Alawi, and Ismaili).[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2012 Report on International Religious Freedom - Lebanon". United States Department of State. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b "The World Factbook". Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  3. ^ "Lebanon: people and society"
  4. ^ "Lebanon: people and society"
  5. ^ "Lebanon: people and society"
  6. ^ a b Lebanon Country Study Guide Volume 1 Strategic Information and Developments. 2009-06-07. ISBN 9781438774824. Retrieved 2019-04-24.
  7. ^ a b Lebanon Country Study Guide Volume 1 Strategic Information and Developments - Google Books. 2009-06-07. ISBN 9781438774824. Retrieved 2019-04-24.
  8. ^ Pintak, Lawrence (2019). America & Islam: Soundbites, Suicide Bombs and the Road to Donald Trump. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 86. ISBN 9781788315593.
  9. ^ Jonas, Margaret (2011). The Templar Spirit: The Esoteric Inspiration, Rituals and Beliefs of the Knights Templar. Temple Lodge Publishing. p. 83. ISBN 9781906999254. [Druze] often they are not regarded as being Muslim at all, nor do all the Druze consider themselves as Muslim
  10. ^ "Are the Druze People Arabs or Muslims? Deciphering Who They Are". Arab America. Arab America. 8 August 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  11. ^ J. Stewart, Dona (2008). The Middle East Today: Political, Geographical and Cultural Perspectives. Routledge. p. 33. ISBN 9781135980795. Most Druze do not consider themselves Muslim. Historically they faced much persecution and keep their religious beliefs secrets.
  12. ^ Yazbeck Haddad, Yvonne (2014). The Oxford Handbook of American Islam. Oxford University Press. p. 142. ISBN 9780199862634. While they appear parallel to those of normative Islam, in the Druze religion they are different in meaning and interpretation. The religion is consider distinct from the Ismaili as well as from other Muslims belief and practice... Most Druze consider themselves fully assimilated in American society and do not necessarily identify as Muslims..
  13. ^ De McLaurin, Ronald (1979). The Political Role of Minority Groups in the Middle East. Michigan University Press. p. 114. ISBN 9780030525964. Theologically, one would have to conclude that the Druze are not Muslims. They do not accept the five pillars of Islam. In place of these principles the Druze have instituted the seven precepts noted above..
  14. ^ "Contemporary distribution of Lebanon's main religious groups". Library of Congress. 1988. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Contemporary distribution of Lebanon's main religious groups". 1998. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  16. ^ Tom Najem (July 1998). "The Collapse and Reconstruction of Lebanon" (PDF). Durham Middle East Papers. University of Durham Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (59). ISSN 1357-7522. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  17. ^ "Lebanon: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor - International Religious Freedom Report 2010". U.S. Department of State. 17 November 2010. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  18. ^ "Lebanon: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor - 2012 Report on International Religious Freedom". U.S. Department of State. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  19. ^ "CIA - The World Factbook - Middle East :: Lebanon". CIA Factbook. Washington, DC, USA: Central Intelligence Agency. August 1, 2012. Retrieved August 4, 2012.
  20. ^ a b c d "Statistics Lebanon Beirut-based research firm".
  21. ^ "Bassil promises to ease citizenship for expatriates". Retrieved 2019-04-24.
  22. ^ "Country Profile: Lebanon". FCO. 3 April 2007. Archived from the original on 31 July 2003. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  23. ^ a b "Contemporary distribution of Lebanon's main religious groups". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2013-12-15.
  24. ^ Piero Gheddo (2009-02-13) LEBANON Religious affiliation to disappear from Lebanese documents – Asia News. Retrieved on 2013-09-26.
  25. ^ Religious Affiliation Can Be Removed From Lebanese ID Cards. Barcode Nation (2009-02-25). Retrieved on 2013-09-26.
  26. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report 2008 – Lebanon". 2008 Report on International Religious Freedom. US Department of State. September 19, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-08.
  27. ^ "Countries with more than 100,000 Shia Muslims" (PDF). Pew Research Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 January 2013. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  28. ^ "Lebanon-Religious Sects". Retrieved 2010-08-11.
  29. ^ "March for secularism; religious laws are archaic". NOW Lebanon. Archived from the original on 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2010-08-11.
  30. ^ "Fadlallah Charges Every Sect in Lebanon Except his Own Wants to Dominate the Country". Naharnet. Retrieved 2010-08-11.
  31. ^ Hajjar, George J. "Aspects of Christian-Muslim Relations in Contemporary Lebanon". Hartford, CT, USA: Hartford Seminary. Archived from the original on August 27, 2012. Retrieved August 4, 2012.
  32. ^ a b c "Minority Rights Group International : Lebanon : Lebanon Overview".
  33. ^ Lebanon Ithna'ashari Shias Overview Archived 2012-12-03 at the Wayback Machine World Directory of Minorities. June 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  34. ^ "Lebanon". Washington, DC, USA: United States Department of State. Retrieved August 4, 2012.