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. Muneef

    I love these words ;

    لاأحب التعــــآلي ... لكن أمام من يُهيننــــي سيبقى رأســي عالـــي ... و كلما أهنتني بنيت طابقاً في مملكة كبريـــآئي ... حتى أرتفعتُ فلم تَعُد ترى سوى خيـــالي ... فلا تحلم بتدميري ... فسيدفنُك أنهيـــآري ... فهذا ليس حطــــآمي بل جمرة من جمـــــرآت بركــــاني

    January 31, 2011 at 7:03 am |
  2. John Henry

    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 31, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • Muneef

      John Henry..

      Any of the above was against the UN Laws as to Human Right ? Did not know that you were expecting immigrants not to use their rights in your country and live by your laws...?? obviously if it is Islam or any branches of Islam or as Christian or branches of christianity or Judaism or any branches of Judaism or any other religions beyond those mentioned would do the same taking and enjoying the advantages of their granted country rights just as did many in turn "Some go down while others go up) and that is life never it remained in the hands of one or some but goes from hands to hands no matter what the number of years that it takes it to happen but it does finally goes, just as it went from the hands of the ex president of Tunisia and as it is going to happen in Egypt, did they expect that one day they will run away like rats and be chased by the international police?? At least the ex Iraqi President died in more honorable fate as he died as a hero while those who run away and those who either will run away or be assassinated would live or die as traitors to their country and people...History will tell...!

      January 31, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  3. al

    Why ?

    January 30, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  4. image42

    "The Bible has been able to exist for longer than any fairy tale story"

    You out left a word: "The Bible has been able to exist for longer than any OTHER fairy tale story"

    January 30, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
  5. JFK

    Is Islam not a false religion? Matters not how many follow.

    January 30, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  6. Muneef

    Told that "The Lions in the jungle die in starvation and "Mutton meat" is eaten by dogs".

    January 30, 2011 at 6:06 am |
  7. Muneef

    Sadness Grief Misery and Sorrow

    January 30, 2011 at 5:09 am |
  8. papple

    No doubt fellow leaders of christianity have fallen and are hypocrites and the same for islam and people would say dont look at the bad apples for the religion is good one of peace. Yes christianity is good, its teachings are good...I cant say the same for Islam, it teaches to kill, it oppresses women..and your prophet married a 9 year old girl, how can you not see that this is wrong.

    January 30, 2011 at 1:51 am |
  9. Anavay

    @ Patrick- Been reading a little Charles Darwin have we? Well stop plagiarizing already and think of something original.

    January 30, 2011 at 1:02 am |
  10. Realist

    The world had better wake up to this threat soon.

    The Crusaders had it right.

    January 29, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  11. Muneef

    Al-Jinn sura 72:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    And the places of worship are only for Allah, so pray not unto anyone along with Allah. (18) And when the slave of Allah stood up in prayer to Him, they crowded on him, almost stifling. (19) Say (unto them, O Muhammad): I pray unto Allah only, and ascribe unto Him no partner. (20) Say: Lo! I control not hurt nor benefit for you. (21) Say: Lo! none can protect me from Allah, nor can I find any refuge beside Him (22) (Mine is) but conveyance (of the Truth) from Allah, and His messages; and whoso dis-obeyeth Allah and His messenger, lo! his is f-ire of h-ell, wherein such dwell for ever. (23) Till (the day) when they shall behold that which they are promised (they may doubt); but then they will know (for certain) who is weaker in al-lies and less in multi-tude. (24) Say (O Muhammad, unto the dis-believers): I know not whether that which ye are promised is nigh, or if my Lord hath set a distant term for it. (25) (He is) the Knower of the Unseen, and He revealeth unto none His secret, (26) Save unto every messenger whom He hath chosen, and then He maketh a gu-ard to go before him and a gu-ard behind him (27) That He may know that they have indeed conveyed the messages of their Lord. He surroundeth all their doings, and He keepeth count of all things. (28).

    January 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  12. Jay

    Does more Muslims mean that we can beef up Homeland Security too? This way we can also get more jobs and keep us safe from those growing number of terrorist. We need every reason we can think of to stimulate our economy, and selling arms to the dictators has not generated enough funds to stimulate our economy. We have to be more innovative on how we can create wars, so we can manufacture weapons, boosting manufacturing industry for JOBS for us. Wow, such awsome logic we live by.

    January 29, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  13. smukers

    The increase represents an increase in the number of members belong to just another radical religious "cult". All religions are cults, and suck the innocents in with their claims of grandeur, following death.

    January 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  14. ella

    Call me paranoid, but Richard Allen Greene wouldn't be Jewish would he, getting yankee blood riled up about the Muslims ?

    Bigoted sound-bite bloggers will eat this headline up – perfect ! Good journalism !

    January 29, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  15. tony

    France, is in hell-a a trouble! A fraction in size to the U.S and almost as much Muslims...wow!

    January 29, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  16. locknload

    you would think with the way they are killing each other that they would soon wipe out all muslims. anyone got a vest?

    January 29, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  17. tristan

    i'm a 14 year old that just converted to buddhism and I LOVE IT and i am so happy for the muslim growth that means i get more muslim friends yayy

    January 29, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  18. Muneef

    They say mans enemies are Five:

    An infidel confronting him.
    A Satan misguiding him astray.
    A hypocrite despising him.
    A believer that envy's him.
    A soul conflicting him.
    May God protect and assist us on those five with which man can not find """"Peace"""""

    January 29, 2011 at 5:26 am |
  19. Peter

    Any girls who want to have babies, call me.

    January 28, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  20. Sron

    Correct, the muslim families here in England have 6-9 children each. And everyone qualifies for free aid, housing, and healthcare. Arab speaking staff is frequently supplied.

    January 28, 2011 at 10:19 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.