The 2011 census allows us to explore the national origins and ethnic composition of different religious groups. In this initial analysis, we consider the profile of Muslims in England and Wales. Two thirds are Asian, mostly South Asian. The majority of Muslim Asians, and 38% of all Muslims, are of Pakistani origin. Bangladeshis come well behind, with 15% of the total.
One of the changes made to the census question on ethnicity in 2011 was to add an ‘Arab’ option. This group contributes 6.6% of Muslims, exceeding the 4.8% classified as ‘other white’ (e.g. Turkish, Turkish Cypriot, or Bosnian). Notwithstanding the existence of these categories, an appreciable number of Muslims (2.9%) describe themselves as white British; some are likely to be the descendents of Muslim immigrants and an unknown number are converts.
In total, then, 68% of Muslims in England and Wales are of Asian ethnicity, 14% are white or Arab, and just 10% are black. The remainder are of mixed or other ethnicity.
The majority (53%) of Britain’s Muslims were born in Europe, although the proportion born in the UK is slightly less than half (47%). Of Muslims born outside the UK, the majority (54%) come from South Asia. Other regions that contribute substantially to Muslim immigration include Africa (19%) and the Middle East (12%).
Although a majority of Muslim immigrants are from South Asia, only a minority (47%) of South Asian immigrants are Muslim. And while a slight majority of Muslims are first generation immigrants, only 19% of people born outside the UK are Muslim. Like the white British, the foreign-born population is predominantly Christian (48%) or has no religion (14%).