Religion in Yemen (2020 estimate)[1]

  Sunni Islam (65%)
  Shia Islam (mainly Zaidiyyah) (34%)
  Baha'i, Hindu, Christian or irreligious (1%)
Mosque in Zabid, Yemen

Yemen is an Islamic society. Nearly all Yemenis are Muslims, with approximately 60% belonging to Sunni Islam and 40% belonging to Shia Islam (Zaidi).[2][3][4][5][6][7] Amongst the native population, there were approximately 1,000 Christians, and 6 remaining Jews in 2016. [8] However, Pew-Templeton estimates the number of Christians to be as high as 40,000, though most do not publicly identify as such, due to fears of religious persecution. According to WIN/Gallup International polls, Yemen has the most religious population among Arab countries and it is one of the most religious populations world-wide.[9]

Religious minorities

See also: Yemenite Jews, Christianity in Yemen, and Hinduism in Yemen

Jews are the oldest Abrahamic religious minority. Nearly all of the country's once-sizable Jewish population has emigrated. Since January 2007, the historic Saada Governorate community of 45 Jews have lived in Sana'a, under the protection and care of the Government, after abandoning their homes in the face of threats from al-Houthi rebels. The community has abandoned its synagogues in Saada. As of 2008, fewer than 400 Jews remained in the northern part of the country, primarily in Amran Governorate and there was at least one functioning synagogue in Amran Governorate.[10] As of 2022, fewer than 8 Jews remain in Yemen.[11]

In 2017, there were are almost 202,700 Hindus in the country (0.7% of the total population), the majority of whom were from India. There are four active Hindu temples in Aden.[12] The majority of Hindus are from Gujarat and were present from British time, when it was Aden Colony.[13] In 2022 there were no exact figures, but there were less than 3,000 Indian nationals living in the country.[11]

In 2008, among religious minorities, approximately 1,000 Christians and most Jews actively participated in some form of formal religious service or ritual, although not always in a public place of worship.[10]

In 2010, Pew-Templeton estimated the number of Christians in Yemen at 40,000, most of whom are not openly Christian, due to persecution of religious minorities.[14] There are 3,000 Christians throughout the country, most of whom are refugees or temporary foreign residents. There are four churches in Aden, three Roman Catholic and one Anglican. In 2014, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church services took place weekly in Sana'a, Aden, and other cities.[15]

Missionary services

Christian missionaries and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) affiliated with missionary groups operate in the country; most restrict their activities to the provision of medical services; others were employed in teaching and social services. Invited by the Government, the Sisters of Charity run homes for the poor and persons with disabilities in Sana'a, Taiz, Hodeida, and Aden. A Swedish mission organization runs a technical school for the disabled and poor in Taiz. There was also a medical mission in Saada, but in January 2007, the mission reportedly fled to escape the fighting. It is believed that they remained in the region to provide medical assistance to victims of the violence. Another mission operated two charitable clinics in Aden.[16]

In spite of the lack of freedom of religion in Yemen, a 2015 global census estimates some 400 Christians from a Muslim background, though not all of these individuals are necessarily Yemeni citizens.[17]

Freedom of religion

Main article: Freedom of religion in Yemen

The constitution states that Islam is the state religion. It provides for freedom of thought and expression, but does not mention freedom of religion. The law prohibits conversion from Islam to another religion and proselytizing directed at Muslims. Apostasy is a capital offense.[11]

Public schools must teach Islam at primary and secondary level. Public schools are required to teach Sunni and Shia students the same curriculum, but this is not enforceable in Houthi-controlled areas, Zaydi principles are taught.[11] Because the government is concerned that unlicensed religious schools deviate from formal educational requirements and promote militant ideology, it has closed more than 4,500 institutions of this type, and deported foreign students studying there.[5]

In 2023, the country was scored 1 out of 4 for religious freedom.[18] In the same year, the country was ranked as the 3rd worst country in the world to be a Christian.[19]

See also


  1. ^ "Yemen". United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved 2023-11-06.
  2. ^ The ARDA website, retrieved 2023-09-19
  3. ^ >Columbia University website, Gulf 2000 project
  4. ^ "Yemen - Middle East". The World Fact Book. Archived from the original on 9 May 2021.
  5. ^ a b Country profile: US Library of Congress: Yemen
  6. ^ Merrick, Jane; Sengupta, Kim (20 September 2009). "Yemen: The land with more guns than people". The Independent. London. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
  7. ^ Sharma, Hriday (30 June 2011). "The Arab Spring: The Initiating Event for a New Arab World Order". E-international Relations. Archived from the original on 29 August 2020. In Yemen, Zaidists, a Shiite offshoot, constitute 30% of the total population
  8. ^ Ben Zion, Ilan (21 March 2016). "17 Yemenite Jews secretly airlifted to Israel in end to 'historic mission'". Times of Israel. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  9. ^ Oliver Smith, Digital Travel Editor (15 April 2017). "Mapped: The world's most (and least) religious countries". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2020-02-21. ((cite news)): |first= has generic name (help)
  10. ^ a b United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Yemen: International Religious Freedom Report 2008. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  11. ^ a b c d US State Dept 2022 report
  12. ^ "Hindus and Muslims live like a family in Yemen". 2017-07-03. Retrieved 2023-07-06.
  13. ^ "Lucrative job opportunities in war-hit Yemen attract Indians despite government advisories". The Indian Express. 2015-09-09. Retrieved 2023-07-06.
  14. ^ Pew-Templeton - Global Religious Futures
  15. ^ US State Dept report for 2014
  16. ^ United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Yemen: International Religious Freedom Report 2007. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  17. ^ Johnstone, Patrick; Miller, Duane A (2015). "Believers in Christ from a Muslim Background: A Global Census". Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion. 11: 17. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  18. ^ Freedom House website, retrieved 2023-08-08
  19. ^ Open Doors website, retrieved 2023-08-08