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BRICS poised to become the second largest bloc for Muslims after OIC

– Arshad Shaikh

Established in 1969, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) comprises 57 members, of which 56 are United Nations member states. Among these, 49 are countries where Muslims form the majority. While several members, particularly in West Africa and South America, possess substantial Muslim populations, they aren’t necessarily Muslim-majority nations.

Additionally, some countries with notable Muslim populations like Russia and Thailand, hold “Observer State” status. Geographically, the OIC’s 56 present members are primarily situated in North Africa, the Near East, and South Asia, collectively encompassing a land area of 31.92 million km² and a population of approximately 1.98 billion. This represents roughly 24.92 percent of the global population.

BRICS is an acronym that represents a group of five major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The following countries have expressed interest in joining BRICS – Algeria, Argentina, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Türkiye, Egypt, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Senegal, Thailand, and United Arab Emirates. While many of these aspiring BRICS countries are Muslim-majority countries, there are many with significant Muslim populations including India.

If these countries join BRICS and if we add the Muslim population in these countries, a new bloc consisting of nearly a billion Muslims shall be formed. It would be the second biggest bloc of Muslims after OIC. That would be a remarkable development and may well change the shape of geopolitics forever.

BRICS current and proposed new members have the following Muslim population:
Brazil = 1.5 million
Russia = 14.2 million
India = 195 million
China = 23.3 million
South Africa = 1.9 million
Algeria = 44.7 million
Argentina = 0.4 million
Iran = 82 million
Saudi Arabia = 20 million
Türkiye (Turkey) = 84.8 million
Egypt = 90 million
Afghanistan = 38 million
Indonesia = 229 million
Kazakhstan = 18.7 million
Nicaragua = thousand odd
Nigeria = 90.2 million
Senegal = 17 million
Thailand = 4.8 million
United Arab Emirates = 1.5 million

TOTAL = 957 million i.e. close to a billion


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