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. Vorant

    Islam is a vile world wide cult, its high time new crusades are waged against its satanic followers.

    March 3, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  2. charen cassiopeia


    February 29, 2012 at 5:03 am |
  3. AHMAD gulraiz

    nt any one like ALLAH.

    February 10, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  4. Mohammed.Daniyal 2

    In islam . Allah has said that . In My Musqui in hindi (Masjid) all are equal white, black,brown, yellow, or rich or poor . All are equal. All has said that help them who r in helpless . Help neighbore. First only in 2 respect. How much of man has respect that much women also have. Allah has said that bee truth not selfishness . Give support to the poors not to strongs . Make a peace not war . Like that but frist allah has send a one men and one women in the world men (Adam) women (Maa-Hawah) this are the frist living in a earth. That has send by the Allah almighty. So Allah Hafiz.

    January 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  5. Mohammed.Daniyal

    In islam . Allah has said that . In My Musqui in hindi (Masjid) all are equal white, black,brown, yellow, or rich or poor . All are equal. All has said that help them who r in helpless . Help neighbore. First only in 2 respect. How much of man has respect that much women also have. Allah has said that bee truth not selfishness . Give support to the poors not to strongs . Make a peace not war . Like that but frist allah has send a one men and one women in the world men (Adam) women (Maa-Hawah) this are the frist living in a earth. That has send by the Allah almighty. So Allah Hafiz.

    January 22, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  6. Mohammed.Daniyal

    Assalamu valaykum. To my all brotherhood friends. there is only one god thats only allah. I assumed that in followers of jesus christ. i want to tel some thing that your jesus is our also an followers of allah . In Hindi (ashabies. Or . Paygumbers) of allah . but u christans belives that jesus is god son. But in allah there is only one god that is allah . there is nor worship beside allah. We muslim have a proof thats is quran . Just imagined that , most of all doctors in big universitys or research centers the doctors are all using the methods of allah by the last book of god(Allah) thats is quran . In quran allah has given many methods . But allah has given a message to us by the prophet mohammed(s.a.w.s) allahs messenger. that universe has destroyed at the end of muslim beliver in the world . That time Dajjal (Devil) well come to the down . That time our iessalay-salam (jesus) well come to earth from the 7th sky. Then whol world well accepted the religious of muslim . That time the earth ends. By the way . May Allah Almighty bless u in the name of Mohammed(s.a.w) And remember one thing my non muslim frd. Allah has testing that whom well go the right path and whom well go the wrong path . But my friends we are all living in a dreams. But the ful and final of the destiny wel coming soon . So u have more or less time i don't know so u can take u own decision . Muslim or chris . Thats ur choice my dear non muslim friends . But in all religious some peoples are good and some bad . But u can't tel whol muslim is terror , in other religious also some bad and some good so . U well tell to them also. No na . Ok thats is fine so that much only for more see next comments.

    January 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • No one in particular

      No, pal, Jesus is NOT a follower of Islam.
      You can lay off your bogus crap lies...you aint fooling anyone.

      February 25, 2012 at 8:15 am |
  7. abubaker

    I'm a muslim, and i think that islam is the best religan for me

    November 29, 2011 at 6:16 am |
    • AHMAD gulraiz

      not only 4 u my brother..
      it iz best & batter 4 every one in world

      February 10, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • charen cassiopeia

      someone who said their religion is the best show how worst she/he is ...
      not the religion ...
      all religion is good according to the course of the way

      February 29, 2012 at 5:07 am |
  8. Iddi Abdul Hakim

    Please muslim brothers and sisters in Islam, let's not spend much of our time on things aside Islam. So far as we have chosen to be muslims, let's try to obey the KHALIMAH and Insha Allah, we will not lack in this world and in the hereafter. ASALAMU-ALAIKUM.

    November 8, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  9. Tamankhan

    Abhey saley kabhi musalman banke to dekh..

    October 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • sudi

      Tum Ko dhek nae khe bhad khon banega rae..bakwass bandh kar kae..chup chap bhaito....

      quaran acha hain..magar tumarae logo ki vajae sae poora musim gandha horaha hain ..ab tho sharam karr..

      February 7, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
  10. mehdi

    simple question is christians practising their religion like the muslim do ? not really

    October 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Edgard

      I practice Christianity and to top it off i was a muslim, so please be carefull what you say??????

      January 9, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • sudi

      hahahah funny question....my dear brother first u follow ur relegion...straightly saying that beacuase of people like u...whole muslim is becoming BAD..if possible try to avoid that

      February 7, 2012 at 11:52 pm |

    Islam will soon eat huminity if we don't stop increase of this curse.

    September 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • No one in particular

      Not to worry, Islam will eat itself.
      The whole religion is being set up and they dont even see it coming. They are the only religion left on the planet who can be counted on for violence, which is precisely what a few powerful men in this world need to further their own agenda. Once Islam has served its purpose and martial law has been begged for by the people, the true nature of these men will be revealed.
      The world is going to WANT martial rule at a point because they allowed the violence of Islam to take root and then our wonderful leader who caused the problem can fix it for us by ruling over us with an iron fist.
      WE will be to blame because we saw it coming and did little to stop it.

      February 25, 2012 at 8:20 am |


    September 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • allahu akbar jihadi ameen

      arey kuththekka bachchaaaaaaa thooooouney shaiththaaaan baneeeeyghaa hum kabi nahiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii baneyngay shyththaan........... our thusrey jaathki lokkonku thouney kamjor nahi sochchchchchch our maaaaaf kar mujey therey liye jab thouney kalthi kartheyho thumaarey parents naaam karaaab hothaahai our muskilbimey padthenhai unloug ye ithnaabi bachcheloug galdhi karthenhai maaaa baaaaap muskilmey padthenhai yesi kaaam jindagimey kabi math karo achchitharafsey jindhagi gujaaro apki parentski ssaaaaaaaaaaaath asalaaaaaaaaamu alikkum AMAJITH KUMAR

      December 26, 2011 at 5:16 am |
  13. jellysingh

    i have gone through the articles of every one advice .no one thinks that if the population of the world is growing fast ,then surely there is going to be a big disasrer over the world and at tht time human being will start eating human thts going to happen .

    August 29, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  14. Falasteen

    Ok that was an interesting report but to be honest, i really don't know why this story seems to be talking about Islam as if it was a growing disease? Like as if Islam is a bad thing or something. And may i ask why is it like that there sacred that Islam will be more of a percentage than Christianity? It's a choice of religion not a football game that people need to win the bigger number. As a Muslim myself I personal proud of this increase , it just simply goes to show that more people are becoming aware of Islam and getting a better understanding of it. It doesn't really mean that just because we have more kids, we get more of percentage of population of our religion, why aren't people aware that more and more people are converting to our religion? This is something to be proud of , and not being talked on the news like its the end of the world. I believe that there are more issues that people should be more concerned about now, other than being scared about how many Muslims roam the Earth now.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • interesting

      what you said was so true. Just like you i feel like this article seems to prejudice on the point that the muslim population growing is something to be afraid of. The fact that it mentions both in the video and the article that ( along the lines of) " the only reason the Muslim population is growing is because there seems to be a lot of youth and not because a lot of people are converting." Personally, i think that even though the 9/11 scare made people in the U.S. hate Muslims here, we seem to get a lot of questioning about why we are muslims and that gets people thinking " maybe i need to read more on this maybe they are not all bad as the media protrays them." As humans, we are born curious and when something is brought into prespective we tend to look into it more and understand it better ( that is if we are NOT ignorant.) I believe that Christians are closer to us than any other religion, true Christians that is. People who actually go to church almost everyday and believe in one God and give charity and sympathy to others. Even in the Qu'ran it says they are. I wish that more people would read it for what it is and not make up false accusations.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • No one in particular

      The problem is that not every muslim may be civil and peaceful like you may be.
      So yes, we see Islam as a cancer of violence more times than not seeing the chaos it is causing around the globe.
      And even you peaceful Muslims do very little to stand up to those who cause Islam to be slandered because of their violence against even their own wives and daughters.

      If you want Islam to be respected by the world then for pities sake take a stand OPENLY and remove these violent types from you.

      February 25, 2012 at 8:24 am |
  15. UmaiR

    Allah o Akbar

    August 6, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  16. faisel.e


    July 6, 2011 at 1:14 am |
  17. Muneef


    The sharia myth sweeps America

    USA today



    June 19, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  18. Muneef

    [7:94] Whenever we sent a prophet to any com-m-unity, we afflicted its people with adversity and hardship, that they may implore.

    [7:95] Then we sub-sti-tuted peace and prosperity in place of that hardship. But alas, they turned heedless and said, "It was our parents who experienced that hardship before prosperity." Consequently, we punished them suddenly when they least expected.

    [7:96] Had the people of those com-m-unities believed and turned righteous, we would have showered them with blessings from the heaven and the earth. Since they decided to disbelieve, we punished them for what they earned.

    [7:97] Did the people of the present com-m-unities guarantee that our retribution will not come to them in the night as they sleep?

    [7:98] Did the people of today's com-m-unities guarantee that our retribution will not come to them in the daytime while they play?

    [7:99] Have they taken GOD's plans for granted? None takes GOD's plans for granted except the losers.

    [7:100] Does it ever occur to those who inherit the earth after previous generations that, if we will, we can punish them for their sins, and seal their hearts, causing them to turn deaf?

    [7:101] We narrate to you the history of those com-m-unities: their messengers went to them with clear proofs, but they were not to believe in what they had rejected before. GOD thus seals the hearts of the disbelievers.

    [7:102] We found that most of them disregard their covenant; we found most of them wicked.

    [7:142] We summoned Moses for thirty* nights, and completed them by adding ten. Thus, the audience with his Lord lasted forty * nights. Moses said to his brother Aaron, "Stay here with my people, maintain righteousness, and do not follow the ways of the corrupters."

    [7:143] When Moses came at our appointed time, and his Lord spoke with him, he said, "My Lord, let me look and see You." He said, "You cannot see Me. Look at that mountain; if it stays in its place, then you can see Me." Then, his Lord manifested Himself to the mountain, and this caused it to crumble. Moses fell unconscious. When he came to, he said, "Be You glorified. I repent to You, and I am the most convinced believer."

    [7:144] He said, "O Moses, I have chosen you, out of all the people, with My messages and by speaking to you. Therefore, take what I have given you and be appreciative."

    [7:145] We wrote for him on the tablets all kinds of enlightenments and details of everything: "You shall uphold these teachings strongly, and exhort your people to uphold them – these are the best teachings. I will point out for you the fate of the wicked."

    [7:146] I will divert from My revelations those who are arrogant on earth, without justification. Consequently, when they see every kind of proof they will not believe. And when they see the path of guidance they will not adopt it as their path, but when they see the path of straying they will adopt it as their path. This is the consequence of their rejecting our proofs, and being totally heedless thereof.

    [7:147] Those who reject our revelations and the meeting of the Hereafter, their works are nullified. Are they requited only for what they committed?

    [7:156] "And decree for us righteousness in this world, and in the Hereafter. We have repented to You." He said, "My retribution befalls whomever I will. But My mercy encompasses all things. However, I will specify it for those who (1) lead a righteous life, (2) give the obligatory charity (Zakat), (3) believe in our revelations, and

    [7:157] "(4) follow the messenger, the gentile prophet (Muhammad), whom they find written in their Torah and Gospel. He exhorts them to be righteous, enjoins them from evil, allows for them all good food, and prohibits that which is bad, and unloads the burdens and the shackles imposed upon them. Those who believe in him, respect him, support him, and follow the light that came with him are the successful ones."

    [7:158] Say, "O people, I am GOD's messenger to all of you. To Him belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. There is no god except He. He controls life and death." Therefore, you shall believe in GOD and His messenger, the gentile prophet, who believes in GOD and His words. Follow him, that you may be guided.

    [7:159] Among the followers of Moses there are those who guide in accordance with the truth, and the truth renders them righteous.

    June 19, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  19. Muneef

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

    Wagner first places the prophet Muhammad, the Qur’an, and the early Muslim community in their historical, geographical, and theological contexts. This background is a basis for interpreting the Qur’an and understanding its role in later Muslim developments as well as for relationships between Muslims, Jews, and Christians. He then looks in detail at specific passages, moving from cherished devotional texts to increasingly difficult and provocative subjects. The selected bibliography serves as a resource for further reading and study. Woven into the discussion are references to Islamic beliefs and practices. Wagner shows great sensitivity toward the risks and opportunities for non-Muslims who attempt to interpret the Qur’an, and sympathy in the long struggle to build bridges of mutual trust and honest appreciation between Muslims and non-Muslims.
    Walter H. Wagner is adjunct professor of theology at Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary. He is the author of a number of books, including After the Apostles: Christianity in the Second Century.


    June 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  20. Muneef

    What a waste billions going towards converting the world while depriving the poorest of their own from such wealth...The more you give the more will convert but when you stop giving they will go back to their old or native beliefs....

    June 19, 2011 at 6:39 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.