Muslim population growth

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

Muslim population growth is the population growth of Muslims worldwide. In 2006, countries with a Muslim majority 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 was predicted that the world's Muslim population will grow twice as fast as non-Muslims over the next 20 years.[3] fertility rate, (median age of 24) compared to other religious groups.[4]

"This significant growth has great numbers of conversions and widespread following.[5][6] According to Pew Research, religious conversion has no net impact on the Muslim population as the number of people who convert to Islam is roughly similar to those who leave Islam.[3][7] [8] A 2007 Center for Strategic and International Studies 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.[9]

By region[edit]


  • 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.[10] Conversion is not significant in Islam's population change.[11]
  • 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%.[12] "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.[13]
  • 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."[14] The study concluded 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.[15][16]
Projected growth of Islam by 2050
Some of the projections are as follows:[14]
  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."

Reasons given for the projected growth
Some of the reasons the study gave are as follows:[14]
  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). Also, the Muslim population are projected to add 1.3 million and lose 880,000 via switching, for a net gain of 420,000 between 2015 and 2020.
  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%).[17]


Islam is the fastest-growing religion in India.[18] Growth rate of Muslims has been consistently higher than the growth rate of Hindus, ever 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)[19] 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.[20][21][22][23]

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).[24]

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 lower compared to that of Muslim women.[25][26] Islam is the second-largest religion in India, making up 14.2% of the country's population with about 172 million adherents (2011 census).[27] In 2017, India had the third largest population of Muslims, after Indonesia and Pakistan.[28][29]


In China, Muslim population growth has been estimated to be as much as 2.7% from 1964–1982, however the Pew Research Center projects a slowing down of Muslim population growth in China due partly to the fact that many Hui Muslims voluntarily limit themselves to one child in China, a response to their Imams expressing the benefits of population control. [30] By contrast, China's Christian population growth has been estimated at 4.7% based on total population figures from the year 1949. [31] The number of permitted births in China varies between one and three children depending on geographic area.[32] 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]


Islam is the fastest-growing religion in Europe.[33][34] Muslims in Europe are a diverse population of citizens and majority of Muslims are integral part of European cities.[35] 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 is expected to reach 8% in 2030.[36] In recent years, "Europe has experienced a record influx of asylum seekers fleeing from Syria and predominantly Muslim countries" due to various conflicts in its country.[37] And, the wave of Muslim migrants has caused debates about immigration and security policies and raised questions about the current and future number of Muslims in Europe.[37] There were approximately 19 million Muslims in the European Union in 2010 or about (3.8%).[38] Data for the rates of growth of Islam in Europe reveal that the growing number of Muslims is due primarily to immigration.[39] Additionally, average Muslims today are younger and have a higher fertility than other Europeans.[37] Between the mid-2010 and mid-2016, migration was the biggest factor driving the growth of Muslim populations in Europe.[40] Approximately, 2.5 million Muslims came to Europe for reasons other than employment and education.[40] And, more than 1.3 million Muslims received and are expected to receive refugee status, allowing them to stay in Europe.[40]

In 2016, the median age of Muslims throughout Europe was 30.4, 13 years younger than the median age of other Europeans.[40] 50% of all European Muslims are younger than 30, however, only 32% of non-Muslims in Europe were under the age of 30.[40] 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.[36][41][42]

Pew Research Center has provided three different projections (high, medium, zero migration) regarding the expected future migration levels.[43][40] Even in the zero migration scenario, the Muslim population is expected to rise from 3.8% to 4.9% by 2050.[43] In medium and high migration scenario, it assumes the Muslims to reach 11.2% and 14% respectively.[43] On the other hand, the non-Muslim population is expected to decrease in all three scenarios.[43][40]


In France there are an estimated 100,000 Muslim converts, compared with about 50,000 in 1986.[44] The population mostly originate from Algeria, Morocco, and, France is home to a third of EU Muslims.[45] As of mid-2016, there are 5.7 million Muslims in France (8.8% of the population) and the Muslim population continues to grow.[40]


In Germany, there are approximately 5 million Muslims (6.1% of the population), and at least 2.3 million trace their origin to Turkey.[40][45] The “guest worker program” and the domination of Turkish religious authorities have increased German Islam.[45] A report from Pew found "Germany as the top destination for Muslim refugees between 2010 and 2016".[43]

United Kingdom[edit]

The United Kingdom is home to 1.5 to 2 million Muslims (3% of the population) and has the highest number of Muslim migrants.[43][45] Most originate from South Asia, particularly Pakistan.[45]


The presence of Muslims in Italy is fairly new. There are approximately 1 million Muslims (1.5% of the population) and most come from Morocco and Albania.[45]

By denomination[edit]

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
- -
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 4.2
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".[14] 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.[36][46][47] Another Pew Research Center study in 2017 projected that only 0.3% (500,000 people) of the Muslim population growth in the period of 2010–2015 will be due to conversions, while 99.7% (152,000,000) will be due natural increase (births minus deaths).[48] According to The New York Times, an estimated 25% of American Muslims are converts.[49] 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.[50] According to The Huffington Post, "observers estimate that as many as 20,000 Americans convert to Islam annually."[51]

According to Pew Research, the number of U.S. converts to Islam is roughly equal to the number of U.S. Muslims who leave the religion.[52] 77% of new converts to Islam are from Christianity, whereas 19% were from non-religion. Whereas, 55% of Muslims who left Islam went to non-religion, and 22% converted to Christianity.[52]

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 22 percent of those raised Muslim no longer embrace Islam in adulthood, and 18 percent hold no religious identification.[53]

Studies estimate significantly more people have converted from Islam to Christianity in the 21st century than at any other point in Islamic history.[54] A 2015 study found that up to 4.2 million Muslim converted to Christianity.[55] The increasingly large ex-Muslim communities in the Western world that adhere to no religion have also been well documented.[56]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Averaging of individual country figures from CIA factbook see also Demographics of Islam
  2. ^ "The World Factbook".
  3. ^ a b "The Future of the Global Muslim Population". Pew Research Center. 27 January 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  4. ^ (Report). PEW Research Center. April 5, 2017. Age and fertility are major factors behind growth of religious groups Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "The Future of World Religions" (PDF). The PEW Research Cewnter. April 2, 2015: 70. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ "A Religious Forecast For 2050: Atheism Is Down, Islam Is Rising".
  7. ^ Johnson, Todd M.; Grim, Brian J. (25 March 2013). The World's Religions in Figures: An Introduction to International Religious Demography. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781118323038 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ "Why Muslims are the world's fastest-growing religious group". Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  9. ^ Esther Pan, Europe: Integrating Islam, Council on Foreign Relations, 2005-07-13
  10. ^ Staff (May 2007). "The List: The World's Fastest-Growing Religions". Foreign Policy. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
  11. ^ Staff (April 2017). "Why Muslims are the world's fastest-growing religious group". Pew Research. Pew Research.
  12. ^ "Vatican: Islam Surpasses Roman Catholicism as World's Largest Religion". 30 March 2008.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ a b c d "The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050". 2 April 2015.
  15. ^ The Future of World Religions p. 70 This significant projected growth is largely due to the young age and high fertility rate of Muslims.
  16. ^ "A Religious Forecast For 2050: Atheism Is Down, Islam Is Rising".
  17. ^ "The Future of the Global Muslim Population (Asia)". Pew Research Center. 27 January 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ "Muslim population growth slows". The Hindu. 2015-08-25. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  20. ^ "Myth of Muslim growth". The Indian Express. 2 September 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  21. ^ "Muslim population growth slows". The Hindu. 27 August 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  22. ^ "The Myth Of The Muslim Population Bomb". Tehelka. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Five charts that puncture the bogey of Muslim population growth". Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  24. ^ Shakeel Ahmad, Muslim Attitude Towards Family Planning (Sarup & Sons, 2003), 26, 33. 47, 51.
  25. ^ Guilmoto, Christophe (2005). Fertility transition in south India. SAGE, 2005. ISBN 9780761932925.
  26. ^ Paul Kurtz (2010). Multi-Secularism: A New Agenda. Transaction Publishers, 2010. ISBN 9781412814195.
  27. ^ "By 2030, Muslims will make up 16 pc of India's population".
  28. ^ "The Global Religious Landscape – Muslims". Pew Research Center. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  29. ^ "Population growth of Pakistan".
  30. ^ "Region: Asia-Pacific". Pew Research Center.
  31. ^ ""Global Christianity: Regional Distribution of Christians". Pew Research Center. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2013". Pew Research Center. 2011-12-19.
  32. ^ "Exemptions in China's 'one-child policy'". 5 November 2010.
  33. ^ Nachmani, Amikam (2010). Europe and its Muslim minorities: aspects of conflict, attempts at accord. Brighton: Sussex Academic. p. 35. ISBN 9781845194000.
  34. ^ Cherribi, Sam (2010). In the house of war: Dutch Islam observed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 33. ISBN 9780199734115.
  35. ^ Muslims in Europe. Hungary, USA, UK: At Home in Europe. 2010. ISBN 978-1-936133-01-7.
  36. ^ a b c "The Future of the Global Muslim Population (Europe)". Pew Research Center. 27 January 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  37. ^ a b c NW, 1615 L. St; Washington, Suite 800; Inquiries, DC 20036 USA202-419-4300 | Main202-419-4349 | Fax202-419-4372 | Media (2017-11-29). "Muslim Population Growth in Europe". Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  38. ^ "The future of the global muslim population – Europe (excluding however Turkey and including Siberian Russia)". Pew Research Center. January 27, 2011.
  39. ^ "Muslims in Europe: Country guide". BBC News. 2005-12-23. Retrieved 2010-04-01.
  40. ^ a b c d e f g h i NW, 1615 L. St; Suite 800Washington; Inquiries, DC 20036USA202-419-4300 | Main202-857-8562 | Fax202-419-4372 | Media. "5 facts about the Muslim population in Europe". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  41. ^ Factsheet Turks in the Netherlands, p. 2 Abckenniscentrum, 2011
  42. ^ Sterke regionale verschillen in vruchtbaarheid naar herkomstgroepering CBS, 2012
  43. ^ a b c d e f Sandford, Alasdair (2017-11-30). "What proportion of Europe's population is Muslim?". euronews. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  44. ^ "Rise of Islamic Converts Challenges France". The New York Times. 2013-02-03.
  45. ^ a b c d e f Vaisse, Justin (September 2008). "Muslims in Europe: A short introduction". Center on the united States and Europe at Brookings – via Brookings.
  46. ^ Huntington, Samuel. "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order," Touchstone Books, 1998, pp. 65–6.
  47. ^ 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.
  48. ^ "The Changing Global Religious Landscape". 5 April 2017.
  49. ^ Muslim Convert Faces Discrimination Accessed 2008-01-17
  50. ^ "BMMS June 2000".
  51. ^ "Conversion To Islam One Result Of Post-9/11 Curiosity". 24 August 2011 – via Huff Post.
  52. ^ a b "The share of Americans who leave Islam is offset by those who become Muslim".
  53. ^ "Losing Their Religion". 17 August 2015 – via
  54. ^ David B. Barrett; George Thomas Kurian; Todd M. Johnson, eds. (February 15, 2001). World Christian Encyclopedia p. 374. Oxford University Press USA. ISBN 0195079639.
  55. ^ 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.
  56. ^ Andrew Anthony (2015). "Losing their religion: The hidden crisis of faith among Britain's young Muslims". The Guardian.