Islam in Papua New Guinea

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Islam in Papua New Guinea is a minority religion; the U.S. Department of State estimates that there are about 2,000 Muslims in the country.[1] Other sources give a higher estimate of 4,000.[2] Majority of the Muslims belong to the Sunni group, while a small number are Ahmadi.[3]


The people of the island of New Guinea traded with China and the Malay empire, the later of which was Muslim, beginning in the 16th century.[4] In 1988, Muslims in Papua New Guinea set up the first Islamic center, with the help of a Malaysia-based Islamic organisation and the Saudi Ministry of Islamic affairs. In 1996, three more Islamic centers were established, with the help of the Muslim World League. There are now seven Islamic centers in the nation. The first mosque, known as the Baitul Kareem Mosque, was built in 1988 in Kimbe, New Britain, by the Ahmadiyya Muslims.[5]

Islam in present-day Papua New Guinea[edit]

In 2001, there were less than 500 Muslims in PNG.[6] As of 2008, there are more than 4,000 Muslims in the country, with many taking up the faith in recent years, with reports of entire villages converting at the same time. According to Isa Teine, the general secretary for PNG's Islamic Society, many are drawn to Islam because of its similarities with Melanesian customs, and he predicts that "Once the religion itself spread I tell you, I'm just predicting in 20, 30 years' time, all Papua New Guinea will submit to Islam."[7] Similar opinions are voiced even by many of the non-Muslims of PNG, with a Seventh Day Adventist preacher from the highland Enga Province stating his belief that, “In the next 30 years all the PNG highlands will become Muslim because our culture is Islamic.”[8] According to research by Dr Scott Flower, a Melbourne University Islamic specialist, secondary reasons for conversion to Islam include the disillusionment and confusion at the competition between the many different Christian churches, and inconsistencies in their theology: “PNG people are quite fanatical about theology, they actually read the bible. They can quote chapter and verse. And the contradictions they find in the bible are another major reason why people told me they converted.”.[9]

In Papua New Guinea, new Islamic missionary movements are beginning to proliferate. There are pockets of Muslims around Port Moresby, in Baimuru, Daru, Marshall Lagoon, the Musa Valley and in the islands of New Britain and New Ireland. It is in the Highlands that Islam has seen the most growth.[10]


  1. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2007
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Islam in Papua New Guinea" (PDF). Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  4. ^ BBC News: Timeline: Papua New Guinea
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Jo Chandler (August 8, 2013). "A Faith Grows In PNG". The Global Mail. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Growing numbers convert to Islam in PNG". ABC. 18 Nov 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Jo Chandler (August 8, 2013). "A Faith Grows In PNG". The Global Mail. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  9. ^ Jo Chandler (August 8, 2013). "A Faith Grows In PNG". The Global Mail. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  10. ^ Events in Papua New Guinea

External links[edit]