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

    Prof. Wagner: I believe that the Holy God speaks to us in the Quran

    Professor Walter Wagner, a professor of theology, shared his vision of the Quran with Sunday’s Zaman readers.
    After carefully reading the Quran and examining it based on his many years of study, a leading American theologian has concluded that via the holy book God is speaking to all human beings around the world, a voice that, in his astonishing book, he said he tried to transmit to readers and students, as well to himself, to deepen his understanding.

    Professor Walter Wagner’s fascinating book “Opening the Qur’an: Introducing Islam’s Holy Book” is definitely a bewildering and inspiring book, not only for the non-Muslim and English-speaking readers, but also Muslim readers. Wagner “opens” the Quran by offering a comprehensive and extraordinarily readable, step-by-step introduction to the text, making it accessible to everyone who is interested in Islam and Islam’s holy book.

    Watch: http://www.ebru.tv/en/genres/TalkShow/footnote/episodes/4/402-walter-h-wagner 


    June 18, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  2. Ke'

    2 Billions of crhristians ? ...HAHA, only in christians analysis...
    Here in Brazil, where most people are counted how "cristians", few are really cristians.I am muslim, my mather "spirit", my fhater ateist , in my Neighboring no one live or talk or look how cristian, where are the 2 billions cristian ? ....
    One more lie.

    June 18, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  3. anonymous

    @mario Well is Christianity growing? No.
    But Islam is. And loads of CHRISTIANS are converting to Islam after they see all the errors in the bible (And the bible also doesn't make any sense AT ALL)
    SO may Allah Guide u on the pathway to heaven... =D

    June 11, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  4. Parul

    Education and training is like a journey, but in our country most of the students, first finish their journey and then think about their destination. For more details plz visit http://www.mycap.in

    June 4, 2011 at 5:41 am |
  5. Don Diam

    Начинается тотальная ликвидация ювелирных украшений по финальным прайсам .

    May 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  6. agthagoal

    This article has wild and very off the mark assumptions which defy every day observations.
    I believe Islam is the future of the world. Remember all the 60+ Muslim countries used to be either Christians, Hindus or had other religions. My bestimate is that Muslim world population is between 55-60 percent of total world population at this time, and growing fast after 911. The 2nd lagest Mulsim population country is India and third largest country with Muslim population is China. Pakistan and Turkey number after them. Islam is reality of future and should be respected by its opponets.
    Ansestors of all the present time Muslims originally were either Christians, Jewish or Hindu. Have you ever thought that why so big number of people of various religions are moving into Islam? Though international media spare no time to demonise Muslims. I will argue that there are Millions of nonMuslims who convert to Islam every year. I have very rarely heard of any Muslim ever converting back to Christianity, Judism or Hinduism Except PRESIDENT BARAK HUSSAIN OBAMA. Any thoughts about that phenominon?

    May 29, 2011 at 11:03 am |


    Продолжается финальная ликвидация ювелирных украшений по финальным ценам .


    [i]Доставка во все регионы.[/i]

    May 28, 2011 at 2:37 am |
  8. george bush

    Come on my brothers let us pray,
    Decide the way do not delay.

    May 20, 2011 at 1:02 am |
  9. tareq salmona

    thank allah (god) for given us the rolle of the world and you have to relaise and not denaid the truth of the the islam will rolle the world distroy all the world tarerrests(usa )(erobe)

    May 8, 2011 at 10:23 am |
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    April 20, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  11. sajid khan

    in the name of ALLAH most gracious most merciful

    1. Say: He is ALLAH the One and Only;
    2. ALLAH, the Eternal, Absolute;
    3. HE begetteth, not nor is HE begotten;
    4. And there is none like unto HIM


    March 13, 2011 at 7:57 am |
  12. sajid khan

    in islam

    all people are equal in islam
    black or white or yellow
    poor or rich or mid class
    indian or american or pakistani


    The best person who believe in one ISHWER (ALLAH ,GOD)
    and follow HIS last commandments qur'an
    and believe in all prophets adam , moses , abraham , jesus , muhammad (pbut)………….etc

    muslims are brothers in faith because their faith is same

    May ISHWER ( GOD , ALLAH) give you hidaya (understanding)

    March 13, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  13. mario

    In 20 years there will still be more christians so don't be one sided about your reporting will ya.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  14. mario

    Well you forgot to mention that the christians will still have more people in the same time period...don't make this out to be one sided reporting will ya.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
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    February 15, 2011 at 9:21 am |
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    February 15, 2011 at 7:51 am |
  17. Muneef


    February 2, 2011 at 6:13 am |
  18. Muneef

    Got mixed up about which Gods we are talking about ? Are they the one's on Earth controlling our lives or are you about God the creator of universe that is worshipped by mankind in different ways,given different names,given different looks and combinations ,partners,sons...others worshiped Satan or made him partner to God...The Message of the "Monotheism" was there from time of existance up to Noah PBUH and the monotheist derived from those saved by Noah named Abraham PBUH who came up then with the message of "Submission" and rebuilt the house of worship in Mecca for religion teachings redirecting pagans worshiping idols,trees,or worshiping many Gods they made and named as in Greek mythology....

    Partly correct that Religion is controlling masses! Just as politics does? Who is controlling these masses now ? Or are they uncontrolled now you are saying? Laws control mankind,laws written by mankind weren't they? Were the bases of those laws quoted from those books old the books of fairy tales,as told by many here ?
    God has addressed his messages to generations through chosen one's to remind and warn those evil doers and the ones who are astray to come back to the truth but when messanger gives up on his people God would bring upon them heavy natural disasters,losses and grieves...there among any religions or branches of religions you will find people worship and do good deeds for the sake of God and would do all could to raise his name and belief....there are others who careless for it as a religion or faith but taking advantage of the posts for their own personal vast interest or the gangs interests as named by you... "Those are as a Walves using the Sheeps Skins in Disguise for hunting and feeding its greeds". Man is judged by God basis his inner soul intentions in heart and mind? Loving and Fearing God means we should take into considerations of the signs or inspirations which comes more as alarms to those who are doing as God told as commandments in all Holy Books that came upon the sons of Israel by Moses,David,Jesus and then upon Muhammed PBUH who was derived from Ismael son of Abraham PBUB ... All those books landed or inspired are on the base of monotheism and God told he has all the beautiful names known or unknown to us...so no matter what names we call him by Allah,Allahim,God,Lord,Creator,Almighty and so on...
    But you have mentioned other religions that worshiped Planets,Stars,idols unendless list of beliefs which were actully reduced by Islam but return it became branches that contained those converted publicly but inner still on their old belief and that what has given Islam a multi cultures and beliefs that have came out of the one islamic belief, that has caused any seeing doings of one accuses the whole bunch under the name of Islam with out any suggrigation between branches. You know I think not all those accounted to Islam or Islamic countries are real Muslim in practice but Muslim only by Coding as by land or family of birth...but they contain all those you might know in beliefs or in disbliefs in their inner soul,heart,mind, that's why we were told we will be judged by our intentions and not by being accounted for religions as followers...

    February 1, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  19. Muneef

    Read here about the nomadic people of Arabia;

    February 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  20. Muneef

    Read here about the people of Yemen;
    Belief is Yemenite, and wisdom is also Yemenite.

    February 1, 2011 at 2:18 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.