Religion in Pakistan
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The state religion in Pakistan is Islam, which is practiced by about 95–98% of the 195,343,000 people of the nation. The remaining 2–5% practice Christianity, Hinduism and other religions. Muslims are divided into the following sects: the majority of them practice Sunni Islam, while 5–20% are Shias and 0.22%-2.2% are Ahmadi. Nearly all Pakistani Sunni Muslims belong to the Hanafi Fiqh Islamic law school. The majority of Pakistani Shia Muslims belong to the Ithnā‘Ashariyyah Islamic law school, with significant minority groups who practice Ismailism, which is composed of Nizari (Aga Khanis), Mustaali, Dawoodi Bohra, Sulaymani, and others.
The constitution of Pakistan establishes Islam as the state religion, and provides all its citizens the right to profess, practice and propagate their religion subject to law, public order, and morality. The Constitution also states that all laws are to conform with the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Quran and Sunnah. The constitution limits the political rights of Pakistan's non-Muslims, and only Muslims are allowed to become the President or the Prime Minister. Moreover, only Muslims are allowed to serve as judges in the Federal Shariat Court, which has the power to strike down any law deemed un-Islamic, though its judgments can be overruled by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Demographics of religion in Pakistan
Based on information collected from the Library of Congress, Pew Research Center, CIA World Factbook, Oxford University, University of Pennsylvania, U.S. State Department and others, the following is a list of estimations about the percentage of people professing different faiths in the country. These estimations vary considerably from source to source, depending on methods of research and databases that were used.
- Islam (96.0%)
- Other religions
As of 2012, around 5,900,000 Pakistanis of non-Muslim faiths were holding the Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC cards) from National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), which can only be obtained by citizens over 18 years of age. It is estimated that some 96% adult Pakistanis currently hold CNIC cards, and therefore the total adult population of non-Muslim religions seems to be over 3 million. Of the minority CNIC holders, 1,414,527 were Hindus (769,647 males and 644,880 females), 1,270,051 were Christians (731,713 males and 538,338 females), 125,681 were Ahmadi Muslims (63,479 males and 62,202 females), 33,734 were Bahais, 6,146 were Sikhs, 4,020 were Parsis, 1,492 were Buddhist and 66,898 were others (such as Kalasha Animists). NADRA has made it near impossible to declare and change the religion to anything from Islam therefore the statistics must be looked at with a pinch of salt.
Islam is the state religion of Pakistan, and about 95-98% of Pakistanis are Muslim. Pakistan has the second largest number of Muslims in the world after Indonesia. The majority are Sunni (estimated at 75-95%), with an estimated 5-20% Shia. A PEW survey in 2012 found that 6% of Pakistani Muslims were Shia. There are a number of Islamic law schools called Madhab (schools of jurisprudence), which are called fiqh or 'Maktab-e-Fikr' in Urdu. Nearly all Pakistani Sunni Muslims belong to the Hanafi Islamic school of thought while small number belong to the Hanbali school. The majority of Pakistani Shia Muslims belong to the Twelver (Ithna Asharia) branch, with significant minority who adhere to Ismailism branch that is composed of Nizari (Aga Khanis), Mustaali, Dawoodi Bohra, Sulaymani, and others. Sufis and above mentioned Sunni and Shia sects are considered to be Muslims according to the Constitution of Pakistan. Shias allege discrimination by the Pakistani government since 1948, claiming that Sunnis are given preference in business, official positions and administration of justice.
Islam to some extent syncretized with pre-Islamic influences, resulting in a religion with some traditions distinct from those of the Arab world. Two Sufis whose shrines receive much national attention are Ali Hajweri in Lahore (ca. 11th century) and Shahbaz Qalander in Sehwan, Sindh (ca. 12th century). Sufism, a mystical Islamic tradition, has a long history and a large popular following in Pakistan. Popular Sufi culture is centered on Thursday night gatherings at shrines and annual festivals which feature Sufi music and dance. Contemporary Islamic fundamentalists criticize its popular character, which in their view, does not accurately reflect the teachings and practice of the Prophet and his companions. There have been terrorist attacks directed at Sufi shrines and festivals, 5 in 2010 that killed 64 people.
Hinduism is the second largest religion in Pakistan after Islam, according to the 1998 Census. As of 2010[update], Pakistan had the fifth largest Hindu population in the world and PEW predicts that by 2050 Pakistan will have the fourth largest Hindu population in the world. In the 1998 Census the Hindu (jati) population was found to be 2,111,271 while the Hindu (scheduled castes) numbered an additional 332,343. Hindus are found in all provinces of Pakistan but are mostly concentrated in Sindh. According to the last census held in 1998, 93% of Hindus live in Sindh, 5% in Punjab and nearly 2% in Balochistan. They speak a variety of languages such as Sindhi, Seraiki, Aer, Dhatki, Gera, Goaria, Gurgula, Jandavra, Kabutra, Koli, Loarki, Marwari, Sansi, Vaghri  and Gujarati.
The Rig Veda, the oldest Hindu text, was believed to have been composed in the Punjab province of modern-day Pakistan on the banks of the Indus River around 1500 BCE and spread from there across South and South East Asia slowly developing and evolving into the various forms of the faith we see today.
Christians (Urdu: مسيحى) make up 1.6% of Pakistan's population, about 2.8 million people out of a total population. The majority of the Pakistani Christian communities is constituted by converts from Punjab region, from the British colonial era. The community is geographically spread throughout the Punjab province, whilst its presence in the rest of the provinces is mostly confined to the urban centers. There is a Roman Catholic community in Karachi which was established by Goan and Tamil migrants when Karachi's infrastructure was being developed by the British during colonial administration between World War I and World War II.
According to the last Pakistan census, Ahmadi made up 0.22% of the population, however, the Ahmadiyya Community boycotted the census. Independent groups generally estimate the population to be somewhere between two and five million Ahmadis. In media reports, four million is the most commonly cited figure.
In 1974, the government of Pakistan amended the Constitution of Pakistan to define a Muslim according to Qu'ran 33:40, as a person who believes in finality of Prophet Muhammad. Ahmadis believe in Muhammad as the best and the last law bearing prophet and Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Messiah of Muslims. Consequently, Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims by a parliamentary tribunal.
The Bahá'í Faith in Pakistan begins previous to its independence when it was still under British colonial rule. The roots of the religion in the region go back to the first days of the Bábí religion in 1844, with Shaykh Sa'id Hindi who was from Multan. During Bahá'u'lláh's lifetime, as founder of the religion, he encouraged some of his followers to move to the area that is current-day Pakistan.
The Bahá'ís in Pakistan have the right to hold public meetings, establish academic centers, teach their faith, and elect their administrative councils. However, the government prohibits Bahá'ís, as well as every other citizen, from travelling to Israel for Bahá'í pilgrimage. Recent estimates say that there are over 79,000 though Bahá'ís claimed less than half that number.
In the 15th century the reformist Sikh movement originated in Pakistan's Punjab region where Sikhism's founder as well as most of the faiths disciples originated from. There are a number of Sikhs living throughout Pakistan today; estimates vary, but the number is thought to be on the order of 20,000. In recent years, their numbers have increased with many Sikhs migrating from neighboring Afghanistan who have joined their co-religionists in Pakistan. The shrine of Guru Nanak Dev is located in Nankana Sahib near the city of Lahore where many Sikhs from all over the world make pilgrimage to this and other shrines.
There are at least 4,000 Pakistani citizen practicing the Zoroastrian religion. With the flight of Zoroastrians from Greater Iran into the Subcontinent, the Parsi communities were established. More recently, from the 15th century onwards, Zorastrians came to settle the coast of Sindh and have established thriving communities and commercial enterprises. These newer migrants were to be called Parsi. At the time of independence of Pakistan in 1947, Karachi and Lahore were home to a thriving Parsi business community. Karachi had the most prominent population of Parsis in Pakistan. After independence, many migrated abroad but a number remained. Parsis have entered Pakistani public life as social workers, business folk, journalists and diplomats. The most prominent Parsis of Pakistan today include Ardeshir Cowasjee, Byram Dinshawji Avari, Jamsheed Marker, as well as the late Minocher Bhandara. The founding father of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, married Ratti Bai who belonged to a Parsi family before her conversion to Islam.
This is pagan religion of the Kalash people living in a remote part of Chitral. Adherents of the Kalash religion number around 3,000 and inhabit three remote valleys in Chitral; Bumboret, Rumbur and Birir. Their religion is unique but shares some common ground with Greek, Macedonian Pagan, Vedic and Pre-Zoroastrian religions.
Jainism existed in Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Karachi, before the partition in 1947, and even for several years after the partition. There is no evidence of any Jains living in Pakistan today, although it is claimed that a few still live in Sindh and Punjab provinces. They are number of disused Jain Temples found in different parts of Pakistan. Gulu Lalvani, a famous Jain, was originally from Pakistan but he, like other Jains, emigrated from Pakistan. Baba Dharam Das Tomb is also found in Pakistan. The Jain temple temple at Gori in Tharparkar was a major Jain pilgrimage center. The Jain Mandir Chowk at Lahore was the site of a Digambar Jain Temple. The memorial of Jain seer Vijayanandsuri at Gujranwala is now a police station.
Buddhism has an ancient history in Pakistan; currently there is a small community of at least 1500 Pakistani Buddhist in the country. The country is dotted with numerous ancient and disused Buddhist stupas along the entire breath of the Indus River that courses through the heart of the country. Many Buddhist empires and city states existed, notably in Gandhara but also elsewhere in Taxila, Punjab and Sindh. It is believed that Tantric Buddhism was developed in Pakistan's Swat valley. Pakistan and much of Afghanistan were one of the first regions to adopt Buddhism and which saw a large number of adherents to the faith. It is believed that through the Silk Road of northern Pakistan, that Buddhism spread later to Central Asia, China and beyond.
Various estimates suggest that there were about 1,500 Jews living in Pakistan at the time of its independence on 14 August 1947, with the majority living in Karachi and a few living in Peshawar. However, almost all emigrated to Israel after 1948. There are a few disused synagogues in both cities; while one Karachi synagogue was torn down for the construction of a shopping mall. The one in Peshawar still exists, although the building is not being used for any religious purpose. There is a small Jewish community of Pakistani origin settled in Ramla, Israel.
One Pakistani, Faisal Khalid (AKA Fishel Benkhald) of Karachi claims to be Pakistan's only Jew. But his claim were later found to be false and fabricated. He falsely claimed that his mother is Jewish (making him Jewish by Jewish custom) but, because his father is a Muslim, Pakistani authorities refuse to recognize him as Jewish. His stories were later found to be fabricated.
There are people who do not profess any faith (such as atheists and agnostics) in Pakistan but their numbers is not known. They are particularly in the affluent areas of the larger cities. Some were born in secular families while others in religious ones. According to the 1998 census, people who did not state their religion accounted for 0.5% of the population, but social pressures against claiming no religion was strong. A 2012 study by Gallup Pakistan found that people not adhering to any religion account for 1% of the population.
In September 2010 a Facebook group surfaced for [ www.aaapakistan.org/ Atheist & Agnostic Alliance Pakistan]. On August 2011, they launched their website www.aaapakistan.org which received more than 17,000 hits in just 48 hours after its launch from 95 countries. The AAAP wants a non-theist box to be added on the passport and to be easier for Pakistanis to change their religion legally if they want.
- Blasphemy law in Pakistan
- Demographics of Pakistan
- Minorities in Pakistan
- Freedom of religion in Pakistan
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Religion: The overwhelming majority of the population (96.3 percent) is Muslim, of whom approximately 95 percent are Sunni and 5 percent Shia.
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Approximately 97 percent of Pakistanis are Muslims. The majority are Sunnis following the Hanafi school of Islamic law. Between 10–15 percent are Shiis, mostly Twelvers.Cite error: Invalid
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- "Religions: Muslim 96% (Sunni 75%, Shia 20%), other". Pakistan (includes Christian and Hindu) 4%. The World Factbook. CIA. 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-28. Cite error: Invalid
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On the other hand, in Pakistan, where 6% of the survey respondents identify as Shia, Sunni attitudes are more mixed: 50% say Shias are Muslims, while 41% say they are not.
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- The 1998 Pakistani census states that there are 291,000 (0.22%) Ahmadis in Pakistan. However, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has boycotted the census since 1974 which renders official Pakistani figures to be inaccurate. Independent groups have estimated the Pakistani Ahmadiyya population to be somewhere between 2 million and 5 million Ahmadis. However, the 4 million figure is the most quoted figure and is approximately 2.2% of the country. See:
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Pakistan has the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia.
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Many Shias in the region feel that they have been discriminated against since 1948. They claim that the Pakistani government continually gives preferences to Sunnis in business, in official positions, and in the administration of justice...The situation deteriorated sharply during the 1980s under the presidency of the tyrannical Zia-ul Haq when there were many attacks on the Shia population.
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In Pakistan, the majority of Gujarati-speaking communities are in Karachi including Dawoodi Bohras, Ismaili Khojas, Memons, Kathiawaris, Katchhis, Parsis (Zoroastrians) and Hindus, said Gul Hasan Kalmati, a researcher who authored “Karachi, Sindh Jee Marvi”, a book discussing the city and its indigenous communities. Although there are no official statistics available, community leaders claim that there are three million Gujarati-speakers in Karachi – roughly around 15 percent of the city’s entire population.
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