The Muslim population of England has passed the three million mark for the first time, according to estimates prepared by Whitehall.
They said that Muslims are the fastest-growing faith group in the country – while allegiance to Christianity continues to decline.
The figures were produced by the Office for National Statistics as part of a research project to try for the first time to make regular assessments of the size of different ethnic and religious groups.
Until now religious and ethnic minority populations could be gauged only once a decade using the results of the full-scale ten-yearly national census.
The Muslim population of England has passed the three million mark for the first time (file image)
According to the ONS assessment, Christians continue to decline in number, but the drop in allegiance to Christianity may be slowing.
Among other faith groups, the share of Hindus in the population has climbed slightly, while the proportion of Sikhs has fallen by a similar small amount.
The scale of the Jewish and Buddhist shares of the population have remained stable, the report said.
The share of people who say they have no religion at all or who will not discuss their faith has risen to almost a third of the English population, an increase almost certainly a result of the fall-off in Christian belief.
The ONS also estimated that the proportion of people in England who say they follow a religion other than a major faith more than trebled between 2011 and 2016.
The figures were produced by the Office for National Statistics as part of a research project. The results are shown on the chart above
The increase may again be a result of people searching for new beliefs after becoming disillusioned with Christianity.
The new figures suggest that in 2016 – five years after the 2011 national census – there were 3,138,000 Muslims in England and Wales, up by more than 400,000 from 2.7 million over the five years. This was an increase of roughly 16 per cent.
In England alone, the ONS estimates said, there were 3,092,000 Muslims in 2016.
As a share of the population of England, the assessment indicated that the Muslim faith group made up 5.6 per cent in 2016 against 4.7 per cent in 2011.
The research report said: ‘There is a decline for the Christian group, though it remains the largest group in England.
‘The lower proportion of the population in the Christian group is counteracted by higher proportions of all the other groups, with the largest increases seen for the Muslim, none or not stated, and other faith groups.’