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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. Mike C.

    When Muslims become the majority of the population, individual rights are taken away.....

    Look what happened to Lebanon...

    January 27, 2011 at 4:32 am |
  2. Don't be a Sucker

    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 4:32 am |
    • ROB

      you are extremely right... TO THE DOT!!

      January 27, 2011 at 5:16 am |
    • Prodigy9

      I wanted to give you a rebuttal for posting such a xenophobic, bigoted rant. But then I realized I can't actually argue with anything you posted. It's all stuff I've read or known from one source or another....sigh.

      January 27, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • nick C

      John Quncy Adams was aware of the threat to the world of Islamic totalitarianism and wrote about it quite extensively over two hundred years ago. Too bad our own tolerance is being used as a weapon against us. Hopefully we'll continue to be tolerant while their own agression will turn and devour those who hope to gain global power through distortion and intimidation.

      January 27, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  3. bless god don't do this to us

    They going to combine and eradicate all the Christian catholic and Jews,there's only on solution to this Muslim population madness put them on birth control

    January 27, 2011 at 4:31 am |
  4. a muslim

    ignorance is bliss here it seems. This article is just a form of propaganda, why cant they admit to the numbers of people who have converted to islam??

    January 27, 2011 at 4:29 am |
    • Valentine

      Noone is so stupid to change his religion to isliam.

      January 27, 2011 at 4:45 am |
  5. peter

    How about chinese government's "family plan" and one child policy? Now maybe less people complain about that. It is good for earth.Muslin countries can learn something from China.

    January 27, 2011 at 4:26 am |
  6. a muslim

    Ignorance is bliss here it seems. This article is just a from of propaganda to the world, why cant they just admit to the number of people who have converted to islam.

    January 27, 2011 at 4:25 am |
  7. afghanistan a productive country in 20 years?!

    keep me posted smart and knowledgable author.. how about zimbabwe taking over china in 2030?

    January 27, 2011 at 4:25 am |
  8. Uchilled

    GOD, please save mankind from RELIGION.

    January 27, 2011 at 4:22 am |
  9. Valentine

    Religions are the worst thing every happened to the mankind. The history prove this. I have bbibble and it is with the other fantasy fiction books on my shelf.

    January 27, 2011 at 4:19 am |
  10. Aman

    Here's a few things that we need to get rid of...borders and religion...will get rid of most of the conflicts in this world...first if god's what the religions want him to be...he wouldn't create borders and then tell us to fight over land ... and if you look carefully we fight over how we want to practice whatever religion we are ... not what they teach...they all teach the same thing ... which are basic human ethics.

    January 27, 2011 at 4:15 am |
  11. Fatimah Ayyeh

    Religion is not the reason for the wars, people are! People use religion to cause caos, wars are caused by human weaknesses, from discrimination, color, nationality, gender etc. Wars are also caused by greed, greed for money and power. Religion, when when used correctly and not abused makes this world a better place. Religion disciplines people and teaches them right from wrong, religion is what diffrentiates us from animals

    January 27, 2011 at 4:11 am |
  12. thomas

    Oh boy. If you would just open your King James version of the Holy Bible, you would not have conflicts so much. It even tells all about each and everyone of us. Seem too simple? But yes. It surely was made to be and it truly is. The quoran seems only to be helpful in how to be conflicting. On being how to fight. Violence starting subtley. Then their plot thickens. Much like being brain washed. Question-why do they have their children and women protecting the men. Again, subtle, growing, violence and terroism. What a shame since it could be so simple and so peaceful in their hearts. Why kill for reasons that have no ending purpose. Read. It will show you how to love the unloving.

    January 27, 2011 at 4:11 am |
  13. abdul

    Awesome news

    January 27, 2011 at 4:09 am |
  14. Michael

    I am a 24 year old Arab American of Lebanese descent who was born and raised in Dearborn, MI. I read this and wonder what is wrong with you people?!? I was born to Muslim parents and have always shown my parents enough respect to call myself a Muslim (are you surprised I am Muslim since my name is not Ali Hussain Hassan or Mohamed?). My main issue with ALL of you is that you talk about religion as if it is the stone age! My friends, family and relatives are pretty much all Muslim and none of them are the way many of you think. I haven't been to a mosque unless it is for a funeral, my mother and sister do not wear scarves on their heads & we just got back from laying out poolside in Costa Maya with them in bikinis. I went to party last night @ a nice bar & had one-too-many shots. Basically what I am trying to say is that I see that my family, friends and I carry religion as only a label! The rest of the world is pretty much the same way but everyone just hides in "the closet of religion" differently. Please stop judging each other. Instead of fighting and arguing over which book is authentic, why not argue about why we still have wars?!? If anything, the only people stuck in the "stone age" are the people fighting on both sides in wars. Just my two cents here. If anyone has any questions or wants to take a stab at me with their pitchfork, be my guest 🙂

    January 27, 2011 at 4:07 am |
    • Michael

      sorry about the duplicate everyone!

      January 27, 2011 at 4:07 am |
  15. Michael

    You know, I am a 24 year old Arab American of Lebanese descent who was born and raised in Dearborn, MI. I read this and wonder what is wrong with you people?!? I was born to Muslim parents and have always shown my parents enough respect to call myself a Muslim (are you surprised I am Muslim since my name is not Ali Hussain Hassan or Mohamed?). My main issue with ALL of you is that you talk about religion as if it is the stone age! My friends, family and relatives are pretty much all Muslim and none of them are the way many of you think. I haven't been to a mosque unless it is for a funeral, my mother and sister do not wear scarves on their heads & we just got back from laying out poolside in Costa Maya with them in bikinis. I went to party last night @ a nice bar & had one-too-many shots. Basically what I am trying to say is that I see that my family, friends and I carry religion as only a label! The rest of the world is pretty much the same way but everyone just hides in "the closet of religion" differently. Please stop judging each other. Instead of fighting and arguing over which book is authentic, why not argue about why we still have wars?!? If anything, the only people stuck in the "stone age" are the people fighting on both sides in wars. Just my two cents here. If anyone has any questions or wants to take a stab at me with their pitchfork, be my guest 🙂

    January 27, 2011 at 4:06 am |
    • Lisa

      I WOULD DEFINITELY AGREE WITH YOU! I HAVE SO MANY ARABIC FRIENDS (BROOKLYN) & I DEF SEE WHAT YOUR TALKING ABOUT. I MYSELF HAVENT BEEN TO CHURCH IN LIKE YEARS NOW. MY BEST FRIEND IS MUSLIM AND HER NAME IS MARIAM, SHE LOST HER VIRGINITY DURING JUNIOR YEAR AND WE WENT TO CABO TOGETHER FOR SPRING BREAK. IGNORE ALL THESE PEOPLE. THEY ARE NOT WORTH YOUR TIME OR BREATH! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      January 27, 2011 at 4:31 am |
    • believeyoume

      I am from Michigan too, half Lebanese (other half German), 23. Although my close family was not from Dearborn, there is some distant extended family there. Either way, I totally agree with you. These people are CRAZY!!! I really hope this article just brings out the whack-jobs and that this isn't a common mentality.

      My GREAT-grandparents (on my mother's side) came to the US in 1910 from Lebanon-to South Dakota. My grandmother and half of her siblings were born in America. Same for my grandpa's side. My great-grandpa worked 12 hours on a railroad in SD. He went to English classes at night to become a US citizen. He sent his kids to Church because there was no mosque, and since Christianity is so close to Islam, he wanted them to get a sense of religion.

      All of my grandfather's brothers and my grandmother's brothers SERVED in WWII. They HAVE the AMERICAN story.

      I laugh when people who have never even been to Dearborn bring it up like it is this huge thing. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN THERE?! It is just like any other ethnic community, like China town, or Mexican town, or Hamtramck (polish) in MI. Rich with culture and ethnic food. The surrounding area people of all religions love it there, especially for the restaurants. There is no internal conflict like people from other states who have never been there make it out to be. Not even close.

      In my opinion, they naysayers of Islam are not true Christians, because if they were, they would be comfortable with the fact that their religion is "right" and the people who see that are going to go to Jesus' "Heaven", and those who aren't will go to "Hell". Why would it bother them that other people won't go to "Heaven" (in their eyes)?

      Oh, and what truly kills me, are the "Christians" on here that advocate the murder of innocent, peaceful people. You think YOU are going to get in Heaven?!?!!? Good luck.

      January 27, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • XOXOX99XOXOX

      Dude...you are Lebanese. Enough said. Lebanese people are usually, and stereotypically, fun loving, more "Euro-like" people. And do not even try to deny that. Other Arabs make fun of you guys for being "tactless, not REAL Muslims, etc" - Lebanese people, sometimes, are the exception to the rule.

      January 27, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • BeanStalk

      Yay!!! There IS hope!!! See? You represent the world I am teaching my kids to build for themselves: one where EVERYTIME they meet someone new they see them for what they truly are: a fellow human being. Not a label. After much thinking (I'm 46) it boils down to one thought: treat everyone as you would like to be treated if you were them. So simple. How would I like to be treated? With dignity, with respect, with compassion & empathy towards my situation. 🙂 ... This simply leads to a peaceful existence. One where what I cherish and collect are friends, not stuff. ... There is greater Power in Being Love than will ever be found from exercising hate. It begins with a choice: I choose to do the right thing to my fellow man for the simple fact that we are BOTH human beings. 🙂 Thanks for giving me a reason to smile. There is always hope when we choose to allow into our hearts and minds the idea that we each want & deserve to be happy, left alone to grow. 🙂 Peace.

      January 27, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • Michael's conscience

      Listen to me O michael. I am your conscience. Wooohoooo. (think eery scifi music now) New flash: Christians in Arab countries are no longer being persecuted; they are now being slaughtered and driven out of their homes and lands. Think of this my self. Muslim genocide of Christians and Jews. Churches bombed, synagogues shot, You are being naive O michael. Listen to me..woohooo...

      January 27, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  16. MsConcepcion

    I love that in stories about Muslims the accompanying picture rarely (if ever) shows something like Muslim teens sitting in a McDonald's talking about how much homework they have and how parents just don't understand. This study isn't predicting that in a few years a quarter of the Earth's population will wear traditional Islamic clothing, have fundamentalist views of Shari'ah law, or even practice Islam as prescribed in the Koran. There is no reason to imagine that in 2030 25% of the world's population will form a uniform contingent of people who all agree on everything.

    A tiny fraction of the 25% will be terrorists and a tiny fraction of people in any other religion will commit all sorts of heinous crimes. The VAST majority of the 8.3 billion people will simply live their lives as anyone else does. Well, they will HOPEFULLY be able to live their lives as anyone else. Prejudice and fear could take away some of their basic freedoms, especially if they happen to live in a majority Christian country.

    January 27, 2011 at 4:05 am |
  17. joesense

    Good job, CNN. you have succesfully managed to create an all-out communal war here and further fuel the fire for the Anit-muslim groups.

    Start acting responsibly. I want to know
    – Has the number of Gays doubled?
    – Has the number of poor people tripled?
    – Has the number of nuclear weapons doubled?
    – Has the number of environmental pollutants doubled?

    this list could go on..... and meanwhile a boatload of muslim bashing and christian bashing keyboard warriors go at each other to satisy your amusement. Your the sick one

    January 27, 2011 at 4:00 am |
  18. Dominic Farace

    Would Sociologists of Religion agree?

    January 27, 2011 at 3:59 am |
  19. primepeng

    oh no..can this be real? no wonder the 2012 is postponed backward...

    January 27, 2011 at 3:47 am |
  20. shabbaz

    CNN...you spread hatred....how about how many ppl will have AIDS...am I right?

    January 27, 2011 at 3:47 am |
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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.