7. The Phenomenal Growth of Islam


(7) The Phenomenal Growth of Islam

At the end of this chapter, it may be appropriate to point out an important indication of the truth of Islam. It is well known that in the USA and the whole world, Islam is the fastest-growing religion. The following are some observations on this phenomenon:

 “Islam is the fastest-growing religion in America, a guide and pillar of stability for many of our people…” (Hillary Rodham Clinton, Los Angeles Times).1

 “Moslems are the world’s fastest-growing group…” (The Population Reference Bureau, USA Today).2

 “….Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the country.” (Geraldine Baum; Newsday Religion Writer, Newsday).3

 “Islam, the fastest-growing religion in the United States…” (Ari L. Goldman, New York Times).4

This phenomenon indicates that Islam is truly a religion from God. It is unreasonable to think that so many Americans and people from different countries have converted to Islam without careful consideration and deep contemplation before concluding that Islam is true. These converts have come from different countries, classes, races, and walks of life. They include scientists, professors, philosophers, journalists, politicians, actors, and athletes. (To read the stories of people who have converted to Islam, please visit the links at Stories of New Muslims.)

The points mentioned in this chapter constitute only some of the evidence supporting the belief that the Quran is the literal word of God, that Muhammad is truly a prophet sent by God, and that Islam is truly a religion from God.

(1) Larry B. Stammer, Times Religion Writer, “First Lady Breaks Ground With Muslims,” Los Angeles Times, Home Edition, Metro Section, Part B, May 31, 1996, p. 3.
(2) Timothy Kenny, “Elsewhere in the World,” USA Today, Final Edition, News Section, February 17, 1989, p. 4A.
(3) Geraldine Baum, “For Love of Allah,” Newsday, Nassau and Suffolk Edition, Part II, March 7, 1989, p. 4.
(4) Ari L. Goldman, “Mainstream Islam Rapidly Embraced By Black Americans,” New York Times, Late City Final Edition, February 21, 1989, p. 1.



Why Muslims are The World’s Fastest-growing Religious Group

The expected growth of Islam around the world is perhaps the most striking finding in the recent Pew Research Center report projecting the future of religious groups. Indeed, Muslims will grow more than twice as fast as the overall world population between 2010 and 2050 and, in the second half of this century, will likely surpass Christians as the world’s largest religious group.

Islam Growing FastestWhile the world’s population is projected to grow 35% in the coming decades, the number of Muslims is expected to increase by 73% – from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.8 billion in 2050. In 2010, Muslims made up 23.2% of the global population. Four decades later, they are expected to make up about three-in-ten of the world’s people (29.7%).

By 2050, Muslims will be nearly as numerous as Christians, who are projected to remain the world’s largest religious group at 31.4% of the global population.

The main reasons for Islam’s growth ultimately involve simple demographics. To begin with, Muslims have more children than members of the seven other major religious groups analyzed in the study. Each Muslim woman has an average of 3.1 children, significantly above the next-highest group (Christians at 2.7) and the average of all non-Muslims (2.3). In all major regions where there is a sizable Muslim population, Muslim fertility exceeds non-Muslim fertility.

Muslim and Non-Muslim Fertility RatesThe growth of the Muslim population also is helped by the fact that Muslims have the youngest median age (23 in 2010) of all major religious groups, seven years younger than the median age of non-Muslims (30). A larger share of Muslims will soon be at the point in their lives when people begin having children. This, combined with high fertility rates, will accelerate Muslim population growth.

More than a third of Muslims are concentrated in Africa and the Middle East, regions that are projected to have the biggest population increases. But even within these high-growth regions – as well as others – Muslims are projected to grow faster than members of other groups. For example, Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa, on average, are younger and have higher fertility than the overall population of the region. In fact, Muslims are expected to grow as a percentage of every region except Latin America and the Caribbean, where relatively few Muslims live.

Muslim and Non-Muslim Median AgeThe same dynamics hold true in many countries where Muslims live in large numbers alongside other religious groups. For example, India’s number of Muslims is growing at a faster rate than the country’s majority Hindu population, and is projected to rise from 14.4% of India’s 2010 population to 18.4% (or 311 million people) in 2050. And while there were roughly equal numbers of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria as of 2010, Muslims have higher fertility there and are expected to grow to a solid majority of Nigeria’s population (58.5%) in 2050.

Meanwhile, religious switching, which is expected to hinder the growth of some other religious groups, is not expected to have a negative net impact on Muslims. By contrast, between 2010 and 2050, Christianity is projected to have a net loss of more than 60 million adherents worldwide through religious switching.

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Demographics, Muslims and Islam, Population Projections, Population Trends, Religious Affiliation

  1. is an editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of Conrad Hackett

    is a demographer focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.



New Report On International Growth Of Islam

Posted: Updated:
 Washington, D.C. — The world’s Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35 percent in the next 20 years, rising from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to a new, comprehensive report released today by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life on the size, distribution and growth of the Muslim population. The study is part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, an effort funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation to analyze religious change and its impact on societies around the world.

Over the next two decades, the worldwide Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population — an average annual growth rate of 1.5 percent for Muslims compared with 0.7 percent for non-Muslims. If current trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4 percent of the world’s total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4 percent of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.

However, while the global Muslim population is predicted to grow at a faster rate than the non-Muslim population, it is also expected to grow at a slower pace in the next 20 years than it did in the previous two decades. From 1990 to 2010, the global Muslim population increased at an average annual rate of 2.2 percent; for the period from 2010 to 2030, the rate of growth is projected to be 1.5 percent.

These are among the key findings of The Future of the Global Muslim Population, which seeks to provide up-to-date estimates of the number of Muslims around the world in 2010 and to project the growth of the Muslim population from 2010 to 2030.

The report’s projections are based both on past demographic trends and on assumptions about how these trends will play out in future years. If current trends continue:


· Seventy-nine countries will have a million or more Muslim inhabitants in 2030, up from 72 countries today.

· A majority of the world’s Muslims (about 60 percent) will continue to live in the Asia-Pacific region, while about 20 percent will live in the Middle East and North Africa, as is the case today.

· Pakistan is expected to surpass Indonesia as the country with the single largest Muslim population.

· The portion of the world’s Muslims living in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to rise; for example, in 20 years more Muslims are likely to live in Nigeria than in Egypt.

· Muslims will remain relatively small minorities in Europe and the Americas, but they are expected to constitute a growing share of the total population in these regions.

· Sunni Muslims will continue to make up an overwhelming majority of Muslims in 2030 (87 to 90 percent). The portion of the world’s Muslims who are Shia may decline slightly, largely because of relatively low fertility in Iran, where more than a third of the world’s Shia Muslims live.

· As of 2010, about three-quarters of the world’s Muslims (74.1 percent) live in the 49 countries in which Muslims make up a majority of the population. More than a fifth of all Muslims (23.3 percent) live in non-Muslim-majority countries in the developing world. About 3 percent of the world’s Muslims live in more-developed regions, such as Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

The Americas

· The number of Muslims (adults and children) in the United States is projected to more than double — rising from 2.6 million (0.8 percent of the total U.S. population) in 2010 to 6.2 million (1.7 percent) in 2030 — in large part because of immigration and higher-than-average fertility among Muslims, making Muslims roughly as numerous as Jews or Episcopalians are in the U.S. today.

· Although several European countries will have substantially higher percentages of Muslims, the United States is projected to have a larger number of Muslims by 2030 than any European countries other than Russia and France.

· Children under age 15 make up a relatively small portion of the U.S. Muslim population today. Only 13.1 percent of Muslims are in the 0-14 age group. This reflects the fact that a large proportion of Muslims in the U.S. are newer immigrants who arrived as adults. But by 2030, many of these immigrants are expected to start families. If current trends continue, the number of U.S. Muslims under age 15 will more than triple, from fewer than 500,000 in 2010 to 1.8 million in 2030. The number of Muslim children ages 0-4 living in the U.S. is expected to increase from fewer than 200,000 in 2010 to more than 650,000 in 2030.

· About two-thirds of the Muslims in the U.S. today (64.5 percent) are first-generation immigrants (foreign-born), while slightly more than a third (35.5 percent) were born in the U.S. By 2030, however, more than four-in-ten of the Muslims in the U.S. (44.9 percent) are expected to be native-born.

· The top countries of origin for Muslim immigrants to the U.S. in 2009 were Pakistan and Bangladesh. They are expected to remain the top countries of origin for Muslim immigrants to the U.S. in 2030.

· The number of Muslims in Canada is expected to nearly triple in the next 20 years, from about 940,000 in 2010 to nearly 2.7 million in 2030. Muslims are expected to make up 6.6 percent of Canada’s total population in 2030, up from 2.8 percent today. Argentina is expected to have the third-largest Muslim population in the Americas, after the U.S. and Canada. Argentina, with about 1 million Muslims in 2010, is now in second place, behind the U.S.


· The Muslim share of Europe’s population is expected to grow by nearly a third, rising from 44.1 million (6 percent of Europe’s total population) in 2010 to 58.2 million (8 percent) in 2030.

· The greatest increases — driven primarily by continued migration — are likely to occur in Western and Northern Europe, where Muslims will be approaching double-digit percentages of the population in several countries. In the United Kingdom, for example, Muslims are expected to comprise 8.2 percent of the population in 2030, up from an estimated 4.6 percent today. In Norway, Muslims are projected to reach 6.5 percent of the population in 2030, (up from 3.0 percent today); in Germany, 7.1 percent (up from 5.0 percent today); in Austria, 9.3 percent (up from 5.7 percent today); in Belgium, 10.2 percent (up from 6.0 percent today); and in France, 10.3 percent (up from 7.5 percent today).

· In 2030, Muslims are projected to make up more than 10 percent of the total population in 10 European countries: Kosovo (93.5 percent), Albania (83.2 percent), Bosnia-Herzegovina (42.7 percent), Republic of Macedonia (40.3 percent), Montenegro (21.5 percent), Bulgaria (15.7 percent), Russia (14.4 percent), Georgia (11.5 percent), France (10.3 percent) and Belgium (10.2 percent).

· Russia will continue to have the largest Muslim population (in absolute numbers) in Europe in 2030. Its Muslim population is expected to rise from 16.4 million in 2010 to 18.6 million in 2030. The growth rate for the Muslim population in Russia is projected to be 0.6 percent annually over the next two decades. By contrast, Russia’s non-Muslim population is expected to shrink by an average of 0.6 percent annually over the same period.

· France had an expected net influx of 66,000 Muslim immigrants in 2010, primarily from North Africa. Muslims comprised an estimated two-thirds (68.5%) of all new immigrants to France in the past year. Spain was expected to see a net gain of 70,000 Muslim immigrants in 2010, but they account for a much smaller portion of all new immigrants to Spain (13.1%). The U.K.’s net inflow of Muslim immigrants in the past year (nearly 64,000) was forecast to be nearly as large as France’s. More than a quarter (28.1%) of all new immigrants to the U.K. in 2010 are estimated to be Muslim.


· Nearly three-in-ten people living in the Asia-Pacific region in 2030 (27.3 percent) will be Muslim, up from about a quarter in 2010 (24.8%) and roughly a fifth in 1990 (21.6 percent).

· Muslims make up only about 2 percent of the population in China, but because the country is so populous, its Muslim population is expected to be the 19th largest in the world in 2030.

Middle East-North Africa

· The Middle East-North Africa will continue to have the highest percentage of Muslim- majority countries. Of the 20 countries and territories in this region, all but Israel are projected to be at least 50 percent Muslim in 2030, and 17 are expected to have a population that is more than 75 percent Muslim in 2030, with Israel, Lebanon and Sudan (as currently demarcated) being the only exceptions.

· Nearly a quarter (23.2 percent) of Israel’s population is expected to be Muslim in 2030, up from 17.7 percent in 2010 and 14.1 percent in 1990. During the past 20 years, the Muslim population in Israel has more than doubled, growing from 0.6 million in 1990 to 1.3 million in 2010. The Muslim population in Israel (including Jerusalem but not the West Bank and Gaza) is expected to reach 2.1 million by 2030.

· Egypt, Algeria and Morocco currently have the largest Muslim populations (in absolute numbers) in the Middle East-North Africa. By 2030, however, Iraq is expected to have the second-largest Muslim population in the region — exceeded only by Egypt — largely because Iraq has a higher fertility rate than Algeria or Morocco.

Sub-Saharan Africa

· The Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to grow by nearly 60 percent in the next 20 years, from 242.5 million in 2010 to 385.9 million in 2030. Because the region’s non-Muslim population also is growing at a rapid pace, Muslims are expected to make up only a slightly larger share of the region’s population in 2030 (31 percent) than they do in 2010 (29.6 percent).

· Various surveys give differing figures for the size of religious groups in Nigeria, which appears to have roughly equal numbers of Muslims and Christians in 2010. By 2030, Nigeria is expected to have a slight Muslim majority (51.5 percent).

The 209-page report contains detailed analysis and description of the factors that drive this growth. The main factors, or inputs, in the population projections are: births (fertility rates), deaths (mortality rates), migration (emigration and immigration), and the age structure of the population (the number of people in various age groups). Related factors — which are not direct inputs into the projections but which underlie vital assumptions about the way Muslim fertility rates are changing and Muslim populations are shifting — include: education (particularly of women), economic well-being (standards of living), contraception and family planning, urbanization (movement from rural areas into cities and towns), and religious conversion.

The current population data that underpin this report were culled from the best sources available on Muslims in each of the 232 countries and territories for which the U.N. Population Division provides general population estimates. Many of these baseline statistics were published in the Pew Forum’s 2009 report, Mapping the Global Muslim Population, which acquired and analyzed about 1,500 sources of data — including census reports, large-scale demographic studies and general population surveys — to estimate the number of Muslims in every country and territory. All of those estimates have been updated for 2010, and some have been substantially revised.

The full report, which includes an executive summary, interactive maps and sortable data tables, is available on the Pew Forum’s website.

The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life conducts surveys, demographic analyses and other social science research on important aspects of religion and public life in the U.S. and around the world. As part of the Washington-based Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonadvocacy organization, the Pew Forum does not take positions on any of the issues it covers or on policy debates.

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