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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. RAWoD

    I have done business in Islamic countries for 35 years. One thing that is a constant in these countries is the poverty. Sure each has a handfull of wealthy, well fed people but, for the majority, there is little - little food, little clean water, few jobs, and little healthcare. I suspect a fair amount of militant behavior is because these peoples are taught that Alah will provide for them and yet they see the infidels everywhere around them living much better lives. In essence, I'm not worried about Islam continuing to grow given they can't take care of their peoples and probably never will.

    January 27, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  2. Muneef

    A Muslim living in an African-Arab country which had laws against polygamy secretly married another wife through a legitimate conventional contract, abiding by all its conditions except that it was not authenticated. This is because the country's established law refused to authenticate or admit it and considered such a marriage a crime for which he would have to be punished. The man used to frequent the house of his (second) wife, so the police watched him and came to assume that she was his wife and that he had committed an offence against the law. One night they waited for him, arrested him at his wife’s place and took him to court accusing him of marrying a second wife.

    “The man was clever and asked those interrogating him, ‘But who told you she is my wife? She is not a wife. She is a mistress whom I took as a companion and I call on from time to time.’ The interrogators were taken aback and told the man very politely, ‘We are awfully sorry for the misunderstanding. We thought she was a wife and did not know she was a companion.’ Thereupon, they released him because, to them, to have the illicit company of a woman as a mistress to commit adultery, which is considered within the framework of personal freedom, is protected by the law.”

    From Yusuf Qaradawi's The Status of Women In Islam

    January 27, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  3. The Ripper

    Bring on the natural disasters. Let's keep them in check.

    January 27, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  4. Muneef

    They ex-ag-ge-rate with the number of Muslims since it is called a Muslim country but are those really Muslims by faith or just Muslims by birth? Those Muslims by birth are disblievers,Ath-ei-sts until they become Muslims by know-ldge and faith only.... 
    Those disblievers are rebels against the faith and re-be-l against all com-man-d-ments t-error-izing all and co-n-cealing under the name of faith taking advantage of those in sub-b-mission to God and in peace with them selves and other faiths and beliefs....
    Beside that it is not like that named self as ""pre-ci-se"" proving him self ig-nor-ant but it is that Muslims merry more than wife and not believe in birth control as to the number of children they get, they consider ab-or-tion is a sin...and believe that each child is born, comes to life along with his sub-sis-ten-ce and that God provide that for him and that parents should not fear poverty or the in-abil-ity to support...!

    But in the other hand Non Muslims might be de-crea-sing because of not allowing the di-vor-ce and remarry such as Catholics.
    Others do not allow marriage for more than one at the time.
    Others by self de-cis-ion and as for finance co-nt-rol have applied birth co-nt-rol.
    Others by au-th-or-it-ies over their heads en-for-c-ing on them birth co-nt-rol.
    So from above we see that there are to-u-gh  reg-ula-tions and c-irc-um-stan-ces are being  applied on the leg-it-imate di-vor-ce, marriages and children births !?
    Find no control what's so ever over ad-ult-ery as being (as com-pa-nions or as pro-st-it-u-tion) Relations and be-hav-iors?! Then comes results of such relations increasing ab-or-ti-ons and the births of parentless children as result of such il-leg-it-im-ate relations,or those who came by criminal relation such as r-a-pe !?

    Now such children become as bu-rd-en for tax payers and com-m-un-it-ies when raised, un-protected and un-loved by real parents and real family relatives?! How would such as those un-lucky ones look up to life,to h-um-an-ity and faith ?! Can those give or offer what they have la-ck-ed, can they give,offer and spread Love that they had not known it or exp-erie-nc-ed in reality ?!
    Further more is that allowing or leg-it-im-at-iz-ing marriages of Male to Male and Female to Female would with time have you v-a-n-is-h-ed from earth as race renewing it's own gen-era-ti-ons is de-cli-n-ing,de-cr-ea-sing gen-era-tion after another!? That's why God told that only good deeded in su-bm-is-sion,that those who will in-her-it earth !?      

    January 27, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  5. Al

    There's currently 2 million Muslims in America??? Where is CNN getting these facts from? According to what I've read and heard, there are currently at least 6 million Muslims in America. CNN...check your facts first!! : )

    January 27, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  6. Muneef

    Now such children become as bu-rd-en for tax payers and com-m-un-it-ies when raised, un-protected and un-loved by real parents and real family relatives?! How would such as those un-lucky ones look up to life,to h-um-an-ity and faith ?! Can those give or offer what they have la-ck-ed, can they give,offer and spread Love that they had not known it or exp-erie-nc-ed in reality ?!
    Further more is that allowing or leg-it-im-at-iz-ing marriages of Male to Male and Female to Female would with time have you v-a-n-is-h-ed from earth as race renewing it's own gen-era-ti-ons is de-cli-n-ing,de-cr-ea-sing gen-era-tion after another!? That's why God told that only good deeded in su-bm-is-sion,that those who will in-her-it earth !?      

    January 27, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  7. Sandy

    I am probably too young to question a religion but I just don't understand why Islam is so controversial.

    Everyone's eventually going to die.Then why all this hatred in the name of religion?
    Is there proof that all Muslims only go to heaven? Is there proof that all the Muslims that kill non-Muslims go to heaven?

    Ultimately every religion preaches to do good and be good. Why can't we be just that and forget about trying to convince others how great our religion is?

    I am a Hindu and I have a ton of muslim friends. They've been nothing but nice to me. Then where are all these terrorists coming from? Why are some muslims on a killing spree while the others are happily living their lives in harmony inspite of being religious? If Allah is so forgiving, then why wouldn't he forgive non-muslims for not worshipping him?

    January 27, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  8. Ken

    53 million abortions in the USA since Roe vs. Wade. 308 million citizens counted in recent census. One American is missing for every 6 of us here. Most of these missing people would be paying taxes, buying goods and supporting Social Security. We can't survive, economically or spiritually with this ongoing slaughter. The Muslims have figured this out.

    January 27, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  9. Why do dumb people never shut up?

    I think we should take all the people who make ignorant racist comments on these forums and ship them to the south pole.

    January 27, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • A stoot observer

      ..or to islamic countries. OH, sorry, they're already there.

      January 27, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  10. fiscusd

    Clearly another Crusade is needed here.....

    January 27, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  11. Grand Mufti Abdul Aliyy Hassiqi Yoko'ono

    As an American Muslim,
    I pledge allegiance to ALLAH and His Prophet,
    I respect and love my family and my community,
    and I dedicate my life to serving the cause

    of truth and justice.
    As an American citizen, with rights

    and responsibilities,
    I pledge allegiance to the flag

    of the United States of America
    And to the republic for which it stands,
    one nation, Under God, indivisible,
    with liberty and justice for all.

    La – Ilaha – Ilallah Mohammedun Rasul-lu-llah
    La – Ilaha – Ilallah Mohammedun Rasul-lu-llah
    La – Ilaha – Ilallah Mohammedun Rasul-lu-llah
    La – Ilaha – Ilallah Mohammedun Rasul-lu-llah

    January 27, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Michael, Chapel Hill

      Aprecitaed!

      January 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  12. yusef

    Mr americano your people cant get Osama and never will he is protected by Allah he is going to bomb the sht out of your people no one will be safe we love him and we hate you thank God we have him

    January 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  13. JIM

    20 years ago the world had X amount of violence. 20 years from now we will have 2X amount of violence.

    January 27, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  14. mr cure for bigots

    its .. pretty daft the way the some of u guys are foaming at the mouth reading this poorly researched article. muslim-bashing is the rude manners of an individual who has lost his argument, but hopes of winning it by shouting. may good sense prevail..

    January 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • msblue

      criticizing islam is not bigoted, racist or islamaphobic. it is legitimate. people should fear islam. it is a political ideology -like nazism, it is a FASCIST ideology, NOT A RACE. Muslims can be any race. It is their belief system that is profoundly disturbing. Their prophet's behaviour was brutal and barbaric. If only a tiny % of muslims emullate Mo, they can cause severe damage. Check OUT Jihad Watch to see how many non-muslims in how many countries are being killed by muslims, based on Mo's example. The root of Islam is its prophet. Therefore, islam cannot be modernized, reformed. It must be exposed..

      January 27, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • A stoot observer

      Like I said below, a pestilential disease, and the Western Hemisphere is becoming badly infected. No wonder why Adolph the H man had such a connection with islam – look it up.

      January 27, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  15. Grand Mufti Abdul Aliyy Hassiqi Yoko'ono

    In due time, in the name of the most high Allah, we will conquer the colonialists' land America. The great infidel will relinquish the throne so help me Abu al-Qasim Muhammad Ibn Abd Allah Ibn Abd. Inshaa'Allaah. You infidel americans, dope-smoking, beer drinking, overweight, complacent w/dirty thoughts bird in hand. We come to conquer and over throw. Allahu Akbar Fauqua Kaidi L'mutadi.

    January 27, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  16. Mohammed

    For more information on Islam let us take few mins to read what Islam actually stands for. Its not what you see and hear... its far more than that. Also remember that this study clearly mentions Christianity and Islam in same tone. Visit http://www.whyislam.org or search for WhyIslam on google and read some topics...

    January 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  17. american

    Hey yusef you can tell your brother osama to suk my balls hes hidding like a chicken what a coward but we will get him and when we do we will hang him as we did your stupid saddam

    January 27, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  18. Jennifer

    Ha, arch-conservative Christians are going to have a stroke when they read this ... I should tell them it's all a sign from God.

    January 27, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • A stoot observer

      Sorry, the real sign from God will be made evident to us all when we stand before him and answer for our deeds or for our faith. His sign won't be 49 virgins for hatefilled murderers, or for those who supported them. You'll get in the gate by a simple, not earned faith in Christ.

      January 27, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  19. Pakistani Christian!

    Anyone up for some heavy reading ?

    For you who STILL think that Islam in any form isn't potentionaly dangerous allow me to share an e-mail i got...I have checked these numbers / accusations; and they're Spot On...please copy-n-paste this info and share with others-AFTER –you do your own research....Wikipedia can verify the Muslim percentages around the world for you.

    Enjoy !...(Note sarcasm)

    From Dr. Peter Hammond's book: Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: TheHistorical Roots and Contemporary Threat

    Islam is not a religion, nor is it a cult. In its fullest form, it is a complete, total, 100% system of life.

    Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components. The religious component is a beard for all of the other components.

    Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their religious privileges.

    When politically correct, tolerant, and culturally diverse societies agree to Muslim demands for their religious privileges, some of the other components tend to creep in as well.

    Here's how it works:

    As long as the Muslim population remains around or under 2% in any given country, they will be for the most part be regarded as a peace-loving minority, and not as a threat to other citizens. This is the case in:

    United States – Muslim 0.6%
    Australia – Muslim 1.5%
    Canada – Muslim 1.9%
    China – Muslim 1.8%
    Italy – Muslim 1.5%
    Norway – Muslim 1.8%

    At 2% to 5%, they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups, often with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs. This is happening in:

    Denmark – Muslim 2%
    Germany – Muslim 3.7%
    United Kingdom – Muslim 2.7%
    Spain – Muslim 4%
    Thailand – Muslim 4.6%

    From 5% on, they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population. For example, they will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby
    securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature halal on their shelves – along with threats for failure to comply. This is occurring in:

    France – Muslim 8%
    Philippines – 5%
    Sweden – Muslim 5%
    Switzerland – Muslim 4.3%
    The Netherlands – Muslim 5.5%
    Trinidad & Tobago – Muslim 5.8%

    At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule themselves (within their ghettos) under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islamists is to establish Sharia law over the entire world.

    When Muslims approach 10% of the population, they tend to increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions. In Paris, we are already seeing car-burnings. Any non-Muslim action offends Islam and results in uprisings and threats, such as in Amsterdam, with opposition to Mohammed cartoons and films about Islam. Such tensions are seen daily, particularly in Muslim sections in:

    Guyana – Muslim 10%
    India – Muslim 13.4%
    Israel – Muslim 16%
    Kenya – Muslim 10%
    Russia – Muslim 15%

    After reaching 20%, nations can expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings, and the burnings of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, such as in:

    Ethiopia – Muslim 32.8%

    At 40%, nations experience widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks, and ongoing militia warfare, such as in:

    Bosnia – Muslim 40%
    Chad – Muslim 53.1%
    Lebanon – Muslim 59.7%

    From 60%, nations experience unfettered persecution of non-believers of all other religions (including non-conforming Muslims), sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon, and Jizya, the tax placed on infidels, such as in:

    Albania – Muslim 70%
    Malaysia – Muslim 60.4%
    Qatar – Muslim 77.5%
    Sudan – Muslim 70%

    After 80%, expect daily intimidation and violent jihad, some State-run ethnic cleansing, and even some genocide, as these nations drive out the infidels, and move toward 100% Muslim, such as has been experienced and in some ways is on-going in:

    Bangladesh – Muslim 83%
    Egypt – Muslim 90%
    Gaza – Muslim 98.7%
    Indonesia – Muslim 86.1%
    Iran – Muslim 98%
    Iraq – Muslim 97%
    Jordan – Muslim 92%
    Morocco – Muslim 98.7%
    Pakistan – Muslim 97%
    Palestine – Muslim 99%
    Syria – Muslim 90%
    Tajikistan – Muslim 90%
    Turkey – Muslim 99.8%
    United Arab Emirates – Muslim 96%

    100% will usher in the peace of 'Dar-es-Salaam' – the Islamic House of Peace. Here there's supposed to be peace, because everybody is a Muslim, the Madrasses are the only schools, and the Koran is the only word, such as in:

    Afghanistan – Muslim 100%
    Saudi Arabia – Muslim 100%
    Somalia – Muslim 100%
    Yemen – Muslim 100%

    Unfortunately, peace is never achieved, as in these 100% states the most radical Muslims intimidate and spew hatred, and satisfy their blood lust by killing less radical Muslims, for a variety of reasons.

    'Before I was nine, I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; the tribe against the world, and all of us against the infidel. – Leon Uris, 'The Haj'

    It is important to understand that in some countries, with well under 100% Muslim populations, such as France, the minority Muslim populations live in ghettos, within which they are 100% Muslim, and within which they live by Sharia Law. The national police do not even enter these ghettos. There are no national courts, nor schools, nor non-Muslim religious facilities. In such situations, Muslims do not integrate into the community at large. The children attend madrasses. They learn only the Koran. To even associate with an infidel is a crime punishable with death. Therefore, in some areas of certain nations, Muslim Imams and extremists exercise more power than the national average would indicate.

    Today's 1.5 billion Muslims make up 22% of the world's population. But their birth rates dwarf the birth rates of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and all other believers. Muslims will exceed 50% of the world's population by the end of this century.

    January 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  20. yusef

    You dont have to worry you will all die soon we will celebrate each time our brother Osama kicks your az

    January 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • neutral third party

      people like you give ALL muslims a bad rep. you wonder why everyone hates you

      January 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Muneef

      He is no Muslim ! If he was a Muslim he would not have said those things which only generate hatred as seen...so please do not believe any one putting an islamic like name and uses words of hatred that reflects bad on his people...only an enemy of Muslims would say such words and therefore can not be one of them...

      January 27, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
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About this blog

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.