Shia Muslim Population in Pakistan

The Shia Muslim population in Pakistan is estimated to be between five and 20 per cent which is not considerable given that over 95 per cent of Pakistan’s population are Muslims . The majority of Pakistan’s Shia population adhere to the Twelver (ithna’ashari) school of thought; other items of the Shia sects’ list present in Pakistan, include Nizari Ismailis, Daudi Bohras and Sulemani Bohras. Nizari Ismailis are the second largest branch of Shia Islam in Pakistan after the Twelvers. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) December 2013 report, on Shias Muslim population in Pakistan, stated that: ‘The Shia population is spread throughout Pakistan but there are no provinces where Shias constitute a majority. The semi-autonomous region of Gilgit–Baltistan is one of the few areas where Shias form a majority of the population. Across the country, Sunni and Shia communities are generally integrated and live side-by-side in their daily lives. Significant numbers of Shias can be found in Peshawar, Kohat, Hangu and Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; Kurram and Orakzai Agencies in FATA; in and around Quetta and the Makran coastline in Balochistan; areas of southern and central Punjab; and throughout Sindh. Many urban centers in Pakistan, including Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Peshawar, Multan, Jhang and Sargodha, are home to large Shia communities. DFAT has observed that some Shias live in enclaves in major cities.’

Apart from Hazaras, Shias are not physically, linguistically or legally distinguishable from Sunni Pakistanis. Computerized national identity cards do not identify the card holder’s sect. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) December 2013 report, on Shias in Pakistan, stated that: ‘Shias are represented across most of Pakistan’s ethnic, linguistic and tribal groups. However, Hazaras are a predominantly Shia ethnic community and there are a range of other Shia communities that have tribal/ethnic identities such as the Turis, Bohris, Baltis and some clans within the Bangash Pashtun tribes. Shia mosques and sites of worship (imambargahs) are located across Pakistan, including in most major cities and towns. Shias can (although rarely do) pray in Sunni mosques and vice versa. There are also a number of famous religious sites that are attended by both sects. Many of these are Sufi shrines.’ DFAT further noted that ‘Shias in Pakistan are often employed in Government and hold high offices. Notable examples include former Presidents and Prime Ministers. Shias are well represented in Parliament, the police, judiciary and other institutions. Shias are represented on Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology, the Constitutional body that provides advice to the Government of Pakistan on issues of Islamic jurisprudence and practice. Shias also have representation in the Shariat Courts.

Many centers in Pakistan focus their activities on Shiism among which Al-Balagh and Fidayane Hussain can be named.

Taken from: Country Information and Guidance, Pakistan: Shia Muslims, a file prepared by British government, 2015

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  • […] Pakistani Shia community in Germany: there are at least two such community. Although one is generally only active during religiously important periods of the year, the other, also small, is active in providing courses for children and It shares its rooms with an Arabic-speaking community of Iraqi and Lebanese origin. They conduct ceremonies together, somewhat dominated in the “canonical” rituals, such as ritual prayer, by the Arabic-speakers because of their competence in the language, but the Pakistanis have their own rituals in Urdu, usually after the Arabic-speakers have finished. This is another kind of symbiosis. A listing is available on our Shia directory for one of these communities and you can read about the Shia community of Pakistan in our blog posts. […]

  • […] to the Twelver branch of Shia Islam, and there are almost as many Twelvers in South Asia, across Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. The Twelver Shiism also form majority communities in Iraq and Bahrain. […]

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