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. Inamur

    AS far as Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Marxism, and Capitalism, there is the devotion of worshipping created being/things in one form or another. Jews had attributed a “Nationalistic” belonging to Allah. They labeled Him “The Tribal God” for the Children of Israel. Men and women following these “religions” were born with the natural inclination of submission to their Creator, Allah. It is their parents who had driven them into their respective traditions. However, once people are exposed to the Signs of Allah around them, or in the Qur’an or to someone who triggers thei Fitra (natural inclination to worship Allah Alone), the reverting process begins and that is why we see a universal spreading of Islam. In the West and despite tha many distortions of Islam in the Media, many admit that Islam may be the fastest growing Faith. No sense of fairness can be achieved without a genuine attempt to know the Word of Allah in the Qur’an and not on the 30-min-Evening News. This is the real challenge for those who seek the Truth. Man is created for a purpose: to live a life in accordance with Allah’s way. Why Not? Do we posses the air we breath? Did we create ourselves or others? Or were we ourselves the Creators? We are limited and weak. So is our right to ignore our Creator where we all need Him?

    January 27, 2011 at 5:10 am |
  2. Ailayna

    This article sounds if like " O My god! There are so many Muslims in the world now! O my god o MY GOD what we going to do?!" Truly sounds like if they are a threat to the world. No one bothers about Buddhists, or how many Christians doubled in the world but nay Muslims doubled and suddenly hey – some thing to ponder! 😀 come on, realy total crap. Isn't it because most extremist use Islam as excuse? And so suddenly wester world goes "O my god keep an eye on growing Muslims around the world!"

    January 27, 2011 at 5:09 am |
    • Sherri

      Buddhists don't fly planes into buildings. Christians don't commit honor killings. Lutherans don't throw acid in the faces of little girls. Baptists don't behead people. Catholics don't hold signs saying 'behead all those who criticize Catholicism". Jews don't commit suicide bombings. Hindus don't stone women. THAT is why this should be a concern to you. Muslims do not tolerate any other belief. Muslims believe that all non-Muslims should be killed. Read the Quaran. Muslims have stated their goal (loudly, often) Total worldwide Islam. Do you want that? If not, you better stand up for yourself, because it is coming.

      January 28, 2011 at 1:58 am |
  3. Inamur

    Whom Must We Worship

    The submission of man to His Creator is the essence of Islam. The name “Islam” is chosen by God (Allah) and not by man. It is the same unifying Message revealed to all the Prophets and Messengers by Allah and which they spread amongst their respective nations. In its Final form it was revealed to Muhammad (Peace & Mercy of Allah be upon him) as a complete Message to whole mankind. The Lord, Allah, is the True and Only Creator that deserves to be worshipped. No worship is worthy of being given to a stone, statue, a cross, a triangle, Khomeini, Farakhan, Eliajahs, Malcom’s X or Y, Ghandi, Krishna, Guru, Buddha, Mahatma, Emperor, Joseph Smith, Sun, Moon (not to that from Korea too!), Light, Fire, rivers, cows, Rama, Temples, Prophets, Messengers (Yes! Muslims do not worship Muhammad-peace be upon him), Saints, Priests, Monks, Movie Stars, Sheiks, etc.!!! All are created beings or things.

    ALLAH, is the Name of the One True God. His Name is not chosen by man and does not have a number or gender. It is known that Allah is the Name of God in Aramaic, the language of our beloved Prophet Jesus and a sister language of Arabic. The Name “Allah” has been used by all previous Prophets starting with Adam and by the last and final Prophet, Muhammad (Peace be upon them all).

    The Innate Nature in man recognizes what is good and bad, what is true and false. It recognizes that the Attributes of Allah must be True, Unique, and All-Perfect. It does not feel comfortable towards any kind of degradation of His Attributes not does it qualities to the Creator. Many who became “discontent with God” did so because of the practices of the Church in medieval Europe and because of the claims of “god dwelling in a son” and the concept of the “original sin”. However, they “escaped” into worshipping a new theory called “mother nature” as well as the “material” World. With the advancement of materialistic technology others from different religions adopted the concept of “forgetting about God” and “let us live this life and enjoy it!”, not realizing that they have chosen the worship of the “original god” of Rome: Desire!.As a result the “enjoyment” is turning to “suffering” from AIDS.

    January 27, 2011 at 5:08 am |
  4. response to QuinClark

    yes its true that the world is ending that has already been known for like a thousand years it is predicted that the world will reach a golden age then slowly decline in its technology soon a powerful nation will rises and destroy most of the inhabitants of earth then they will suck up a huge body of water so you are right, but this has already been planned by god

    January 27, 2011 at 5:06 am |
  5. right leaning israeli jew

    cnn, please stop trying to scare us. it will only increase paranoia, fear, xenophobia, hate, and violence against muslims. i am a right leaning israeli jew with a background in middle eastern politics and terrorism, working in the government, and i know that MUSLIMS ARE GOOD PEOPLE. so cnn, please stop trying to scare people to sell add space.

    January 27, 2011 at 5:04 am |
  6. Searching for another planet with oxygen...

    I hope I'm dead if that happens. It was bad enough to live with the patriarchy that we had here. I was just thinking we were getting better. China already kills the girl babies (women would have to go along with that so it must be pretty bad there too). I would kill myself if I had to live with more of that crap. I barely made it here.

    January 27, 2011 at 5:00 am |
  7. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Make no bones about it, Islam is EVIL. The growth of this evil SO-CALLED religion is the fault of the United States. Bin Laden said it himself: "People will side with what they perceive to be the 'stronger horse'" (paraphrase). After 9-11, the United States, the most powerful country in the world, had an oppurtunity to use it's might and destroy this 'force of ignorance, repression, and evil" once and for all. Instead, we chose to capitulate. The rest of the world looked on as 17 fanatics and some cowards living in caves on the other side of the planet turned the United States into a pathetic, self-destructive nation of wooses, eager to lick the floor to prove that we are 'tolerant' and 'politically correct.' There's no better examples of this then the election of Barack HUSSEIN Obama and the VICTORY MOSQUE at ground zero. After 9-11, the people of the world were looking to the United States to lead and to rise up and destroy Islam, but instead we have allowed Islam to destroy us. As Bin Laden predicted, the 'stronger horse' is winning. We Americans should be ashamed of ourselves.

    January 27, 2011 at 4:57 am |
  8. Steve O'Leary

    Very deceptive Lead-in. Extreme Biased, WHY?

    You state 20 years ago in relation to 20 years from now.. 40 Years.. The population may double, but the percentage in the world increases much much smaller. 20%- 20 years ago to a possible 25% 20 years form now.

    Thats a 25% increase, not a doubling.

    It's a play on semantics and distorts reality. What if I said in the last 50 Years the Population of the Jews have quadrupuled and at that rate continues , in the next 20 years the Popualtion of Jews will have Tripled?

    January 27, 2011 at 4:55 am |
  9. Inamur

    Siege of Jerusalem (1099)
    Many Muslims sought shelter in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock, and the Temple Mount area generally. According to the Gesta Francorum, speaking only of the Temple Mount area, "...[our men] were killing and slaying even to the Temple of Solomon, where the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles..." According to Raymond of Aguilers, also writing solely of the Temple Mount area, " in the Temple and porch of Solomon men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins." However, this imagery should not be taken literally; it was taken directly from biblical passage Apocalypse 14:20.[4] Writing about the Temple Mount area alone Fulcher of Chartres, who was not an eyewitness to the Jerusalem siege because he had stayed with Baldwin in Edessa at the time, says: "In this temple 10,000 were killed. Indeed, if you had been there you would have seen our feet coloured to our ankles with the blood of the slain.

    January 27, 2011 at 4:53 am |
  10. Inamur

    The year 1492 also marked the arrival in the New World of Christopher Columbus, during a voyage funded by Isabella. That same year, Spain's Jews were ordered to convert to Catholicism or face expulsion from Spanish territories during the Spanish Inquisition.[24] A few years later, following social disturbances, Muslims were also expelled under the same conditions.[note 12][25]

    January 27, 2011 at 4:53 am |
  11. Jason

    Well okay, but I don't know how we're ever going to fit 1/4 of the world's population on our no-fly list.

    January 27, 2011 at 4:48 am |
  12. Beautiful Vixen

    Lol..some of you people really do scare me with your comments. I hope I'm dead by then but I will still be too d@mn young. This world is screwed up already with so many crazy people, I don't even want to think what it would be like in twenty years.

    January 27, 2011 at 4:45 am |
    • BeanStalk

      Don't be affraid. The antidote for all this stuff is Love. Treat everyone in your immediate circle of influence with Love, dignity & compassion and your life will reward you with folks who will be there for you when you need them most. The rest is background noise. You really should ignore it. 🙂 Do unto others as you'd like to be treated. It's not rocket science. It's so simple kids totally understand. 🙂 Peace.

      January 27, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  13. 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 4:44 am |
  14. Kane

    Why not make a jewish list, where we se the growth rate of jews? Would that be offensive? This list is just crap..

    January 27, 2011 at 4:38 am |
  15. Dan Ranan

    In twenty years there will be 2 billion idiots on earth? What Islam has brought to the humanity that Judaism and Christianity did not before it? What new rules, word of justice or insight to human condition on this planet? The only visible contribution is Jihad, terrorism and extremist thought and behavior. There are 40-50 Muslim countries and no justice in one!!! Great record!!!!

    January 27, 2011 at 4:37 am |
    • Inamur

      let's have a look some recent century’s brutal massacres against Muslim and non Muslims, who killed 6 million Jews? Answer is : Adolf Hitler nominally a Catholic Christian
      Who killed 200,000 Muslims in Bosnia, they are Christian Serb, it was biggest Genocide in recent History.
      Who killed about 10 thousand people in Kosovo, they are Christian Serb
      Who killed around 3 hundred thousand people in Chechnya? They are Communist Christian
      Who Killed one million Iraqi Muslim in Iraq? in fact they are American Christian
      Who Killed 50 thousand Afghani Muslim in Afghanistan? Again They are Christian
      Can we say "Christianity is the religion of peace" ?
      Why we can not say Serb are Christian terrorist?
      Why we can not say Bush a terrorist?
      Why we can not say Communist Christian terrorist?
      It easy to blame Islam, first you have to look into yourself, you occupy and kill other nation and say it is liberation, and When Muslim fight for their rights and for freedom so is it terrorism?
      Christian terrorists have killed millions of Muslims in recent century, but because you have power and media, you show the world you are the victim and Islam and Muslims as terrorist? Did Jesus Christ teach you to occupy and kill others, is it love?

      January 27, 2011 at 4:48 am |
  16. Inamur

    In the name of The True Only One God, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful.

    (Say (O Muhammad SAW): "O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians):

    Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship

    none but Allah, and that we associate no partners with Him,

    and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allah.

    Then, if they turn away,say: "Bear witness that we are Muslims.") Holy Quran 3:64

    (Truly, the religion with Allah is Islam. Those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) did not differ except

    out of mutual jealousy, after knowledge had come to them. And whoever disbelieves in the Ayat

    (proofs,evidences, verses, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah, then surely, Allah is Swift in calling to account.

    So if they dispute with you (Muhammad SAW))

    (say: "I have submitted myself to Allah (in Islam), and (so have) those who follow me.

    " And say to those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and to those who are illiterates (Arab pagans)

    "Do you (also) submit yourselves (to Allah in Islam)?" If they do, they are rightly guided; but if they turn away, your duty

    is only to convey the Message; and Allah is All-Seer of (His ) slaves) 3:19-20

    Say (O Muhammad SAW): "O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians):

    Exceed not the limits in your religion (by believing in something) other than the truth
    and do not follow the vain desires of people who went astray in times gone by,
    and who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the Right Path." 5:77

    (O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)!

    Do not exceed the limits in your religion,

    nor say of Allah aught but the truth.

    The Messiah 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary),

    was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word,

    ("Be!" – and he was) which He bestowed on Maryam (Mary) and a spirit (Ruh) created by Him;

    so believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not:

    "Three (trinity)!" Cease! (it is) better for you.

    For Allah is (the only) One Ilah (God), Glory be Him (Far Exalted is He) above having a son.

    To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is All-Sufficient

    as a Disposer of affairs.) 4:171

    (It is not (possible) for any human being to whom Allah

    has given the Book and Al-Hukma (the knowledge and understanding

    of the laws of religion, etc.) and Prophethood to say to the

    people: "Be my worshippers rather than Allah's."

    On the contrary (he would say): "Be you Rabbaniyun (learned men of religion who practise

    what they know and also preach others), because you are teaching the

    Book, and you are studying it.

    Nor would he order you to take angels and Prophets for lords (gods). Would he order you to

    disbelieve after you have submitted to Allah's Will?) 3:79-80

    (And there are, certainly, among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), those who believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before Allah. They do not sell the Verses of Allah for a little price, for them is a reward with their Lord. Surely, Allah is Swift in account) 3:199

    (And when they (Christians) listen to what has been sent down to the Messenger (Muhammad SAW), you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they have recognised. They say: "Our Lord! We believe; so write us down among the witnesses.

    And why should we not believe in Allah and in that which has come to us of the truth (Islamic Monotheism)? And we wish that our Lord will admit us (in Paradise on the Day of Resurrection) along with the righteous people (Prophet Muhammad SAW and his Companions radhiallahu'anhu)." So because of what they said, Allah rewarded them Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), they will abide therein forever. Such is the reward of good-doers.But those who disbelieved and belied Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they shall be the dwellers of the (Hell) Fire) 5:83-86

    January 27, 2011 at 4:36 am |
    • Ban Islam

      Drop dead

      January 27, 2011 at 4:50 am |
    • Inamur

      O was just kidding people. Christ is God's Son and He arose from the dead after shedding His blood for my sins. Jesus is Lord!

      January 27, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  17. Big E

    Does anybody know how much of that Muslim population was forced to change religions because of a fascist government forcing them to convert or die?

    January 27, 2011 at 4:35 am |
  18. Big E

    Does anybody know how much of that Muslim population was forced to change religions because of fascist governments forcing them to convert or die?

    January 27, 2011 at 4:33 am |
    • MedianRoad

      None !! Zero!!. There is no such thing as being forced to convert, this is purely a Christian thing. I repeat there is NO such thing as forced conversions in Islam and it never happened. It cannot happen as it is directly opposing a clear verse in the Qur'aan.
      If you are not a Muslim at heart then you are not a Muslim so how can anyones heart be forced?

      January 27, 2011 at 4:41 am |
    • Inamur

      It happen in many places, like Russia before it false in Spain when Christians occupied and forced Muslims to convert Christianity or were expelled from Spain,
      The year 1492 also marked the arrival in the New World of Christopher Columbus, during a voyage funded by Isabella. That same year, Spain's Jews were ordered to convert to Catholicism or face expulsion from Spanish territories during the Spanish Inquisition.[24] A few years later, following social disturbances, Muslims were also expelled under the same conditions.[note 12][25]

      January 27, 2011 at 5:21 am |
    • Inamur

      In Christianity there are many example where they force Jews & Muslims to convert into Christianity.

      January 27, 2011 at 5:26 am |
  19. Quran

    yes this is true that muslims population is increasing rapidly in all over the world .it is the world largest religon in the world.people are entering in islaam rapidly because its the religon of peace and happiness.muslim will be the largest population in all over the world very soon inshaALLAH.

    January 27, 2011 at 4:33 am |
    • Aman

      just wondering ... why do people care so much if their religion is the largest in the world or not?

      January 27, 2011 at 4:44 am |
  20. Indonesian people

    Indonesia is the largest moslem country

    January 27, 2011 at 4:33 am |
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.