Shia Islam in Kuwait

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Shia Islam in Kuwait constitutes 30%-40% of Kuwait's Muslim population.[1][2] Most Shia Kuwaitis are of Persian ancestry.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

In 2001, the US Department of State reported that there were 300,000 Shia Kuwaiti citizens and 820,000 Kuwaiti citizens in total thus Shias formed 36.5% of the Kuwaiti citizen population.[10] In 2002, the US Department of State reported that Shia Kuwaitis formed 30-40% of Kuwait's citizen population,[1] noting there were 525,000 Sunni citizens and 855,000 Kuwaiti citizens in total (61% Sunnis, 39% Shias).[1] In 2004, there were 300,000-350,000 Shia Kuwaiti citizens and 913,000 Kuwaiti citizens in total.[11] In 2008, the Strategic Studies Institute reported that 40% of Kuwaitis were Shias.[2] Shiites are usually under-represented in the National Assembly parliaments.[12]

Contrary to the expectations of the Iraqi government, Shia Kuwaitis founded the local armed resistance movement during the occupation of Kuwait in the Gulf War.[13][14] Most Kuwaitis arrested, tortured and executed during the occupation bore Shia names.[15] The Kuwaiti resistance's casualty rate far exceeded that of the coalition military forces and Western hostages.[16] The resistance predominantly consisted of ordinary citizens who lacked any form of training and supervision.[16]

Shia citizens as a group are well integrated into the Kuwaiti state.[17] Kuwaiti government policy, on paper and in practice, does not discriminate citizens on a sectarian basis.[17] This leaves the Shia relatively well-treated with no scale sectarian campaign on the part of the government.[17] Kuwaiti Shia citizens are considered the most integrated Shia group in the Gulf region.[17]

The Shia Kuwaiti community has produced a number of well-known individuals, notable in many fields, especially business and commerce, thus contributing significantly to the general economic development of the country. Kuwait's first female minister Massouma al-Mubarak is a Shia. One of the first women elected in the parliament, Rola Dashti, is a Kuwaiti Shia of Iranian origin.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "International Religious Freedom Report". US State Department. 2002.
  2. ^ a b "The Evolution of U. S.-Turkish Relations in a Transatlantic Context" (PDF). Strategic Studies Institute. p. 87. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 18, 2015. Shiites comprise 60 percent of the population in Bahrain, 40 percent in Kuwait, 14 percent in Saudi Arabia, and 35 percent in Lebanon.
  3. ^ "Citizenship and the State in the Middle East: Approaches and Applications". Nils August Butenschøn, Uri Davis, Manuel Sarkis Hassassian. 2000. p. 190.
  4. ^ Binder, Leonard (1999). Ethnic Conflict and International Politics in the Middle East. p. 164. ISBN 9780813016870. Archived from the original on 8 December 2013. Unlike the Shi'a of Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, the Kuwaiti Shi'a mostly are of Persian descent.
  5. ^ "Business Politics in the Middle East". Rivka Azoulay. 2013. p. 71. Archived from the original on 20 August 2017.
  6. ^ "Islam in the World Today: A Handbook of Politics, Religion, Culture, and Society". Werner Ende, Udo Steinbach. 2002. p. 533. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Sectarian Politics in the Persian Gulf". Lawrence G. Potter. p. 135.
  8. ^ "Transnational Shia Politics: Religious and Political Networks in the Gulf". Laurence Louër. p. 47.
  9. ^ Dénes Gazsi. "The Persian Dialects of the Ajam in Kuwait" (PDF). The University of Iowa.
  10. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report". US State Department. 2001.
  11. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report". US State Department. 2004.
  12. ^ "Shi'ites lose more than half their seats in Kuwait polls as liberals make gains". 28 Jul 2013.
  13. ^ "Saddam's Security Apparatus During the Invasion of Kuwait and the Kuwaiti Resistance". The Journal of Intelligence History. Winter 2003. pp. 74–75.
  14. ^ "Two ethnicities, three generations: Phonological variation and change in Kuwait" (PDF). Newcastle University. 2010.
  15. ^ "Citizenship and the State in the Middle East: Approaches and Applications". Nils August Butenschøn, Uri Davis, Manuel Sarkis Hassassian. 2000. p. 190.
  16. ^ a b "The Kuwaiti Resistance". Middle East Forum. March 1995.
  17. ^ a b c d "Kuwaiti Shia: Government Policies, Societal Cleavages, and the Non-Factor of Iran" (PDF). George Washington University. 2011.
  18. ^ "Interview with Dr. Rola Dashti, Member of the Kuwaiti Parliament". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 9 March 2010.