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. x_Unknown_x

    i totally agree with u on the faith part bec. the reason atheists are atheists is bec. the very first science fact " matter can neither be created nor destroyed" but people chose their religions by faith and islam beleives in the existance of Taurus and the bible but as Christians believe (and muslims) the bible came as a new religion for the people , people beleived in it and people didn't , the same for Islam bec the definition of god is something alone that hase the ultimate power not a family and a son like you say about jesus bec the old books that i believe is that jesus was born without a father (marie the virgin) that's the miracle not being the son of god

    January 27, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  2. Ted Ward

    Wow! The Pakistan numbers look like a disaster in the making. Pakistan is already a complete mess, looks like things are only going to get worse. With no jobs, rampant salafism, millions of young angry men with nothing useful to do...oh, boy!

    January 27, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  3. ric yu

    yeah muslim pop is doubling and sowith christians and other religions too! what a waste of an article.

    January 27, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  4. A stoot observer

    How else are they going to get the 49 virgins for all the a$%^&*( suicide bombers and other murderers they generate like bacterial feces?

    January 27, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  5. Bill Sanford

    CNN has long been a cable propaganda outlet for gays… Liberal Democrats… Communists… And America haters.

    Is it now becoming the propaganda outlet for the Muslim faith?

    January 27, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  6. TheRationale

    As if this world needs more religion...

    January 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • A stoot observer

      It's not a religion, it's a pestilential disease, and the world has caught a bad case of it.

      January 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • TheRationale

      What's the distinction?

      January 27, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  7. Muzammil

    My friend Islam didnt came 1400 years ago. Muslims believe its been there since ADAM(PBUH). Islam was still there even before Muhammad. Adam Jesus Moses according to muslim belief were all upright muslims.

    January 27, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Muneef


      Here is your correct answer:

      Al-Hajj sura 22:
      And strive for Allah with the endeavour which is His right. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Abraham (is yours). He hath named you Muslims of old time and in this (Scripture), that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against mankind. So establish worship, pay the poor-due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting friend. A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper! (78)

      January 27, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  8. Matthew

    What about the Jews? They are taking control 98% of the power in the U.S. !!

    January 27, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  9. Muneef

    Al-Hijr sura 15:
    We have given thee seven of the oft-repeated (verses) and the great Qur'an. (87).

    Al-Fatiha sura 01:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful (1) 
    Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, (2) The Beneficent, the Merciful. (3) Owner of the Day of Judgment, (4) Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) we ask for help. (5) Show us the straight path, (6) The path of those whom Thou hast favoured. Not (the path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray. (7).

    This is the message of the Quran " Three Paths " and Only One Path of Three is the Savior in Life and Afterlife which of those Three do we stand as individuals or groups religious or non religious in every faith or belief.

    Should't we ask the holy books and the books of man of old how we can become at any path of those three?
    -Path of those whom Thou hast favoured. "How to become Favoured"?.
    -Path of those who earn Thine anger.  "How to become earning Thine anger"?.
    -Path of those who go astray. "How to become astray"?.
    Serious questions we ought to ask and pave our selves a path among others to live by with our intentions which should be purely for the love of God who had started his Holy Message with his name as "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful", or being  "In the name of God, most Gracious, most Compassionate".
    Those God called Favoured could come out of all faiths and beliefs, while those who will fall could be as well from all of those faiths and beliefs..        

    January 27, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • A stoot observer

      I have always believed that, as someone wise once observed, "...by their deeds ye shall know them". How are we to recognized muslims as fellow followers of an almighty, compassionate, loving Being when the airwaves are filled with your other deeds. Yeah, we have a$%^* "Christians" out there, folks who believe they are but aren't. I am convinced of that by the many tolerant, loving, comments made by true followers of Christ, who invariably condemn the hateful actions and words of their fellow westerners, Christians, and "christians". Where are your many loving muslims who live lives of love??

      January 27, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Muneef

      A stoot observer.

      You are right about  "...by their deeds ye shall know them". Am as a Muslim still to mix or make friends among my own people have to see  "...by their deeds ye shall know them". Out of those will know who to trust and make friends or business with,being religious does not mean you are pure hearted/Tongued since those pure hearted/Tongued can be found among Atheists or pagans or what's so ever...after all people are equal and no difference between them what ever tongue they speak, all that counts is   The Purity of the Heart and Tongue    "...by their deeds ye shall know them".Good Deeds or Bad Deeds or Astray in between..??!
      From those you chose who you would tie your self with since the person known by with who he/she mix with as companions or friends...as you only fly up heavens or drop down earth by the mentalities he/she spend their time with...after all before any move to consult God in your heart if "to be or not to be" as asking God that if to be any good to bless it,concluding it. But if any bad in it then to pass it off un-concluded. Chose your people based on their "...by their deeds ye shall know them". no matter what faith they are accounted for,it is their hearts and Tongues purity that counts as they say if Heart is good Tongue would be good,but if heart is bad tongue would be bad...!


      January 28, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  10. Osama

    The Prophet Muhammad (may Allah raise his rank and grant him peace) once prophesized: "Verily, this affair shall reach as far as the day and night reach. Allaah shall not leave any house, whether made of clay/brick or animal hides, except that He has made this Deen (Islam) to enter into it, honouring the honourable ones, disgracing the disgraced: an honour that Allaah bestows upon Islam; and a disgrace that He disgraces disbelief with." (Silsilatus-Saheehah, 3rd hadeeth [narration], Vol. one; page 7, Imaam al-Albaanee)

    January 27, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Muneef

      A Kind Message to all here; 
      Al-Al-Hijr sura 15:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful (1) 
      We created not the heavens and the earth and all that is between them save with truth, and lo! the Hour is surely coming. So forgive, (O Muhammad), with a gracious forgiveness. (85) Lo! Thy Lord! He is the All-Wise Creator. (86) We have given thee seven of the oft-repeated (verses) and the great Qur'an. (87) Strain not thine eyes toward that which We cause some wedded pairs among them to enjoy, and be not grieved on their account, and lower thy wing (in tenderness) for the believers. (88) And say: Lo! I, even I, am a plain warner, (89) Such as We send down for those who make division, (90) Those who break the Qur'an into parts. (91) Them, by thy Lord, We shall question, every one, (92) Of what they used to do. (93) So proclaim that which thou art commanded, and withdraw from the idolaters. (94) Lo ! We are sufficent for thee against the scoffers, (95) Who set some other god along with Allah. But they will come to know. (96) Well know We that thy bosom is times oppressed by what they say, (97) But hymn the praise of thy Lord, and be of those who make prostration (unto Him). (98) And serve thy Lord till the Inevitable cometh unto thee. (99).

      Al-Hajj sura22:
      And strive for Allah with the endeavour which is His right. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Abraham (is yours). He hath named you Muslims of old time and in this (Scripture), that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against mankind. So establish worship, pay the poor-due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting friend. A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper! (78).

      January 28, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  11. jmmer

    Darren, Muslims do transition to Christianity on a regular basis. Atheists become Christians as well. To say that you are born into Muslim family means that you will remain Muslim goes to show you that you are not open to any opinions other than your own. I am Christian and did go to church when I was a child, did not really pay much attention to religion because I was young and stupid. Then something (which I will not go into detail) happened to me on ONE specific day that opened my eyes to being a good Christian. I am not mad at Muslims or Atheists because as a Christian, they are all still children of God. I hope and pray something happens in your life to make you realize that FAITH is what you need, not proof. Just because you cannot prove what is beyond our Galaxy does not mean that nothing exists there. The Bible has been able to exist for longer than any fairy tale story and there are enough Miracles in our world to prove that something exists that we cannot control. I hope you get your Miracle one day, then perhaps you will SEE.

    January 27, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  12. abby

    Islamic populations are booming because the men are in charge and do not allow women or girls their reproductive rights; the women and girls are not allowed to say no to their husbands. Also the men can have multiple wives and are allowed to marry girls (very young girls) who have more years of reproduction. So, what happens? A man is able to have lots and lots of children because his wives (girls and women) are constantly pregnant. So, it's no surprise.

    January 27, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • Ted Ward

      Just imagine how unhappy and angry all those oppressed, uneducated, and abused muslim women must be. Think what kind of young men they will raise...angry maybe?

      January 27, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  13. Muneef

    Bismillah al rahman al rahim  

    The Arabic phrase shown above is pronounced as  Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim, and is a beautifully poetic phrase which offers both deep insight and brilliant inspiration. It has often been said that the phrase Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim contains the true essence of the entire Qur'an, as well as the true essence of all religions.
    Muslims often say this phrase when embarking on any significant endeavor, and the phrase is considered by some to be a major pillar of Islam. This expression is so magnificent and so concise that all but one chapter of the Qur'an begins with the words Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim.
    The common translation:
                   "In the name of God, most Gracious, most Compassionate".
    fails to capture either the true depth of meaning or the inspirational message of this beautiful phrase. So, let's look deeper into the meaning of these wonderful words.

    January 27, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  14. aruna

    There are two primary reasons why Muslims and Christianity are prevalent in the globe:
    1.Muslims – keep producing more children. These highly polygamist – male chauvinist societies keep the numbers up by making a 14+ member family a common theme. Remember Laden's family? Of course oil money is being used to convert (not as high as Christians) in south asian countries.

    2.Christianity – In the name of God keep pouring money to convert! They spend billions of dollars on converting the poor (Africa/India/Asia Pacific regions). They eyed former Soviets/Eastern republics after communism's departure. Now they are after China see if they can wedge in.. .

    I imagine the coming years are we will have wars between these two religions as history suggests!

    January 27, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  15. Neil

    I guess this report will only be true if they will stop blowing each other up!!!!!

    January 27, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  16. Nur el Masih Ben Haq


    How Daawah Agencies Create Conducive Atmosphere for Islamization

    Daawah agencies discovered that Western atheism could aggravate individualism, materialism, emotional independence, survival of the fittest and ruinous crimes — each of which could be used to the advantage of Islam. The more individualistic and emotionally unattached people are, the more they can be penetrated. So, since the daawaists needed to penetrate, they variously fund atheism in the West. The more atheistic the West is the less its Christian opposition to Islamization; and all the atheistic population need to tolerate Islam is bribe. In fact some of the so-called atheists in the West are Muslims in disguise on taqiyya mission.
    Similarly, the daawaists establish secret friendships with some atheistic Western politicians.

    How the “Morally Free” Western Atheists Help in The Multi-Billion Dollar Islamization industry

    The following are the steps taken by the daawah (Islamization) agencies:
    1. Exploit the Western freedom of speech/religion (like the 1st Amdnt) to
    2. Stage manage a pro-Islamic stunt (such conversion to Islam of a celebrity)
    3. Trick a moron Western journalist into believing that the event is a naturally occurred human interest one. Or bribe an atheistic Western journalist to promote it. Or if necessary use the disguised Islamic agents among the Western journalists to promote it.
    4. Continue to tactically draw attention to the medium that disseminate the event for effect.
    5. Produce millions of copies of the printed and video-taped stunt events to the Third World, to show the illiterate populations how “even the White Caucasians convert to Islam in droves”
    6. Get more converts from the Third-Worlders lured by the conversion of “even the Whiteman.”
    7. Show the videos of the “massive” conversions to their sources of funds (usually wealthy Arabo-Islamic individuals)
    8. Obtain more funds for further West-targeted Islamization
    9. Hunt for more Western atheistic individuals especially celebrities who are ready to convert their ‘Western Freedom’ into dollars
    10. If no Western celebrity or personality is got; exploit the difficult situations of any typical Westerner by ‘helping’ in return for conversion, or a frustrated blackman or a young Caucasian lady in need of ANY type of husband for economic reasons etc
    11. Go back to the Third for propaganda and the circle continues. All that any
    atheistic population needs to tolerate Islam is bribe. In fact some of the so-called atheists in the West are Muslims in disguise on taqiyya mission.

    The following are Western atheists who post as great scientists who convert to Islam in stage-managed stunt



    The following are convert to Islam and Potential Threats to the West

    The Following are SOME OF THE Western Islamic Converts Made Terrorists for Destruction of the West

    January 27, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Muneef

      Am not seeing any Nur or Masih or Haq in your claim that all Muslims are part of your named Mafia! There are Muslims who just say "No God but Allah and that Muhammed is his Messenger and care less about these things you named which are acts of Politicians or Organizations but not those simple believers who worship God or have faith as any nations and faiths..ordinary citizens are you saying to be blamed of the achievements of those who have task but no religion if you supposed them to be..?!

      January 27, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • Muneef

      Besides those you named as Politics or Orginizations are found in every religion and not only Islam ?! One of the posts here speaks that all church money goes to converting people in to Christianity?? Shouldn't that Money had gone to needful Christians of their own nation who deserve it more than any new convert ! That obviously their conversion was for the Money and not the Belief...

      January 27, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • A stoot observer

      muneef – in your note below you seem to believe one of the imbeciles on this forum who stated that Christians only use their money to convert. If you believe that, you are either very gullible and naive (new to these forum; why would you accept such a statement from a critic of Christianity?) or ignorant. Funds to Christian missions provide clothing/food to earthquake victims with no requirement of conversion, some to Pakistanis! Where do we find similar muslim missions that help the hungry and oppressed with no requirement to kiss the a%% of allah? Learn a little before you say such dumbsh%%t things.

      January 27, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  17. UmDude

    I'd love for every Muslim to take the Good Person test and see if they could pass


    January 27, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  18. Kevin Zimmerman Akron,ohio

    Muslims woman beating child molesting cowards. You worship a PEDOPHILE!

    January 27, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  19. Kevin Zimmerman Akron,ohio

    Pedophile Allah!

    January 27, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  20. Kevin Zimmerman Akron,ohio

    Allah was a pedohile and these nuts treat women like rugs. In coventry township ,ohio a 1st grader threatend to stomp a girls head in because she spoke in his presence he is a muslim named Omar. U pedophiles need strung up.

    Infidel forever
    Kevin P. Zimmerman

    January 27, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34
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.