Which religion is predominantly followed in Pakistan and Bangladesh?

Travel Destinations

By Laurie Baratti

The Religious Landscape of Pakistan and Bangladesh

Pakistan and Bangladesh are two predominantly Muslim countries in South Asia. Religion plays a significant role in both countries’ cultures and society. Islam is the predominant religion in both countries, with over 97% of the population in Pakistan and over 90% in Bangladesh identifying as Muslims. However, there are also significant religious minorities, including Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, and Buddhists.

Islam: The Predominant Religion in Both Countries

Islam is the predominant religion in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The vast majority of Muslims in both countries are Sunni, with Shia Muslims comprising a minority. The history of Islam in both countries dates back to the 7th century when Muslim Arab traders brought the religion to the region. Islam spread rapidly throughout the region, and today, Pakistan and Bangladesh are two of the largest Muslim-majority countries in the world.

History of Islam in Pakistan and Bangladesh

Islam arrived in the Indian subcontinent with the arrival of Arab traders and conquerors in the 7th century. The Muslim rule in the region began with the arrival of the Ghaznavid dynasty in the 11th century. The Mughal Empire, which ruled over much of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, was a Muslim dynasty that lasted from the early 16th century until the mid-19th century. After the partition of India in 1947, Pakistan, which was created as a homeland for Muslims, became an independent Islamic Republic. Bangladesh, which was part of Pakistan until 1971, also became an independent Islamic Republic that year.

Sunni vs. Shia: The Sectarian Divide in Islam

The majority of Muslims in Pakistan and Bangladesh are Sunni, with Shia Muslims comprising a minority. The sectarian divide between Sunnis and Shias has been a source of conflict in both countries. In Pakistan, sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias has been a significant problem, with militant groups attacking mosques and other religious sites. In Bangladesh, the Sunni-Shia divide has been less of an issue, but tensions have increased in recent years.

Other Religions Practiced in Pakistan and Bangladesh

In addition to Islam, there are several other religions practiced in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Hinduism is the largest minority religion in both countries, with over 4 million Hindus in Pakistan and over 10 million in Bangladesh. Christianity is also practiced in both countries, with significant populations in urban areas. Sikhism is another minority religion in Pakistan and Bangladesh, with the largest population of Sikhs living in the Punjab region. Buddhism is only practiced in Bangladesh, with a small population of Buddhists living in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Hinduism: The Largest Minority Religion in Both Countries

Hinduism is the largest minority religion in Pakistan and Bangladesh, with significant populations in both countries. In Pakistan, most Hindus live in the Sindh and Balochistan provinces. In Bangladesh, most Hindus live in the Barisal and Khulna divisions. Hinduism has a long history in both countries, with temples and other religious sites dating back centuries. However, Hindus in both countries face discrimination and persecution, with incidents of violence and forced conversions occurring.

Christianity in Pakistan and Bangladesh

Christianity is also practiced in Pakistan and Bangladesh, with significant populations in urban areas. In Pakistan, Christians make up less than 2% of the population, while in Bangladesh, they comprise less than 1%. Christians in both countries face discrimination and persecution, with incidents of violence and forced conversions occurring.

Sikhism in Pakistan and Bangladesh

Sikhism is a minority religion in Pakistan and Bangladesh, with the largest population of Sikhs living in the Punjab region. In Pakistan, Sikhs make up less than 1% of the population, while in Bangladesh, they are a very small community. Sikhs in both countries face discrimination and persecution, with incidents of violence and forced conversions occurring.

Buddhism in Bangladesh

Buddhism is only practiced in Bangladesh, with a small population of Buddhists living in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Buddhism has a long history in the region, dating back over 2,000 years. Today, Buddhists in Bangladesh face discrimination and persecution, with incidents of violence and land grabbing occurring.

The Role of Religion in Politics and Society

Religion plays a significant role in both politics and society in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Islam is enshrined in both countries’ constitutions, with the state officially recognizing it as the predominant religion. Religious leaders and institutions wield significant influence, and political parties often use religion to mobilize support. However, religious extremism and sectarian violence have also been significant problems in both countries.

Religious Tolerance and Interfaith Relations

Religious tolerance and interfaith relations have been a significant challenge in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Religious minorities face discrimination and persecution, with incidents of violence and forced conversions occurring. However, there are also efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and understanding, with civil society groups and religious leaders working together to promote peace and tolerance.

Conclusion: The Future of Religion in Pakistan and Bangladesh

The future of religion in Pakistan and Bangladesh is uncertain. While Islam will likely remain the predominant religion, there are also efforts to promote religious diversity and tolerance. Religious extremism and sectarian violence remain significant challenges, but there are also efforts to promote peace and understanding. As both countries continue to develop economically and socially, the role of religion in politics and society is likely to evolve, with potential implications for religious minorities and interfaith relations.

Photo of author

Laurie Baratti

Laurie Baratti, a renowned San Diego journalist, has contributed to respected publications like TravelAge West, SPACE, Modern Home + Living, Montage, and Sandals Life. She's a passionate travel writer, constantly exploring beyond California. Besides her writing, Laurie is an avid equestrian and dedicated pet owner. She's a strong advocate for the Oxford comma, appreciating the richness of language.

Leave a Comment