Language and Religion of Kuwait

Language

Arabic is the official language. The Arabic spoken in Kuwait is closer to classical Arabic than to the colloquial Arabic spoken in many other parts of the Middle East. English is generally used by business people, employees of oil companies, foreign residents, and students, and it is the second language taught in the schools.

Religions

Islam is the state religion. According 2004 figures, Muslims represented about 64% of the total population, with a majority believed to be Sunni Muslim. About 30–35% of Muslim citizens were of the Shia branch. The Christian population includes between 250,000 and 500,000 people. Catholic groups include Roman Catholic, Maronite, Coptic, Armenian, Greek, Malabar, and Malankara congregations. Orthodox groups include the Greek, Armenian, Coptic, and the Indian Orthodox Syrian Church. the National Evangelical Church (Protestant) has about 20,000 members. Other Protestant groups include the Anglicans, Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, and Marthoma. Other religious groups include Hindus, Baha'is, Sikhs, and Buddhists.

The constitution provides for freedom of religion, but this right is limited in some cases by the government, in that religious practices are not permitted to conflict with public policy or morals. Blasphemy, apostasy (of Muslims), and proselytizing are illegal, with the exception of the Islam Presentation Committee, which encourages the conversion on non-Muslims to Islam. Family law is administered through the Islamic court system. Religious affairs are overseen by the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. Only four non-Muslim groups have the full legal recognition in the government: the Roman Catholic Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Anglican Church, and the National Evangelical Church. While these groups are offered a certain amount of freedom, there are quotas in place that limit the number of clergy and staff each group can have. Other groups are generally allowed to worship freely in private homes. Certain Muslim holidays are celebrated as national holidays.