Islam in Papua New Guinea

Islam in Papua New Guinea is a minority religion, with over 5,000 followers.[1] The majority of the Muslims belong to the Sunni group, while a small number are Ahmadi.[2]


The people of the island of New Guinea traded with China and the Malay empire, the later of which was Muslim, beginning in the 16th century.[3] In 1988, Muslims in Papua New Guinea set up the first Islamic center, with the help of a Malaysia-based Islamic organisation and the Saudi Ministry of Islamic affairs. In 1996, three more Islamic centers were established, with the help of the Muslim World League. There are now seven Islamic centers in the nation. The first mosque, known as the Baitul Kareem Mosque, was built in 1988 in Kimbe, New Britain, by the Ahmadiyya Muslims.[4]

Islam in present-day Papua New Guinea

According to Isa Teine, the general secretary for PNG's Islamic Society, many are drawn to Islam because of its similarities with Melanesian customs, and he predicts that "Once the religion itself spread I tell you, I'm just predicting in 20, 30 years' time, all Papua New Guinea will submit to Islam."[5] Similar opinions are voiced even by many of the non-Muslims of PNG, with a Seventh Day Adventist preacher from the highland Enga Province stating his belief that, “In the next 30 years all the PNG highlands will become Muslim because our culture is Islamic.”[6] According to research by Dr Scott Flower, a Melbourne University Islamic specialist, secondary reasons for conversion to Islam include the disillusionment and confusion at the competition between the many different Christian churches, and inconsistencies in their theology: “PNG people are quite fanatical about theology, they actually read the bible. They can quote chapter and verse. And the contradictions they find in the bible are another major reason why people told me they converted.”.[6]

In Papua New Guinea, new Islamic missionary movements are beginning to proliferate. There are pockets of Muslims around Port Moresby, in Baimuru, Daru, Marshall Lagoon, the Musa Valley and in the islands of New Britain and New Ireland. It is in the Highlands that Islam has seen the most growth.[7]

Number of muslims

In 2001, there were less than 500 Muslims in PNG.[6] In 2007, the U.S. Department of State estimated that there were about 2,000 Muslims in the country.[8] In 2008, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation cited that were more than 4,000 Muslims in the country, with reports of entire villages converting at the same time.[9] In 2012, Scott Flower estimated that there were over 5000 Muslims, claiming a 500% increase since 2001.[1]


  1. 1 2 "The growing muslim minority community in Papua New Guinea". Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. 5 November 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  2. "Islam in Papua New Guinea" (PDF). Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  3. BBC News: Timeline: Papua New Guinea
  4. "Growing numbers convert to Islam in PNG". ABC. 18 Nov 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  5. 1 2 3 Jo Chandler (August 8, 2013). "A Faith Grows In PNG". The Global Mail. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  6. Events in Papua New Guinea
  7. International Religious Freedom Report 2007
  8. "Growing numbers convert to Islam in PNG". 18 November 2008. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
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