Islam is the fastest growing non-Christian religion in Canada (235,000 in 1991, 580,000 in 2001, and just over 1 million in 2011). Canada’s population growth rate is the fastest of all G8 nations, with two-thirds of the growth coming from immigration. In March of 2019, there were an estimated 1.7 million Muslims among Canada’s 37 million people (4.6%).
Muslims in Canada come from a wide variety of nations, including Egypt, Morocco, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Algeria, and Lebanon. Canadian Muslims’ fertility rate is about 2.4 children per woman compared to 1.6 for Canadians generally, so the population of Canadian-born Muslims is also growing.
In the Greater Toronto Area, nearly 8% of the population is Muslim, and in Greater Montreal, 6%. Most of Canada’s Muslims are Sunnis, with significant Shia and Ahmadiyya minorities.
Muslims in Canada appear to be integrating well overall. This is mainly because most Muslim immigrants enter on employment visas intended to help fill vital jobs with skilled laborers and professionals. Muslims in Canada are more highly educated than any other religious category. Compared to Europe, Canada appears to have an unusually well-integrated Muslim population.
Despite the relatively high level of integration into Canada’s multicultural society, Muslims still feel strains. They are concerned about negative portraits of Muslims in the North American press, and they report not feeling trusted by many non-Muslim Canadians.
Unfortunately, even with a fairly high level of education among Muslim immigrants, the majority are unable to get employment in their fields. Oftentimes engineers can only get jobs in construction, and doctors – even experienced specialists – can only work as medical aids. Many well-educated Muslim immigrants work as taxi and truck drivers and in low-paying jobs in stores and warehouses.
Many of those who arrive as refugees from war-torn regions struggle with deep trauma. Even with the resources that are provided to help them, many have a difficult time coping with the stresses of life in Canada. And there have been a number of Canadian Muslims who have joined militant groups.
In cities across Canada some churches and local ministries are reaching out to Muslims. Yet, there are no reports of a significant turning to Christ. A notable exception is among the Persian immigrants who live primarily in Ontario and British Columbia, where there are hundreds of people joining Farsi and English-speaking Iranian congregations.
For more than a decade, the Loving Muslims Together network has been serving Christians in Canada by building connections, training and educating about Muslims in Canada, and helping Christians reach out in love to Muslims in their communities.
It appears that Muslim refugees and immigrants in Canada are most receptive to the Gospel in the first few years after arrival. Once they get established and busy with the harried Canadian lifestyle, and settle into Muslim immigrant communities, their openness decreases. For this reason, ministries like Move In engage newly-arrived Muslims in major cities across Canada by encouraging Christians to live among the urban poor.