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Islam and Tourism

Islam, a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion, articulated by the Qur’an and the teachings and normative example of the last Prophet Muhammad, is one of the world’s major religions. Muslims constitute the world’s second largest religious group. It is estimated that in 2010, there were 1.6 billion people who self-identified as Muslim, representing 23.4 % of an estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion. So, one out of every five persons in the world is a Muslim (Henderson 2003). According to the Pew Research Center, there were 50 Muslim majority countries in 2010 (PRS 2011). Today, Muslims live in different parts of the world ranging from China to Argentina, and from Russia to South Africa. The country with the largest Muslim population is Indonesia, and the countries with the next largest Muslim populations can be listed as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, and Iraq (The World Factbook 2015) (Table 16.1). Moreover, Russia, China, and the USA also have sizable Muslim populations.

In addition, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. If current trends continue, it is projected that Muslims will make up 26.4 % of the world’s total population in 2030 (PRS 2011). Between 2010 and 2050, the world’s total

Table 16.1 Top 10 countries with the largest Muslim population

Country

Muslim population

% in the country

Indonesia

223,226,484

87.2

Pakistan

191,918,757

96.4

India

177,740,773

14.2

Bangladesh

150,541,351

89.1

Egypt

79,638,656

90

Nigeria

90,781,028

50

Iran

81,333,324

99.4

Turkey

79,255,440

99.8

Algeria

39,146,744

99

Morocco

32,989,472

99

World total

1,700,000,000a

^Estimated

Source: The World Factbook 2015

population is expected to rise to 9.3 billion, a 35 % increase. Over that same period, Muslims are projected to increase by 73 %. As a result, according to the Pew Research projections, by 2050, there will be near parity between Muslims (2.8 billion, or 30 % of the population) and Christians (2.9 billion, or 31 %), possibly for the first time in history (PRS 2015).

Islam is not just a religion but also a way of living. Thus, Islam has an influence on the day-to-day activities of Muslims, whether at home or traveling. According to Muslims, their holy book, the Qur’an, provides guidance in all aspects of human activities. So, Islam influences the direction of people’s tourism destination choices and shapes their behavior and their activities at the destination. The distinctive requirements of Muslims in terms of food, daily prayers, and travel patterns (Timothy and Iverson 2006) necessitate certain adjustments in the tourism (Henderson 2003). So, the needs of Muslims impact their behavior when traveling (Henderson 2010; Mansfeld et al. 2000; Syed 2001; Weidenfeld 2006), and these needs should be met by the tourism sector if it wants to serve the Muslim community.

Muslim tourists spent 137 billion dollars on travel in 2012 (not including the pilgrims performing Hadj in Saudi Arabia), and by 2020, this figure is expected to exceed 180 billion dollars (Muslim Break 2015). More importantly, the significant Muslim population in the world has the potential to participate in a variety of tourism activities because Muslims also need and want to travel in order to visit friends and relatives, and to fully appreciate the beauty of God’s world according to the readings of the holy text of the Qur’an. To sum up, halal tourism is important in developing potential tourism today and in the forthcoming decades.

 
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