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World Muslim population doubling, report projects
January 27th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

World Muslim population doubling, report projects

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

Twenty years ago, the world had about 1.1 billion Muslims. Twenty years from now, it will have about twice as many - and they'll represent more than a quarter of all people on earth, according to a new study released Thursday.

That's a rise from less than 20 percent in 1990.

Pakistan will overtake Indonesia as home of the largest number of Muslims, as its population pushes over 256 million, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life projects.

The number of Muslims in the United States will more than double, to 6.2 million, it anticipates.

Afghanistan's population will nearly double, to about 50.5 million, making it home to the ninth largest Muslim population in the world.

Israel will become nearly a quarter Muslim. The Palestinian territories have one of the highest growth rates in the world.

Fractious Nigeria, where Christian-Muslim violence has left thousands dead in the past decade, will become a Muslim-majority country by 2030, the Pew Forum projects.

And two western European countries - France and Belgium - will become more than 10 percent Muslim. Sweden will hover just below that level, at 9.9 percent.

Iran, on the other hand, will see very slow growth. Iranian women have among the fewest children of anyone in the Muslim world. They use birth control at exactly the same rate as American women, 73 percent.


Explore our interactive maps showing the growth of Muslim populations by country

The Muslim share of the global population will rise primarily because of their relatively high birth rate, the large number of Muslims of childbearing age, and an increase in life expectancy in Muslim-majority countries, according to the report, "The Future of the Global Muslim Population."

Conversion will play relatively little part in the increase, the report anticipates. It says little data is available on conversion, but what little there is suggests Islam loses as many adherents via conversion as it gains.

Pakistan's rapid growth - adding an estimated 70 million people in 20  years - could create "a potentially lethal cocktail,"  said Ghaffar Hussain of  the Quilliam Foundation, which calls itself and anti-extremism think tank and  does work in Pakistan.

"Pakistan is an unstable country, there are literally hundreds of  jihadist groups," he said.

And the government is not doing much to slow population growth, unlike in nearby Bangladesh, he said.

"In Bangladesh they have tax incentives not to have large families.  Pakistan doesn't have that strategy - they're not even talking about it," said  Hussain.

"More effort should be made to finding some solutions, especially in the  border region with Afghanistan," he advised.

Governments in Europe, meanwhile, should do more to explain the value of  immigration, he argued.

Muslim growth there "is coming from the first generation having large  families" and will slow down, he predicted.

But the large new Muslim populations are not always welcome, he said.

"A lot of European countries don't tell their people we need immigration  for (economic reasons)," he said, adding that government also should do more to  help new immigrants assimilate.

European government need "some sort of strategy of what to do when people  come. Integration has been managed very badly," he said.

The key phrase in the Pew Forum report is "growing but slowing," says  Alan Cooperman, associate director of the think tank.

The increase in the last 20 years is greater than what we expect in the next 20 years," he said. Muslim population growth "is a line that's flattening out. They're increasing, but they're getting closer to the norm, the average."

In other words, Muslims are coming into line with global trends toward fewer children per woman and an aging population. But, the report points out, because of the existing Muslim "youth bulge," or unusually high percentage of young people, Muslim population growth has a certain momentum that will take decades to come into line with world averages - if it ever does.

The Pew report, more than a year in the making, is part of an ambitious attempt by the think tank to calculate the number of adherents to each of the world's major religions. The Islam report comes first, and a Christian project is in the works.

They started with Muslims, Cooperman said, because they are "the largest group for which data was lacking, and we saw public interest in knowing more."

Despite the rapid growth of Islam, Christianity seems set to remain the biggest religion in the world for the next 20 years. There are currently more than 2 billion Christians - 30 to 35 percent of the global population - making it very unlikely that there will be fewer than 2.2 billion Christians in 2030.

"There is nothing in these numbers to indicate that in 2030 there would be more Muslims that Christians," Cooperman said.

In fact, both Christianity and Islam could be growing, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the whole, he pointed out.

"We don't want people to jump to the conclusion that if Islam is growing, everyone else is shrinking," he said. "Christianity and Islam could both be growing at the expense of other religions."

Sub-Saharan Africa is a case in point, he said.

"Tremendous numbers are being added in sub-Saharan Africa, but... Christianity and Islam are both growing rapidly. There is not a change in the overall proportions of Muslims to Christians."

He's aware that the report has policy implication, but insists that the purpose of the Pew Forum is simply to provide unbiased data.

"It's not our role to say what should be done," Cooperman said.

What they're aiming to do, one of the project's leader said, is to make sure there's reliable information available.

"There has been a lot of speculation about the growth of the Muslim population around the world, and many of those who speculate don't have good data," said Brian Grim, a senior researcher at the Pew Forum.

For example, the report undermines the notion that Europe is heading toward having any country with a Muslim majority. The continent will be about 8 percent Muslim in 2030, it projects.

"The data that we have isn't pointing in the direction of 'Eurabia' at all," Grim said.

"The Muslim population is growing and slowing. Instead of a runaway train, it's trending with the general global population," he said.

Cooperman hopes that information will help make for more intelligent discussions, he said: "In the midst of heated debate and speculation, we think that solid, reliable, empirical estimates are valuable."

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Afghanistan • Indonesia • Islam • Israel • Muslim • Pakistan • United States

soundoff (1,248 Responses)
  1. unsername1

    don't send them food, medicines, blankets............send them condoms.

    June 12, 2014 at 8:19 pm |
  2. ladyinwaiting2012

    Reblogged this on THE DAY AND HOUR UNKNOWN.

    August 13, 2013 at 4:51 am |
  3. mr bean

    Muslim is a religion of intolerance and violence. poor earth, it will be filled with menace.

    July 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
  4. write2nadeem

    Was a christian and now no more. How can one be a GOD and a MAN ?? It doesn't make any sense to anyone who reads bible – when he claims himself to be the SON(He is not GOD) and refers to his Father(who is the actual GOD)... WE should believe in Jesus Christ.. But the Jesus himself claimed in few verses that he is the messenger of GOD and he spoke about a coming messenger.....which should Prophet Muhammed....Muslims believe him as the messenger of GOD and love him for his sacrifice and miracles..This is what Holy Quran says... Few more questions for you to think how Jesus can't be GOD.

    http://www.answering-christianity.com/questions.htm

    Please don't mind if I am wrong... I found the truth in Islam.. through which I believe in Prophet Jesus

    March 20, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
  5. Mushtaq Hussein

    Allah is the only way to heaven. There is no god but Allah. Islam is not terrorism it's peace. If you don't know about Islam do not comment on Islam. Islam is the way of life. If somebody exactly wants to know about Islam please read Quran. In Sha Allah, Allah will help you to the right way. Allah-u- Akbar.

    March 16, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  6. aamir

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOD2KXXzsjM&w=640&h=390]
    if you are a true christain then please watch this full video . i am sure it will change your mind

    January 9, 2013 at 6:07 am |
  7. ibrahim

    just saying out of context.as one of christian brother nathan said that it is written in gospel of john 14:6 i am the way the truth and the life. Its quoting out of context. Actually it is having a different meaning if we read the first five verses before reading directly the sixth one. May allah bring you to truth.

    December 1, 2012 at 3:20 am |
  8. Somali man

    Actually everybody said something but, i just only can say go to the holly Qur'an and try to get the real meaning of it, i'm sure that allah will help you insha allah, then you'll get the right way.... Bye the way, i saw something on the report which is totaly wrong they said :Somalia 98.2% are muslims, nd that's too wrong, the last 20years i was in Somalia, i always go side to side in Somali, i never meet one somali cristian person, even i never heard it..... If they would say 99..% at least

    November 4, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  9. The Somali Man

    Actually everybody said something but, i just only can say go to the holly Qur'an and try to get the real meaning of it, i'm sure that allah will help you insha allah, then you'll get the right way.... Bye the way, i saw something on the report which is totaly wrong they said :Somalia 98.2% are muslims, nd that's too wrong, the last 20years i was in Somalia, i always go side to side in Somali, i never meet one somali cristian person, even i never heard it..... If they would say 99..% at least

    November 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  10. Khan

    There is no God but Allaha and Muhammed is the messanfer of Allaha.Try to read Quran Majeed surae Al bqra also .God took u at right path.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • unsername1

      There are no suicide bombers but followers of Allah and Muhammad, the messenger of Satan.

      June 12, 2014 at 8:25 pm |
  11. Khan

    There is no God but Allaha and Muhammed is messanger of Allaha.i advise you try to read Quran .Allaha took you for right path

    October 17, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  12. Unknown

    P.S iislam is not about terrorism and suicide bombing the same way Christianity is not about what western culture is portraying, open adultery, immodest clothing etc. at least learn what Islam is about before making superficial statements

    July 1, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Cecile

      Please: check out Geert Wilders, (Dutch Politician), his comments regarding 54 mil. Muslims in Europe and watch his movie "Fitna" on youtube...

      September 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • GC

      Yes, check out Islam. Most people will be shocked to know it is even allowed in civilized countries. Islam means peace in Arabic.But this means to give control over to them in return for peace. Read the Koran and find out what it says about infidels! Also that Islam teaches that is permissible to decieve infidels for the cause of Islam! Infidels, to the Muslim, are people that are not Muslim. Infidels, if they do not turn to Islam, can be murdered for the cause of Islam. I have lived in Muslim countries for over 9 years. I still hope and pray that their dreams will open their spiritual eyes to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – Jesus! May the God of Peace bless those reading this!

      October 3, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  13. Unknown

    Christianity and Islam are from the same God, Christianity is just simply older than Islam, and Jesus himself made a prediction of a future prophet,
    " I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth  and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass that, whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. (Deuteronomy 18:18-19)"
    Since Islam is the religion closest to Christianity why don't Christians just believe in Muhammad?

    July 1, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  14. vepj

    Aw, this was a really nice post. In concept I would like to put in writing like this additionally – taking time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and not at all appear to get something done.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:19 am |
  15. Nathan

    Jesus Christ is the one and only way to Heaven. Jesus said in John 14:6 "I am the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE. Nobody comes to the Father except through me. " If we all believe in him we will not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus said In John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotton son (Jesus), that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting Life." I pray that you will accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior so that you too will be saved from death and eternal punishment. Jesus died for each and everyone of us because of our sin, so that we could be with him in heaven for all eternity! Praise to our Lord and savior Jesus Christ! HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!!

    May 7, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  16. andrew

    how can people belive in jesus (pbpuh) to be god i used to be christian and im muslim and its clear to understand this
    if jesus was the messiah then he wouldn't be Cruessfied and if he was cruessfied then he is not the messiah which is clear not god (GOD) does not eat or sleep nor will send his son to be hummilated like what happen so YOU PEOPLE BE KIND TO EACHOTHER AND BE RESPECTFULL thank you

    May 7, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Browneyes

      Jesus is God because as it says in the bible that he died to get rid of all our sins. God sent his son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh. I hope that u understand that u ar wrong about God. God loves u no matter what u do, u ar his son and he wants u to be a true Christian again, he wants u to be with him in heaven. I hope u dont get irritated about this, but I will pray that u don't get confused and that u give your life to Jesus and he will save u! I am saved, do u want to be saved too? Allah is someone that a person made up isn't it? Muhammed made it up. Andrew, no matter what don't give up on God, He will save u and He wants to. But it's your decision, so u let Him know what u think. God Bless u!

      October 19, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
  17. panamalaw scam

    Hello there, I discovered your web site by way of Google even as searching for a related matter, your website got here up, it seems great. I have bookmarked to favourites|added to my bookmarks.

    April 21, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  18. Tachara Petrovich

    Browsing for an anti-aging remedy out there that actually operates the particular skin natual skin care unit (FSD) via Radiancy is really a highly effective natual skin care gadget which targets the signs of ...complete anti aging solutions

    April 11, 2012 at 5:08 am |
  19. wisdom man

    How can u judge Islam and u didnt read The Holy Quran? dont listen to what ppl says or media says ... if u have a mind just open it and go to the main source of the religion and read it dont judge and repeat what ppl says .. we believe jesus pbuh is a messenger and a prophet from The God not son of god or god ... and Mohammed also a Messenger and prophet pbuh ... in Quran there`s a Chapter names Maryam(Mary) mother of jesus peace on her ... just open ur mind 1 time and try u`ll not lose anything ... and i wish God will guide u all to the right Way ... There`s no god but God and Mohammed his slave and messenger and Jesus his slave and Messenger

    March 17, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Paul

      Jesus is the saviour or all mankind ! ALL mankind, including mohamed worshiping muslims. If the mohemedans only opened their mind to a beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful religion like Christianity, they might in one or two generations embrace life as beautiful as apposed to death. They might embrace life as it should be lived rather than sacrificed by tying a suicide belt around their children and blowing themselves up to smithereens. It is high time that we enact laws that will benefits the mohemadans by outlawing the veil and limiting the amount of children a mohamedan woman can have. Think about this, the woman if freed from being a baby producing animal and will be an equal among all women.

      April 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Nathan

      Jesus Christ is the one and only way to Heaven. Jesus said in John 14:6 "I am the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE. Nobody comes to the Father except through me. " If we all believe in him we will not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus said In John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotton son (Jesus), that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting Life." I pray that you will accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior so that you too will be saved from death and eternal punishment. Jesus died for each and everyone of us because of our sin, so that we could be with him in heaven for all eternity! Praise to our Lord and savior Jesus Christ! HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!!

      May 7, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.