National / Regional Profiles

Included Nations/Regions: Afghanistan [x], South-Central Asia [x], The World [x]


Religion and State (RAS) Indexes1

Religion Indexes (Afghanistan)

State Funding of Religion
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)

Ranking: 13/253
Societal Discrimination of Minority Religions
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)

Ranking: 20/253
State Regulation of Majority or All Religions
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)

Ranking: 30/253
State Discrimination of Minority Religions
Summary categories: None (0/3), Low (1/3), Medium (2/3), High (3/3)

Ranking: 26/253
For details on how these indexes were constructed, click here

Afghanistan: Major World Religions (1900 - 2050) (World Religion Database, 2020)2

The following groups with less than 1% of the population were hidden from this graph: Baha'is, Buddhists, Christians, Ethnic religionists, Hindus, Jews, Nonreligious, Sikhs, Zoroastrians.


Afghanistan: Largest Religious Groups (1900 - 2050) (World Religion Database, 2020)2

The following groups with less than 1% of the population were hidden from this graph: Agnostics, Atheists, Catholics, Independents, Mahayanists, Orthodox, Protestants, Saktists, Shaivites, unaffiliated Christians, Vaishnavites.


Religious Adherents (World Religion Database 2020)2

Religion Afghanistan
[x]
South-Central Asia
[x]
The World
[x]
Baha'is 0.03% 0.13% 0.11%
Buddhists 0.02% 1.54% 6.83%
--Mahayanists 0.02% 0.46% 4.89%
--Theravadins --- 0.83% 1.72%
--Lamaists --- 0.25% 0.23%
Chinese folk-religionists --- 0.01% 5.98%
Christians 0.02% 3.88% 32.16%
--unaffiliated Christians 0.00% 0.01% 1.46%
--Orthodox 0.00% 0.29% 3.75%
--Catholics 0.00% 1.25% 15.90%
--Protestants 0.01% 1.36% 7.51%
--Independents 0.01% 1.06% 5.00%
Daoists --- --- 0.11%
Confucianists --- --- 0.11%
Ethnic religionists 0.02% 3.09% 3.65%
Hindus 0.03% 53.58% 13.58%
--Vaishnavites 0.01% 20.43% 5.15%
--Shaivites 0.01% 18.99% 4.86%
--Saktists 0.01% 14.16% 3.57%
Jains --- 0.31% 0.08%
Jews 0.00% 0.00% 0.19%
Muslims 99.86% 35.21% 24.20%
--Sunnis 89.05% 29.06% 21.56%
--Shias 10.81% 5.78% 2.44%
--Islamic schismatics --- 0.37% 0.21%
New religionists --- 0.00% 0.85%
Shintoists --- 0.00% 0.04%
Sikhs 0.01% 1.26% 0.34%
Spiritists --- --- 0.19%
Zoroastrians 0.01% 0.01% 0.00%
Non-Religious 0.01% 1.00% 11.57%
--Agnostics 0.01% 0.88% 9.65%
--Atheists 0.00% 0.12% 1.92%

Religious demographics (Afghanistan)3

The country has an area of 402,356 square miles and a population of 31 million. Reliable data on religious demography is not available because an official nationwide census has not been conducted in decades. Observers estimate that 80 percent of the population is Sunni Muslim, 19 percent Shi'a Muslim, and other religious groups make up less than 1 percent of the population. There are approximately 2,200 Sikh and Hindu believers and more than 400 Baha'is. There is a small, hidden Christian community; estimates on its size range from 500 to 8,000. In addition, there are small numbers of adherents of other religious groups, mostly Buddhist foreigners.

Traditionally, the dominant religion is the sect of Sunni Islam that follows the Hanafi school of jurisprudence. For the last 200 years, much of the population adhered to Deobandi-influenced Hanafi Sunnism from Deoband, India, near Delhi. A sizable minority adhered to a more mystical version of Islam, generally known as Sufism. Sufism centers on orders or brotherhoods that follow charismatic religious leaders. During the 20th century, the influence of the Wahhabi form of Islam grew in certain regions.

Members of the same religious group have traditionally concentrated in certain regions. Some groups were displaced forcibly by kings for internal security reasons or to make agricultural and grazing land available to favored ethnic groups. Sunni Muslim Pashtuns dominate the south and east. The homeland of the Shi'a Hazaras is in the Hazarajat, the mountainous central highlands around Bamyan. Northeastern provinces traditionally have Ismaili populations. Other areas, including Kabul, the capital, are more heterogeneous and include Sunni, Shi'a, Hindu, Sikh, and Baha'i populations. The northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif includes a mix of Sunnis (including ethnic Pashtuns, Turkmen, Uzbeks, and Tajiks) and Shi'a (Hazaras and Qizilbash) including Shi'a Ismailis.

In the past, small communities of Hindus, Sikhs, Baha'is, Jews, and Christians lived in the country, although most members of these communities emigrated during the anti-Soviet jihad years of civil war and Taliban rule. Non-Muslim minorities were estimated to number in the hundreds at the end of Taliban rule. A small population of native Hindus and Sikhs never left. Since the fall of the Taliban, some members of religious minorities have returned, with many settling in Kabul.

Nuristanis, a small but distinct ethnolinguistic group living in a mountainous eastern region, practiced an ancient polytheistic religion until forcibly converted to Islam in the late 19th century. Some non-Muslim religious practices survive today as folk customs.

There are seven gurdwaras, Sikh places of worship, in Kabul. There are approximately six Hindu temples in four cities. An additional 18 were destroyed during the many years of war.

There is one Christian church and one synagogue. Some citizens who converted to Christianity as refugees have returned. Others Afghans living abroad may have been born abroad into other religious groups. The Baha'i faith has had followers in the country for approximately 150 years. The community is predominantly based in Kabul, where more than 300 Baha'i members live; another 100 are said to live in other parts of the country.

Summary Information

Afghanistan
[x]
South-Central Asia
[x]
The World
[x]
Region South-Central Asia The World --
Total Population4 32,771,427 1,866,835,557 7,335,774,068
Area in square miles 252,070 4,163,229 196,939,900
Life Expectancy from birth, in years5 63.3 70.7 71.9
Gross National Income per capita, in current international dollars5 1,900.0 8,062.3 16,101.0
Description of Polity Score6 (anocratic) -- --
Judicial Independence Composite Score, as average of scores for higher and lower courts7 -0.1 -0.3 0.8
Official Religion(s)8 Islam -- --

Afghanistan - Google Map


Religion and the State

Religion and State Collection (2014)

Afghanistan
[x]
Is proselytizing Legal?1 No
Is religious registration someties denied?1 There is no registration requirement
What are the consequences of registration?1 There is no registration requirement
Official Support: The formal relationship between religion and state.1 Religious State 2
The extent to which religious education is mandatory in public schools.1 Mandatory for some who have no ability to opt out; the course must be in religion but optional for others or there exists for some the option of taking a non-religious course on topics like ethics, philosophy, or religions of the world.
The extent to which funding is exclusive to one or a few religions.1 Government funding of religion goes primarily to one religion but at least some other religions receive some funds.
The extent to which there are religious requirements and oaths for holding office.1 Some government officials (other than head of state church and the like) must meet some form of religious requirements to hold office.

Constitutional Features [ View Excerpts]

Constitution

Afghanistan
[x]
Constitution Year10 2004
Last Amended10 (n/a)
Source10 Constitute Project
Translation10 Source is an English translation.
Current as of10 September 30, 2018

Socio-Economic Measures

Military Measures

Afghanistan
[x]
South-Central Asia
[x]
The World
[x]
Composite Index of National Capability, in fraction of 117 0.0027339 0.009459929 0.005162584
2012 Military expenditure (% of GDP)5 3.6 2.5 --

Other Measures on Religion, State, and Society


Constitution Clauses Related to Religion


Constitution Excerpts (clauses that reference religion) (Afghanistan)10

Preamble

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of Worlds; and Praise and Peace be upon Mohammad, His Last Messenger and his disciples and followers

Believing firmly in Almighty God, relying on His divine will and adhering to the Holy religion of Islam;

Appreciating the … jihad … of all the peoples of Afghanistan …

Article 1.

Afghanistan shall be an Islamic Republic …

Article 2.

The sacred religion of Islam is the religion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Followers of other faiths shall be free within the bounds of law in the exercise and performance of their religious rituals.

Article 3.

No law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan.

Article 17.

The state shall adopt necessary measures to … develop religious teachings, regulate and improve the conditions of mosques, religious schools as well as religious centers.

Article 18.

The source for the calendar year of the country shall be based upon the migration of The Prophet (PBUH).

Article 19.

… The national insignia of Afghanistan shall be comprised of an emblem and a pulpit in white color, at the two corners of which are two flags, inscribed in the top middle the holy phrase "There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his Prophet, and Allah is Great." …

Article 20.

The national anthem of Afghanistan shall be in Pashto with the mention of "God is Great" …

Article 23.

Life is the gift of God …

Article 35.

(1) [Political parties’] manifesto and charter shall not contravene the Holy religion of Islam …

Formation and operation of a party on the basis of … religious sectarianism shall not be permitted. …

Article 45.

The state shall devise and implement a unified educational curricula [sic] based on the tenets of the sacred religion of Islam … and develop religious subjects curricula for schools on the basis of existing Islamic sects in Afghanistan.

Article 54.

… The state shall adopt necessary measures to attain … the elimination of related traditions [to the family] contrary to the principles of the sacred religion of Islam.

Article 62.

The individual who becomes a presidential candidate shall have the following qualifications:

(1) Shall be … Muslim …

[*Note: Section (3) applies the same qualifications to Vice-Presidential candidates also.]

Article 63.

[Presidential oath of office:] "In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, I swear by the name of God Almighty that I shall obey and protect the Holy religion of Islam … in seeking God Almighty's help and support of the nation …"

Article 66.

… [T]he Presidential position shall not be used for … sectarian … and religious … considerations.

Article 74.

[Ministerial oath of office:] "In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, I swear in the name of God Almighty that I shall protect the Holy religion of Islam … in all my deeds consider the Almighty's presence …"

Article 80.

… [T]he Ministers shall not use their positions for … sectarian … [or] religious … purposes.

Article 118.

Supreme Court members shall have the following qualifications:

(3) Shall have higher education in legal studies or Islamic jurisprudence …

Article 119.

[Supreme Court oath of office:] "In the of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, I swear in the name of God Almighty to attain justice and righteousness in accordance with tenets of the Holy religion of Islam …"

Article 149.

The principles of adherence to the tenets of the Holy religion of Islam as well as Islamic Republicanism shall not be amended. …

Variable Details

  • For more details on State Funding of Religion (FUN_4CAT) see this document.
  • For more details on Societal Discrimination of Minority Religions (SOC_4CAT) see this document.
  • For more details on State Regulation of Majority or All Religions (NXX_4CAT) see this document.
  • For more details on State Discrimination of Minority Religions (MXX_4CAT) see this document.
  • Sources

    1 The Religion and State (RAS) Project is a university-based project located at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel and is directed by Jonathan Fox. Round 3 of the RAS includes all countries with populations of 250,000 or more as well as a sampling of smaller states and offers annual measures from 1990 to 2014. The methods used for conducting the RAS3 collection and the complete codebook can be reviewed online. Or, the codebook and data file can be downloaded free of charge here. For details on how the RAS indexes reported on the ARDA’s National Profiles were coded, constructed, and placed into categories, click here.

    2 Todd M. Johnson and Brian J. Grim, eds. World Religion Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2022).

    3 The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.

    4 The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports the estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. The RCS was created to fulfill the unmet need for a dataset on the religious dimensions of countries of the world, with the state-year as the unit of observation. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivision within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.

    5 Relying on agencies from each country, as well as a synthesis of data from United Nations divisions, Eurostate Demographic statistics, the U.S. Census international database, and its own data collection, the World Bank's Open Data site offers free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.

    6 The Center for Systemic Peace (CSP) is engaged in innovative research on the problem of political violence within the structural context of the dynamic global system. The Center supports scientific research and quantitative analysis in many issue areas related to the fundamental problems of violence in both human relations and societal-systemic development processes. The Center continually monitors political behavior in each of the world's major states and reports on emerging issues and persisting conditions related to the problems of political violence and "state failure." A dataset with these and other international measures can be downloaded from here. Used with permission. *Note: Polity Scores range from -10 to 10 and include the following categories: -10 to -9: strongly autocratic, -8 to -7 autocratic, -6 to -4 weakly autocratic, -3 to +3 anocratic, +4 to +6 weakly democratic, +7 to +8 democratic, +9 to +10 strongly democratic.

    7 Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) is a new approach to conceptualizing and measuring democracy. V-Dem provides a multidimensional and disaggregated dataset that reflects the complexity of the concept of democracy as a system of rule that goes beyond simple presence of elections. The V-Dem project distinguishes between seven high-level principles of democracy: electoral, liberal, participatory, deliberative, egalitarian, majoritarian, and consensual, and collects data to measure these principles. A dataset with these and other international measures can be downloaded from here. Used with permission.

    8 The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

    9 Data under the "Features of Constitution" heading are drawn from coding of the U.S. State Department's 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports conducted by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the International Religious Freedom reports. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

    10 Text from country constitutions was copied from primary documents obtained online using a variety of sources, including the Constitute Project, World Constitutions Illustrated, and government sources. When the text was in a language other than English, it was translated to English by ARDA staff or with web-based translation utilities such as Google Translate. Emphases were added to the text by ARDA staff to differentiate religious content from non-religious content. Text is current to the date listed in the "Current as of" field shown above. Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are aware of any incorrect information provided on this page.

    11 Freedom House is an independent non-governmental organization that offers measures of the extent to which governments are accountable to their own people; the rule of law prevails; and freedoms of expression, association, belief and respect for the rights of minorities and women are guaranteed. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

    12 The CIA's World Factbook was created as an annual summary and update to the now defunct National Intelligence Survey (NIS) studies. The first classified Factbook was published in August 1962, and the first unclassified version was published in June 1971. The NIS program was terminated in 1973 except for the Factbook, map, and gazetteer components. The 1975 Factbook was the first to be made available to the public with sales through the US Government Printing Office (GPO). The year 2010 marks the 67th year of the World Factbook and its predecessor programs. The maps and flags are also from the World Factbook, which is an open source.

    13 Relying on agencies from each country, as well as a synthesis of data from United Nations divisions, Eurostate Demographic statistics, the U.S. Census international database, and its own data collection, the World Bank's Open Data site offers free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.

    14 The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom is a systematic, empirical measurement of economic freedom in countries throughout the world. A set of objective economic criteria are used to study and grade various countries for the annual publication of the Index of Economic Freedom. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

    15 The United Nations Human Development Reports provide data and statistical analysis in various areas of human development. The Human Development Report (HDR) presents two types of statistics: the human development indicator tables, which provide a global assessment of country achievements in different areas of human development, and thematic statistical analysis. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

    16 The 2013 Gender Inequality Index is a composite measure reflecting inequality in achievements between women and men in three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment and the labor market. It varies between zero (when women and men fare equally) and one (when men or women fare poorly compared to the other in all dimensions). The health dimension is measured by two indicators: maternal mortality ratio and the adolescent fertility rate. The empowerment dimension is also measured by two indicators: the share of parliamentary seats held by each sex and by secondary and higher education attainment levels. The labor dimension is measured by women’s participation in the work force. Source: The United Nations Human Development Reports provide data and statistical analysis in various areas of human development. The Human Development Report (HDR) presents two types of statistics: the human development indicator tables, which provide a global assessment of country achievements in different areas of human development, and thematic statistical analysis. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

    17 Military data is drawn from the National Material Capabilities (v4.0) dataset, which is a component of and hosted by the Correlates of War Project. The Correlates of War Project seeks to facilitate the collection, dissemination, and use of accurate and reliable quantitative data in international relations. Correlates of War data may be accessed through the above link. Used with permission.

    18 The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom reports. The 2003, 2005, and 2008 reports were coded by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The GRI, GFI and SRI values reported on the National Profiles are averages from the 2003, 2005, and 2008 International Religious Freedom reports, while the Religious Persecution measure is an average from the 2005 and 2008 reports. All other measures derived from the International Religious Freedom reports were coded from the reports 2008. A data file with all of the 2008 coding, as well as data files with other cross national collections are available for preview and download from the data archive on this site. Used with permission.

    19 The Cingranelli-Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Dataset contains standards-based quantitative information on government respect for 15 internationally recognized human rights for 202 countries, annually from 1981-2011. It is designed for use by scholars and students who seek to test theories about the causes and consequences of human rights violations, as well as policy makers and analysts who seek to estimate the human rights effects of a wide variety of institutional changes and public policies including democratization, economic aid, military aid, structural adjustment, and humanitarian intervention. The full CIRI Human Rights Dataset can be accessed through the above link. Used with permission.

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