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Muslim population growth

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World Muslim population by percentage (Pew Research Center, 2014)

Muslim population growth refers to the topic of population growth of the global Muslim community. In 2006, countries with a Muslim majority had an average population growth rate of 1.8% per year (when weighted by percentage Muslim and population size).[1] This compares with a world population growth rate of 1.1% per year.[2] As of 2011, it is predicted that the world's Muslim population will grow twice as fast as non-Muslims over the next 20 years.[citation needed] By 2030, Muslims will make up more than a quarter of the global population.[citation needed] If current trends continue, it is predicted by the year 2100 that about 1% more of the world's population will be Muslim (35%) than Christian (34%).[3]

Globally, Muslims have the highest fertility rate, an average of 3.1 children per woman—well above replacement level (2.1) due to young age of Muslims (median age of 23) compared to other religious groups.[4] Christians are second, at 2.7 children per woman.[5] Hindu fertility (2.4) is similar to the global average (2.5).[6] Worldwide, Jewish fertility (2.3 children per woman) also is above replacement level.[7] All the other groups have fertility levels too low to sustain their populations and would require converts to grow or maintain their size: indigenous and tribal religions (1.8 children per woman), other religions (1.7), the unaffiliated (1.7) and Buddhists (1.6).[3]

Islam is the fastest growing religion all over the world,[8] due primarily to the young age and high fertility rate of Muslims.[9][10] According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, published in 2001, the fastest-growing branch of Islam is Ahmadiyya.[11] It is often reported from other various sources in 2010, including the German domestic intelligence service, that Salafism is the fastest-growing Islamic movement in the world.[12][13][14][15]

A 2007 Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report argued that some Muslim population projections are overestimated, as they assume that all descendants of Muslims will become Muslims even in cases of mixed parenthood.[16]


Estimating Muslim population growth is related to contentious political issues. Some Islamic organizations have accused American demographers of releasing falsely low population numbers of Muslims in the United States to justify the marginalization of Muslims.[17]

By region


  • According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the World Christian Database as of 2007 estimated the six fastest-growing religions of the world to be Islam (1.8%), the Bahá'í Faith (1.7%), Sikhism (1.6%), Jainism (1.6%), Hinduism (1.5%), and Christianity (1.3%). High birth rates were cited as the reason for the growth.[18] However, according to others, including the Guinness World Records, Islam is the world's fastest-growing religion by number of conversions each year.[19]
  • Monsignor Vittorio Formenti, who compiles the Vatican's yearbook, said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that "For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us". He said that Catholics accounted for 17.4% of the world population—a stable percentage—while Muslims were at 19.2%.[20] "It is true that while Muslim families, as is well known, continue to make a lot of children, Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer," the monsignor said.[21]
  • On April 2, 2015, the Pew Research Center published a Demographic Study about “The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050" with projections of the growth of Islam and reasons why “Islam will grow faster than any other major religion.”[22] The study concludes that the global Muslim population is expected to grow at a faster rate than the non-Muslim population due primarily to the young age and high fertility rate of Muslims.[23][24]
Projected growth of Islam by 2050
Some of the projections are as follows:[25]
  1. “If current trends continue, by 2050 the number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world.”
  2. “In Europe, Muslims will make up 10% of the overall population.”
  3. In India, a Hindu majority will be retained, but India will also “have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, surpassing Indonesia” which in 2015 has the largest Muslim population.
  4. “In the United States, “Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion,” so “Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion.”
  5. For the whole world, “by 2050 there will be near parity between Muslims (2.8 billion, or 30% of the population) and Christians (2.9 billion, or 31%), possibly for the first time in history.”
Reasons given for the projected growth
Some of the reasons the Study gives are as follows:[26]
  1. The change in the world’s religious is “driven primarily by differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world’s major religions, as well as by people switching faiths.”
  2. Fertility rates. The world’s total population “is expected to rise to 9.3 billion, a 35% increase” between 2010 and 2050, However, “over that same period, Muslims, who have a comparatively youthful population with high fertility rates, are projected to increase by 73%.” Muslim growth benefits from the fertility factor because “globally, Muslims have the highest fertility rate, an average of 3.1 children per woman.” This is above a replacement level of 2.1 which is “the minimum typically needed to maintain a stable population.”
  3. Size of youth population. “In 2010, more than a quarter of the world’s total population (27%) was under the age of 15. But a “higher percentage of Muslims (34%) were younger than 15.”
  4. Size of old population. In 2010, “11% of the world’s population was at least 60 years old,” but only 7% of Muslims were over 60.
  5. Switching. Between 2010 and 2050 a gain of 3,220,000 Muslim adherents is projected to come through switching, mostly found in the Sub Saharan Africa (2.9 million).
  6. Migration. Migration is the third reason for the Muslim population growth. For example, 1.8% of the projected growth in Europe is attributed to Muslims migrating in.


Islam is currently the largest religion in Asia. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly three-in-ten people living in the Asia-Pacific region in 2030 (27.3%) will be Muslim, up from about a quarter in 2010 (24.8%) and roughly a fifth in 1990 (21.6%).[27]


Islam is the fastest-growing religion in India.[28] Growth rate of Muslims has been consisently higher than the growth rate of Hindus, even since the census data of independent India has been available. For example during the 1991-2001 decade, Muslim growth rate was 29.52% (vs 19.92% for Hindus)[29] However, Muslims population growth rate declined to 24.6% during 2001-2011 decade, in keeping with the similar decline in most religious groups of India.[30][31][32][33]

In India, regarding attitudes “toward birth control,” younger (ages 10-19) Muslim women are less likely to favor it than are older (ages 20-30). Regarding “knowledge of birth control,” younger (ages 10-19) Muslim women know less than do older (ages 20-30). “Muslim marriages take place earlier” than other religions, and younger (ages 10-19) Muslim women are more likely to want to have “many children” than are older (ages 20-30).[34]

According to Paul Kurtz, Muslims in India are much more resistant to modern contraceptive measures compared to other Indians and, as a consequence, the fertility rate among non-Muslim women is much higher compared to that of Muslim women.[35][36] According to the projection of a 2006 committee appointed by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, if the current trend continued, by the end of the 21st century India's Muslim population would reach about 340 million people (19% or 20% of India's total projected population), despite the fact that Hindus would still remain the predominant religious community of the country.[37] Islam is the second-largest religion in India, making up 14.9% of the country's population with about 180 million adherents (2011 census).[38][39] According to the Pew Research Center, in 2011, India had the second largest population of Muslims, after Indonesia.[40]


In China, Muslim population growth was 2.7% during 1964–1982, compared to 2.1% for the population as the next two decades from 2011.[citation needed] Pew Research Center projects a slowing down of Muslim population growth in China than in previous years, with Muslim women in China having a 1.7 fertility rate.[41] Many Hui Muslims voluntarily limit themselves to one child in China since their Imams preach to them about the benefits of population control. The amount of children, in different areas, people are allowed to have varies between one and three children.[42] Chinese family planning policy allows minorities, including Muslims, to have up to two children in urban areas, and three to four children in rural areas.[citation needed]


See also: Islam in Europe

Islam is the fastest-growing religion in Europe.[43][44] According to the Pew Research Center, the Muslim population in Europe (excluding Turkey) was about 30 million in 1990, 44 million in 2010 and is expected to increase to 58 million by 2030; the Muslim share of the population increased from 4.1% in 1990 to 6% in 2010 and will continue to increase over the next 40 years, reaching 10% in 2050.[3][27] There were approximately 19 million Muslims in the European Union in 2010 or about (3.8%).[45]

Data for the rates of growth of Islam in Europe reveal that the growing number of Muslims is due primarily to immigration and higher birth rates.[46] Muslim women today have an average of 2.2 children compared to an estimated average of 1.5 children for non-Muslim women in Europe.[3] While the birth rate for Muslims in Europe is expected to decline over the next two decades, it will remain slightly higher than in the non-Muslim population,[3] except for Dutch-Turks, who have a lower birthrate (1.7) than the native Dutch population (1.8).[47][48]

Based on the current growth rate of Islam in Europe, in 2030, Muslims are projected to make up more than 10% of the total population in 10 European countries: Kosovo (93.5%), Albania (83.2%), Bosnia-Herzegovina (42.7%), Republic of Macedonia (40.3%), Montenegro (21.5%), Bulgaria (15.7%), Russia (14.4%), Georgia (11.5%), France (10.3%) and Belgium (10.2%).[27] There are around 100,000 Muslim converts in the UK.[49][50] France has seen conversions to the Islamic faith double in the past quarter century. In France there are an estimated 100,000 Muslim converts, compared with about 50,000 in 1986.[51]

By denomination

The following table lists historical growth rates (rounded) by schools and branches in Islam as published by the previous two editions of the World Christian Encyclopedia.

Branches/Schools Growth rate (%) in 1982 Growth rate (%) in 2001
Sunni - -
Hanafi 2.8 2.1
Shafi 2.9 2.2
Maliki 2.4 2.0
Hanbali 2.7 2.2
Shia - -
Twelver 2.8 2.2
Isma'ili 3.4 2.7
Zaydi 2.8 2.3
Alawites 2.8 -
Ahmadi 4.2 3.3
Khariji 2.7 2.1
Wahhabi - 1.4


In a 2015 article, the Pew Research Center said that the “bulging youth populations are among the reasons that Muslims are projected to grow faster than the world’s overall population”[52] Only 0.3% (3,220,000 people) of the expected Muslim population growth (1,161,780,000) in the period of 2010–2050 would be due to conversions; 99.7% would be due to a high birth rate among Muslims.[3][53][54] In the period 1990–2000, approximately 12.5 million more people converted to Islam than to Christianity.[19] According to The New York Times, an estimated 25% of American Muslims are converts.[55] In Britain, around 6,000 people convert to Islam per year and according to a June 2000 article in the British Muslims Monthly Survey the bulk of new Muslim converts in Britain were women.[56] According to the The Huffington Post, “observers estimate that as many as 20,000 Americans convert to Islam annually.”[57]

Darren E. Sherkat questioned in Foreign Affairs whether some of the Muslim growth projections are accurate as they do not take into account the increasing number of non-religious Muslims. Quantitative research is lacking, but he believes the European trend mirrors the American: data from the General Social Survey in the United States show that 32 percent of those raised Muslim no longer embrace Islam in adulthood, and 18 percent hold no religious identification.[58]

Studies estimate significantly more people have converted from Islam to Christianity in the 21st century than at any other point in Islamic history.[59] A 2015 study found that up to 10.2 million Muslim converted to Christianity.[60] The increasingly large ex-Muslim communities in the Western world that adhere to no religion have also been well documented.[61]

See also


  1. ^ Averaging of individual country figures from CIA factbook see also Demographics of Islam
  2. ^ "The World Factbook". 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050". Pew Research Center. 
  4. ^ "p.75" (PDF). 
  5. ^ "The Future of World Religions p.26" (PDF). 
  6. ^ "The Future of World Religions p.97" (PDF). 
  7. ^ "The Future of World Religions p.138" (PDF). 
  8. ^ "Muslims are the 'fastest-growing religious group in the world': Research suggests they will overtake Christians by the end of the century, the number coming into the US is rising and 70 per cent prefer Democrats". Daily Mail. Retrieved 7 May 2016. 
  9. ^ Halkon, Ruth (10 December 2015). "Islam is the 'fastest growing religion'". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 5 May 2016. 
  10. ^ The Future of World Religions p.70 This significant projected growth is largely due to the young age, high fertility rate of Muslims,
  11. ^ David B. Barrett; George Thomas Kurian; Todd M. Johnson, eds. (February 15, 2001). World Christian Encyclopedia. Oxford University Press USA. ISBN 0195079639. 
  12. ^ Barby Grant. "Center wins NEH grant to study Salafism". Arizona State University. Retrieved 9 June 2014. It also reveals that Salafism was cited in 2010 as the fastest growing Islamic movement on the planet. 
  13. ^ Simon Shuster (3 Aug 2013). "Comment: Underground Islam in Russia". Slate. Retrieved 9 June 2014. It is the fastest-growing movement within the fastest-growing religion in the world. 
  14. ^ Christian Caryl (September 12, 2012). "The Salafi Moment". FP. Retrieved 9 June 2014. Though solid numbers are hard to come by, they're routinely described as the fastest-growing movement in modern-day Islam. 
  15. ^ "Uproar in Germany Over Salafi Drive to Hand Out Millions of Qurans". AFP. 2012-04-16. Retrieved 9 June 2014. The service [German domestic intelligence service] said in its most recent annual report dating from 2010 that Salafism was the fastest growing Islamic movement in the world... 
  16. ^ Esther Pan, Europe: Integrating Islam, Council on Foreign Relations, 2005-07-13
  17. ^ Cooper, William; Yue, Piyu (2008). Challenges of the Muslim World: Present, Future, and Past. Emerald Group Publishing. p. 106. 
  18. ^ Staff (May 2007). "The List: The World's Fastest-Growing Religions". Foreign Policy. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 
  19. ^ a b Guinness World Records. 2003. Guinness World Records. 2003. p. 142. 
  20. ^ Islam the World's Largest Religion (2008). Retrieved September 16, 2016
  21. ^ "Vatican: Islam Surpasses Roman Catholicism as World's Largest Religion – International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News". 2008-03-30. Retrieved 2010-04-01. 
  22. ^ World Religions Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050 (2015). Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  23. ^ The Future of World Religions p.70 This significant projected growth is largely due to the young age and high fertility rate of Muslims.
  24. ^ "A Religious Forecast For 2050: Atheism Is Down, Islam Is Rising". 
  25. ^ World Religions Population :Growth Projections, 2010-2050 (2015). Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  26. ^ World Religions Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050 (2015). Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  27. ^ a b c "The Future of the Global Muslim Population". Pew Research Center. 2011-01-27. Retrieved 2015-01-12. 
  28. ^ "Census of India". Census of India. Census Data 2001: India at a glance >> Religious Composition. Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 2008-11-26. 
  29. ^ "Muslim population growth slows". The Hindu. 2015-08-25. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2016-08-21. 
  30. ^ "Myth of Muslim growth". The Indian Express. 2 September 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 
  31. ^ "Muslim population growth slows". The Hindu. 27 August 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2016. 
  32. ^ "The Myth Of The Muslim Population Bomb". Tehelka. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 
  33. ^ "Five charts that puncture the bogey of Muslim population growth". Retrieved 6 June 2016. 
  34. ^ Shakeel Ahmad, Muslim Attitude Towards Family Planning (Sarup & Sons, 2003), 26, 33. 47, 51.
  35. ^ Guilmoto, Christophe. Fertility transition in south India. SAGE, 2005. ISBN 9780761932925. 
  36. ^ Paul Kurtz. Multi-Secularism: A New Agenda. Transaction Publishers, 2010. ISBN 9781412814195. 
  37. ^ "Muslim population myths". Times of India. 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2015-01-12. 
  38. ^ Vijaita Singh (24 February 2015). "Over 180 million Muslims in India but they are not part of global terror groups: Govt". Indian Express. Indian Express. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  39. ^ "By 2030, Muslims will make up 16 pc of India's population". 
  40. ^ "The Global Religious Landscape – Muslims". Pew Research Center. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  41. ^ "Region: Asia-Pacific". Pew Research Center. 
  42. ^ "Exemptions in China's 'one-child policy'". 5 November 2010. 
  43. ^ Nachmani, Amikam (2010). Europe and its Muslim minorities: aspects of conflict, attempts at accord. Brighton: Sussex Academic. p. 35. ISBN 9781845194000. 
  44. ^ Cherribi, Sam (2010). In the house of war: Dutch Islam observed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 33. ISBN 9780199734115. 
  45. ^ "The future of the global muslim population – Europe (excluding however Turkey and including Siberian Russia)". Pew Research Center). January 27, 2011. 
  46. ^ "Muslims in Europe: Country guide". BBC News. 2005-12-23. Retrieved 2010-04-01. 
  47. ^ Factsheet Turks in the Netherlands, p. 2 Abckenniscentrum, 2011
  48. ^ Sterke regionale verschillen in vruchtbaarheid naar herkomstgroepering CBS, 2012
  49. ^ "Female conversion to Islam in Britain examined in unique research project". 
  50. ^ "Women Converts". British Muslims Monthly Survey. VIII (6). June 2000. Archived from the original on 2008-02-14. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  51. ^ "Rise of Islamic Converts Challenges France". The New York Times. 2013-02-03. 
  52. ^ Pew Research Center: Future of World Religions, 2010-2050. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
  53. ^ Huntington, Samuel. "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order," Touchstone Books, 1998, pp. 65–6.
  54. ^ Robinson, B. A. [1], Religious, "Numbers of adherents; names of houses of worship; names of leaders; rates of growth...", 1997–2009, accessed May 5, 2011.
  55. ^ Muslim Convert Faces Discrimination Accessed 2008-01-17
  56. ^ Women Convert BMMS June 2000 Vol. VIII, No. 6, p. 2/3. Accessed September 17, 2016.
  57. ^ Conversion To Islam. Accessed September 17, 2016.
  58. ^
  59. ^ David B. Barrett; George Thomas Kurian; Todd M. Johnson, eds. (February 15, 2001). World Christian Encyclopedia p.374. Oxford University Press USA. ISBN 0195079639. 
  60. ^ Johnstone, Patrick; Miller, Duane Alexander (2015). "Believers in Christ from a Muslim Background: A Global Census". Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion. 11: 8. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  61. ^ Anthony, Andrew; 2015; "Losing their religion: The hidden crisis of faith among Britain's young Muslims"; The Guardian