1.57 billion Muslims in the world

A post on the Utusan today http://www.utusan.com.my/utusan/info.asp?y=2009&dt=1009&pub=Utusan_Malaysia&sec=Luar_Negara&pg=lu_01.htm indicated that Muslim population in the world now is estimated to be 1.57 billion people, second to Christians (2.1 billion). The report has some interesting facts such as, in terms population, the Arab world has only 30% of the muslim population while 60% reside in Asia. Muslims in Germany is higher than the number of Muslims in Lebanon. Russia has more Muslims than Jordan and Libya combined. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life report certainly threw up some surprises that exploded the long held belief that Muslims are Arabs and Arabs are Muslims. Certainly this would strengthen the course of a certain Syed Akhbar Ali who in his his book I Digress a Little said that we must not fall into the trap the equating Arabs with Islam. He said we are guilty of not being able to differentiate between what are Islamic and what are Arabic. He further lamented that most of Islamic movements in this country are confused between Arabisation and Islamisation. As a former banker, he was shocked to read an Islamic banking product put forth by a certain bank was exactly similar to the conventional bank product except for the use of Arabic terms in place of the conventional ones. In short he was saying the bank did not really understand the spirit of Islamic banking system. He was highly critical of people who dress like an Arab and think that it is very Islamic to do so and those who do not dress as such are not pious or Islamic enough. I believe we must be able to tell the difference between the basic and the branches, the form and the substance, the skin and the core. There is no point exaggerating the forms if the substance is rotten. There is no point is vehemently arguing about the branches if the basic is weak. Having said that, if your core is strong, the skin would naturally be strong. If the substance is strong, the forms will take care of itself.
It is heart wrenching to see Muslims suffer from malnourishment, being downtrodden, slaughtered and hounded out of their homes, and a large portion of the 1.57b just oblivious to it.

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