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Islam in Canada

According to Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey, there were 1,053,945 Muslims in Canada, or about 3.2%, of the population, making Islam the second largest religion in the country after Christianity. In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), 7.7% of the population is Muslim, and in Greater Montreal, 6% of the population is Muslim. A majority of Canada’s Muslim population follows Sunni Islam, while a significant minority adhere to the Shia and Ahmadiyya branches. Currently, Islam is the fastest growing religion in Canada.

The majority of Canadian Muslims live in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. According to the 2011 National Household Survey, there were 424,925 Muslims living in the Greater Toronto Area equalling 7.7% of the total metropolitan population. It consists of people especially a large number of Muslims of Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian, Iranian and Egyptian/Arab descent. Greater Montreal’s Muslim community was 221,040 in 2011 or nearly 6% of the total metropolitan population which includes a highly diverse Muslim population from Western/Southern Europe, Caribbean, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. Canada’s national capital Ottawa hosts many Lebanese, South Asian and Somali Muslims, where the Muslim community numbered approximately 65,880 or 5.5% in 2011. In addition to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, nearly every major Canadian metropolitan area has a Muslim community, including Vancouver (73,215), where more than a third are of Iranian descent, Calgary (58,310), Edmonton (46,125), Windsor (15,575), Winnipeg (11,265), and Halifax (7,540). In recent years, there has been rapid population growth in Calgary and Edmonton because of the booming economy.

Most Canadian Muslims are people who were raised Muslim. As with immigrants in general, Muslim immigrants have come to Canada for a variety of reasons. These include higher education, security, employment, and family reunification. Others have come for religious and political freedom, and safety and security, leaving behind civil wars, persecution, and other forms of civil and ethnic strife. In the 1980s, Canada became an important place of refuge for those fleeing the Lebanese Civil War. The 1990s saw Somali Muslims arrive in the wake of the Somali Civil War as well as Bosniaks fleeing the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. However Canada has yet to receive any significant numbers of Iraqis fleeing the Iraqi War. But in general almost every Muslim country in the world has sent immigrants to Canada – from PakistanBosnia and Herzegovina and Albania to Yemen and Bangladesh.

The fertility rate for Muslims in Canada is higher than the rate for other Canadians (an average of 2.4 children per woman for Muslims in 2001, compared with 1.6 children per woman for other populations in Canada).

There are a plethora of Halal/Zabihah restaurants across Canada, and many are located in the Greater Toronto Area. In Toronto alone, there are more than 400 Halal/Zabihah restaurants

In a 2016 Environics poll, 83% of Muslims were “very proud” to be Canadian, compared with 73% of non-Muslim Canadians who said the same thing. Canadian Muslims reported “Canada’s freedom and democracy” as the greatest source of pride, and “multiculturalism and diversity” as the second greatest. 94% of Canadian Muslims reported a “strong” or “very strong” sense of belonging to Canada. 48% of Canadian Muslims attend mosque at least once a week. 53% of women wear some sort of head-covering in public (48% wear the hijab, 3% wear the chador and 2% wear the niqab). Both pride in being Canadian and having a strong sense of belonging had increased in Canadian Muslims as compared to a 2006 survey. Mosque attendance and wearing a head covering in public had also increased since the 2006 survey.

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