Islam in the Netherlands - Statistics & Facts

The Netherlands has a long history with Islam. For many centuries it ruled the largest Muslim nation in the world, Indonesia. Today, the Netherlands has just over 17.1 million inhabitants, of which roughly five percent are Muslims, although the general public tends to overestimate this number.

The majority of Dutch Muslims have their roots in Turkey and Morocco, but since the end of the Second World War people from all over the Islamic world, their children and their grandchildren have made the Netherlands their new home. The Muslim community in the Netherlands now includes members from various descent, from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan to Somalia, the Balkans and Syria. It also includes a small group of Dutch converts.

Most Dutch Muslims are Sunni Muslims, the largest denomination of Islam worldwide. Of Turkish-Dutch Muslims, 80 percent identified as Sunni, with minorities belonging to the much smaller Alevi, Shia, Salafi or Ahmadi communities. Among Moroccan-Dutch Muslims, nearly 85 percent identified as a Sunni Muslim.

Although religiosity differs from person to person and from community to community, the majority of Dutch Muslims never or rarely visit religious services in a mosque. Among Turkish-Dutch Muslims, 40 percent stated to go to the mosque at least once a week, whereas this was the case for 37 percent of Moroccan-Dutch Muslims and only 16 percent of Surinamese-Dutch Muslims. The communities differ widely in their prayer frequencies too. Of Somali-Dutch, 80 percent stated they pray five times a day. For the Surinamese-Dutch, this was just over 20 percent only. The consumption of halal food was relatively high among all groups, with only the Surinamese-Dutch community scoring below 80 percent. They also have the lowest Ramadan participation rate, at only 34 percent. In comparison, nearly 90 percent of the Moroccan-Dutch stated to fast all days during Ramadan. Female Somali-Dutch Muslims are most likely to wear a veil, at 90 percent.

Despite the long debate about restricting religious clothing in the country, most Dutch are perfectly fine with Muslim girls wearing headscarves. In a recent survey, only a small share of respondents turned out to be in favor of completely banning religious clothing, whereas the majority thought Muslim women should be allowed to wear at least a hijab, if not a full-face veil. In another survey, nearly 90 percent stated to be willing to accept Muslims as members of their family too. Few also believed many Muslims in the Netherlands supported violent extremist groups.

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